The minimal increase of £3 in statutory sick pay (SSP) means the essential financial support is still set “below survival rate,” the TUC has warned.
Wednesday’s rise in SSP to £99.35 a week means Britain’s sick pay, which is not available to those earning less than £123 a week on average, remains among the lowest in Europe, the union body said.
Solidarity and other unions have long called for more generous support to avoid people being forced to work when they are ill.
The problem reportedly led to many workers being unable to afford to self-isolate during the Covid-19 pandemic.
TUC general secretary Frances O’Grady said: “Time and time again we warned ministers that sick pay wasn’t enough to live on.
“After more than two years of the pandemic, it’s inhumane and counter-productive for ministers not to have fixed our broken sick pay system.
“Enough is enough. It’s time for decent sick pay for all — paid at the real living wage so people can pay their bills when they’re ill.”
It should be increased to £330 a week and the earnings threshold abolished, the TUC argued, which would open the scheme to an additional two million workers.
Institute of Employment Rights director Ben Sellers told the pro-worker Morning Star newspaper: “A marginal increase of £3 a week doesn’t begin to address the issue, while many workers fail to qualify for SSP at all.
“Covid has shone a light on how inadequate our sick pay system is in this country, with many workers being forced to go into work while ill, putting themselves and their colleagues at risk.
“Adequately resourcing sick pay works for everyone — employers, workers and the economy.”
SSP, which is not tax free, is available for most employees in Britain from the fourth day they are sick for up to 28 weeks.
However, according to official figures compiled by law firm Compensation Experts, workers in Iceland, Norway, Luxembourg and Denmark receive 100 per cent of their salary when off sick.
Employees in Switzerland get 103 weeks’ sick leave on 80 per cent pay, while their colleagues in Germany receive half pay for 84 weeks.
France and Italy only offer 50 per cent for 26 weeks, while Ireland has no legal minimum sick pay at all.