Call on the Government to Protect Precarious Workers

The UK Government

Proper_sick_pay

On Friday, Rishi Sunak, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, announced an unprecedented set of policies to provide financial assistance in response to the Coronavirus COVID-19 crisis. Support for work, however, is limited only to PAYE employees, bailing out bosses to pay wages up to 80% during the crisis. The Government announcement offered next to nothing for precarious workers in the so-called “gig economy” or for other self-employed workers. And incredibly the woefully inadequate statutory sick pay regime has barely been reformed, making it almost impossible for millions of low-paid workers to follow public health advice.

It is estimated that in the UK 4.7 million people work within the so-called “gig economy”. Precarious workers cannot be asked to pay the financial cost of this crisis. We need far more support than we are getting from the “gig economy” companies and the Government.

The IWGB calls upon the government to:

  1. Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) should be made fit for purpose:

    1. Extend SSP to Limb B Workers;

    2. Abolish the lower earnings limit (£118 per week) to qualify for SSP;

    3. SSP entitlement should be at the rate of normal wages (for those on 0 hours contracts this is based on 12 week averages), at least for an initial period of time, and should never be less than the real living wage;

    4. A version of SSP should also be available for independent contractors, payable directly by the Government;

    5. Self-certification should be allowed for all coronavirus-related absences;

    6. Coronavirus-related absences should not count for any capability or disciplinary procedures;

  2. All businesses should be compelled to introduce social distancing measures to the extent possible (e.g. providing for working from home arrangements). Those non-essential businesses which are unable to adequately protect the health and safety of their workers should be required to temporarily shut down with workers sent home on full pay.  
  3. Make it obligatory for employers to pay workers with no guaranteed hours, who would be willing and able to work but for Coronavirus issues (self-isolation, reduced demand, sickness, etc.) their salary based on average rates of pay in previous 12 weeks.
  4. Worker status decisions by the tribunals and courts should be enforced immediately, including in instances where appeals by the companies are outstanding.
  5. Licensing authorities should be obliged to make the adequate provision of sick pay a condition of private hire licensing.
  6. Clients who currently outsource any facilities services such as cleaning, security, catering or portering should terminate their contracts with their private contractors and hire those workers directly as employees of the organisations or companies where they work.
  7. Workers should be entitled to paid time off, at full pay, in order to care for dependents as a result of the pandemic.
  8. High-risk workers, e.g. the elderly and those with pre-existing health conditions, should be entitled to full pay during the extended periods of self-isolation they will need to undertake to stay alive.
  9. Businesses looking to make coronavirus-related redundancies should be given extensive financial support from Government on the specific condition that redundancies are not made. Those workers who are made redundant notwithstanding this should be entitled to income support from the Government, at rates equivalent to their wages (and never less than the real living wage) until such time as they are able to find alternative suitable employment.
  10. Temporarily suspend all mortgage, rent and bill payments both in residential lodgings and in commercial studios for freelance artists.
  11. Government should put in place a system of financial support and subsidies, where necessary, to further enable businesses to comply with these requirements.
  12. The Health and Safety Executive should dramatically increase workplace inspections, ensuring that those businesses that remain open are upholding the strictest health and safety standards, with strong consequences for those who are not compliant.

To: The UK Government
From: [Your Name]

The IWGB calls upon the government to:

1. Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) should be made fit for purpose:

- Extend SSP to Limb B Workers;

- Abolish the lower earnings limit (£118 per week) to qualify for SSP;

- SSP entitlement should be at the rate of normal wages (for those on 0 hours contracts this is based on 12 week averages), at least for an initial period of time, and should never be less than the real living wage;

- A version of SSP should also be available for independent contractors, payable directly by the Government;

- Self-certification should be allowed for all coronavirus-related absences;

- Coronavirus-related absences should not count for any capability or disciplinary procedures;

2. All businesses should be compelled to introduce social distancing measures to the extent possible (e.g. providing for working from home arrangements). Those non-essential businesses which are unable to adequately protect the health and safety of their workers should be required to temporarily shut down with workers sent home on full pay.

3. Make it obligatory for employers to pay workers with no guaranteed hours, who would be willing and able to work but for Coronavirus issues (self-isolation, reduced demand, sickness, etc.) their salary based on average rates of pay in previous 12 weeks.

4. Worker status decisions by the tribunals and courts should be enforced immediately, including in instances where appeals by the companies are outstanding.​

5. Licensing authorities should be obliged to make the adequate provision of sick pay a condition of private hire licensing.​

6. Clients who currently outsource any facilities services such as cleaning, security, catering or portering should terminate their contracts with their private contractors and hire those workers directly as employees of the organisations or companies where they work.

7. Workers should be entitled to paid time off, at full pay, in order to care for dependents as a result of the pandemic.

8. High-risk workers, e.g. the elderly and those with pre-existing health conditions, should be entitled to full pay during the extended periods of self-isolation they will need to undertake to stay alive.

9. Businesses looking to make coronavirus-related redundancies should be given extensive financial support from Government on the specific condition that redundancies are not made. Those workers who are made redundant notwithstanding this should be entitled to income support from the Government, at rates equivalent to their wages (and never less than the real living wage) until such time as they are able to find alternative suitable employment.

10. Temporarily suspend all mortgage, rent and bill payments both in residential lodgings and in commercial studios for freelance artists.

11. Government should put in place a system of financial support and subsidies, where necessary, to further enable businesses to comply with these requirements.

12. The Health and Safety Executive should dramatically increase workplace inspections, ensuring that those businesses that remain open are upholding the strictest health and safety standards, with strong consequences for those who are not compliant.