Responding to the UK Government announcement that statutory sick pay will be available to workers self-isolating from the Corona virus from their first day off, Peter Kelly, Director of Poverty Alliance said:
“While we welcome the much needed extension of statutory sick pay, this will not be enough to protect workers who may need to self-isolate in response to the virus. Statutory sick pay should be significantly increased from its current level of £94.25 to reflect the cost of living, and the qualifying wage of £118 should be removed.
“If the Corona virus continues to spread at its current rate there is a high risk that many more people will be swept into already staggering levels of poverty in this country.”
“The challenges of responding to the virus highlight existing failings in both the labour market and social security system. Workers on zero hours contracts will have no access to sick leave and have been recommended to apply for Universal Credit. But we know that the five week wait for first payments of the benefit is already driving destitution. Immediate safeguards should be introduced for workers who are deemed as self-employed or are on zero or short hours contracts and the scandalous and unnecessary wait for Universal Credit should be brought to an end.”