PCS calls on government for permanent extension of occupational sick pay for all

09 Jun 2020

Pay all outsourced staff working on civil service contracts full occupational sick pay from day one, is the message from PCS in a letter sent to prime minister Boris Johnson.

On Monday (15), PCS is launching a new, national campaign Dying for Sick Pay, which is focused on defending and extending the right to full occupational sick pay, from day one, for outsourced workers across government.

During the coronavirus pandemic, PCS has been able to secure a commitment that outsourced staff working on government contracts will receive full pay for coronavirus related absences. This has meant that members have been able to take time off to shield, self-isolate, rest and recuperate.

It has also shown that, where the will exists, the money can be found to treat our members with dignity when sick, rather than having to rely on inadequate statutory sick pay (SSP), at just £19.17 a day. Unfortunately, the government wants this arrangement gone as soon as the virus is.

The letter, sent this week by PCS General Secretary Mark Serwotka, stresses that we cannot see a return to the unequal and inadequate system that SSP currently provides when Covid-19 is over. It is our position that all civil service employees deserve the dignity of full occupational sick pay, from day one, regardless of whether they are a directly employed civil servant or have been outsourced to provide services to the civil service. If there is one thing that Covid-19 has taught us, it is that no one is immune from becoming sick and therefore the civil service must rid itself of an unfair, two-tier system of sick pay.

Mark’s letter quoted data from the Office for National Statistics that shows that both black people and those in the elementary occupational group - cleaners, security guards, and porters/warehouse staff - among others, are at a significantly higher risk of dying from Covid-19 than those from a white ethnicity or other occupations.

Civil service outsourced contracts are awarded with a requirement to only pay employees SSP, whereas directly employed civil servants receive full pay from day one. In our view this difference of treatment might amount to indirect discrimination. In any case, it seems wrong that a predominantly BAME workforce be treated systematically worse than so called core staff who are predominantly white.

Join our campaign launch

The campaign launches on 15 June, the International Justice Day for Cleaners and Security Guards, with a Facebook live event at 7pm, including:

  • Former shadow chancellor John McDonnell
  • PCS General Secretary Mark Serwotka
  • PCS President Fran Heathcote.

We hope to also hear from those directly involved in the fight for better conditions for outsourced workers.

If you have a question for the meeting, email editor@pcs.org.uk by 4pm on 11 June.

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