UK sick pay legislation is in breach of EU law

UK sick pay is found to breach international legal obligations

Money available is ‘manifestly inadequate’, says European committee of social rights

Statutory sick pay and social protections for jobless and self-employed people in the UK are in breach of legal obligations under European law, the Council of Europe has found.

Provisions for the sick and unemployed in the UK were found to be “manifestly inadequate” in a report by the European Committee of Social Rights (ECSR).

The findings stated that the UK was “not in conformity” with a number of legal obligations dictated by the European Social Charter, a legally-binding economic and social counterpart to the European Convention on Human Rights.

The committee said a change to the law three years ago to relax levels of health and safety regulation for self-employed workers had created a “discriminatory” system that falls foul of international law.

It also found that sick and unemployed people were often receiving 40 per cent less than the median income in the UK.

As part of its yearly conclusions, the ECSR found the UK to be in breach of article 12 of the charter – the right to social security – and article 13, the right to social and medical assistance.

The committee said the conclusions had been drawn due to “inadequate” statutory sick pay, minimum levels of Employment Support Allowance, the level of long-term incapacity benefits, the level of unemployment benefits, and all self-employed and domestic workers not being covered by the occupational health and safety regulations.

“Regardless of the additional social assistance benefits which might be available, the committee considers that the level of these benefits is manifestly inadequate,” the committee said.

The findings covered health, social security and social protection in the UK between 1 January 2012 and 31 December 2015.

A DWP spokesperson said: “Our welfare system is among the best in the world and we are committed to helping people improve their lives. We spend over £90bn a year supporting people of working age, including those who are out of work or on a low income.”

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