Help for Workers
This public health emergency has exposed the sheer inadequacy of our social safety net. Sick pay is too low, there isn’t adequate support for parents who have to take leave to provide care, and the self-employed and those on zero-hours are fighting to stay afloat. And the economic shock caused by the pandemic has risked the livelihoods of workers across the country.
I have been fighting for the Government to take serious, radical action to shore up workers’ jobs and income. I am pleased they have announced a package of measures to protect the income of workers at-risk in businesses threatened by the economic shock, but they do not go far enough.
It is not too late for the government to act to secure our social safety during this unprecedented crisis and I believe it is in the interests of public health that they do so urgently.
If you have lost income due to the pandemic or government restrictions, you can find information about financial support schemes here. You could also get Statuary Sick Pay if you’re self-isolating because:
- you or someone you live with has coronavirus symptoms or has tested positive for coronavirus
- you’ve been notified by the NHS or public health authorities that you’ve been in contact with someone with coronavirus
- someone in your ‘support bubble’ has coronavirus symptoms or has tested positive for coronavirus
- you’ve been advised by a doctor or healthcare professional to self-isolate before going into hospital for surgery
You can also get SSP if both of the following apply:
- you live or work in an area with local restrictions in place, including advice to ‘shield’ (take extra precautions to reduce contact with others)
- you’ve been advised to shield because you’re at very high risk of severe illness from coronavirus
Statutory Sick Pay though, is simply not enough and leaves a minimum wage worker, for instance forced to take a £200 p/w pay cut. I have called on SSP to be substantially increased and extending to all workers so no-one has to choose between health and hardship.
Gaps in the Government’s schemes mean that some self-employed people are not eligible for any support at all and I have been fighting hard for these gaps to be closed. You can find more information about the support that is available to self-employed people here.
Staying safe at work
You should work from home if you can. No worker should have their life or the lives of their loved ones risked simply by going to work. This was true before the coronavirus crisis and should not be cast aside now.
If you are attending your normal workplace, your employer must have undertaken a risk assessment to meet the government’s guidance on making workplaces COVID-secure. You can find more information about your rights at work here.
If you are being asked to work in an unsafe environment, I can help. You can tell me about any problems at work anonymously via firstname.lastname@example.org.
Please also report any concerns to the Health and Safety Executive by telephone on 0300 790 6787. Lines are open Monday to Friday, 8:30am to 10pm.
I’d urge every worker to join a trade union to make sure they have strong representation in their workplace both during and after this pandemic. You can find the right trade union for you and become a union member here.