Statutory sick pay (SSP) has fallen by nearly a 10th in real terms since the Conservatives came to power in 2010, the Scottish National Party (SNP) has claimed.
However, the government responded by pointing out that many employers choose to pay more in occupational sick pay.
The SNP’s analysis of House of Commons Library data found that in 2009-10, SSP was worth £120.01 in 2023/24 prices, whereas now it is worth only £109.40 – a drop of 8.84%.
The party said the figures showed that Britain was “the sick man of Europe”, and pointed out that the 28-week limit on SSP compared unfavourably with sick pay offerings in other countries such as Switzerland (two years) and Norway (12 months).
The SNP’s business spokesperson Richard Thomson described the current support offered by Westminster for employees too ill to work as “threadbare” and “truly pathetic”.
Thomson added: “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.
“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.”
In response to the SNP’s claims, a spokesperson for the Department for Work and Pensions said: “Employers can decide to pay more in occupational sick pay and for longer – and many do.
“Universal credit provides a strong financial safety net for those who need extra support, and we’re helping those with disabilities and health conditions start, stay and succeed in work through a range of programmes, access to work grants and advice services.”