Extend statutory sick pay to all workers, demand SNP and trade unions

The UK Government is facing calls from opposition parties and trade unions to extend statutory sick pay beyond the level announced today by Boris Johnson.

The Prime Minister said that workers will get statutory sick pay (SSP) from the first day off work, not the fourth, to help contain coronavirus. In order to SSP people must be earning at least £118 a week.

SSP, which is paid for by the employer, is set at £94.25 a week, so those who will benefit from Mr Johnson's announcement are expected to receive an extra £40.

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But the SNP’s Disabilities spokesperson has said this does not go far enough and that the policy should be extended to be set at an hourly rate and living wage, available to everyone regardless of earnings, working hours or contract, and available for 52 weeks instead of 28.

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“Disability groups have been especially vocal in calling for an overhaul of the sick pay system. Their concerns must be factored into the UK government’s response to their sick pay consultation.

“If the UK government will not make these crucial changes then it should devolve the powers to Holyrood so it can – to meet people’s needs in Scotland and ensure their standard of living is not disadvantaged by Coronavirus or any other illness that they have contracted through no fault of their own.”

The STUC is calling for an increase sick pay from its current level and to make it accessible to all workers that need it.

Speaking at PMQs today, Jeremy Corbyn said: “There are two million workers on low pay, many of them women in the care sector, who are not eligible for statutory sick pay. The Prime Minister has not been clear whether or not they are covered.

“The government’s emergency legislation must guarantee that the right to sick pay from day one will include those people who are not currently eligible for statutory sick pay, and that no one on social security will be sanctioned if they miss appointments. We will also be pressing the government to bring in further support for low-paid and self-employed workers, and those on Universal Credit.

“No one should have to choose between health and hardship. This is a matter of public health concern for everybody.”

TUC general secretary Frances O'Grady said two million workers do not earn enough to qualify.

Prospect union added that freelancers and self-employed people would continue to face "the dilemma of no pay or going to work when it may be putting their colleagues at risk".