As a result of a change in the law which came into force on 17 December 2021, employees can now self-certify for up to 28 days for periods of sickness between 10 December 2021 up to (and including) 26 January 2022. The normal limit is seven days.

Those who fall ill in this time window will have to go and see their GP for a “fit note” if they are off work because of an illness for longer than 28 days.

Although the change is welcome, even if temporary, it doesn’t help UK workers financially who have the lowest statutory sick pay in real terms in almost two decades, according to research by the TUC.

The TUC also found that barely a quarter of workers get statutory sick pay (at just £96.35 per week) as it is only available to employees earning £120 per week or more. Two million workers, mostly women, do not qualify and cannot access statutory sick pay at all and for around a third of workers– over 10 million people –statutory sick pay is too low to meet basic living costs.

The TUC estimates that removing the lower earnings limit - something the government agreed to and then rowed back on in July last year - would cost employers a maximum of £150 million a year, less - if the government chose to foot the bill - than one per cent of the money spent on the test and trace scheme.

And although the government introduced a temporary scheme to assist people who faced hardship if required to self-isolate, TUC research found that two-thirds of applications were rejected.

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 regulations in full, click here.