Boris Johnson announced on Wednesday in the House of Commons that workers who self-isolate will now be eligible to receive sick pay from day one.
Rules will be changed in the forth coming emergency legislation to help workers should they need to self-isolate and or those who become infected with coronavirus.
Under the current scheme sick pay is only paid after four days.
Johnson told the Commons, those who self-isolate are “helping to protect all of us by slowing the spread of the virus.”
“If they stay at home and if we ask people to self-isolate, they may lose out financially.
“So, I can today announce that the health secretary will bring forward, as part of our emergency coronavirus legislation, measures to allow the payment of statutory sick pay from the very first day you are sick instead of four days under the current rules, and I think that’s the right way forward.
“Nobody should be penalised for doing the right thing.”
TUC general secretary Frances O’Grady said this was an “important step forward”, but this is still “not enough.”
She pointed out that 2m 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.”
Jonathan Lilley, employment lawyer at Blaser Mills Law said, “The prime minister’s decision that workers will be entitled to statutory sick pay from the first day off work, not the fourth, to help contain coronavirus is a crucial development for employers to be aware of.
“It creates the potential for conflict between employers and employees, as naturally bosses will focus on their own obligations and control over their workforces, and will need to consider the reasons put forward by employees as to why self-isolation is appropriate.
“Employers need to think carefully about a plan for dealing with workforces affected by the virus, develop a clear way of communicating that plan and must strike the right balance between keeping their businesses running, doing enough to contain additional spread and ensuring appropriate ‘homeworking’ arrangements are in place for those who need to isolate themselves away.
“Clearly, in some sectors, working from home is already commonplace, so anyone able to switch to those arrangements for the isolation period will be able to carry on working and will have no need for sick pay – statutory or otherwise.
“It’s also important to note that, whilst the legislation will provide some assistance to those eligible for statutory sick pay, it won’t be of any assistance to those who are not entitled to it anyway, for example workers in the ‘gig economy’, the self-employed etc.”