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More than 250,000 workers self-isolated last month without decent sick pay, finds TUC

MORE than 250,000 workers were self-isolating last month without decent sick pay or any income at all, a new study suggests.

And the TUC has said that reducing the self-isolation period to five days will not fix the country’s “sick pay problem.”

The union organisation said workers on low or no sick pay face the impossible choice of self-isolating and facing hardship or putting food on the table but potentially spreading the virus.

The TUC said its research estimated that about 267,800 workers in private firms were self-isolating without decent sick pay or any sick pay at all in mid-December — almost 210,000 workers had to rely on statutory sick pay and 57,900 got no sick pay at all.

The TUC said its analysis of official data estimates that 2.7 per cent of the private-sector workforce — about 723,900 workers — were off work with Covid-19 in the two weeks up to Boxing Day.

Unions have complained that Britain has the least generous statutory sick pay in Europe, worth £96.35 per week, about 15 per cent of average earnings.

The TUC has also warned against employers cutting sick pay for unvaccinated staff, saying it will not encourage take-up.

TUC general secretary Frances O’Grady said: “No-one should be forced to choose between doing the right thing and self-isolating or putting food on the table.

“But that was exactly the choice facing a quarter of a million private-sector workers last month as the omicron variant raged across the country. This is a serious public health failure.

“It beggars belief that two years into the pandemic, statutory sick pay is still too little to live on — and two million workers can’t get any sick pay at all.”


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