Construction ‘sick pay rules must be relaxed’ to combat coronavirus

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Construction union, Unite, has urged construction employers to relax sick pay rules in order to help combat the spread of the coronavirus

The call follows the announcement that the government has relaxed statuary sick pay (SSP) rules so that it is paid immediately if a worker is on sick leave rather than on the fourth day. This has been put in place to allow workers to self-isolate if they have symptoms of coronavirus.

In the construction sector when a worker is operating under a collective industrial agreement as well as SSP (worth just £94.25 a week), workers are also entitled to industry sick pay which can be up to an additional £180 a week.

However, there is a delay of up to two weeks before the industry sick pay is paid, raising concerns that construction workers who may be displaying symptoms of coronavirus will not self-isolate, due to economic factors.

Changes to industry sick pay

Unite has written to the employers involved in the various industrial agreements including the Construction Industry Joint Council, the Joint Industry Board, the National Agreement for the Engineering Construction Industry (NAECI), the Joint Industry Board for Plumbing and the Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning (HVAC)/ Building Engineering Services Association (BESA) agreement, asking that industry sick pay is also paid from day one.

Changes to industry sick pay would protect several hundred thousand construction workers.

Do the right thing

Unite national officer for construction (building and civil engineering sector) Jerry Swain, said: “The custodians of the construction industry, who talk about the need for social responsibility must demonstrate they will do the right thing.

“There is a great deal of worry and fear about the coronavirus and it would be perverse if action was not taken to ensure that construction workers can take the appropriate measures to protect fellow workers and local communities from potentially being infected.”

Unite national officer for construction (mechanical and electrical sector) Ian Woodland, added: “Construction employers must step up to the plate and take the responsible decision to start paying industry sick pay from day one.

“A failure to do so would demonstrate that construction employers are not genuine when they suggest they are serious in tackling coronavirus.”

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