A report from the Work and Pensions Committee highlights the inadequacy of Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) in providing essential financial support to workers during illness.

MPs are now calling for reforms to enhance SSP and broaden its accessibility to better serve those in need.

The Committee suggests a modest increase in SSP, aligning it with Statutory Maternity Pay, to strike a balance between offering additional financial assistance and avoiding excessive costs for businesses. It proposes extending SSP eligibility to all employees, not just those surpassing the lower earnings limit.

Rising Rates of Sickness Absence

With sickness absence and ill health on the rise, reaching a record 185.6 million lost working days in 2022, the current SSP system is deemed insufficient by the Committee. It notes that many reliant on SSP find it inadequate, while others remain ineligible for any support.

While acknowledging past government consultations on SSP reform, the Committee asserts that the time for action is now. The immediate impact of the Covid-19 pandemic, which deterred changes due to added costs on employers, is considered less pertinent, prompting the call for reform.

Chair’s Statement

Rt Hon Sir Stephen Timms MP, Chair of the Work and Pensions Committee, emphasises the urgency of SSP reform, stating that the current system fails to serve its primary purpose. Timms also highlights the necessity of establishing a contributory sick pay scheme for the self-employed to ensure equitable support during illness.

“With the country continuing to face high rates of sickness absence, the Government can no longer afford to keep kicking the can down the road on reform,” he said in a statement. “The Committee’s proposals strike the right balance between widening and strengthening support and not placing excessive burdens on business.”

The Committee’s detailed conclusions and recommendations can be found in its comprehensive report, reflecting the need for immediate action to improve SSP and provide adequate support to workers during periods of illness.