Unions hit out at 'miserly' 50p increase in Statutory Sick Pay
By David Wood
A 50p-per-week increase in Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) has been criticised by unions as "miserly".
SSP has increased from £95.85 to £96.35, but unions including the Trades Union Congress (TUC) and Unite say it is too little to live on, according to the BBC.
TUC general secretary Frances O'Grady said: "No-one should be plunged into hardship if they need to self-isolate."
The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) says the UK has one of the lowest Statutory Sick Pay rates of any developed country, as a proportion of the average worker's earnings. However, its coverage lasts longer than in most European nations.
Ms O'Grady said low SSP payments could risk undermining public health efforts as lockdowns ease across the UK.
She said many people working in pubs and shops were on low wages and faced having to survive on just £96 a week if they get sick."
The TUC is calling for the level of SSP paid to be raised in line with the National Living Wage, which stands at £8.91-per-hour for workers aged 23 and over.
It also warned that nearly two million workers do not earn enough to qualify for SSP - most of them women. Neither are the self-employed eligible to receive it, unlike in most other European countries.
The BBC reported Len McCluskey, Unite general secretary, as saying: "Time and again the government has been told that people will not isolate without a living income.
"Unless and until the government addresses the scandalously low level of sick pay provision in this country, any scheme to reopen the economy that rests on isolation but without income is half-baked and will fail."
A government spokesman said that there was a "comprehensive package" of financial support in place for workers who need to self-isolate to help stop the spread of coronavirus.
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