Workers are reportedly up to £6,000 a year worse off because the current 45p rate, set by HM Revenue and Customs, has not changed in over a decade, according to research by the union and the RAC Foundation.
The report Driven Out of Work says the allowance should be 63.4p a mile based on increased motoring costs and inflation.
UK fuel prices remain consistently high with the average in June 2023 being 143.04p for petrol and 145.77p for diesel.
This financial ‘mileage gap’ means public sector workers – who need to travel as part of their jobs – are effectively subsidising their employers for their work-related journeys, says the report.
NHS workers say the additional cost to work is leaving them with sleepless nights.
Samina, an NHS worker in Leicester, explained, “I can’t afford to top my car up to see patients in their homes. I have sleepless nights as a result. I’m now thinking of leaving a job I love.”
Some staff also said they are using up annual leave rather than go into work or calling in sick because they have run out of fuel and cannot afford to fill up their vehicles.
UNISON general secretary Christina McAnea adds, “Mileage rates are woefully out of date. No one should pay a penalty effectively for doing their job, least of all those providing vital services.
“Petrol prices have skyrocketed. Care workers, nurses and other frontline employees can barely make their incomes stretch to cover the basics, let alone the costs of using their vehicles for work.
“The government must tackle low pay now, not threaten to hold public sector wages down. Essential staff shouldn’t be out of pocket for going to work. A failure to act now risks worsening the already dire staffing crisis.”