The Conservative Government is under mounting pressure to tackle inadequate sick pay levels in the UK, after a study by the TUC found that more than a quarter of a million workers were self-isolating without decent sick pay last month.
The Trades Union Congress warned that workers on low or no sick pay face the "impossible choice" of having to self-isolate and face economic hardship, or risk spreading Covid in order to put food on the table and pay bills.
Its research found that around 267,800 workers in private firms were self-isolating without decent levels of sick pay or any sick pay at all in December. It added that almost 210,000 people had to rely on statutory sick pay.
The UK has one of the lowest rates of sick pay in Europe, with the Council of Europe describing it as “manifestly inadequate." The SNP has consistently challenged the UK Government to ensure that Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) is increased in line with a Real Living Wage and made available to all for 52 weeks.
Commenting, Gordon MP Richard Thomson said:
"At a time when a cost-of-living crisis is affecting households and workers are being pushed into an impossible position over sick pay when self-isolating, the UK Government has continued to sit on its hands and refuse to bring forward meaningful support.
"As restrictions are safely removed, self-isolation is crucial in tackling Covid infections. But people must not be forced into an impossible choice between self-isolating or putting food on their table due to inadequate levels of sick pay in the UK.
“Statutory Sick Pay in its current form is one of the lowest in Europe and does not meet the needs of real people. The SNP has been clear that SSP must be increased in line with the Real Living Wage, made available to all and extended to 52 weeks.
"Unfortunately, the focus of the Conservative Government would appear to be elsewhere and it is failing to learn any lessons from the pandemic - it has refused to lift a finger to tackle sick pay in the UK and has failed to bring forward measures to secure a fair recovery from the crisis.
"If the UK Government won’t act, then it’s time that our own Parliament in Edinburgh was given the powers to act on sick pay and provide a social security system that meets people’s needs."