Many care home staff are still not receiving the sick pay, months after they were promised they would by the Scottish government, putting staff and residents at risk says the trade union for care workers.
Home care workers entitlement to full sick pay was included in emergency coronavirus legislation passed by the Scottish Parliament.
The claim is made in evidence UNISON have submitted to the Scottish parliament’s Covid -19 committee which is examining the Social Care Staff Support Fund regulations which were part of the emergency Coronavirus legislation.
The Social Care Staff Support Fund is necessary because so many care home employers do not pay their staff sick pay – meaning if staff either believe themselves to be ill with Covid -19, or think they been in contact with those who are, have the choice between taking a risk in going to work, or feeding their families.
The risk this poses was recognised by the Scottish Government in April, and a scheme to ensure that care home staff who fell ill or had to self isolate was included in the Coronavirus (Scotland) (No2) Act 2020 and the Social Care Support Staff Regulations.
The regulations make it clear that care home staff should not be losing money if they self isolate to prevent the spread of infection. They are to be paid by their employer – who then claims the money back. Despite this many care home operators are either refusing to pay staff sick pay – saying that they do not understand the law. Or are paying staff only their contracted hours rather than the hours they normally work – leaving staff short. This not only contravenes the law – but undermines the effectiveness of what is a public safety measure.
Deborah Clarke, UNISON head of community, said: “It’s disgraceful that so many employers are refusing to comply with the coronavirus emergency legislation. There is no excuse for employers to delay paying out to care staff who are sick or isolating. This is something UNISON fought hard for.
Care staff have been struggling to pay bills, while certain employers have refused to pay them a penny extra they were promised, until they get the money from the Government.
Many care home staff who test positive are left in a position where they can’t feed their families – and that stops them coming forward for testing. That puts them, their families and residents at risk.
All employers must appreciate that self isolating is responsible behaviour which protects residents. Employers have a moral obligation to pay their staff properly while they are off sick rather than paying them the absolute minimum until they are reimbursed.
Scotland’s care home system is broken. We’ve seen hundreds of deaths in care homes. Care home employers handle multi-million-pound budgets but claim that they don’t understand the principle that staff should not be out of pocket when sick. But they still pay large salaries to chief executives and routinely pay large dividends to shareholders, meaning millions of pounds which should be used for care of residents, leaks from the system.”
UNISON is the largest trade union in Scotland and it is the trade union that represents care workers in Scotland.
UNISON’s evidence to the Scottish Parliament’s Covid 19 committee inquiry into the Social Care Staff Support Fund regulations can be found here: https://www.unison-scotland.org/covid-19-committee-inquiry-into-social-care-support-fund-staff-regulations/
Scottish Government announced that they would act on the lack of sick pay 9 April 2020.
The Social Care Support Fund, which included funding for care homes to pay full sick pay, went live on 25 June 2020
Deborah Clarke, regional organiser for social care: 07538 101225
Stephen Low, policy officer: 07956852822
Danny Phillips, communications officer: 07944 664110