More than half of care workers (52%) say their employer is still paying less than £100 a week or nothing at all if they need to shield or self-isolate, according to a new survey.
The survey of more than 2,500 UK care workers by the trade union Unison highlights a failure of measures designed to reduce the rate of infection in the sector, says UNISON.
The government launched the £600m infection control fund in May, which was was supposed to ensure staff are fully compensated if they need to stay off work because they tested positive, were showing symptoms or were shielding.
But the survey reveals the money is not getting through, with more than two fifths (44%) saying their employer is offering just statutory sick pay (SSP) of £95.85. Around one in 12 (8%) say they and colleagues are not being paid at all if they need to stay at home.
Unison sayid this increases the infection risk because many staff are forced to carry on working, otherwise they would struggle to pay bills.
Employers should be compelled to make sure the money reaches staff and they are not out of pocket, the union added.
Responses to the survey, conducted over two weeks in July, show other serious failings in the system. One in nine care staff (11.5%) say they are not getting the essential personal protective equipment they need to do their jobs safely.
Almost half (48%) said they have never been tested for Covd-19, despite repeated government pledges about care sector staff being monitored regularly.
Less than a quarter (24%) of all the respondents had been tested more than once since the beginning of the pandemic, and half of these had been tested just twice.
Unison assistant general secretary Christina McAnea said ‘enough is enough’.
‘Throughout the pandemic care workers have shown amazing bravery and commitment to continue looking after the vulnerable under terrible circumstances,’ added Ms McAnea.
‘But five months in, many are still getting massive reductions in pay if they follow public health guidance.
‘This is deeply unfair and is driving the infection rate in the care sector. Lives are being put at risk.
‘The government has claimed its infection control fund would stop this happening to frontline care workers. Now we can clearly see the money isn’t getting through.
‘Ministers must make it mandatory for employers to use these funds to pay care workers fairly and properly when off they’re off sick.
‘It’s deeply worrying so many care workers say they’ve still not been tested. Government and employers need to urgently sort it out so there’s no repeat of the distressing conditions in the care sector over recent months.’
Photo Credit – Stux (Pixabay)