Test and trace system must include support for workers

Community has written to the Chancellor calling for new arrangements to protect those who are contacted and asked to isolate by the new test and trace system.

The trade union is calling on the government to adopt a number of measures to ensure that workers, employees and the self-employed are not forced into an ‘impossible decision’ over self-isolation or earning a living.

Roy Rickhuss, General Secretary of Community, said:

“In order to ensure as many people as possible who are traced through the system go into isolation, mechanisms must be put in place so that they are not significantly financially disadvantaged for doing so. Failure to do this would mean this government asking working people, especially those without savings or disposable income, to make an impossible decision.

“If the government does not implement additional support through a jobs and wages guarantee and a significant increase to Statutory Sick Pay, working people across the UK will be forced to make a choice between paying the bills, putting food on the table, and their health and the health of their loved ones.

“Effort should be made by government to bring employers and unions together again, to ensure the next stage works as smoothly as possible, and in the interests of the public.”

The union, which represents a growing number of self-employed workers, has also highlighted again the gaps in the Self-Employed Income Support Scheme. Many thousands of self-employed workers have already lost income during lockdown and did not qualify for government support. Community argues that those workers risk losing out again if they are required to self-isolate without alternative support just as they begin to start work again.

Under the NHS Test and Trace system, people who have been in contact with a person who has COVID-19 are told to self-isolate at home for 14 days.

If you are a member of Community and need help or advice, please contact us at servicecentre@community-tu.org or on 0800 389 6332.

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