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Plans to provide sick pay amid the coronavirus outbreak were put in place in the Spring Budget this week but the low rate of payment was blasted by critics.
Chancellor Rishi Sunak pledged to make it easier for people to claim sick pay and outlined measures for self-employed people.
Mr Sunak stated: “I know how worried people are. What everyone needs to know is we are doing everything we can to keep this country and our people healthy and financially secure. This is an issue above party.”
Claimants will be paid from day 1 of sickness
Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) of £94.25 per week will now be available for eligible individuals diagnosed with COVID-19 or those who are unable to work because they are self-isolating in line with Government advice. This is in addition to the change announced by the Prime Minister that SSP will be payable from day 1 instead of day 4 for affected individuals.
The government is yet to firm up details on who would be eligible and how they would claim.
SSP works out at £2.35 per hour
However, many people took to social media to criticise the government for setting SSP at such a low rate – for those working a 40-hour week, SSP works out at just £2.35 per hour.
Olaf Stando, digital media specialist working for the SNP, tweeted that: Boris Johnson had “absolutely no idea how low the UK's statutory sick pay is relative to other countries” and highlighted the fact that Germany and Austria set their sick pay at £287 a week. Others raised the point that those on zero-hours contracts would have difficulty claiming sick pay.
Self-employed benefits rules will be relaxed
In addition, Mr Sunak said the self-employed will be able to claim for Universal Credit or Contributory Employment and Support Allowance as the rules around this scheme will be relaxed during the Covid-19 outbreak.
Meanwhile, as events including Firex 2020 were postponed until later in the year, the government are due to hold a COBRA meeting on whether restrictions in movement would be put in place in the UK.
Full details are available here and the government will be releasing more details on its coronavirus action plan as the outbreak continues.
If you or an employee become unwell, the advice is to use the NHS 111 online coronavirus service to check if medical help is needed.