Fury as government tells Brits in Spanish quarantine to claim Universal Credit

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Brits returning from Spain should claim Universal Credit if their employers refuse to pay them while they self isolate, the Government has said.

Hundreds of thousands of holidaymakers will have to stay at home when they return to the UK after quarantine-free travel with Spain was axed by due to soaring numbers of coronavirus cases.

But No10 sparked fury by bluntly refusing to budge on barring travellers from claiming Statutory Sick Pay, worth £95.85-a-week, while they self isolate.

Downing Street also warned that “no travel is risk free” when asked if people should be concerned about upcoming trips to places like Belgium and Croatia where cases have spiked.

The Prime Minister’s spokesman told returning Brits to claim Universal Credit 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.

He 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.

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

He added: “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 told The Mirror: “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.

“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.”

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