Thousands of British women workers can’t afford to fall ill, says trade union

LONDON (Xinhua) – Almost 1.4 million women workers in Britain are denied statutory sick pay when they fall ill because they earn less than a government qualifying threshold, a report by the country’s biggest trade union organisation has revealed.

The Trade Union Congress (TUC) last Friday called on the government to scrap a state-imposed threshold which disqualifies those who earn less than 118 pounds a week. The statutory sick pay scheme was geared towards full time employees, but the TUC analysis said women are more likely to work part time due to caring responsibilities.

As a result the women, many of whom are working moms, can’t claim the protection if they fall ill. TUC analysis reveals that women account for more than two-thirds (69 per cent) of nearly two million British workers currently ineligible for statutory sick pay. According to TUC, women, who are most at risk of not qualifying for statutory sick pay, are more likely to be stuck in low-paid and insecure work.

The British government is currently carrying out a review of the country’s sick-pay rules which could lead to the qualifying level being lowered to enable more low-pay workers to receive sick pay.

The consultation period ends Monday, after which the Department of Work and Pensions will study representations made by organisations such as the TUC.

TUC General Secretary Frances O’Grady said, “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 study shows that in Britain, there are 1,381,459 women workers and 608,509 men who don’t earn enough to get sick pay if they become ill.