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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

That too is a very important point. The Labour party is working with the TUC and others on a package of measures, and looking at the Danish model in particular.

We want people to be reassured that they will not lose their jobs and their income, so they can go on spending. That would prevent a sharp fall in demand, and would also ease business confidence, as firms would see the Government take on part of their wage bill. It is an approach that involves employers, trade unions and the Government working together to preserve jobs and protect people from poverty. We are calling on the Government to explore these options, and we are prepared to work in partnership to make that happen.

There is a real danger that people who have already been pushed to the margins of our society will be worst affected by this crisis, and those who are struggling on low incomes, are disabled or are unable to work will be affected particularly badly. As I have said, we are working with the TUC and others on a range of measures to extend and raise statutory sick pay, abolish the five-week wait and sanctions, and provide income and wage support along the lines of the Danish model. We also wish to join in discussions with the Prime Minister about emergency universal basic income. We need leadership from the Government to ensure that all are protected if they fall ill, are forced to self-isolate, see their jobs at risk, or face unemployment. More than ever, we need leadership and policies that reflect the responsibility we all have for one another.