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IMMINENT changes to sick pay rules will leave those off work due to Covid-19 just £38 to get through the first week of their illness, warns the TUC.
The Tory government’s decision to end day-one statutory sick pay payments (SSP) from the end of next month will put millions of workers at risk of extra hardship, the union body said.
From March 25, coronavirus sufferers will have to wait until their fourth day of sickness before they can receive any state support, Prime Minister Boris Johnson confirmed on Monday.
The three-day waiting period already applies to all other illness absences except Covid-19, but emergency pandemic provisions are now being rolled back as ministers call for Britain to “learn to live” with the virus.
The change, which could affect up to 6.8 million workers who rely on SSP as their only form of financial support when ill, means people face having to survive on less than half the £96 a week currently available, the TUC said.
The move is “adding insult to injury,” it said, as Britain already has one of the lowest sick pay rates in Europe — and two million workers do not even earn enough to qualify for it.
The TUC called for everyone to have access to decent sick pay from day one, regardless of the type of health problem they have.
General secretary Frances O’Grady said: “No-one should be pushed into hardship if they are struck down with illness.
“But the government is making it even harder for Covid-19 sufferers to get basic support,” she warned, stating that “£38 a week is a pittance for people to be able to survive on. What planet are ministers on?
“If Boris Johnson really wants UK workers to follow the example of Germans and stay at home when ill, he should be boosting sick pay, not taking an axe to it.
“The failure to provide decent sick pay to all is a threat to public health and will leave the UK vulnerable to future variants and pandemics.”
As a further part of the rule changes, the £500 self-isolation support payment for people on low incomes who test positive for coronavirus will no longer be available from today.
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