Moving the motion: Sick Pay for All.

Conference, Helen Stephens, Self Employed North, and Chair of Community’s self-employed section committee, speaking to the motion on Sick Pay for All.

We know that there are over 4.2 million Self Employed Workers in the UK.

We know that 2/3rds of those self employed workers, work for themselves, rather than running a business, or through a limited company or agency. Many of those workers, including myself, enjoy the flexibility, freedom and creativity that self-employment brings.

However, we also know that the majority of self employed people work longer hours for less money than those employed in the same work, and that we don’t have the rights or security at work that we need.

In particular, we’re not entitled to any sick pay at all, so self employed people are at risk of mental and physical ill heath because not working, means not earning.

The pandemic demonstrated the willingness from government to introduce initiatives to support working people, if they have the political will to do so.

While the Government introduced the furlough scheme, self employed workers were an after thought. It was only through Lobbying by Community and other unions, that the Self Employed income support scheme was introduced to give some of us the same support.

Like every other worker, that financial support was a lifeline for so many of us. Saving our jobs, incomes and livelihoods. Even then, almost half of self-employed people during the pandemic lost work due to the restrictions or for health and caring reasons.

The government also introduced a self-isolation grant for those who contracted coronavirus, so people didn’t have to choose between their health and their work.

Community’s extensive research of the grant showed that 1 in 5 applications for the self-isolation scheme came from the self-employed.

But conference, we also found that 57% of self-employed applications for the £500 Test and Trace Support Payment were rejected.

It’s no surprise as a consequence that the number of self-employed workers claiming Universal Credit increased by 270% during the pandemic.

We know that statutory sick pay ensures that workers who are sick, can take the time to get better, without the burden of financial worry. This isn’t just something that decent employers offer, out of the goodness of their heart. It is Statutory. The state ensures that workers receive pay during times of sickness. So it’s unacceptable that this isn’t available to Self employed workers too.

Conference, we need long-term solutions to address the inequalities faced by freelancers and the self-employed that this crisis has exposed.

We have to address such inequalities. Thousands of workers need us to. In fact 15% of the Labour market who are self employed need us to.

These workers operate in all sectors including:
Construction, & building,
Transport,
Agriculture,
Health & beauty,
Teaching and education, and
Media, artistic and literary occupations.

Their contribution is vital to our economy, our well being and our environment and deserves the same support that employees in these same sectors and beyond are entitled to. That means treating us equally in our security system, and seeing sick pay as a basic right for every single worker, no matter what your employment status might be.

Conference, if you believe in fairness, in equal pay and support for all workers, please support this motion.

Thank you.

Motion was passed unanimously.