NUJ recommendations for industry & society in response to the coronavirus
20 March 2020
The union continues to engage with cross-party politicians and other stakeholders in an attempt to increase the provision of help and support for NUJ members.
NUJ recommendations for industry and society in response to the coronavirus -
NUJ press cards as evidence of purpose - journalists and news gatherers should have freedom of movement and be able to travel so they can continue to carry out public interest reporting.
Freelance journalists are not entitled to statutory sick pay - the government should remove the lower earnings limit for qualification for sick pay and increase the level from £94.25 to the equivalent of a week’s pay at the real living wage.
Parents - journalists in core news gathering roles need to have access to emergency childcare provision that will be available for key workers.
Workplaces - practical measures such as the London congestion charge being lifted and relaxing parking restrictions near big news provider workplaces would mean that staff can drive in and out of work.
Payments - in the event employer’s insolvency, workers should be able to recover all forms of remuneration owed to them by their employer and this should include unpaid wages, holiday pay, notice payments, maternity, paternity and parental leave pay and any outstanding sick pay. This requires reform to remove the current limits on the amounts that workers can recover from the Redundancy Payments Office.
Business - the government should link any financial relief for media companies to guarantees on existing staffing levels.
The government should also encourage businesses where possible to pay outstanding invoices to freelance workers for the work they have already done.
Sole traders should be able to apply for the same loans as businesses.
Where organisations with low margins are not able to absorb the current financial hit and repay their loans from future revenues, consideration should be given to debt cancellation in the medium term – there is a danger that the support given today simply delays, rather than removes, the threat of job losses and business collapse.
The HMRC needs to defer its date to collect payments on account, currently this is due on 31 July 2020 and should be moved until December 2020 as a minimum.
Services - in any event of a lockdown, bookshops should be allowed to stay open, especially for children off school and for the elderly.
Press conferences - at the daily government briefings journalists should ideally not be sitting so close together.
Co-ordination - the government should establish an urgent joint taskforce comprising of trade unions, employers and government.
TUC recommendations for the government and supported by the NUJ -
- Introduce a wage subsidy scheme
- Guarantee paid parental leave for one primary carer for the duration of the school and nursery closures, with government reimbursement for employers and ensure protection from unfair treatment or dismissal for parents who take up this leave, no matter how long they’ve worked in their jobs
- Introduce a fully-funded freeze on council tax payments, as well as council tax debt repayments
- Increase the hardship fund for local authorities
- End the five-week wait for universal credit
- Support rental costs as well as mortgages