New legislation gives workers the right to receive a written statement of their rights, including details of sick leave and pay, when they start a new job.
The UK government's Good Work Plan, described as the biggest package of workplace reforms for over 20 years, includes a 'day one' statement of rights for all workers, explaining rights such as eligibility for sick leave and pay and details of other types of paid leave, such as maternity and paternity leave.
It comes as new research by Royal London shows that half (52%) of workers would worry about their income if they were to become too ill to work for longer than a month.
Nearly two-thirds (60%) admitted that they found their employer's sick pay policies hard to understand, with one in six workers not knowing what their employer's policy is.
While employers may offer contractual sick pay, which is more generous than Statutory Sick Pay (SSP), different companies have different policies -- yet a quarter of those surveyed by Royal London mistakenly believed sick pay policies were the same across all companies and industries.
The new legislation was welcomed by the industry body for the group risk protection sector. Katharine Moxham, spokesperson for Group Risk Development (GRiD), said:
"This is an important first step in the journey away from uncertainty around what will happen if a worker is off sick for any length of time. A common reason people don't buy personal income protection is because they think they won't need it -- 'it won't happen to me', 'the State will provide', 'my employer will look after me' -- but most don't actually know what protection is in place for them via their employer. It's absolutely crucial that people move beyond guesswork and assumption and have a clear idea of what they can expect from their employer if they have a period of sickness absence.
"Following this change, workers will be able to make a better informed decision on whether they need to make their own provision or whether they should lobby their employer to do more for them."
Other changes in the Good Work Plan include an extension of the holiday pay reference period from 12 to 52 weeks -- ensuring those in seasonal or atypical roles get the paid time off they are entitled to -- and an end to the legal loophole which enables some firms to pay agency workers less than permanent staff.
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