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Great Britain: government makes a temporary emergency change to sick leave legislation as a result of Covid-19
Planet Labor, 5 March 2020, n°11700 - www.planetlabor.com

While UK statutory sick leave compensation normally starts to come into effect on the fourth day of work absences, the Conservative government has announced that Statutory Sick Pay (SSP), which comes to £94.25 (€108.87) per week, will be paid by employers as of the first day of absence for those employees obliged to undergo the recommended 14-day corona virus related quarantine period, and companies will be tasked with assessing if employee absences are justified. Prime Minister Boris Johnson stated, “No one should be penalised for doing the right thing,” before indicating that up to 20% of workers could be impacted by the epidemic. While this is a change to the legislation, it is temporary and will terminate as soon as is possible, and as an official response to both employers and trade unions, has fallen short of expectations. They had been calling for SSP payments to be made to all quarantined workers including those on ad hoc/irregular work, those on zero hours contracts, and those earning under the weekly £118 (€132.12) threshold required for gaining access to sick leave. According to the TUC confederation, some 2 million workers do not have the right to SSP, and Josh Hardie, Deputy Director-General of the employers’ CBI body also argued that “It’s vital there are no incentives to ignore the advice because of a fear of not being paid.” So far the Government has sidestepped this issue of workers ineligible for the SSP being unable to afford to quarantine themselves by encouraging them to seek other social security related payments such as the means tested universal credit payment.