Unions win argument on day one sick pay during Coronovirus outbreak, but govt ignores millions of precarious workers

Repeated calls from UK unions for the government to provide sick pay from day one of absence for workers forced to self-isolate have won out.

6 Mar 2020

The government has finally taken steps to ensure that workers who are forced to self-isolate due to the Coronavirus outbreak will receive Statutory Sick Pay from day one of absence after unions warned of the huge public health repercussions of presenteeism.

However, there has been no help provided for the millions of workers who are not eligible for statutory sick pay and those who cannot afford to live on a lower income.

Statutory sick pay is currently only provided for those who earn above the Lower Earnings Limit of £118 per week, which is likely to exclude some zero-hour contract and part-time workers.

Those who earn above this threshold may still find themselves short changed by Statutory Sick Pay, as the amount they are legally eligible to receive while off ill is significantly below the National Minimum Wage at less than £100 per week.

Finally, so-called ‘gig workers’, most of whom are anticipated to be misclassified as ‘self employed’ and therefore excluded from claiming any workers’ rights have no entitlement to sick pay, regardless of how much they earn.

The Department for Work and Pensions told gig workers to stop working if they are ill and claim Universal Credit – a move that would leave them waiting for up to five weeks for any form of income.