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NHS Test and Trace system risks failure without adequate sick pay, says TUC

10 September 2020

The Trade Union Congress (TUC) has today warned the government that the NHS Test and Trace system risks failure unless ministers boost Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) and ensure everyone is eligible for it.

The warning comes as new polling reveals that more than 4 in 10 workers would be plunged into financial hardship if forced to self-isolate for two weeks on SSP.

The new survey - carried out for the TUC by BritainThinks – shows that two-fifths (43%) of workers would be unable to pay their bills if they have to survive on £96 a week – the current rate of SSP.

Nearly a quarter (23%) of those surveyed said they receive only the basic SSP if they are off work sick.

The TUC is calling for government to:

  • increase the rate of statutory sick pay from £95.85 to real living wage of £320 a week
  • extend SSP to all workers so nobody misses out due to not meeting the pay threshold
  • introduce a more extensive support package for household finances, including overhauling Universal Credit, increasing the local authority hardship fund and providing support for those struggling with council tax and rent

TUC General Secretary Frances O’Grady said:

 “Unless Ministers fix this gaping hole in our safety net Britain will be ill-prepared for a second wave of infections or more local lockdowns.

“The government must ensure that everyone has access to sick pay and raise the basic rate to at least the real living wage of £320 a week.” 

For more information see TUC: more than 4 in 10 workers would be plunged into financial hardship if forced to self-isolate available from tuc.org.uk.

See also Covid-19 pandemic shows our benefits system unfit for purpose, says TUC available from disabilityrightsuk.org.