As the coronavirus crisis unfolds, more and more workers are being told to self-isolate or work from home to delay its spread.
Around 2 million workers miss out on Statutory Sick Pay (SSP ) because they don’t earn enough to meet the £118-a-week threshold.
Those in insecure and precarious work are more likely to miss out, including over a third of those on zero-hour contracts. And self-employed workers are not entitled to SSP at all.
Last week, the government listened to unions and temporarily removed the three-day wait for statutory sick pay for self-isolating workers.
But there was nothing for the 2 million who don’t earn enough to get SSP.
The Prime Minister told those who’re missing out on sick pay that they could claim through the existing benefit system. But we know that the serious flaws in the UK’s social security system means that’s not an answer.
There’s two main benefits that people who don’t qualify for statutory sick pay might be able to claim.
Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) is the main benefit for people who cannot work because they have a sickness and disability. Universal Credit can be claimed for those who don’t qualify for that.
But both have serious flaws that mean they won’t work for those asked to self-isolate because of the coronavirus.
That’s why we need decent #SickPayForAll from day one – for every worker in the UK.
If people haven’t qualified for Statutory Sick Pay it’s quite unlikely they’ll qualify for Employment and Support Allowance.
To claim the main form of ESA:
The government seems to be suggesting that people who don’t get SSP might be able to claim Universal Credit instead.
This shows a complete lack of understanding about how Universal Credit actually works. That’s because among Universal Credit’s many problems:
The government needs to stop ducking this problem, and fix it urgently.
Better sick pay for everyone will help prevent the spread of coronavirus. And it’s the right thing to do for 2 million of the lowest paid workers in the country. They can’t afford not to work.
That’s why the earnings threshold for Statutory Sick Pay has to go. And why we need decent #SickPayForAll.
If you think sick pay should be higher, take action today and sign the petition below
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