Key workers are under threat of losing their jobs due to new sick pay rules, according to the Recruitment and Employment Confederation.
Responding to the extension of the furlough scheme, the trade body said recruitment firms which are supplying key workers are being penalised under the government’s Covid-19 statutory sick pay (SSP) rebate scheme.
As part of the scheme, only small and medium enterprises, businesses with fewer than 250 staff, can have their SSP payments reimbursed if their staff cannot work because of the pandemic.
This has led to the vast majority of businesses, which supply temporary workers, being excluded from the scheme.
Neil Carberry, chief executive of the REC, said: “Businesses want support that is stable across the crisis, rather than changing week-to-week. So the extension of the furlough scheme to the end of March is a good move.
“But there is more to do. The fight against the virus is being compromised by the failure to fund statutory sick pay for every worker if they need to self-isolate.”
He added: “The vast majority of businesses supplying temporary workers, who are vital to sectors like education, logistics and care, are ineligible for SSP support – and a stand-off over who pays could lead to greater economic damage, as work gets shelved.
“We need to keep hiring demand as high as we can. Lowering the cost of labour by reducing employers National Insurance contributions, the biggest business tax, is one measure which will help.”