Coronavirus: Pilots warn of ‘disparity’ in government support for workers

Pilots have highlighted “huge unfairness” in the government’s approach to supporting workers through the coronavirus crisis.

The British Airline Pilots Association was reacting to Chancellor Rishi Sunak’s coronavirus Self-employment Income Support Scheme.

The self-employment help means that the self-employed can continue to work and earn at a reduced level, and still get significant grants.

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But this serves to highlight the fact that employed workers cannot, according to the pilots’ union.

Employees have to be laid off on zero pay, rather than on half hours or half pay, in order to qualify for support under the previously-announced coronavirus Job Retention Scheme,

Pilots across the industry are being put on significantly reduced pay, but almost all are being kept on some kind of reduced income.

Balpa general secretary Brian Strutton said: “It would be outrageously unfair if employees suffering huge pay cuts cannot access the same kind of support as the self-employed who will be able to continue to earn and get a grant of up to 80% of their income even where they have only had small reductions in their income.”

The announcement from the Chancellor on support for the self-employed could signal a change of approach for employees too, he added.

“We hope so. In any case, industries and workers need a lot more clarity from the government on both of these schemes,” Strutton said.

“The self-employed should absolutely be getting support from government, but there is no reason to have such a disparity in approach.

“We hope the government will think again, otherwise it is clear something has gone terribly wrong inside the Treasury.”

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