Two million workers currently missing out should be just the start of wider reforms to sick pay. For the average worker, sick pay is worth less than 20 per cent of earnings.
The government’s main response has been to introduce a one-off payment delivered by local councils – the ‘Test and Trace support payment scheme.’ But the scheme isn’t working. Only 16 per cent of low-paid workers have even heard of it. And when they do apply – most don’t get support. Even after extra money was put into the scheme in February, 65 per cent of applications are rejected.
The original consultation was clear that Government knows what the problem is, it knows how to fix it, and it can afford to do so. It’s hard to understand how a pandemic that has put the lives of millions of low paid workers at risk would lead to a change of heart – unless the lives of these workers are of so little value to the government that they don’t think it's worth the effort.
The Prime Minister and Chancellor were forced into another hasty u-turn this week on their own self-isolation, having initially claimed they didn’t need to respond to an introduction to self-isolate because of their participation in a ‘pilot scheme’. Of course, they’ll still receive their full wages while working from home. But millions of workers aren’t so lucky:
51 per cent of workers in insecure jobs told us they receive no pay at all when off sick
A third of those on zero hours contracts workers don’t qualify for any sick pay.
And seven out of ten of those earning less than the £120 needed to qualify for sick pay are women.