The British Safety Council today welcomed measures in the government’s Budget Statement that will support workers unable to work during the Coronavirus crisis. The Chancellor of the Exchequer, Rishi Sunak, today pledged £30bn to help the economy respond to coronavirus in a Budget overshadowed by the epidemic. Specific measures include a commitment that statutory sick pay will be paid to all those who choose to self-isolate, even if they do not have symptoms. There are also measures to enable self-employed people to get access to support through the benefit system. Businesses employing fewer than 250 staff will be refunded for sick pay payments for two weeks. Loans will be available to support small businesses and business rates will be abolished for some firms in the retail, leisure and hospitality sector, who are expected to lose custom in coming weeks.
Speaking following the budget statement the Chief Executive of the British Safety Council Mike Robinson said:
“The Chancellor is right to focus the government’s immediate efforts on addressing the coronavirus crisis. I welcome measures that mean people won’t be penalised for following advice to self-isolate. People who are unwell should never have to go to work and the government’s actions should ensure those who do fall ill are protected. I am sure many employers will also welcome the support from government to pay out sick pay.”
He went on to say:
“We are in unchartered territory when it comes the effects of the coronavirus outbreak on people and the economy. Here at the British Safety Council we are taking every step to protect our people and our customers and to put in place measures to ensure business continuity.
“While I welcome some of the specific measures announced today, this outbreak has raises important questions about the available support for workers who are unwell. Long before coronavirus, the British Safety Council called for changes to sick pay to support the lowest paid and we have been increasingly vocal about the negative impact of presenteeism and people working when they are ill. All of our focus now must be to tackle the current crisis and we will work with the government to minimise coronavirus’ worst effects – but once the crisis is over we will revisit the way we support unwell workers and stem the tide of presenteeism.”