Eddie Mair asks Tory MP: "People are being pressurised to go to work, what do they do?"

24 March 2020, 19:57 | Updated: 24 March 2020, 20:00

By Fiona Jones

After LBC received many calls from workers confused by the government's messages about whether they should go to work, Eddie Mair put the question to a Tory MP.

"If people are having to choose between their health and their employer, what on Earth should they do?" Eddie asked.

MP Dr Caroline Johnson responded that there is quite a lot of guidance out there: those who are over 70 or medically vulnerable should be self-isolating and the government will be providing support to do that. She said people with children should also check the Gov website for clarification.

"This difficulty is not understanding the important health advice that you've just asked us to look at, this is about serious questions about employers pressurising people to go to work," said Eddie.

"We've heard time and time again from listeners who do not feel they're doing essential work but their employers expect them to be there. Or them not going to work leaves them extremely short," Eddie said, reading out an LBC listener text.

Read more: Coronavirus updates LIVE

Health Secretary Matt Hancock announced today a temporary hospital will be set up in London ExCel centre
Health Secretary Matt Hancock announced today a temporary hospital will be set up in London ExCel centre. Picture: PA

Dr Johnson said on the Gov website there is a list of types of companies that should close, such as salons, libraries, etc.

"Other businesses do not need to close but they should be looking to allow people to work from home if that's possible so your listener should be allowed to work from home," the MP said.

"Will government help people stand up to their bosses? Will the government help people who stand up and say no no, my health comes first I'm following the government advice," said Eddie, "there's no guarantee, is there, that government will protect those people?"

Dr Johnson advised employees to send the list of types of companies that should close to their boss and highlight that this is the governmental ruling. She said she was "sure" that employers would be collaborative and pull together to save lives.

Eddie asked what would happen to those five million people who are self-employed and on PAYE.

Dr Johnson said the government has released a "huge package" to help those on PAYE to give 80% of peoples' income up to £2,500 per month, mortgage relief and support for renters. For self-employed people there are a raft of loans available.

Dr Johnson said the formal announcement of aid for the self-employed will be released "fairly shortly", to which Eddie asked for clarity.

"The government wants to support everybody...through this crisis and make sure that people can stay at home," Dr Johnson said.