Wednesday 4 March 2020 1:18 pm

Covid-19: Govt to pay sick leave from first day of illness

Boris Johnson has announced that statutory sick pay will be paid from the first day workers take off in an attempt to encourage people to stay away from work if they are unwell.

The decision, which was revealed at Prime Minister’s Questions today, means that workers will no longer have to wait four days before claiming sick pay.

Johnson said that such people were “helping to protect all of us by slowing the spread of the virus”.

On the funding, which is part of a package of emergency legislation to tackle the outbreak, Johnson added: “No one should be penalised for doing the right thing”.

He said that the government had “pledged to give [the NHS] everything it needs to cope with the crisis”.

The emergency legislation means people will receive an extra £40, the BBC reported.

To receive statutory sick pay (SSP) people must be earning at least £118 a week, which means that many people on zero-hours contracts might miss out.

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Opposition leader Jeremy Corbyn asked Johnson if the new legislation would help these ineligible people, to which the prime minister replied that a “great many” people would be entitled to the provision.

“Others will be entitled to help through existing systems such as universal credit and we are urgently looking at the application process to reflect on the advice on self-isolation,” he added.

Josh Hardie, CBI deputy director-general, welcomed the move:

“Clarity about employers’ responsibilities is important in this unprecedented situation. It is vital that sick pay rules don’t encourage people to ignore public health guidance.

“Employers have a big role to play in ensuring that self-isolation is put into practice fairly. Making Statutory Sick Pay available from day one is an important first step.

“The CBI is providing insight to Government on other steps that businesses can take to make it as easy as possible to follow public health guidance, and what government can to do ensure businesses are always able to do the right thing.” 

More to follow.