SNP call for minimum wage workers to receive 100 per cent furlough pay

The SNP has called on Rishi Sunak to extend the Job Support Scheme to ensure low income workers who are unable to work or work their full hours do not go home with less than minimum wage.

Furloughed workers should get 100 per cent of their pay if they earn minimum wage, the SNP have said
Furloughed workers should get 100 per cent of their pay if they earn minimum wage, the SNP have said

Economy secretary Fiona Hyslop made the call in her remarks at the start of the daily coronavirus briefing from the Scottish government.

While not specifically calling for wages to be subsidised to cover 100 per cent of low income wages, Ms Hyslop’s comments highlight similar moves in France and it is understood that will be the level of support pushed for by the Scottish government.

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The UK government’s Job Support Scheme – the replacement for the furlough scheme – currently sees workers earn up to 73 per cent of their full pay packet if they work at least 20 per cent of their hours.

For those employed by businesses forced to close, the amount drops to 66 per cent.

This, the Scottish government say, would see minimum wage workers drop below the minimum wage in income through no fault of their own, particularly in hard-hit sectors such as hospitality.

Ms Hyslop said: “While the introduction of the Job Support Scheme is better than furlough ending entirely, it does not go far enough in its new form. Indeed, it may only offer limited protection against redundancies to workers in sectors like tourism, hospitality, arts and recreation which continue to be badly affected, but that we know will have a post-Covid future.

“Our counterparts at Westminster must do more to protect low earning workers. If they look across the Channel to our nearest neighbours in France, they’ll see that individuals on the minimum wage already receive 100 per cent salary protection.

“Unlike the Scottish Government, the UK Government has the borrowing powers necessary to provide appropriate funding to keep people in work and reduce the risk of mass redundancies and unemployment.

“The reality this winter is that many furloughed workers will fall below the real living wage – money they simply cannot afford to lose. While top ups may be available through Universal Credit, the five-week waiting period for new claimants often leads to financial and psychological distress.

“The UK Government must ensure that the lowest-paid workers are properly supported – including looking again at the rate of furlough pay for these workers.”

Responding to the calls from the SNP, the Scottish Conservative economy spokesman Maurice Golden said the UK government had already “stepped up” and called on the SNP to set out their own economic plans for the coming year.

He said: “The UK Government have stepped up to support jobs and livelihoods at every stage of this pandemic.

“Only a few weeks ago Rishi Sunak delivered another £700 million worth of funding to the SNP.

“The Job Support Scheme is another example of how the Chancellor is committed to supporting people through the economic crisis.

“He’s shown his economic plan. Now, the SNP should get on with using their powers and urgently outline their plan.”

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