A TUC study found that in December more than 267,800 workers in private firms were self-isolating with minimal sick pay or no sick pay at all.
The reason for this is not hard to discern, given that the UK has the least generous statutory sick pay in Europe, worth just £96.35 a week. And even this poultry amount is only available to employees earning £120 a week meaning 2 million workers, mostly women, do not qualify. These appalling findings in the TUC study do not include the ever expanding army of casualised workers classed as “workers” or “self-employed” who are also not entitled to statutory sick pay.
The study highlights the fact that two years into the pandemic, we still face a situation where millions of workers, have to choose between breaking the law in regards to isolation and risk spreading Covid or going without any form of income.
Little wonder then that Britain has one of the highest Covid death rates in Europe.
In response to the report, a government spokesperson said: “It’s up to employers to determine their sick pay policies but we have been clear that employees who can’t work because they’re self-isolating may qualify for statutory sick pay”
What our esteemed government spokesperson should have said is that, due to the fact that the vast majority of poorly paid workers are not organised in unions, employers are in a position to impose inferior terms and conditions, including refusing to pay adequate sick pay.
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