New Proposal May Add 2 Million More Workers to the Scope of Statutory Sick Pay

What is Statutory Sick Pay?

Employers must pay Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) to workers who meet the eligibility criteria and who can’t work for more than 4 days (including non-working days) due to sickness. It’s worth £94.25 per week (in 2019/20) for up to 28 weeks.

Statutory Sick Pay is the mandatory minimum you must offer to eligible employees — of course, some employers have a sick pay policy that offers more, perhaps a set number of days or weeks at full pay.

SSP is paid for the days an employee normally works (known as ‘qualifying days’) and in the same way as wages, for example on the normal payday, deducting tax and National Insurance.

Statutory Sick Pay: What’s Changing?

The government tabled a new proposal in July 2019 that includes extending Statutory Sick Pay to 2 million more workers. The consultation on the issue will run until October 2019. If brought into action, the move will provide low-paid, mostly part-time workers with Statutory Sick Pay.

Current rules mean employees have to be earning at least £118 per week to be eligible for SSP; this is equivalent to around 14 hours each week on minimum wage. Government figures show that around 2 million people are below this earnings threshold and therefore fall at the first hurdle when it comes to eligibility for SSP.

The proposal on the table may extend Statutory Sick Pay to gig economy workers also. They currently fall foul of the eligibility criteria because they don’t have an official employment contract and so aren’t entitled to sick pay or holiday pay.

The low-paid have few avenues to explore when it comes to sick pay, so these proposals are a welcome move. However, what the proposal doesn’t address is the fact that Statutory Sick Pay is only really a bare minimum — amounting to less than £14 a day — and even the lowest-paid workers may struggle to survive on such a small amount.

One alternative could be an Sick Pay Insurance policy that pays out a proportion of your wages should you become incapacitated and be unable to work. Given Income Protection can insure up to 65% of gross earnings, you can generally cover a lot more than you’d receive in SSP, potentially saving you from significant financial hardship when all you ought to be focusing on is your recovery.

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