New analysis published by the TUC has found that almost 650,000 workers in the hospitality, retail, arts, and entertainment sectors do not qualify for statutory sick pay.

The TUC is warning that workers in these sectors are at particular risk of being left with no work and no income over the Christmas period, resulting in drastic cuts to their livelihoods.

This is because of new rules which require anyone coming into contact with a confirmed Omicron case to self-isolate for ten days, even if they have been vaccinated.

The total of 647,000 workers includes:

  • 238,000 hospitality workers (one in six, or 16 per cent of the workforce)
  • 336,000 retail workers (one in ten, or 10 per cent of the workforce) 
  • 73,000 arts and entertainment workers (one in eight, or 12 per cent of the workforce).

Although the government introduced a temporary scheme to assist people who face hardship if required to self-isolate, TUC research has found that most applications are rejected.

Analysis by the TUC earlier in the year also found that two million workers in the UK were not eligible for sick pay; and that levels of sick pay, which were already inadequate, have fallen over the past decade.

The UK already has the least generous statutory sick pay in Europe, worth just £96.35 per week. And it is only available to employees earning £120 per week or more. This leaves around a third of workers – over 10 million people – with sick pay that is too low to meet basic living costs, or no sick pay at all.

The TUC is therefore calling on the government to:

  •  Extend statutory sick pay protection to every worker by removing the lower earnings limit
  •  Increase statutory sick pay to at least the value of the real Living Wage of £346 per week.

To read the TUC report on sick pay, click here.