Two million workers could receive statutory sick pay for first time
Government changes could see two million low-income workers become eligible for statutory sick pay.
Currently, employees must earn the equivalent of 14 hours on minimum wage, £118 a week, to be eligible.
However, the government is reviewing whether to extend the qualifying criteria.
Those returning to work after taking sick leave could also have more help made available to them as the government seeks to make statutory sick pay more flexible and crack down on the number of people abandoning employment entirely after longer periods off work.
According to official figures from the Department for Work and Pensions, in excess of 100,000 people leave their jobs every year following a period of sickness leave with a minimum duration of four weeks.
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.”
A consultation on the proposed changes is being made, although the threshold to qualify for sick pay is already reviewed every financial year.
The government will also look into allowing a more phased return to the workplace during which employees affected would continue to receive sick pay.
It is also reviewing potentially offering a rebate to businesses who help employees make a full return to working life, as well as making changes to legal guidance to encourage employers to make early intervention when an employee undergoes an extended period of sickness leave.
The roughly 1.1 million so-called “gig” economy workers in the UK who are employed on a freelance basis or on short-term contracts, who do not receive sick pay from employers or receive very little, will also be accounted for in the new regulations should they meet specific requirements.