The government’s bid to save jobs by offering employers grants equivalent to 80% of their workers’ wages up to £2,500 per month for up to 3 months and backdated to 1st March is welcome, but it is wholly insufficient.
This support is not guaranteed to reach workers because it is not compulsory for employers to accept it. These subsidised wages should go straight to workers and by-pass the bosses. Given that the workers who receive these wages will not actually have to work, but will be on furlough, there’s no reason the workers couldn’t receive them, or an equivalent amount directly and unconditionally regardless of whether bosses choose not to sack them.
These subsidised wages are only available to workers paid through PAYE and therefore leaves millions of gig-economy and self employed workers and self employed contractors (many of whom are falsely classified) struggling on paltry Statutory Sick Pay (£94.25 per week) which millions of workers don’t even qualify for. The same principle applies to those struggling on Universal Credit payments. The government must make the same commitment to cover 80% of wages to all workers regardless of employment status.
Given that the money the government is offering employers to pass on to workers is not contingent on workers actually working there is no reason for the 80% cap to apply to all workers. This money is a hand out, the amount of which the government has chosen to peg to wages, but which actually has nothing to do with wages. Therefore, as they are offering up to £2,500 per month those who earn under £2,500 per month should suffer no financial loss and receive 100% of their wages.
In light of the commitment to cover 80% of worker’s wages, whether this money is paid directly to workers as our first demand dictates, or through employer’s payroll systems as proposed by the government, there should be no reason for employers to make anyone redundant for at least the next 3 months.
Plus, workers who have already been sacked as a result of Coronavirus have no guarantee of getting their jobs back and employers should therefore be compelled to rehire them.
Even though for at least the next 3 months landlords are prohibited from evicting, or applying to evict, their tenants who fall into rent arrears, there is still a legal obligation to pay rent. Therefore the spectre of crippling debt and eviction remains.
As they have done with mortgages, the government must suspend rent. There is no excuse for mortgage holders to be treated more favourably than renters.
It is simply not possible to survive on Statutory Sick Pay. Therefore any who follows the government’s public health guidelines and stays at home should not suffer any financial detriment. They should be paid sick pay at the level of their full, normal wages.
If workers who would have been sacked are now being kept on the payroll and still getting 80% of their wages without having to work, then those out of work, including those who lost their job just before Coronavirus, should get the same deal.
We believe that under section 100 of the Employment Rights Act 1996, workers have a right not to be dismissed for refusing to work in circumstances where doing so would put themselves or others at serious and imminent risk of danger that they cannot reasonably avert. We believe that having to work in close proximity with colleagues, customers or clients could put you or others in serious and imminent danger of contracting or transmitting Coronavirus (a potentially deadly virus) and you therefore have a legal right to refuse to work without being dismissed.
£15 an hour is the UK’s median salary. Many of the government designated “Key Workers” who will be keeping our economy going and saving lives at great risk to themselves in this crisis get paid low and even poverty wages. Some as little as £8.21 an hour. All Key Workers deserve at least the UK’s median salary now and forever. Any less would be scandalous.