Contractors urged to relax sick pay rules over coronavirus

Aaron Morby 3 weeks ago
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Construction unions are calling for contractors to immediately relax sick pay rules under the industry working rule agreement to help tackle the spread of the coronavirus.

Workers on major projects like Hinkley Point would be protected under union plan
Workers on major projects like Hinkley Point would be protected under union plan

Already the Government has relaxed the rules on statutory sick pay so a worker on sick leave is paid immediately from day one rather than on the fourth day, which is currently the case.

Now unions want this principle to be extended to construction’s specially tailored working rule agreements that supplement statutory sick pay.

In construction, when a worker is operating under a collective industrial agreement as well as SSP (worth £94.25 a week), workers are also entitled to a further top-up of up to £180 a week.

But there is a delay of up to two weeks before the industry sick pay is paid, raising concerns that construction workers who may be displaying early symptoms of coronavirus will not self-isolate, because of pressure to keep earning.

Changes to industry sick pay would protect several hundred thousand construction workers, including those working on major projects such as Crossrail, Hinkley Point and HS2.

Construction union Unite has written to the industry’s major employers bodies asking that industry sick pay is also paid from day one.

Employer bodies urged to relax industry’s sick pay terms


  • Construction Industry Joint Council: civil engineering
  • Joint Industry Board: electricians
  • Joint Industry Board: Plumbing and the Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning (HVCA)/ Building Engineering Services Association (BESA) agreement
  • National Agreement for the Engineering Construction Industry (NAECI)

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.”

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