Small business and union leaders call for sick pay reform

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Union and business leaders have issued a joint plea to the Government to improve sick pay and help employers deal with staff absences.

The TUC and Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) have written to the Chancellor urging him to create an “effective” sick pay system to underpin the economic recovery and to make sure all employers would be able to afford it. Unions have been stepping up campaigns for better sick pay, arguing that two million low paid workers, mainly women, do not qualify because of their low earnings.

The FSB revealed that the average cost of sickness absence to small employers was just over £3,500 last year. TUC General Secretary, Frances O’Grady, said: “No-one should be forced to choose between doing the right thing and self-isolating or putting food on the table, but millions of low-paid workers have faced this impossible choice.

“Two years into the pandemic, it’s time ministers stopped turning a blind eye to this obvious problem and fixed our broken sick pay system.

“Delivering sick pay for all would be an important first step, but with statutory sick pay at a measly £96 a week, we need ministers to increase it to real living wage so people can afford to self-isolate.”

Martin McTague, of the FSB, said: “Small business owners are struggling to find £5 billion a year for sick pay costs. Last year, the Chancellor responded to our calls for help with a reintroduction of the small employer sick pay rebate until the end of March.

Pat Harrington, General Secretary of Solidarity, commented: “It’s good to see unions and small business leaders coming together to lobby the government on this issue. SSP needs to be raised and include those on low pay.

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