You are here: Home - Household Bills - News -

Broken sick pay system to ruin Christmas for thousands

Written by: Emma Lunn
Analysis by the Trades Union Congress (TUC) shows that 647,000 workers in hospitality, retail, and arts and entertainment don’t qualify for statutory sick pay (SSP).

The union body is calling for universal sick pay worth at least the real Living Wage. It warned that with new tougher self-isolation rules, these workers are at risk of being left with no work and no income over the Christmas period.

The new rules, introduced as a consequence of the Omicron variant, require anyone coming into contact with a confirmed Omicron case to self-isolate for 10 days, even if they have been vaccinated.

But hundreds of thousands of festive workers, who are most likely to come in contact with people over the busy festive period, receive no sick pay while self-isolating, and could face drastic cuts to their livelihoods over Christmas.

The total includes 238,000 hospitality workers, 336,000 retail workers, and 73,000 arts and entertainment workers.

The only other sector of the economy with a higher proportion of workers who do not qualify for statutory sick pay is those employed by households – e.g. for example domestic cleaners.

The TUC says the UK has the least generous statutory sick pay in Europe, worth just £96.35 per week. And it is only available to employees earning £120 per week or more. This leaves about a third of workers – more than 10 million people – with sick pay that is too low to meet basic living costs, or no sick pay at all.

The government introduced a temporary scheme last year to assist people who face hardship if required to self-isolate. However, TUC research has found that two-thirds of applications (64%) are rejected – in part because the funding is too low, and many workers are not aware of it.

The TUC is calling on the government to extend statutory sick pay protection to every worker by removing the lower earnings limit. It also wants the government to increase statutory sick pay to at least the value of the real Living Wage which is £346 a week.

Frances O’Grady, TUC general secretary, said: “Every worker should have the security of sick pay if they fall ill or need to isolate. But while we’re out celebrating and buying presents, many workers who make that possible get no sick pay protection at all.

“Our sick pay system is broken. No one should be left to choose between doing the right thing or putting food on the table. And we all risk having our Christmas ruined because our sick pay system doesn’t do what’s needed to stop the virus spreading.

“Ministers must extend sick pay protection to every worker. And it should worth at least the same as the Living Wage to make sure people can afford to isolate.”

There are 0 Comment(s)

If you wish to comment without signing in, click your cursor in the top box and tick the 'Sign in as a guest' box at the bottom.

Your right to a refund if travel is affected by train strikes

There have been a wave of train strikes in the past six months, and for anyone travelling today Friday 3 Febru...

Could you save money with a social broadband tariff?

Two-thirds of low-income households are unaware they could be saving on broadband, according to Uswitch.

How to help others and donate to food banks this winter

This winter is expected to be the most challenging yet for the food bank network as soaring costs push more pe...

What will happen if rates change

How your finances will be impacted by a rise in interest rates.

Regular Savings Calculator

Small regular contributions can build up nicely over time.

Online Savings Calculator

Work out how your online savings can build over time.

DIY investors: 10 common mistakes to avoid

For those without the help and experience of an adviser, here are 10 common DIY investor mistakes to avoid.

Mortgage down-valuations: Tips to avoid pulling out of a house sale

Down-valuations are on the rise. So, what does it mean for home buyers, and what can you do?

Five tips for surviving a bear market mauling

The S&P 500 has slipped into bear market territory and for UK investors, the FTSE 250 is also on the edge. Her...

Money Tips of the Week