The Independent Workers Union of Great Britain (IWGB) is launching legal action against the UK government, arguing that it is failing to protect the wages and job security of millions during the Covid-19 (Coronavirus) outbreak.
IWGB will argue that statutory sick pay, currently £94.25 per week, is discriminative against women and black, Asian and ethnic minority (Bame) employees, because these groups are statistically less likely to earn above the threshold of £118 weekly earnings needed to qualify, and are more likely to be on low pay and have less of a financial cushion.
The union will also argue that statutory sick pay is discriminatory, as it is not available to self-employed or gig-economy workers.
Additionally, the union has stated that the 80% wage subsidy offered by the government for employees unable to work during coronavirus, announced on Friday 20 March discriminates against gig-economy and self-employed workers, who are not included in the new policy.
Dr Jason Moyer-Lee, general secretary at IWGB, said: “Many low paid and precarious workers are on the front lines of this crisis distributing food, delivering medical samples, cleaning buildings and looking after children in need, yet they have the least protection. Many who become sick or need to self-isolate will receive little or no sick pay.
“Others who are laid off will not receive wage subsidies from the government because they are not employees. No one wants to be litigating right now, but we also cannot stand by while our members are exposed to unnecessary risk or driven into destitution.”
The Cabinet Office was unavailable to comment at the time of publication.