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Almost 200,000 workers in South West not eligible for Statutory Sick Pay
Government’s temporary changes to sick pay still leaves many workers unprotected
TUC calls on government to tackle coronavirus by guaranteeing sick pay for all workers, regardless of how much they earn
Parts of South West more exposed due to low wage economy
According to new analysis from the TUC released recently (06 March 2020), nearly 200,000 workers in the South West don’t earn enough to qualify for Statutory Sick Pay (SSP).
As a result, these workers will be left with no choice but to go to work while ill, despite government and medical advice.
The trade union body believes the global crisis has further exposed the gaping absence of protections for low paid workers and those on insecure work contracts, including the self-employed.
The TUC is calling on the government to respond to the COVID-19 outbreak by providing emergency support for workers currently missing out on Statutory Sick Pay.
The TUC South West also believes the workers most likely to be infected by the coronavirus due to their public-facing occupation are also the least able to protect themselves, and others.
Low paid workers
In response to union campaigning, the government has already pledged to provide Statutory Sick Pay from day one of illness to those affected by the coronavirus.
However, while this is an important step forward, workers earning below £118.15 per week are still not entitled to sick pay from their employers. And at just £94.25 a week, those who do qualify, many will struggle to cope on it for long.
In some parts of the region, the lack of protections will affect more areas than others. In places like Cornwall, Torbay, and Dorset, Taunton and Stroud one in ten jobs weekly pay is less than the current minimum threshold.
Overall, TUC analysis shows one in twelve workers would not be eligible to receive statutory sick pay.
The analysis also exposes the workers most at risk of not getting paid, including:
- 34% of workers on zero-hours contracts
- 1 in 10 women in work
- More than a fifth (22%) of workers aged 16-24
- More than a quarter (26%) of workers aged 65 and over, (identified by government as one of the groups most vulnerable to the virus)
At 16%, the South West has the highest proportion of self-employed outside of London.
But mobile workers such as residential and social care workers, taxi drivers and delivery drivers are increasingly forced into self-employment when basic rights such as sick pay do not apply. Many are also increasingly expected to pay the firm they work for to provide replacement cover.
Faced with not getting paid, the TUC fears these workers will also feel forced to work through any illness if they can, ignoring government and medical advice to self-isolate.
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