Care home workers are putting residents’ lives at risk by being forced to work because they are still not given full pay when they are ill.
Trade union Unison reported that it had been contacted by numerous staff who say they are only offered statutory sick pay (£96 per week) instead of their normal pay when they fall ill with Covid-19 (Coronavirus) or should be self-isolating.
Gavin Edwards, a senior national officer at Unison, said: “Care workers dropping to statutory sick pay when they need to self-isolate is one of the worst scandals of the UK response to the pandemic.”
He explained: “The system isn’t working. Low-paid staff shouldn’t be losing money they can ill afford when they’re poorly or stopping home to avoid spreading the virus.”
He added: “All care workers should be told they are automatically on full/normal pay for self-isolation and the government needs to make it clear that any employer breaching this rule will face serious consequences.”
Despite The Department of Health and Social Care last year setting up a £1.1 billion infection control fund to help pay for self-isolating and sick care workers, care homes are said to be buckling.
One operator, Bespoke Health and Social Care, insisted it was simply unable to pay the full salary of an off-sick employee as well as the salary of a covering member of staff.
Edwards added: “It’s simply wrong that almost a year into the pandemic and many care workers are having to survive on less than £100 a week if they fall ill or need to isolate.”
Concern comes as care homes continue to record outbreaks of Coronavirus, with the disease thought to be brought into care home environments by staff working there.
In late December, Falcon House care home in Hertfordshire saw the majority of its residents become infected following an outbreak.