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Statutory Sick Pay and Protection for Workers

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 12:49 pm on 18th March 2020.

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Photo of Margaret Greenwood Margaret Greenwood Shadow Secretary of State for Work and Pensions 12:49 pm, 18th March 2020

I beg to move,

That this House
has considered the matter of Statutory Sick Pay and protection available for all workers.

This is an international crisis, where countries need to learn from each other about what is working and what additional steps need to be taken. We also need to come together as a country to support each other as the severity of the crisis is becoming clearer. A Public Health England document estimates that the coronavirus epidemic in the UK will last until this time next year and could lead to almost 8 million people being hospitalised. The impact will be felt not just by those who become ill or have to self-isolate; this public health crisis has exposed the fault lines in an economy in which insecure, low-paid work is so prevalent.

In the Budget last week, and again yesterday, the Chancellor announced measures to support business, but there was a glaring omission when it came to workers on low income and those who are unable to work. PHE warns:

“It is estimated that at least 10% of people in the UK will have a cough at any one time during the months of peak Covid-19 activity.”

The revised health advice is that anyone with a cough should self-isolate for at least seven days, and for 14 days if they live with other people. It is right that people should not go on working when they are not well, but the Government’s measures so far still leave many people facing a cruel choice between their health and financial hardship, and it is a choice that has an impact on the health of the people with whom they come into contact.

In response to the questions from the Leader of the Opposition, the Prime Minister said that he would bring forward a package of measures relating to statutory sick pay. We really do need the details on that as a matter of urgency.