Globe, Migrants, Multiculture, United Kingdom

Latino immigrants and work during the pandemic

The health crisis caused by the coronavirus has also become an economic crisis that directly affects the world of work. Two million people in the UK have already lost their jobs, including many immigrants.


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With the pandemic, many companies have carried out improper layoffs and in a few weeks Britain’s unemployment rate – 3.9% before Covid-19 – fell to 5.2% in April.

However, all those who work in the domestic and healthcare sectors do so normally and are carrying out their pre-established tasks. Many of these workers are not receiving equipment that protects them from contagion. The Prisma spoke to the Latin American Women’s Rights Service (Lawrs) about how the coronavirus crisis is affecting the jobs of Spanish-speaking citizens and what kind of help the organisation provides.

To what extent is the Spanish-speaking community being affected in the workplace?

The Latin American community has been seriously affected by the effects of Covid-19 on the economy and society. A significant percentage of our community works in low-income sectors, such as cleaning, domestic work, and hospitality.

During the crisis, many people have lost their jobs, or have seen their hours reduced, and fear they will not be able to meet their expenses. Some are protected by the assistance schemes announced by the government, but unfortunately these schemes do not cover the needs of everyone in the community, for example undocumented people or people without access to public funds. People whose companies decide not to apply to the job retention scheme are also not protected.

In the field of sanitation, many people must decide if they will continue to work and put their health at risk, or stop working and lose their salary, since their companies do not cover the sick pay applicable to those who have pre-existing symptoms or conditions, or live with someone who has them. Many do not receive the necessary protective equipment, such as gloves and masks, in their jobs, despite working in public places.

As for domestic workers, many have been forced to settle in their employers’ home during quarantine, or risk losing their source of work.

 width=What will happen to those who are unable to go to their places of work?

The government has put in place measures to prevent people affected by Covid-19 from losing their jobs. However, its application is at the discretion of each employer and, therefore, the consequences will be varied.

We recommend that those who are affected contact a union where Spanish or Portuguese is spoken, such as  United Voices of the World or Independent Workers of Great Britain.

Do those who cannot go to work receive any kind of help?

Different schemes have been arranged, such as the Employment Retention Scheme, whereby the State covers 80% of workers’ wages (up to a limit of £ 2,500). Employers can apply to this scheme to cover salaries for employees who: cannot work from home, have care responsibilities, or cannot be assigned work due to the Covid-19 crisis.

Another of the announced schemes covers those registered as independent workers. For more information regarding these schemes and how they apply to your situation, you can contact Lawrs on 07902 145 832 or, alternatively, your union.

Regarding legal processes, the government has announced certain visa measures in the context of Covid-19. Our organisation recommends consulting the corresponding authorities for more information. However, we will continue to offer initial immigration advice every two weeks.

(Translated by Hannah Phelvin) – Photos: Pixabay

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