Metro Mayors launch campaign for workers to be paid if asked to self-isolate by NHS Test and Trace

People who have been in contact with people who test positive for coronavirus are asked to self-isolate for 14 days. Credit: PA

The Mayors of Greater Manchester and the Liverpool City Region have launched a national campaign for workers to be paid if they are asked to self-isolate by NHS Track and Trace.

The campaign called "Time Out to Help Out", backed by the TUC, is being launched by Andy Burnham and Steve Rotheram over fears people are not giving contacts to Track and Trace so that their friends and families don't have to go without pay.

Whilst some workers can claim Statutory Sick Pay if they are asked to self-isolate, the Combined Authorities have said that 137,000 workers in the two regions do not qualify for it.

There are also over 200,000 people in Greater Manchester and Merseyside who are self-employed and cannot access sick pay, although they could apply for Universal Credit.

The mayors said self-employed people should be able to claim for loss of earnings in the same way as the payments made to those required to go on jury service or under the Self-Employed Income Support Scheme.

They say where an employee is receiving Statutory Sick Pay, the employer should be able to claim back the difference between that and their normal wage from the Government.

Andy Burnham has said that the programme will never work properly until all employees are supported to follow its requests.

He added: "It’s right that everybody plays their part in helping to get Covid-19 under control. But what’s not right is forcing some of our workers – many doing the lowest paid jobs or self-employed – to make a choice between self-isolating or face a drastic loss of income.

"That’s why we’re proposing an alternative system that’s currently in place to make sure workers are paid fairly if they are requested to self-isolate.

"Only by ending the pay penalty will we see the national NHS Test and Trace service reach everyone they need to, which is currently standing at 53% in Greater Manchester."

Andy Burnham and Steve Rotheram are concerned people are not giving contacts so that friends and family don't lose pay. Credit: PA

Steve Rotheram, said: "A fully functioning track and trace system is our best hope of stopping the spread of the Coronavirus and giving people the confidence to go about their lives safely.

"However, with no guarantee that their incomes will not be hit, millions of people - many who can’t work from home or are self-employed - will be dreading the idea of being asked to self-isolate.

“We cannot beat this virus by asking people to choose between putting food on the table or keeping their communities safe."

Lou Cordwell, Co-Chair of the Greater Manchester Local Enterprise Partnership said: "I’ve been speaking to businesses and they want to do the right thing by their employees. Many of them will be supporting the campaign for a fairer system to pay their staff properly.

"This health pandemic has devastated a lot of businesses and impacted on jobs and incomes. The business community don’t want to go back to normal; they want to go forward to better and that includes making sure workers are supported when they need to self-isolate."

Last week Minister Simon Clarke defended the Test and Trace system, saying it reaches over 80% of people who test positive and 75% of their close contacts.

But he said the government was "always working to refine the quality of the Test and Trace service".

"There's always refinements to be made, but the system is actually working and is helping to protect us all," he added.