payment to self-isolate CAN HELP THOSE ON ZERO HOURS CONTRACTS, AS LONG AS THEY DON't FALL THROUGH THE CRACKS
By Pravin Jeyaraj
It is fair that the government should pay people who are unable to work because they are being compelled to self-isolate after being contacted by NHS Test and Trace.
However, the support payment of £500 may not be enough to cover the pay of those on zero hours contracts for the two weeks of self-isolation.
The support payment appears relatively generous for zero hours contract workers who usually work a below average number of hours. But, for those zero hours contract workers who usually work an above-average number of hours may see a shortfall.
Furthermore, the nature of zero hours contract means that the number of hours changes. If zero hours contract worker is forced to self-isolate at a time when they would usually work an above-average number of hours, you may find yourself at a disadvantage.
The support payment is only available to those who have been contacted by NHS Test and Trace and told to self-isolate. But, given the reported backlog of tests, a zero hours contract worker may find themselves in the position that they are showing symptoms of Covid-19, or is living with someone who is showing symptoms, but have not been able to get tested or they have not received a test result. If they do the right thing and follow previous government guidance to self-isolate anyway, they would not be able to claim the support payment. They may only receive statutory sick pay of £95.85 per week, assuming you are even eligible for that.
At the moment, none of the 12% of zero hours contract workers who live in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland would be eligible for the support payment.
But for zero hours staff who neither employed nor self-employed, because they are seen as casual workers, it is not clear whether they would be able to claim the payment for agreed shifts that are lost as a result of enforced self-isolation.