TUC calls for emergency coronavirus taskforce

The government must set up an emergency taskforce to deal with the coronavirus outbreak, the TUC has said. The union body said ministers should urgently pull together unions, employers and government agencies to come up with a plan for minimising the economic and health impacts of the virus. It added the taskforce’s main priorities should be: Designing an emergency support package to prevent businesses from folding and workers losing jobs and pay; ensuring public services are kept running and public sector workers are protected from the virus; and fixing the UK’s sick pay rules so that every worker has financial support regardless of how much they earn. TUC general secretary Frances O’Grady said: “We urgently need a national task force to deal with coronavirus. This requires a joint approach.” She added: “Getting unions, employers and government agencies around the table will help contain the damage to the public health and our economy. Ministers must do all they can to protect public services, workers and businesses.” Currently, nearly 2 million of the lowest-paid workers don’t earn enough to qualify for statutory sick pay. To address the issue the TUC is calling for government to introduce an emergency support package for workers affected by the virus, including emergency legislation to ensure Statutory Sick Pay coverage for all workers  from the first day of sickness, regardless of how much they earn.  It also wants an emergency fund to assist employers with the cost and to cover workers not currently eligible for Statutory Sick Pay.  Commenting on the prime minister’s 4 March statement that sick pay would kick in from day one for those already eligible, Frances O’Grady said: “Two million workers still don’t earn enough to qualify for statutory sick pay. They can’t afford not to work. And statutory sick pay still isn’t enough to live on. Government must go further to ensure that no one is penalised for doing the right thing.”
TUC news releasePrime minister’s statement on the coronavirus and DWP statement, 9 March 2020. Thompsons Solicitors SSP briefingBBC News OnlineMorning Star.
RESOURCES: EU-OSHA coronavirus and the workplace resources guideBMJ news and resourcesJAMA Coronavirus Resource Center.

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