Two million low-paid workers could receive government-funded sick pay for the first time.
Currently, workers need to earn at least £118 a week – 14 hours at a minimum wage rate – to receive statutory sick pay – although this is reviewed every tax year.
The Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) has said that the 1.1 million gig economy workers in the UK would benefit from these plans, as long as they meet certain criteria – although it is unclear what this criteria is.
DWP said it did not seek to “undermine the flexibility in the UK labour market”.
Returning to work after illness
The government is also looking to make statutory sick pay more flexible, as it seeks to reduce the number of people quitting work after a period of sickness.
Each year more than 100,000 people leave their job after a sickness absence lasting at least four weeks.
The government will explore allowing phased returns to work, in which workers would continue to receive statutory sick pay, as well as offering small businesses who help employees return to work a rebate.
Employees could also be given the right to request modifications to their working patterns – similar to the right to request flexible working – to help them return to work. This could be a change in working hours, or working from home on certain days.
Health Secretary Matt Hancock said: “We need to remove the barriers that stop people with disabilities or health conditions from reaching their full potential – these steps will help us achieve that.”