The NHS Test and Trace system has a heightened chance of failing if Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) is not boosted.
This warning comes from the Trades Union Congress (TUC) after finding that more than two-fifths (43 per cent) of workers would find themselves financially struggling if they were forced to self-isolate for two weeks on SSP. If a worker earns less than £15,000 annually, then this number rises to 50 per cent. Just under half (47 per cent) of employees earning below £29,000 said they could not cope financially on SSP.
The current rate of SSP is £95.85 per week, which is one of the lowest levels offered in Europe. When staff was asked what are the three top priorities they would change for improving their work life, increasing SSP was the third highest suggestion.
Due to these reasons, the TUC is calling on the Government to increase the rate of SSP to the real living wage of £320 a week.
Another issue with SSP is that if you are already receiving statutory maternity, paternity, adoption, additional paternity pay or self-employed you are not eligible to receive SSP.
Frances O’Grady, general secretary of the TUC, said:
We all want NHS Test and Trace to work. It’s crucial for stopping the spread of Covid-19 and for getting our economy back on its feet.
But the lack of decent sick pay puts everything at risk. Asking workers to self-isolate on £96 a week is not viable – especially when many don’t have savings to fall back on.
We can’t have a situation where people are forced to choose between their health and paying their bills.
Employers must do their civic duty and make sure workers can self-isolate on full pay. But where bosses can’t or won’t the government must step in.
Unless ministers fix this gaping hole in our safety net Britain will be ill-prepared for a second wave of infections or more local lockdowns.
The government must ensure that everyone has access to sick pay and raise the basic rate to at least the real living wage of £320 a week.
The TUC gathered these results through BritainThinks, an insight and strategy consultancy asking 2,133 workers in England and Wales their opinion on the matter.