Thousands of workers falling ill at financial risk – women being the worst hit as one in three could only survive two weeks with no income
- According to the survey, women who take sick leave are at greater financial risk than men
- One in three women said they would be without income for two weeks or less
- Men have, on average, almost £ 3,000 more in savings than women
Thousands of British employees and self-employed are at financial risk as the New Year begins, due to poor sick pay standards and rising cost of living, with women being the hardest hit, new research suggests.
With many workers being forced into isolation due to Omicron and the UK’s statutory sick pay system, which is the least generous in almost all developed countries, many workers could see another tough year in 2022.
Women in particular could find themselves in need, as, according to a survey of 1,250 employed and self-employed Britons, every third week or less would get by without an income.
Sick: Women who take sick leave are at greater financial risk than men
Women who take sick leave are at greater financial risk than men, also because they generally have fewer savings than their male counterparts.
The study commissioned by the life insurance advisory platform Anorak found that men save, on average, nearly £ 3,000 more than women.
It also found that one in five women has no idea how much sick leave they are entitled to.
As a result, nearly half of those surveyed said they were afraid for their financial prospects, compared with just 34 percent of men.
The study highlights the financial risk many people face from being on sick leave, particularly the disproportionate effects it has on women.
This is particularly a problem in the UK, where workers who have been unemployed for more than four days in a row due to illness are entitled to statutory sick pay of just £ 96.35 per week.
This is the lowest value in almost all industrialized countries and, in relation to average employee income, lower than in Latvia, Lithuania, Slovakia, Slovenia or other OECD industrialized countries.
The self-employed are in an even worse position, as they are not entitled to statutory sick pay – and here too women could be on the losing side, as more and more of them have become self-employed in recent years.
According to the Office for National Statistics, women’s self-employment in the UK has increased 45 percent over the past decade, compared with an 18.4 percent increase for men.
Rising cost of living: Inflation reached 5.1% and is now set to reach 6% in the new year
In addition, households face the greatest pressure in a decade in 2022 as inflation rises and tax hikes ease.
In late 2021, prices rose as energy and fuel costs skyrocketed. Inflation reached 5.1 percent and is now expected to reach 6 percent in the new year.
“Women in particular were exposed to financial burdens during the pandemic,” said Tiina Björk, chief design officer at Anorak.
“The results reveal the worrying exposure to which millions of Britons across the UK are exposed, especially given the rise in lengthy Covid cases.
“Women, low-income families, freelancers and gig economy workers in particular should feel encouraged to secure their living expenses through income protection when winter begins with an increased risk of new variations and burnout.”
Income protection insurance, also known as income replacement, protects your monthly income if you can no longer work due to injury or illness.
It has never been a bestseller – also because it is considered more complex, more expensive and is paid out monthly instead of as a one-off payment.
It also didn’t help that income protection was lumped together with the infamous “Payment Protection Insurance,” also known as PPI.
According to Anorak, around 66 percent of working adults in the UK have no income protection and a quarter have never heard of it.
The youngest Britons, ages 18-24, are most adept at protecting income from illness, with 15 percent buying income protection as a result of the pandemic – the highest of any age group.