[From Boris’ lecture on exercising personal responsibility – Owl]
Boris Johnson suggests Britons should learn from Germany and stay off work …
Boris Johnson had everyone shouting at their television screens during his coronavirus press briefing last night.
While discussing his new ‘Living with Covid’ strategy, the PM triggered raised eyebrows when discussing work culture and sick pay, encouraging people to not go into work when they are ill by praising the culture in Germany.
He said: “In this country, I’ve often heard it said over the last couple of years, we have a habit of going back to work or going into work when we’re not well. People contrast that with Germany, for instance, where I’m told, they are much more disciplined about not going to work if you’re sick.
“I am just suggesting that might be something we could learn.”
His comments came in response to a question from ITV’s Robert Peston about the government’s plan to stop people being automatically eligible to statutory sick pay in the event that they fall ill from Covid. From 24 March, people will only be able to claim pay from day four of being off work and the £500 self-isolation support payment will also end.
The cut has been criticised by trade unions and the Labour Party who said they will “hit the lowest paid and the most insecure workers”.
Meanwhile, statutory sick pay is £96.35 a week in the UK, while in Germany people receive 100 per cent of their wages during the first six weeks of sickness.
People were quick to point this out on Twitter:
Speaking about the cuts to pay, Starmer said: “These are decisions which will hit the lowest paid and the most insecure workers the hardest, including care workers who got us through the toughest parts of the pandemic.
“It’s all very well advising workers to self isolate, but that won’t work unless all workers have security of knowing that they can afford to do so.”
Dan Shears, the GMB union’s national health and safety director, said the “nonsensical announcement guarantees workers will attend the workplace with Covid”.
He added: “This will prolong the pandemic with more outbreaks. Asking people to exercise responsibility whilst taking away a key workplace provision for them to do that just shows how incompetent this Government is.
“The UK’s poverty Statutory Sick Pay rates, among the lowest in Europe, are a public health hazard as workers cannot afford to stay home when they are ill.
“The situation will be made even worse in April when SSP is cut in real terms against a backdrop of rampant inflation.
“Restoring the three day limit is an act of national self-sabotage. It’s time for wholesale reform of Statutory Sick Pay rate.”