TODAY, the Tory government withdraws the infection control fund. This was support for those working in care to help them when they fall sick.
Unison head of social care Gavin Edwards said: ‘Scrapping the financial support for sick pay in care, just as the devastating cost-of-living crisis intensifies and Covid rates rise, is negligent and morally wrong.
‘Care workers will be shocked and dismayed by the government’s decision. For such a vital financial lifeline to be cut for low-paid staff trying to protect vulnerable people is beyond belief.
‘With care job vacancies already eye-wateringly high, the government should be encouraging and rewarding staff for doing the right thing by isolating, not making it impossible for them to put food on the table. Workers are already turning to food banks as budgets are stretched to breaking point.
‘Ministers must immediately reinstate the infection control fund and make it mandatory for care employers to pay proper sick pay. Anything less will drive more staff out of the sector and put lives and livelihoods at risk.’
The GMB said: ‘With inflation running riot at more than 8 per cent, Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) has suffered a real terms cut, leaving workers with even less protection.
‘Care workers are set to be plunged back into sick pay poverty as the pandemic scheme ends.
‘Under a scheme set up during the crisis, care providers could receive funding from the government to provide full pay for any Covid-related absence.
‘The majority of England’s 1.3 million care workers are only contractually entitled to SSP if they fall ill, which currently stands at £96.35 a week – one of the lowest rates in Europe. And many care workers are not entitled to any form of sick pay.
‘SSP is due to rise to £99.35 a week on 6th April, or 3 per cent. But with inflation running riot at more than 8 per cent, sick pay cover is being cut in real terms by more than 5 per cent.’
The union warned that poverty sick pay would lead to higher infection rates.
Rachel Harrison, GMB national officer, said: ‘GMB has long campaigned for sick pay to be a contractual right for all care workers.
‘Workers forced onto poverty SSP rates are left with the dilemma of choosing between going to work poorly or staying home and not being able to put food on the table.
‘The lack of sick pay in social care is one of the biggest infection risks there can be.
‘With Covid very much still part of life, removing sick pay for Covid isolation just puts people at risk.
‘It’s about time our care workers were valued.
‘GMB is calling for no less than £15 per hour and full sick pay for all social care workers.’