Don’t just clap for carers, Mr Johnson. Make sure they’re paid properly, including when they’re ill
In our polarised politics, here is at least something on which everyone agrees: the UK’s laws on paid sick leave are rubbish. Statutory sick pay is far too low, as the previous health secretary, Matt Hancock, admitted on television. At £95.85 a week, it is the meanest regime during this pandemic almost anywhere in the industrialised world – lower as a proportion of the average worker’s income than in Latvia, Lithuania, Slovakia, Slovenia or any other OECD developed countries.
What’s more, nearly 2 million workers earn too little to claim it. At £120 a week or below, their income is judged too small to qualify. Should they develop a cough and a fever, they have a choice. They can follow medical advice, take time off work and live on thin air. Or they can struggle on, earn a wage – and pass on their virus to others.