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Monday, July 15, 2024

UK Labeled Sick Man of Europe as Support for ill Health Slashed

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The SNP has said “independence is key to a fairer, healthier and wealthier Scotland” – as new research reveals the UK lags behind its European neighbours on sick pay.

The independent analysis, commissioned by the SNP, shows Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) in the UK has been cut by almost a tenth (8.84%) in real terms since the Tories came to power.

In 2009/10, sick pay was worth £120.01 a week in 2023/24 prices, whereas now it’s only worth £109.40 a week – a reduction of £10.61. 

As a result, someone reliant on sick pay for the maximum 28 weeks would find themselves almost £300 poorer (£297.08) than they would be prior to the Tories taking power.

The research shows UK sick pay is significantly worse than other countries in north west Europe.

The UK is the only country that sets a low flat rate for employer-paid statutory sick pay, and ONS data shows the current UK rate of £109.40 a week is worth just 18% of average weekly gross pay in the UK, which is currently £607.

In contrast, in Switzerland, Norway, Austria, Luxembourg, Germany, and Belgium employees get 100% of full wages for a period of months or years.

In Switzerland it’s up to two years, in Norway it’s a year, in Austria it’s up to twelve weeks, in Luxembourg it’s eleven weeks, in Germany it’s six weeks, and in Belgium it’s up to a month.

In Sweden you are entitled to 80% of your wage for a year, and in the Netherlands you are entitled to 70% of wage for up to two years.

In most European countries, there is then a further period of paid sick leave, covered by state benefits or health insurance schemes.

In almost all cases, these schemes are also significantly more generous than the UK.

In Germany, after six weeks of full pay employees are entitled to 70% of earnings from health insurance, and in Austria full pay is followed by 50% of wages then 60% after six weeks.

Commenting, SNP Business spokesperson Richard Thomson MP said:

“The UK is the sick man of Europe when it comes to the threadbare support Westminster offers to employees who are too ill to work – showing why independence is key to building a fairer, healthier and wealthier future for Scotland.

“After decades of Tory and Labour Party failure, the UK government has fallen well behind on sick pay.

“While workers in neighbouring European countries get 100% of their full wages, workers in the UK get little more than £100 a week.

“It’s truly pathetic.

“The covid pandemic showed what happens when thousands of workers fall through the gaps and don’t get the help they need under Westminster control – but only with independence can Scotland introduce a fairer system, like our European neighbours.

“Rishi Sunak and Sir Keir Starmer must explain why they won’t increase UK sick pay to the higher levels seen in Europe – and why they are refusing to reverse the cuts Westminster has made to household incomes and workers’ rights.

“At the next election, voting SNP is the only way to secure independence, tackle the cost of living and escape the damage of Westminster control for good.”

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