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Faculty of Economics

Women and older workers are less likely to have access to employer-provided sick pay, according to a University of Cambridge academic, from the Covid Inequality Project. The research has also found that workers in jobs that cannot be done from home are particularly unlikely to have sick pay.


Dr Christopher Rauh

Research by Dr Christopher Rauh, a University Lecturer at the Faculty of Economics, has found that those in poorer, less stable occupations have much less access to employer provided sick pay. However, as he says, “many would willingly sacrifice some of their renumeration, meagre though it is, just so they can gain access to sick pay. However, many would not be willing to sacrifice anything, leaving them uninsured.”

Furthermore, he has found that workers without sick pay are much more likely to work when experiencing cold-like symptoms. “This is really concerning, considering at the moment, anyone with the slightest symptoms is encouraged to stay at home, due to Covid. However, with their employer unlikely to provide any compensation if they are sick, workers just turn up for work when they are ill. That is inevitably going to have undesirable consequences.”

In the working paper The Value of Sick Pay, Abi Adams-Prassl, Teodora Boneva, Marta Golin, and Christopher Rauh provide an overview of who has access to employer-provided sick pay in the UK and how much it is valued by workers.

Sick Leave Image

The UK has the lowest statutory sick pay of all OECD countries, and he has found that nearly one quarter of the working population has extremely low pay when on sick leave. Typically, this is of only about 10% of their normal earnings. Thankfully, as least three quarters of employees have access to sick pay through their employer.

Dr Rauh believes that given the current pandemic, there is strong support for generous public provision of sick pay coverage. “Many workers, when informed of the risk of sick workers showing up for work, increase their support for the public provision.”

The full paper is available: