Construction workers at Kier will now receive sick pay of up to £100 per day, following a campaign for better conditions led by the union Unite.
Workers will benefit from the improved terms, which the construction giant has agreed to implement across the company.
Following the announcement, Unite general secretary Sharon Graham encouraged other contractors to follow suit by implementing the same policy and ending a culture of “insecure pay” within the industry.
The change, announced at the end of last week, sees an improvement on the statutory sick pay rate, which can be as little as £16 per day, according to the union.
Graham said: “Thanks to the terrific efforts of [the] Unite team, Keir workers now have added protection when sick.
“This is a much-needed step forward in an industry that is notorious for insecure pay and an inadequate safety record. We urge other construction employers to provide the same cover for their workers.”
Unite regional officer for the construction sector Malcolm Bonnett said: “Unite has been campaigning hard to end the discrimination on sick pay for construction workers, so we’re delighted by this victory.
“Statutory sick pay in the UK is the lowest in Europe, so it was vital we persuaded the employer that they had a duty to pay when workers are ill.”
He added: “From here, we build further. Unite is determined that other construction employers act to end sick pay discrimination too.”
Last year, motorway-maintenance workers at Kier, organised by Unite, took strike action over sick pay rates. They argued that their terms should be increased in line with office-based staff, who receive full sick pay.
A spokesperson for Kier said: “We recognise that our people are our greatest asset, and our teams have been working hard to provide industry-leading policies and measures to support our people.
“In the last 12 months, we have launched improved family-friendly policies, our new and enhanced standard for sick pay for all, and we have become signatories of the real Living Wage.
“All of these actions reflect the plans we put in place as a result of our strategic review. They form part of our performance excellence culture, and underline our focus [on] and commitment [to] doing the right thing.”