Insecure workers almost 10 times more likely to receive zero sick pay

Trade Union Congress urges businesses to stop treating staff as ‘disposable labour’ and call on government to align statutory sick pay with the real Living Wage.

More than two thirds of insecure workers in the UK receive zero pay when off sick, a new survey has found, prompting calls for greater protections and the abolishment of zero-hours contracts.

A poll by the TUC and Britain Thinks, of 2,231 UK workers revealed 67 per cent of those engaged in insecure work – defined as workers whose contracts do not guarantee regular hours or income or those who are in low-paid self-employment – received no pay when they were off sick.

This is compared to just 7 per cent of secure workers, suggesting insecure workers are almost ten times more likely than their securely employed counterparts to not receive any pay when sick.

Moreover, insecure workers reported fearing their employer would find someone else to do their job if they didn’t turn up to work – particularly for those on zero-hours contracts as with no guaranteed hours, their employer is not obliged to offer them work.

TUC findings also revealed Covid mortality rates for those aged 20-60 was almost twice as high for those in insecure work when compared to other occupations. Among men the Covid mortality rate was 51 per 100,000 for those in insecure work, compared to 24 per 100,000 in less insecure roles. Among women, the mortality rate was 25 per 100,000 for those in insecure work, compared to 13 per 100,000 in less insecure occupations.

Among its recommendations, the TUC urged the government to abolish the minimum earnings threshold for SSP, which would extend coverage to another two million workers; remove the waiting period for sick pay; and increase sick pay to £330 a week – the equivalent of a week’s pay at the real living wage.

Figures from the Office for National Statistics have previously shown that nearly seven million UK workers don’t qualify for SSP. Five million don’t qualify because they are self-employed and 1.7 million as they do not meet the earnings threshold.

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