Holidaymakers returning from Spain told to claim universal credit

Holidaymakers returning from Spain have been told to claim Universal Credit if their employers refuse to pay them while they self isolate.

On Saturday the government removed Spain from their 'quarantine-free' travel list because of growing coronavirus numbers.

The measure came into effect immediately, meaning thousands of Brits who are on holiday in Spain, will now be forced to unexpectedly isolate for two weeks.

The government are refusing to let returning holidaymakers claim statutory sick pay while they self isolate and have instead told them to claim universal credit – r eports the Mirror.

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The Prime Minister's spokesman said people can claim the benefit if their employers were not “considerate” enough to keep paying them – despite claims taking five weeks for full payment.

The spokesman even claimed people who lost their work for two weeks could go to employment dispute body ACAS.

The spokesman said: “We would encourage employers to be understanding of those returning and flexible in accommodating their need to self-isolate – for example, by allowing them to work from home wherever that’s possible.

“Where this isn’t possible, we would expect that many employers would have their own policies in place for quarantine and we know some continue to offer full pay for all or some of the isolation period.

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“If there are people who need urgent support, then they may be entitled to the new-style Employment Support Allowance or Universal Credit.

“There’s support available for people who need it.”

The spokesman refused to say if the policy will be reviewed, saying: “We always keep our response to the pandemic under review and we regularly assess the support available – but there is support available for those who are in need.”

Asked how people who fall through the cracks would be helped he said: “There are existing systems in place should a dispute occur between an employer and employee – that is that the employee can take that dispute to ACAS for settlement.”

Shadow Chancellor Anneliese Dodds slammed Tory ministers for "crossing their fingers and hoping employers will do the right thing".

She said: "The government knows you can’t live on less than £100 a week if you have to self-isolate with Covid-19, but it's done nothing to boost sick pay in over four months.

"Now it’s telling returning holidaymakers to self-isolate without any support. Once again ministers are just crossing their fingers and hoping employers will do the right thing.

"It's another abdication of responsibility from a government that can't get a grip on this health crisis."

TUC general secretary Frances O'Grady demanded increases to sick pay and said "no one should suffer financially for following official advice to quarantine".

She added: "It's not holidaymakers' fault that the guidance has changed.

"Wherever possible, employers should do the right thing and pay quarantined workers their full pay.

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"The Government must also make it clear that people who can't work from home during quarantine will be eligible for statutory sick pay.

"And they should increase sick pay from £95 a week to at least the level of the 'real living wage' of £320 a week.

"In addition, ministers should change the law to stop employers from sacking quarantined workers."