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Highland Council urged by councillors to back sick pay reform in meeting today

By Ian Duncan

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Highland Council headquarters.
Highland Council headquarters.

The current level of statutory sick pay is "shockingly inadequate and urgently needs to be reviewed", according to Highland councillors who are asking the authority to press for change.

Inverness Lib Dems Alex Graham and Alasdair Christie have tabled a motion for the Highland Council meeting today calling for support for a full review of the Statutory Sick Pay (SSP).

"While many employers do provide generous sick pay, about one worker in four gets Government SSP only when they are off and it is shockingly inadequate," said Councillor Graham (Inverness West).

"It is important that people who are on sick leave have proper support to enable them to recover and get back to good health and their work as soon as possible.

"The system discriminates against part-time and lower paid workers, many of whom don't even qualify for SSP."

Councillor Christie (Ness-side) added: "It has become more obvious than ever during the current Covid-19 crisis that there are clear and substantial long-standing inadequacies in the sick pay system.

"I believe that there is a very strong case to increase the rate of Statutory Sick Pay from £95.85 per week to a much fairer level to be in line with the Real Living Wage which is currently £9.30 an hour.

"Statutory Sick Pay needs to be made available from the very first day of sickness and we need to see the removal of the eligibility requirement to have average earnings of £120 per week."

Sick pay reform is a key issue for the trade union movement. Recent research by the TUC has shown that the loss of income during illness makes people more likely to fall into debt.

In a TUC paper issued earlier this year – Sick Pay for All – it also highlighted the extent to which the coronavirus has shown the need for urgent reform of the sick pay system.

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