No sick pay for a fifth of workers self-isolating

A fifth of workers forced to self-isolate because of coronavirus but unable to work from home did not receive any sick pay or wages during that time, according to a survey conducted for the TUC in November. A similar number of workers in the same situation had to fall back on their savings, while one in 10 said they struggled to cover their bills or had to go into debt.

The TUC has warned that not paying sick pay risked undermining the effectiveness of the track and trace system and the coronavirus restrictions, noting that low earners were more likely than middle and higher earners to have to self-isolate without being able to work from home. Even those eligible for statutory sick pay (SSP) could face hardship if this was not topped up by their employers, the union said.

Two-fifths of survey respondents said it was likely they would have to go into debt or miss payments if their income dropped to £96 a week, the current level of statutory sick pay.

Under the current rules, workers need to earn at least £120 per week to be eligible for SSP, meaning the lowest earners and those working part time are more likely to miss out on support. Workers on statutory maternity or paternity pay and the self employed are also currently excluded from SSP. The TUC has called on the Government to increase the rate of SSP to £320 a week – which the TUC described as a ‘real living wage’ – and extend eligibility to all workers.

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