A coalition of charities and well being consultants has known as for an overhaul of the UK’s “broken” sick pay system, because the variety of individuals prevented from working by long-term illness reached a report excessive.
The group urged the well being secretary, Steve Barclay, to assist modifications that it says wouldn’t simply handle widening well being inequalities but additionally profit the economic system.
Figures launched on Tuesday morning by the Workplace for Nationwide Statistics (ONS) confirmed the variety of individuals throughout the UK who’re economically inactive due to long-term illness is a report 2.5 million, up 400,000 because the begin of the Covid-19 pandemic.
It is going to be tough to attain the goals of the federal government’s current “back to work” price range and not using a wholesome workforce who’re supported when they fall ill, says a letter to Barclay coordinated by the Protected Sick Pay marketing campaign.
“Our sick pay system lags behind the rest of Europe,” says the letter, whose signatories included the chief executives of Thoughts, the Centre for Psychological Well being and the Enterprise Incapacity Discussion board and Prof Jim McManus, the president of the Affiliation of Administrators of Public Well being.
For the UK to return into line with worldwide requirements, they name for modifications together with the abolition of the earnings threshold for statutory sick pay (SSP) – a change that will assist staff together with these with a variety of jobs – together with making SSP payable from the primary day of illness and rising it to be in keeping with a employee’s wages as much as the “real living wage”.
The problem is especially pertinent for lower- and a few middle-income staff. An estimated 8 million individuals solely have entry to a below-subsistence degree of £1.10 an hour sick pay within the first week and £3 an hour thereafter.
“Workers are encouraged to either leave employment or go back to work before they are fully better,” says the letter. “The strain of coping with illness coupled with the financial hit can also exacerbate mental health problems and can tip people into a mental health crisis. The result is widening health inequalities.”
The charities and consultants draw consideration to the practically 2 million individuals equivalent to cleaners, carers and oldsters juggling childcare or a number of jobs, who they are saying are “slipping through the cracks” and get no sick pay in any respect.
In parliament there’s an uncommon diploma of cross-party assist for calls to overtake the sick pay system. The backbench Tory MP Jonathan Gullis used prime minister’s inquiries to press the case for reforms that he stated had broad assist from companies, and proposals are additionally being mentioned by Labour.
Gullis informed the Guardian he was wanting ahead to assembly the chancellor Jeremy Hunt to press for sick pay reform within the autumn assertion.
Gullis stated he and fellow Conservative MPs Priti Patel and Robert Buckland would meet subsequent month with the Centre for Progressive Change thinktank and the chancellor, Jeremy Hunt, to press for sick pay reform in his autumn assertion.
He added: “With over 75% of British businesses responding to a government survey saying they support change to sick pay, the chancellor has clear road ahead of him to make these important reforms, improve the health of our workforce and help grow the economy.”
Whereas campaigners are desperate to see what commitments make it into the Labour manifesto, Keir Starmer talked on the current annual convention of the GMB union about “statutory sick pay for all”.
Talking about carers, he stated: “For many of them, every time they had to self-isolate during the crisis, they did so at their own expense, with no sick pay. That’s not on.”
The Protected Sick Pay marketing campaign cites analysis indicating that improved entry to paid sick go away will help improve worker retention, with one research of most cancers sufferers suggesting staff lined by paid sick go away had been thrice extra prone to return to work.
Charities together with Younger Lives vs Most cancers have joined the marketing campaign due to what they regard because the disproportionate impact on most cancers sufferers from present SSP preparations. The charity says younger individuals and oldsters have spoken of the difficulties of accessing SSP for causes together with the phrases of contracts, the varieties of jobs they’re in or as a result of they’re in part-time or insecure work.
The Division of Well being and Social Care and the Division for Work and Pensions have been approached for remark.