COVID-19: Government considers introducing statutory pay for self-employed

The Government is considering the introduction of Statutory Self-Employment Pay, following the measures introduced in the coronavirus job retention scheme.

The House of Commons Public Bill Committee has published a proposed amendment to the Coronavirus Bill, which would give self-employed individuals and those who are freelance to have a guaranteed income of 80 per cent of their net monthly earnings.

It has been proposed that this would be calculated from an average figure over the past three years, or £2,917 per month, whichever figure is lower.

The Government has been under pressure to announce measures to protect the income of self-employed workers who are unable to work during the ongoing coronavirus outbreak, particularly following the announcement of the job retention scheme last week.

The scheme would mean that 80 per cent of furloughed employees’ salaries would be covered through HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) grants, up to £2,500, which will be backdated to 1 March.

Currently, self-employed individuals are not eligible for statutory sick pay if they are unable to work due to covid-19, but they can claim the equivalent figure of £94.25 per week in state benefit.

Jason Moyer-Lee, General Secretary of the Independent Workers’ Union of Great Britain, said: “Proper sick pay is needed to enable low paid workers to protect themselves, their families, and the wider public.

“And there needs to be income support for the self-employed so they can avoid financial destitution.

“The prime minister and the chancellor have repeatedly said they will do whatever it takes to protect people and the economy. This is what it takes.”

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