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One in ten women not earning enough for sick pay, TUC finds

STATUTORY sick pay thresholds are disproportionately affecting women, with one in 10 not earning enough to qualify, the TUC revealed today.

Around 1.4 million female employees earn less than £118 a week, which is the qualifying threshold for statutory sick pay, and have no protection if they fall ill, according to the union confederation’s new analysis.

Eligible working people can receive £94.25 per week statutory sick pay from their employer for up to 28 weeks if they’re too unwell to work.

But women account for nearly 70 per cent of the two million British workers currently ineligible for statutory sick pay.

People in insecure work are even more likely to miss out, with nearly a quarter of zero-hours contract workers – many of whom are women and young people -– not earning enough to qualify.

Women are also more likely to work part time due to caring responsibilities, further reducing their chances of qualifying, according to the TUC.

General secretary Frances O’Grady said: “No-one should worry about falling into debt or struggling to pay their bills when they’re ill.

“It’s not right that women and insecure workers are most likely to miss out on sick pay just because they are low earners.

“The government needs to get on and protect every worker if they fall sick.”

With a government consultation on statutory sick pay open until Monday, the TUC is calling for the arbitrary minimum earning threshold to be scrapped.

Fawcett Society chief executive Sam Smethers said: “Too many women are trapped in low-paid, insecure jobs, often working part time. They are also more likely than men to stay in part-time work for longer.  

“This is why we need the national living wage to be paid at the real living wage rate for all workers and paid now, not at some point in the future.  

“In-work poverty is growing and women and children are bearing the brunt of it.”

A government spokesman said ministers were “committed to transforming support” for people with disabilities or a health condition so that they can return to the workplace.

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