Self-isolating Workers Can Claim Sick Pay, Government Confirms

March 13, 2020

Measures announced by the government mean that anyone who stands to lose out financially by self-isolating themselves in response to coronavirus symptoms will be entitled to claim statutory sick pay.

Promises to that effect were made by chancellor Rishi Sunak during his Budget speech, which included announcements of a series of steps designed to mitigate some of the effects of the ongoing coronavirus crisis.

The government’s advice is for anyone who exhibits coronavirus symptoms, such as a continuous new cough or a fever, should isolate themselves to avoid potentially infecting others.

For a lot of people, that will mean being unable to go to work and worrying about the financial implications, which the government is aiming to offset to some extent with its promise of guaranteed statutory sick pay for those in isolation.

Other help has been promised for people who are self-employed or work in the gig economy who find themselves in the same situation but details on those steps are yet to be announced.

“The chancellor’s decision to extend statutory sick pay to those self-isolating will be a relief to some workers,” says Dame Gillian Guy, chief executive of Citizens Advice.

“But the self-employed and people in the 1.5 million jobs that don’t qualify for sick pay are still at risk of falling through the gaps if they become unwell.”

Separately, the government has also announced that the waiting period for contributory Employment and Support Allowance has been removed but Citizens Advice is concerned that many people will still be left waiting for extended periods if they need to start claiming Universal Credit in the coming weeks.

“We know those who need to apply for Universal Credit will still face a lengthy wait for a full payment and could be pushed into debt as a result,” said Dame Gillian in a statement.

Giving his response to the government’s Budget announcements, Richard Lane from the debt help charity StepChange said that he hopes all necessary steps are taken to minimise the impact of the coronavirus outbreak on individual households and their finances.

“With nearly 10 million people in the UK already showing signs of financial distress, it’s crucial that comprehensive support is in place for households whose income is impacted,” he said.

Paul Barber

Head Adviser at our Manchester Office

Tel: 0800 001 4247

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