A single mother has defended going into work whilst sick with Covid-19, because she ‘can’t afford to take a day off’.
Emma Smith, 36, says the cost of living crisis has made taking sickness leave a financial burden. The office assistant’s monthly food bill has tripled to £300 and her energy prices have surged. Those costs on top of childcare means taking a day off would leave her out of pocket, she claims.
Explaining her situation, Emma claims she doesn’t get sick pay as she is contracted through an agency and doesn’t meet the qualifying conditions, and can’t work from home. So Emma, from Cambridgeshire, went to work on Monday 13th while feeling ill.
The mum-of-one said: “I knew I was sick. I didn’t want to go to work and make people sick. But it was half term and I have just started a new job. I don’t have the luxury to call into work and say I am sick.”
Emma says she started feeling under the weather on the previous Saturday after experiencing Covid symptoms. She still felt under the weather two days later but took two ibuprofen and headed to work.
Emma then tried to downplay her symptoms and sat in the corner of the office away from everyone, she says. However, she claims a colleague asked her to do a Covid test – which came back positive. She says she was then asked to not return until she had a negative test.
The rules around statutory sick pay (SSP) for Covid infections changed in March last year.
Emma said: “I thought I could sit in the corner. I thought I would sit out of the way. We are not in a pandemic anymore and there was no rules at work.
“[They] told me not to come back until I am better. I don’t get sick pay – so I was just sat at home sick and not getting paid.”
Emma’s bills have skyrocketed over the last year. She has gone from paying £100 a month on food shopping to a whopping £300. That, and she is now paying £120 a month for gas and electricity – an increase of £75 on her previous tariff.
Emma said: “I live in a two-bedroom apartment. I am paying £20 a day for my son to go to childcare this week. That is half of what I would earn in a day.
“This crisis has taken the joy out of parenting because of how stressful it is. My son is seven, and that is meant to be a wonderful age to raise a child.
“I wanted to go to work as I wanted to be able to treat my son.
“The joy of parenting is being sucked out, it is now a struggle.”
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