One million of the UK's lowest earners miss out on sick pay

Sick pay reform UK low income earners

Did you know that over one million workers in the UK are ineligible for sick pay?

A recent report by the Work Foundation has found that 3.5% of the UK’s workforce does not qualify for Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) simply because they do not meet the minimum earnings threshold of £123.

Calls for urgent reforms to SSP eligibility criteria

Groups are now calling for urgent reforms to the UK’s SSP policy that will remove the minimum earnings threshold and give low-income earners a living wage when they are absent from work due to illness.

The Work Foundation’s report found that the current policies disproportionately affected certain people already experiencing disadvantages in the workforce; these included women, young people and those living with disabilities.

How many employers are offering sick pay above the SSP rate?

While companies are free to go above and beyond the statutory minimums set by the government, the basic eligibility criteria do little to address the real needs of low-income earning employees. As it stands, only 53% of employers pay above the minimum required sick pay. As a result, more people are choosing to continue their work week when sick, also known as ‘presenteeism’, impacting long-term health and productivity.

SSP is not keeping up with the times

The current rate of statutory sick pay for eligible employees is £116.75, which is only 17% of the average weekly earnings for UK workers. When the scheme was established in the early 1980s, the sick pay rate was the equivalent of 35% of weekly earnings.

Recommendations to strengthen SSP policy

Following the upcoming general election, the Work Foundation will call on the UK Government to create better policy through a comprehensive Employment Bill within the first 100 days in office. They also hope to establish a commission and review to establish fairer leave conditions that move with the future of the UK’s workforce.



Ché manages our marketing, communications and partnerships. She helps people find Leave Dates and make sure it is right for them. Her favourite weekly task is sending thank you messages to customers who review us.