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The Unite union has called on construction firms to relax sick pay rules to help tackle the spread of the coronavirus.
The government has already relaxed the rules on statutory sick pay (SSP) to allow a worker to be paid immediately on sick leave rather than on the fourth day, which is currently the case, to allow workers to self-isolate if they have symptoms of coronavirus.
In the construction industry when a worker is operating under a collective industrial agreement as well as SSP (worth £94.25 a week), workers are also entitled to industry sick pay which can be up to an additional £180 a week.
But there is a delay of up to two weeks before the industry sick pay is paid, and Unite has raised concerns that construction workers who may be displaying symptoms of coronavirus will not self-isolate, due to economic factors.
It has written to the employers involved in the various industrial agreements including the Construction Industry Joint Council (for civil engineering), the Joint Industry Board (for electricians) the National Agreement for the Engineering Construction Industry (NAECI), the Joint Industry Board: Plumbing and the Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning (HVCA)/Building Engineering Services Association (BESA) agreement, asking that industry sick pay is also paid from day one.
Unite national officer for construction (building and civil engineering sector) Jerry Swain said: “The custodians of the construction industry, who talk about the need for social responsibility must demonstrate they will do the right thing.
“There is a great deal of worry and fear about the coronavirus and it would be perverse if action was not taken to ensure that construction workers can take the appropriate measures to protect fellow workers and local communities from potentially being infected.”