Govt must limit spread of Coronavirus with paid sick leave, says TUC

The TUC has called on the government to ensure that workers are provided with paid sick leave to prevent presenteeism during the Coronavirus outbreak, which could further spread the potentially dangerous virus.

28 Feb 2020

General Secretary of the TUC, Frances O’Grady, spoke out after pub giant JD Wetherspoon officially briefed its workers – many of them on low pay – that it will not pay them sick leave, even if they had been ordered into quarantine under public health guidelines.

The chain is one of the biggest employers in the UK, with 45,000 workers, who are often part-time and poorly renumerated, with some likely to be taking home less than the Statutory Earnings Limit of £118 a week.

People paid less than this amount are not eligible for statutory sick pay under any circumstances, and those on wages above £118 a week are not entitled to sick pay for the first three days of their absence.

Even then, statutory sick pay is only worth £94.25 a week if an employer does not provide a more generous scheme, which is an unaffordable wage to many workers.

“People shouldn’t feel scared about self isolating because of money worries. Sick pay should kick in from the first day of absence,” O’Grady said.

“The threat of coronavirus shows why sick pay should be a day-one right for everybody. It’s not right that millions of UK workers miss out on this protection. The government must ensure everyone gets statutory sick pay, however much they earn.”