Now Playing

Now Playing IconNow Playing:

Evolve Radio

Artist Name

Album Art

‘Modest’ £63 rise in statutory sick pay is overdue, MPs say

A “modest” increase in statutory sick pay (SSP) is overdue, according to a committee of MPs who say it must strike a balance between workers’ needs and what employers can afford.

The Work and Pensions Committee recommended a rate in line with the flat rate of Statutory Maternity Pay.

That would see SSP rise from the current weekly level of £109.40 to £172.48 per week.

The MPs also wanted to see SSP paid in combination with usual wages, in order to encourage phased returns to work.

The cross-party committee argued too that all workers should be eligible for SSP, not just those earning above the lower earnings limit of £123.

The government responded to the report by saying that a 6.7% increase would take effect next month.

In making their case, the MPs said they understood that the COVID pandemic and its immediate aftermath were not the right times to be placing additional financial burdens on employers.

More from Business

But they noted that a record 185.6 million working days had been lost to sickness or injury in 2022 – a time when the cost of living crisis was gathering pace.

Committee chair Sir Stephen Timms said it was clear the time had come to significantly bolster the support that many people depended on when they were unable to work.

Please use Chrome browser for a more accessible video player

Parents take on debt to pay childcare

“Statutory sick pay is failing in its primary purpose to act as a safety net for workers who most need financial help during illness,” he wrote.

“With the country continuing to face high rates of sickness absence, the government can no longer afford to keep kicking the can down the road on reform.

“The committee’s proposals strike the right balance between widening and strengthening support and not placing excessive burdens on business.

“A growing number of workers are now classified as self-employed and a new contributory sick pay scheme for self-employed people would be a welcome step towards ensuring they are they are no worse off financially during periods of sickness than employees on SSP.”

Companies, while sympathising with staff generally over sickness, have long complained about rising costs including for business rates and minimum pay rules.

Lobby groups have warned that the burden already risks being passed on in the form of higher prices, placing the rate of inflation under strain.

A Department for Work and Pensions spokesperson said of the report: “Statutory Sick Pay will increase by 6.7% from April.

“Our £2.5bn Back to Work Plan is tackling sickness absence and getting people back working, while we are expanding access to mental health services and supporting those at risk of long-term unemployment.”

TUC general secretary Paul Nowak responded: “The COVID-19 pandemic showed that our sick pay system is in desperate need of reform.

Read more:
Campaigners call for reforms to prevent workers from being pushed into poverty
Call for more help to get millions of long-term sick back into employment

“It beggars belief that ministers have done nothing to fix sick pay since.

“It’s a disgrace that so many low-paid and insecure workers up and down the country – most of them women – have to go without financial support when sick.

“The committee is right that ministers urgently need to remove the lower earnings limit and raise the rate of sick pay.

“Wider reform is also needed to remove the three days people must wait before they get any sick pay at all.”

Sky News Source