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Support for Shielding People: Covid-19

Volume 680: debated on Monday 14 September 2020

What financial support her Department plans to make available to shielding people affected by covid-19 local lockdowns. (905907)

What financial support her Department plans to make available to shielding people affected by covid-19 local lockdowns. (905913)

Those in a local lockdown area who receive a notification that they need to shield will remain eligible for statutory sick pay and new-style employment and support allowance, subject to the wider eligibility criteria.

Clearly local lockdowns will present local challenges, and we would expect most employers to be responsible, but will the Government offer support to employees to hold their employers to account where they are not following the guidelines and making their workplaces covid-secure?

The Government, through the Health and Safety Executive and the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, are continuing to issue improved guidance to make it as easy as possible for employers to make reasonable adjustments. Those employees who still have concerns can either talk directly to their employers or raise them with the Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service or the HSE to try to get them resolved. I think most employers want to do the right thing, and we are doing everything we can to give them as much help as possible to get it right and make their workplace covid-safe.

Last week, the TUC made it clear that two fifths of workers will be unable to pay bills if they have to self-isolate for two weeks. Statutory sick pay will have to go up for test and trace to work. Will the Secretary of State increase statutory sick pay to ensure that no one is left behind and keep the country covid-secure?

We have already made changes to the eligibility for statutory sick pay so that people can qualify from the first day rather than wait until the fourth day. We have extended it to those with symptoms, those who need to self-isolate, or those who need to self-isolate ahead of a hospital procedure. Those on low incomes also have the opportunity, subject to their personal circumstances, to get additional financial support through either universal credit or new-style ESA.