Self-employed workers are demanding sick pay during the coronavirus outbreak

Wednesday, 11th March 2020, 5:13 pm
Updated Wednesday, 11th March 2020, 5:13 pm

More than 160,000 people have signed a petition calling for self-employed people to get statutory sick pay if they are forced to self-isolate during the Covid-19 outbreak.

The petition, set up by Jane Lawson, must now be considered by Parliament as it has crossed the 100,000 signature threshold.

There are 456 confirmed cases of the Covid-19 strain of coronavirus in the UK according to Public Health England - and eight people have died from the virus. More than 27,000 people have been tested.

Statutory sick pay is paid to workers by their employers. The legislation does not cover the majority of self-employed people in the UK.

‘The government are running the risk’

Lawson said, “The self-employed make up 15 per cent of the UK's workforce. Majority are not entitled to any sick pay.

“I want the government to include us in the recent changes to statutory sick pay because of the Coronavirus.

“Excluding us means the government are running the risk of said people continuing going to work as just like everyone else we have bills to pay and thus spreading the virus."

Statutory sick pay

The demand comes after the government changed plans to give statutory sick pay to people who were self-isolating on their fourth day off from work.

In an announcement last week (4 March), Prime Minister Boris Johnson said the payments would instead begin on day one of people’s self-isolation.

“I can today announce that the Health Secretary will bring forward, as part of our emergency legislation measures, to allow the payment of Statutory Sick Pay from the very first day you are sick instead of four days under the current rules,” he told MPs.

“No one should be penalised for doing the right thing.”

The Department for Work and Pensions clarified that the measure will only be temporary, and will “lapse when it is no longer required.”

The DWP also said that, “There is a range of support in place for those who do not receive Statutory Sick Pay, including Universal Credit and contributory Employment and Support Allowance.”