SSP for all - could your business afford it?
The TUC is calling for the minimum earnings threshold for statutory sick pay to be scrapped. This is because 1.4 million women (compared to 600,000 men) earn under the threshold of £118 per week (i.e. they work fewer than 15 hours pw at the NMW rate) and therefore get no pay at all if they are off sick. If this came into effect, how would it affect your business?
The call has come because it disproportionately affects women who tend to be in the lower paid and insecure casual contracts or zero-hours jobs due to childcare or eldercare responsibilities. It could therefore be argued that it is indirectly discriminatory. Women often have a number of low paid jobs and therefore even if they add up to more than £118 per week, it only counts if it is earned in one employment.
The figures come from analysis of data gathered by the Office of National Statistics and Mary-Ann Stephenson, director of the Women's Budget Group commented on them saying, "This research shows that low-earning women, who are already more likely to be in insecure employment and at higher risk of poverty, are being let down by our sick pay system. These women are far less likely to have savings to fall back on if they become sick, meaning that they are more likely to fall into debt or fall behind with their rent,"
I am aware that some employers limit the number of hours worked by employees so that they aren’t liable for any sick pay if their staff are not well enough to work. Their businesses simply cannot afford to pay out if the staff are off – especially since SSP is no longer reclaimable from the government. It remains to be seen whether the calls are heeded. If they are, then some businesses will need to review their business models to ensure that they can afford to cover sick leave costs.
Posted on 07 Oct 2019