Commenting on the launch today (Wednesday) of the NHS Test and Trace programme, TUC General Secretary Frances O’Grady said:
“We need a testing and tracing programme up and running as soon as possible.
“But it will not be effective if workers are pushed into hardship when they are required to self-isolate.
“Statutory sick pay is just £95 per week – and two million workers aren’t even eligible for that.
“If workers can’t afford to self-isolate, then they will be forced to keep working. That will put them, their workmates and their local community at risk, and undermine the entire test and trace programme.
“The government must extend statutory sick pay to everyone - no matter what they’re paid - and raise it to the level of the real Living Wage, £260 per week. And the self-employed income support scheme must remain in place as a source of financial support for those forced to self-isolate. That’s how to show that we really are all in this together.”
“If a worker tests positive, then their entire workplace could be closed down overnight. This could lead to schools and childcare settings closing unexpectedly, perhaps repeatedly. The government must set out clearly how they expect employers to treat their staff in this situation, and what support is available.”
- The TUC has published a report on the workplace implications of testing and tracing, which is available here: https://www.tuc.org.uk/sites/default/files/2020-05/Testing%20and%20Tracing.pdf
- TUC General Secretary Frances O’Grady challenged Health Secretary Matt Hancock about whether he could live on statutory sick pay on BBC Question Time on 19 March, and he admitted he couldn’t: https://twitter.com/The_TUC/status/1240752054043398144
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