A large number of the 600 casual bar, cafe, shop and nightspot staff at the Students’ Union earn below £118 a week, meaning they do not automatically qualify for statutory sick pay.
Now the union Unite is calling on bosses to introduce full sick pay for these staff, so workers don’t feel under pressure to turn up if they are struck down by the deadly virus.
Harriet Eisner, Unite’s regional officer, said: "We hope management will introduce a good sick pay policy for hundreds of casual staff at Sheffield Students' Union as a matter of urgency.
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“All other staff are entitled to a good sick pay scheme, guaranteed hours and a real living wage.
“The changes we are asking for will cost significantly less than the University Vice Chancellor’s annual salary, and would significantly improve the lives of hundreds of people."
Union representatives told The Star that they had already spoken to ‘numerous’ workers at the Students’ Union who had come into work sick because they couldn’t afford to miss out on a day’s pay.
Chief executive Jaki Booth said: "Sheffield Students’ Union has been working in a strong partnership with Unite the Union on a thorough review of our terms and conditions for our ‘casual’ staff, motivated by the Students’ Union wanting to improve terms for all, and especially our lowest-paid employees.
“Since completing the discovery work to find out how our staff feel about their contracts, we have moved together to decide how we can improve those terms. These conversations have been very positive, and are ongoing.
“Like many organisations across the country, we're currently in the process of planning for all potential impacts of coronavirus. A key piece of work in this area is sick pay for staff.
“As it stands we'll be handling any cases on an individual basis, whilst working specifically on how to mitigate any loss of earnings for those who do not qualify for statutory sick pay."