Sickness while unemployed

The provisions in the new regulations for people who fall sick while they are unemployed are very restrictive. People are exempt from the requirement to be available for work for “a maximum of 14 consecutive days from the date (of sickness)” or “on no more than 2 such periods in any period of 12 months.” (UC Regulations s.90 (5a))

This is not equivalent to saying that a person could be sick for 28 days in any one year – though that would still be more restrictive than the conditions applying to people in employment who claim Statutory Sick Pay. It states that a person will cease to be available for work if that person is sick for any period of more than 14 days, or has three periods of sickness in a year, regardless of their length. Someone who is sick for longer is not entitled to benefit; the same is true if their partner is sick, because these rules apply to both members of a couple. So, a person sick for three bouts of three days in a year – less than the national average for British workers – could be denied benefit. A person who is unfortunate enough to contract a long-term illness which does not lead to long-term incapacity for work, such as diabetes or heart disease, could be subject to sanctions on that account.

It does seem to me that any restrictions of this sort should be set with reference to evidence – which I don’t have – and sanctions should only be applied at the upper end.

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