Corona Virus, Sick Pay & Benefits

Statutory Sick Pay
If you’re unable to work due to illness or are self-isolating due to Corona virus, and your employer doesn’t offer contractual sick pay, you can claim Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) if you usually earn at least £118 per week before tax. For the next 3 months at least, you can claim SSP from the first day of not working. Your employer pays SSP and you should tell them immediately, and at least within 7 days, that you need to claim it. You normally have to provide a GP fit note after 7 consecutive days of illness but at present you only need to provide a note from NHS 111 online:
https://111.nhs.uk/ 

THE VIRUS OF CAPITALISM

Over the last few days, a post has been circulating on social media identifying capitalism as the virus that needs to be extinguished as dangerous for our health. Of course, it would be untrue to suggest that the coronavirus has somehow been produced by capitalism but we can say that the effects that the virus entails have been exacerbated by the capitalist mode of social organization. The first concerns of the Tories were for the economy, not for people. The economy and profit are what drives them and people’s welfare is only relevant in so far as they can produce for this economy. The very fact that in the UK the last ten years have seen excruciating cuts to social services, the NHS and anything public, including youth clubs and the like, has made it all the harder to respond adequately and quickly to the crisis caused by the virus.

Coronavirus and the collapse of neo-liberalism

The differences between the various national and governmental responses to the Covid-19 (coronavirus) outbreak aside, what they hold is common is a crumbling defence of ultra-neo-liberal policies. By this we mean, as the UK government has shifted from its primary concern to shore up the economy to showing concern about the health of the population, the idea that the state should not intervene in the financial sphere has practically been thrown out of the window. Even the most ideologically-led and fervent advocates of the “minimum state” have had to cave in to a looming disaster that would spell even the end of market capitalism. While anarchosyndicalists are not in favour of a minimum state – we want to abolish the state – we have constantly criticised the politics that sustain this approach.

CORONAVIRUS: YOUR RIGHTS TO SICK PAY AND WAGES

The government is full of talk about “supporting each other” but is doing little to compensate workers who are forced to take time off work due to the coronavirus. The message seems to be “do the right thing” and self-isolate but do not expect any financial support from us. Below we set out your rights to sick pay and wages when having to take time off work due to the coronavirus epidemic.
The information below is based on things as they currently stand on the 15th March 2020.

LAY-OFFS DURING THE CORONAVIRUS

As in other countries, the government may at some point begin to close workplaces, such as bars and restaurants, as the virus spreads. In which case they may announce special arrangements but as things stand at the moment if you are temporarily laid off due to the coronavirus the following applies:

Higher Education talks enter crucial stage

The University and College Union (UCU) is now in its third week of strike action over pensions, pay, equality issues, workload and casualization of the sector. Although developments are being kept pretty much in secret, branches have pressed the Union leadership for an open discussion and ratification of any agreements that we may collectively come to. Some branches have also been discussing what the next step could entail if there is insufficient progress. While the sector does not have a huge amount of power in some senses, unless railway unions or NHS workers, universities are increasingly concerned about their reputations in a competitive education “market”, especially when it comes to high fee payment international students and loss of income due to a lack of grant applications from governments, agencies and trusts.

FOR A DECENT PUBLIC TRANSPORT SYSTEM

The lamentable state of public transport in the North of the country, not to speak of elsewhere, has even reached the tables of ministerial discussion in the government in London. The fact that Northern Rail has been taken from Arriva and given to the Operator of Last Resort (OLR), as the jargon goes, that is, the state, is a reflection of the decline of our public transport system and the need for a proper solution. Northern Rail was plagued by late and cancelled trains and over-crowding on a scale that if it had been in London would have seen a rapid solution. While privatisation has evidently failed the British public, it cannot be guaranteed that a process of nationalisation will be better – what we can be sure of is that it couldn’t be worse.

THE BIGGEST EDUCATION STRIKE IN HISTORY AND HOW WE CAN WIN IT.

We are in the midst of the country’s biggest university strike ever in a dispute over pensions and the “four fights” of equality, pay, workload and casualization. On the last front, in some universities, there are up to 70% of lecturers who are on hourly paid or fixed term contracts. These are convenient for universities in what has grown to be a highly casualized sector but provide no security for workers who have often trained for up to ten years in their chosen subject. The representation of women and BME workers is also a key issue that the University and College Union is seeking action on. If we consider those in the higher positions of what is a heavily hierarchical university world, most are white and most are male.

WORKING CLASS WOMEN BEAR THE BRUNT OF AUSTERITY AND ARE PAYING THE PRICE WITH POOR HEALTH AND EARLY DEATHS

A new report into health inequality by the UCL Institute of Health Equality clearly shows that the health gap between the rich and poor is growing. The report highlights the fact that life expectancy has stalled for the first time in a hundred years, with life expectancy actually falling among the poorest 10% of women. The report also found that those living in the most deprived areas of Britain can now expect to spend more of their lives in poor health.

THOUSANDS OF UK COMPANIES STEALING WORKERS WAGES

Last week, the government announced it would resume naming and shaming employers who fail to pay the National Minimum Wage. While welcome, this will do little to deter companies from paying workers poverty wages and getting away with it.

Currently, rule-breakers are allowed to simply repay the wage arrears and fines issued by HMRC can be discounted for early repayment, meaning the average penalty in 2017-18 was only worth about 90% of the wage arrears owed. The availability of self-correction, in effect, means that, in many cases, employers can underpay wages with no financial consequences, even if they are caught. Research shows that, currently, only one in eight companies not paying the minimum wage are caught by government inspectors.

What Next After Labours Defeat?

Some optimism in a dark time…

This isn’t about saying “I told you so!” We have close friends and solid comrades who put their faith and energy into Corbyn and the Labour party. We have nothing but sympathy and condolences for them. The loss of hope must feel like a bereavement. We’re sorry, collectively, for the anguish that millions of people are feeling today.