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Government won't promise help for workers self-isolating due to coronavirus

THE government refused to commit to ensuring financial support to workers who are not eligible for sick pay while self-isolating due to the coronavirus.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson said today that “all options” would remain under review when asked what he would do to ensure those in insecure work who are ill do not also suffer hardship due to lack of statutory sick pay.

His comment came as the number of coronavirus cases in Britain rose to more than 50.

Trade unions GMB and Unison have called for a guarantee that all affected workers — including two million people in insecure work who are not eligible for sick pay — are paid from the first day of self-isolation, rather than from the fourth.

Shadow health secretary Jonathan Ashworth called on Health Secretary Matt Hancock to confirm that those who self-isolate will not need to visit a GP to receive a sick note.

He also asked whether action will be taken to guarantee that no sanctions will be imposed on benefit recipients who cannot attend appointments if they need to self-isolate.

Mr Ashworth added that Labour is prepared to work with the government to bring forward emergency legislation so “all workers get the sick pay they deserve.”

Shadow employment rights secretary Rachael Maskell asked if Business Secretary Alok Sharma has discussed with Cabinet colleagues whether workers are “financially protected to stop the risk of spreading coronavirus.”

Mr Sharma said that workers who do not qualify for statutory sick pay, including those who are self-employed, “may be able to claim universal credit, and/or new-style employment and support allowance.”

Labour MP Yvette Cooper raised concerns about kinship carers of elderly relatives and what support there would be if they were not getting sick pay.

Mr Hancock said that the government will address this issue in communications to social care providers “soon.”

England’s chief medical officer Professor Chris Whitty said there is a “significant ramp up” in the death rate of those infected with coronavirus who are over 80 years old.

But he stressed that the “great majority” survive coronavirus, even among the elderly.

He added: “If you’re talking about the low-risk groups, the rate of mortality is well below 1 per cent.”

High street bakery Greggs confirmed yesterday that it would pay staff who have to self-isolate because of the coronavirus.

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