Demands for action over covid sick pay row


A petition supporting carers who had to self isolate and received statutory sick pay or had to use holiday time has been handed into the council.

More than 400 people signed the Unison petition calling on councillors to lobby local care firms to back-pay staff who had to use holiday time or received lower pay during periods of self isolation.

It comes as a £6 million fund was paid to care employers in Stoke-on-Trent to cover Covid-related absence pay.

Stoke-on-Trent City Council received £3.1m in the first grant from May-September 2020 and £3m in the extension from October 2020-March 2021, totaling £6.1m.

The petition was delivered to the Civic Centre at noon on Wednesday. Among the supporters is Stoke City personality Neil ‘Nello’ Baldwin.

Unison say more than thirty local care providers have paid staff £96.35 a week when they needed to isolate, the minimum the law allows.

The cash local employers received is from the government’s £1.3bn social care infection control fund and was paid out through the council.

‘I felt betrayed’

One city carer who took annual leave after testing positive for coronavirus previously said she felt “betrayed” after working more than 48 hours-a-week to keep vulnerable people safe.

The 48-year-old, who asked not to be named, said: “I asked about pay after testing positive and they told me I’d have to take statutory sick pay. There was no way I could afford that and I asked if I could take annual leave instead, which was approved.

“Then when I found out about the fund through Unison, I felt very angry. I felt betrayed. At the end of the day, I’ve put my life on the line making sure the calls are done. We’ve all been doing more than the 48 hour working limit. All the girls have worked crazy shifts.



Becca Kirkpatrick and Steve Jones of Unison hand in the carers fair pay for self-isolating petition signed by over 400 people

“I don’t feel like they had our backs at all. Since finding out, a lot of the girls have queried it with our employers and we’ve just been completely fobbed off.”

Unison Staffordshire community health assistant branch secretary Steve Jones said: “Care workers putting their health and that of their families on the line deserve more than the shabby treatment they’ve received from some employers.

“The people of Stoke-on-Trent want the council to do more to support care staff and make sure they don’t lose out financially for doing the right thing.

“The council must act now to make it a contractual requirement for all commissioned care employers to pay care workers their normal wages when they have to self-isolate. Payments must be backdated so staff don’t lose out for keeping the people they care for safe.”



Council leader Abi Brown proudly displays her face covering in Hanley town centre

City council leader Abi Brown said: “As a council we are very keen to ensure that care workers receive the support they need while self-isolating. We have received infection control funding from the government which has been passed onto care providers.

“But we have no legal power to control how providers compensate their self-isolating workers. We can and do encourage them to properly support their staff, but can’t force them to do so.”

A Stoke-on-Trent City Council spokesman said: “Infection Control Grants have been distributed to care homes across the UK. The grants can be used in a number of ways, one of these being for self-isolation payments to staff. Care homes are strongly encouraged to use it for such payments but it is up to individual care settings as to how they use them. Under current regulations, local authorities are unable to enforce how the grants are used.”





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