Extend 80% wage protections and utilise taxi drivers as key workers, urges GMB

The GMB has urged the Government to extend wage protections to the UK’s five million self-employed workers. 

In a submission to the Treasury Select Committee today, the union outlined a series of steps they say Ministers must take to “ensure self-employed workers are not forced into poverty, or in trying to avoid financial hardship continue to work through symptoms”. 

There are now more than 5 million self-employed workers in the UK, a figure that has risen by 4 per cent in the last year alone. 

The steps they outline are as follows: 

  • Allow self-employed workers to access Statutory Sick Pay from day one 

  • Raise the Statutory Sick Pay to a level sufficient to prevent workers being forced to attend work while sick, which is contributing to the transmission of COVID-19 

  • Mandate companies who use self-employment for their workers as a business model to guarantee average wages if the worker is no longer able to work due to self-isolation or becoming ill 

  • Extend wage protections to self-employed workers on the same basis as other workers – government guaranteeing wages up to £2,500 per month 

  • Look for ways to utilise the self-employed workforce as key workers, beyond those already covered – taxi private hire drivers for example could provide a safer, much needed alternative for public sector workers in urban areas who are braving (still) crowded public transport.  

The submission comes as part of the Treasury Committee's call for evidence on Government's coronavirus financial package.

Tim Roache, GMB General Secretary, said: “There is no real safety net for self-employed workers, millions of whom are already struggling as the economy slows down. 

“If we want our couriers, gig economy workers, private hire drivers and construction workers to survive this crisis they need the same protection as other workers - their employment status doesn’t mean there are fewer bills to pay or that food costs less. 

“This is a time for everyone to pull together - the Chancellor’s announcement gave hope to millions of workers, but we can’t leave those who are self-employed behind.” 

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