In light of the spread of coronavirus or COVID-19 the Trades Union Congress (TUC) is calling on the Government to introduce emergency legislation that provides Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) for all workers despite how much they earn or for how long they have worked with that company.
Frances O’Grady, general secretary of the TUC has sent a letter to Matt Hancock, secretary of state for Health and Social Care, warning him that inadequate sick pay could result in people ignoring the Governments advice and still attending work when they are ill.
Some employees struggle to meet basic living costs if they cannot attend work for a prolonged period of time and thus feel that they must go to work whilst ill.
Almost 2 million workers are not eligible for SSP, this includes 34 per cent of zero-hour workers. As well as 10 per cent of women in work, 62 per cent of workers aged 16-24 and over half of the workers aged 65 and over, who have been identified as one of the groups most vulnerable to catching the virus.
The TUC is calling on the Government to:
- Emergency legislation to ensure SSP coverage for all workers from the first day of sickness, regardless of how much they earn.
- An increase in the amount of sick pay to the equivalent of the National Living Wage
- A requirement that those asked by their employer to self-isolate on public health grounds remain on full pay.
- An emergency fund to assist employers with the cost and to cover workers not currently eligible for Statutory Sick Pay.
Ms O’Grady said:
We all want people to follow the Government’s health advice. No one should be out of pocket for doing the right thing.
But as it stands, many people won’t be able to meet basic living costs if they stay home from work.
This is an impossible choice that has serious implications for us all. The fairest and simplest solution is to immediately reform sick pay legislation so it covers all workers at a decent rate.
It’s the sensible way to give working families the security they need – and to protect public health.