Citizens in Scotland who are grappling with long-haul COVID symptoms, potentially contracted at their workplace, might soon be eligible for a new employment injuries benefit, thanks to a proposed legislation supported by Labour MSP Mark Griffin.

Griffin is aggressively pushing for a law that could pave the way for the creation of a Scottish Employment Injuries Advisory Council (SEIAC).

Should the bill gain approval from MSPs, the SEIAC will collaborate with Social Security Scotland to formulate and implement enhanced safeguarding measures for employees adversely affected at the workplace, largely due to circumstances beyond their control.

The jurisdiction for employment injury benefits has been transferred to Scotland, however, the SNP ministers have not utilised these powers as of yet.

Griffin, an MSP for Central Scotland actively advocates for the establishment of a council that would provide guidance on this new benefit. This approach aims to position the concerns of workers and trade unions at the forefront of Scotland’s strategy.

Besides advisory responsibilities, the council would also be vested with the authority to organise research studies on chronic illnesses in present-day workplaces and amplify safe work practices.

The Labour MSP expressed his grievances, stating that each week, he hears from numerous workers who seek assistance and support from Scotland’s benefit system as the system in place in Westminster fails to acknowledge them and the illnesses they have contracted in their line of work.

He continued, “Frontline workers battling long COVID, care workers afflicted with back and joint complications, firefighters with an increased risk of developing cancer owing to harmful contaminants, and female workers who are entirely disregarded by the Westminster’s benefit – they all are seeking answers on how the new industrial injuries benefit in Scotland can prove beneficial to them.”

Griffin emphasised that this dialogue could only commence when workers and their respective trade unions are given a strong, sustainable voice in the structuring of the benefit from the grassroot level.

Many trade union representatives from across Glasgow and other parts of Scotland, alongside the STUC, have shown their support for Griffin’s bill which aims to create an expert council that would represent Scottish workers affected by work-related injuries and diseases.

Creating this council is a crucial step required to complete the creation of Scotland’s new social security system, Griffin stated.

He added, “In the context of industrial injuries, the benefit cannot be fully devolved without the creation of the body who would provide recommendations.”

Griffin called for the new benefit to be congruent with the needs of the 21st century, addressing the prevailing illnesses and diseases we are confronted with.

He lamented that relying on the antiquated UK system not only causes a disservice to the workers but also restricts us from trying out different approaches in Scotland.

Griffin’s proposed law is set to be analysed by the social justice committee of the Scottish Parliament in the coming month.

Griffin concluded, “The industrial injuries benefit was created in the past and was based on the sacrifices of the workers that were lost, injured, and disabled. However, it has not evolved to meet the demands of the world we inhabit today.”

“It is essential that workers, who are either injured or fallen ill, have a permanent, influential voice in the new injury benefit structure.” he added.