Sick Pay: Demand Full Wages for Sick Workers

  • Demand better sick pay – full average wages for sick and self-isolating workers.
  • Worker control of Health and Safety through elected Trade Union reps

Inadequate UK Sick Pay

More than two years into the pandemic, the UK still has one of the lowest levels of sick pay in all of Europe.

In the UK, workers are entitled to just £96.35 per week in Statutory Sick Pay – and not every worker, at that. The European average is £245 per week. In real terms, sick workers are given pay cuts that they cannot afford.

In Belgium, workers are guaranteed their full salary for up to 30 days. Germany pays their full salary for six weeks, then 70% of a worker’s wage for the remainder of sick leave. In Norway, workers on long-term illness can receive up to 52 weeks of full pay.

One-third of workers on zero hour contracts, 1 in 10 women workers, a fifth of 16-24-year-olds, a quarter of over 65s, and most migrant workers are excluded from Statutory Sick Pay altogether. The UK is one of just four countries that totally excludes the self-employed from Statutory Sick Pay.

The UK’s inadequate system of sick pay, and opportunistic attacks on sick pay by employers, have put the lowest earners, their families, and other workers in the COVID-19 firing line. Low-paid workplaces such as food production plants, garment factories, call centres, and care homes have become ground zero for new COVID outbreaks.

The fact is that low-paid, precarious workers simply can’t afford to self-isolate when sick. If you can’t afford to be ill, you are more likely to get sick.

Workers are left to choose between their income and their health, including during COVID-19 outbreaks.

Nobody should ever have to make that choice. We have to make sure that everyone can afford to look after their health and help protect the health of others.

Full Average Wages for Sick Workers

That’s why the SSP demands full average wages for sick and self-isolating workers.

Proper sick pay, not punitive pay cuts.

This means that no one has to drag themselves into work when sick out of financial hardship – protecting their health, and the health of everyone around them.

The SSP reiterates its condemnation of major employers who have victimised and sacked prominent Trade Unionists for demanding full average wages for sick and self-isolating workers.

Worker Control of Health and Safety

The SSP campaigns for worker control of workplace health and safety, with elected Trade Union health and safety reps.

Only 38% of workers in Britain believe that their employer carried out a COVID-secure risk assessment. Only 42% were given PPE.

Workplace hazards could be removed and prevented by elected workers’ representatives, whose everyday experiences put them far more in tune with workplace risks than the depleted, downgraded Health and Safety Executive Inspectors – whose numbers have been halved by budget cuts.

A system run for private profit will always cast workers’ health to the back of the queue. Instead, we must put workers’ lives and health before profit.