Should Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) rise?

In the TUC blog by Alex Collinson the TUC state:

The current weekly rate of statutory sick pay (SSP) is just £96. This is around one-fifth of average weekly earnings, meaning that if the average worker is off work sick for a week, they lose around 80 per cent of their usual earnings.

Current government guidance requires those with Covid-19 symptoms to self-isolate for ten days. Those who live with someone with symptoms, or have been contacted by the test and trace service, must self-isolate for two weeks. The average worker self-isolating for two weeks on SSP would lose over £800 across this period.

A new TUC/BritainThinks survey shows that 43 per cent of workers would have to go into debt or not pay bills if they were on SSP for two weeks.

Those who have been working outside their home are more likely than those working from home to say they’d fall into debt or not been able to pay bills (47 per cent compared to 37 per cent). And those on low and average incomes are less likely than higher earners to be able to cope on SSP for two weeks.

These two groups are also more likely to receive only SSP when they’re ill. While three-quarters (77 per cent) of those working from home receive their usual pay when sick, only half of those who don’t work from home do. 87 per cent of higher earners (£50k+) receive full sick pay, compared to just 35 per cent of those earning less than £15,000 p/a.

Some workers miss out on SSP entirely.

To be eligible, an employee must, on average, earn £120 per week. This excludes 1.8 million employees, 70 per cent of whom are women. This particularly impacts young workers, older workers, those on zero-hours contracts, and low-paid occupations.

The UK’s 5 million self-employed workers are also not eligible for SSP.

Opinion

SSP, although a state benefit in employment, is currently 100% funded by employers. The temporary exception is for employers with undear 250 employees who can reclaim 2 weeks of COVID19 related sickness only.

Is it time for U.K. PLC to introduce better sick care coverage? During this pandemic, can employers afford to fund more generous work based sickness schemes? Is it time that SSP rose on a similar basis as minimum wage increases?

PAYadvice.UK 10/9/2020

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