TUC says more than 250,000 workers self-isolate ‘without decent sick pay’ | YOU KNOW
More than 250,000 workers self-isolated last month without decent sick pay or any sick pay at all, according to a union study.
The Trades Union Congress (TUC) has said reducing the self-isolation period to five days will not solve the country’s ‘sick pay problem’.
The union organization said workers with little or no sick pay face an ‘impossible choice’ of isolating themselves and facing hardship, or putting food on the table but potentially spreading the virus.
The TUC said its research estimated around 267,800 private company workers were self-isolating without decent sick pay or any sick pay as of mid-December.
Nearly 210,000 workers had to rely on statutory sick pay and 57,900 received no sick pay at all, according to the report.
Analysis of official data estimates that 2.7% of the private sector workforce – around 723,900 people – were off work with Covid-19 in the two weeks before Boxing Day.
Unions have complained that the UK has the least generous statutory sick pay in Europe, worth £96.35 a week – around 15% of average earnings, compared to an average of Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development by more than 60% – and is only available to employees earning £120 a week or more, meaning 2 million workers, mostly women, are not eligible.
The TUC has also warned against employers cutting sick pay for unvaccinated staff, saying it will not encourage participation.
TUC general secretary Frances O’Grady said: ‘No one should have to choose between doing the right thing and self-isolating or putting food on the table.
“But that was exactly the choice faced by a quarter of a million private sector workers last month, as the Omicron variant raged across the country. It is a serious public health failure.
“It beggars belief that two years into the pandemic statutory sick pay is still too little to live on and 2 million workers cannot get any sick pay.
“Ministers cannot continue to turn a blind eye to this vital public health tool. We need decent sick pay – paid at real living wages – available to everyone. Unions have encouraged everyone to get vaccinated and vaccinated, but cutting sick pay is no way to encourage workers to get vaccinated. This would be a clean public health objective, risking further transmission of the virus. »
A government spokesperson said: “It is up to employers to determine their sick pay policies, but we have made it clear that employees who cannot work because they are self-isolating may be eligible for statutory sickness benefit.
“Many employers choose to pay more than the minimum level and there is also a comprehensive package of financial support in place for workers who need to self-isolate – including a £500 payment for those on the lowest incomes who have been contacted by the NHS test and tracer.