The Trades Union Congress raised the alarm amid fears of a new pingdemic as staff are forced to self-isolate if they come into contact with someone suffering from coronavirus Omnicron strain
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Nearly 650,000 workers in hospitality, retail, arts and entertainment do not qualify for statutory sick pay – leaving them at risk of no income over Christmas, a report warns today.
The Trades Union Congress said its research highlighted new self-isolation rules introduced as a result of the Omicron variant, which require anyone coming into contact with a confirmed case to isolate for 10 days – even if they have been double vaccinated.
Hundreds of thousands of workers who are most likely to come into contact with people over the festive period receive no sick pay while self-isolating, and could face drastic cuts to their livelihoods over Christmas, the organisation warned.
They include 336,000 retail workers, 238,000 hospitality staff and 73,000 arts and entertainment employees.
The TUC said the UK has the least generous statutory sick pay in Europe at £96.35 a week – and it is only available to employees earning £120 a week or more.
Its research found British sick pay rates leave about a third of workers – over 10 million people – with income that is too low to meet basic living costs, or no sick pay at all.
General secretary Frances O’Grady said: “Every worker should have the security of sick pay if they fall ill or need to isolate, but while we’re out celebrating and buying presents, many workers who make that possible get no sick pay protection at all.
“Our sick pay system is broken. No one should be left to choose between doing the right thing or putting food on the table.”
A Government spokeswoman said: “There is a comprehensive package of financial support in place for workers who need to self-isolate to help stop the spread of coronavirus – including a £500 payment for those on the lowest incomes who have been contacted by NHS Test and Trace.
“Many employers pay more than the minimum level of Statutory Sick Pay and employers with up to 250 staff can be reimbursed the cost of up to a fortnight’s statutory sick pay.”