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Sick Pay Slashed in ‘Sick Man of Europe’, Says Stirling MP


Categories: Health, , UK Government (Westminster)

SSP Cut by Almost One-Tenth by Tories

Local Stirling MP Alyn Smith has condemned the UK Government’s callous approach to sick pay, after new research exposed huge cuts to Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) since the Tories came to power.

Independent analysis, commissioned by the SNP, shows Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) in the UK has been cut by almost a tenth (8.84%) in real terms. In 2009/10, sick pay was worth £120.01 a week in 2023/24 prices, whereas now it’s only worth £109.40 a week – a reduction of £10.61. As a result, someone reliant on sick pay for the maximum 28 weeks would find themselves almost £300 poorer (£297.08) than they would be prior to the Tories taking power. 

Comparative research shows UK sick pay is significantly worse than other countries in north-west Europe. The UK is the only country that sets a low flat rate for employer-paid statutory sick pay, and ONS data shows the current UK rate of £109.40 a week is worth just 18% of average weekly gross pay in the UK, which is currently £607. 

In contrast, in Switzerland, Norway, Austria, Luxembourg, Germany, and Belgium employees get 100% of full wages for a period of months or years. In Switzerland it’s up to two years, in Norway one year, in Austria up to twelve weeks, in Luxembourg eleven weeks, in Germany six weeks, and in Belgium up to a month. In Sweden you are entitled to 80% of your wage for a year, and in the Netherlands, you are entitled to 70% of wage for up to two years. 

In most European countries, there is then a further period of paid sick leave, covered by state benefits or health insurance schemes. In almost all cases, these schemes are also significantly more generous than the UK. In Germany, after six weeks of full pay employees are entitled to 70% of earnings from health insurance, and in Austria full pay is followed by 50% of wages then 60% after six weeks.

Stirling MP and SNP Spokesperson for Europe and EU Accession said:

‘These latest figures lay out clearly the threadbare nature of social security support for workers across Scotland and the UK, when compared to our north-western European neighbours. Ill health can strike anyone, anytime, anywhere – and it is an outrage that many workers face such low levels of Statutory Sick Pay. Comparing 100% pay coverage to the UK’s little more than £100 a week, it’s clear the damage successive Tory and Labour UK Governments have caused.’

‘The pandemic illustrated quite clearly what happens when workers fall through the cracks in support, and don’t get the help they need under Westminster control. Only with independence can Scotland chart a route back into the European Union, and begin taking the policy steps necessary to build a modern, comprehensive social security system fit for the name.’


House of Commons Library analysis