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11 May 2020

Independent Workers Union of Great Britain

UK: IWGB & Uber drivers sue govt. over failure to protect health & income of millions of low-paid, self-employed workers

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“IWGB and Uber drivers suing UK government over its failure to protect millions of precarious workers”, 07 May 2020

The Independent Workers Union of Great Britain (IWGB) and two Uber drivers have filed a legal challenge against the UK government … over its failure to provide satisfactory income and sickness protection to millions of low-paid and self-employed workers during the Covid-19 pandemic. The claimants will argue that this failure constitutes discrimination against self-employed limb (b) workers, BAME workers and women.

The income protection provided by the government’s proposed Self-Employed Income Support Scheme (SEISS) is significantly worse than that provided to employees through the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme, constituting discrimination against self-employed … workers … In particular:

  • There is an unacceptable delay as the scheme will only be introduced in June
  • It excludes workers that became self-employed after 6 April 2019
  • It excludes those who derive less than 50% of their income from self-employment
  • It doesn’t cover on-going overheads most self-employed workers have

The claimants will further argue that the current … Statutory Sick Pay … discriminates against women, BAME workers and workers in the so-called “gig economy” for whom these payments are not enough to survive on or in some cases not even available at all.

The current arrangements are also a major threat to public health, since many workers are forced to continue working while sick or while they should be self-isolating in order to survive.