More than a third of UK cleaners have worked while they were ill

6th of November 2023
More than a third of UK cleaners have worked while they were ill

Low-paid UK cleaners are dragging themselves to work when they are ill because many of them are unable to claim sick pay, research has found.

A year-long investigation into conditions in the sector has revealed that more than a third of cleaners have worked while unwell.

Workers who earn more than £123 a week are legally entitled to statutory sick pay after a period of three days, although many employers across the economy implement their own more generous schemes.

However, many of the 500 cleaners polled told researchers they earned too little to qualify for statutory sick pay or that they could not afford to manage without three days' pay before it kicked in. And in some cases, their employer had refused to pay.

"They told us that if we got ill, they weren't going to pay us or they were going to sack us," said one survey participant while another said: "My friend fell while she was at work. She was at home for a month, and they didn't pay her."

Elias Alvarenga, a Canary Wharf cleaner and Unite representative, said he commonly spoke to colleagues who did not receive sick pay. "We have a lot of members working for different companies in this situation," he said.

Will Stronge, director of research at Autonomy which conducted the study, said: "The UK has one of the least generous sick pay systems in the industrialised world. Millions of workers across the country are missing out on sick pay and this is making the workplace unsafe for everyone."



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