Social care employment conditions were a ‘disaster waiting to happen’, says UNISON Scotland


That’s the message UNISON regional manager Peter Hunter will be taking to the Scottish Covid Inquiry when he gives evidence later today (Tuesday).

Peter Hunter will tell the Inquiry: “The second class status of social care created safety chaos during the pandemic. The Scottish government practice of outsourcing social care to private providers with an anti-union attitude and weak health and safety structures was a disaster waiting to happen. Independent charities aspire to do better, but are trapped in a market built by profit. Carers were forced to work when infected and symptomatic; had to improvise their own PPE with bin liners, marigold gloves and wellington boots; and asked to retain old single use PPE for repeated use.”

UNISON Scotland will also tell the Inquiry how carers continue to be let down today, with the Scottish government making the decision in its February budget to cut more than £38m to the social care sector.

​Peter Hunter will say: “Lessons learned during the pandemic were lost before the inquiry even opened. The Scottish government made a provision of £38m in 2022 to ensure that infected workers could take sick leave without financial detriment.

“The government has since withdrawn this pledge to pay sick pay to social care workers, leaving thousands of workers across Scotland having only basic statutory sick pay. This leaves carers and the vulnerable people they look after as exposed to avoidable infection as they ever were; with carers facing the impossible choice of whether to go to work sick and risk the health of those they care for or being unable to afford to feed their families.

​“Unlike clapping for carers, sick pay could and should have been a learning legacy from the pandemic.”


UNISON is Scotland’s largest public services union and is the union for care workers.

The Missing Millions campaign is a joint union campaign which is calling on the Scottish government to return the ‘missing millions’ the Scottish government had dedicated to the social care sector to make improvements to sick pay, maternity and paternity pay.


​Trisha Hamilton, UNISON Scotland communications officer, 07943 507 307

Danny Phillips, UNISON Scotland communications officer, 07944 664 110 / 07717715277