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By British Association for Nutrition and Lifestyle Medicine (BANT)

Jeremy Corbyn calls on Boris Johnson to increase sick pay to European levels amid coronavirus crisis

2 min read

Jeremy Corbyn has called on Boris Johnson to increase the rate of sick pay for UK workers to European levels in a bid to help those affected by the coronavirus.

British employees who are too ill to work are currently entitled to £94.25 a week - far lower than most other countries.

In a letter demanding urgent talks with the Prime Minister, Mr Corbyn said the Government must do more to ensure people are not left out of pocket if they have to take time off work.

Mr Johnson has already said that anyone who self-isolates to prevent the spread of the virus will be entitled to statutory sick pay from day one, rather than the fourth day.

But in his letter, the Labour leader said: "There must be full sick pay and lost earnings protection from day one for all workers including insecure workers, low paid workers, and the self-employed, during self-isolation and illness, with consideration given to government funding of sick pay compensation in order to share the burdens with business (and not just in relation to SMEs and for a temporary 14-day period, which is the current government position).

"Statutory sick pay should be raised in line with the amounts paid in other European countries with similar economies."

Mr Corbyn also called for rent and mortgage holidays for those whose earnings are hit, and to remove the requirement for Universal Credit claimants to present for interviews in all cases.

Elsewhere in his letter, the Labour leader also called on the Government to do more to communicate its plan for tackling the virus.

He said: "In recent weeks, we have sought to avoid fuelling public panic and to support the vital work of officials and health and scientific advisers. We are committed to ensuring we fully contribute to the collective effort to protect public health.

"However, this crisis demands political as well as scientific judgements and clearer public communication based on greater transparency of scientific and behavioural evidence and modelling than has been provided to date.

"The public are rightly seeking a much higher level of explanation and transparency as to the course of action being taken, including whether more far-reaching measures, as taken in other comparable states, could be necessary."

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