Unions have condemned the decision to end the entitlement to statutory sick pay from day one for people with Covid-19.
Under the Government’s plan for living with the disease, the extra support for workers who contract the virus will stop on March 24.
Boris Johnson told the Commons that it followed the decision to end the legal requirement to self isolate for those who test positive.
Instead people will have to wait until day four before they can claim statutory sick pay – payable by employers at a rate of £96.35-a-week – as was the case before the pandemic.
TUC general secretary, Frances O’Grady, warned that decision will lead to people taking the infection into the workplace because they cannot afford to take time off.
“The Government is creating needless hardship and taking a sledgehammer to public health,” she said.
“The failure to provide decent sick pay to all, from the first day of illness, is reckless and self-defeating.
“If people can’t afford to stay home when they’re sick, they will take their infections into work.
“Ministers’ inability to grasp this fact will leave the UK vulnerable to future variants and pandemics.”
Dan Shears, GMB National Health and Safety Director, said:“Today’s nonsensical announcement guarantees workers will attend the workplace with covid.
“This will prolong the pandemic with more outbreaks. Asking people to exercise responsibility whilst taking away a key workplace provision for them to do that just shows how incompetent this Government is.
“The UK’s poverty Statutory Sick Pay rates, among the lowest in Europe, are a public health hazard as workers cannot afford to stay home when they are ill.
“The situation will be made even worse in April when SSP is cut in real terms against a backdrop of rampant inflation.
“Restoring the three day limit is an act of national self-sabotage. It’s time for wholesale reform of Statutory Sick Pay rate.”