Britain’s largest care home provider HC One has decided that they will pay full sick pay to care workers who have to self-isolate following exposure to COVID-19.  This affects the Blar Buidhe home in Stornoway.

Prior to Thursday’s (May 21) announcement, staff employed by the private care provider could only access statutory sick pay of £95.85 per week if unable to attend work having been exposed to or infected by the virus. 

Previously, GMB Scotland released results of a survey of its private care membership that showed 78% of respondents were worried about taking a test for fear of testing positive and losing money through having to take time off work.

The change of policy will benefit thousands of low paid mainly women workers.  Scotland Secretary of GMB Union, Gary Smith, said: “We have been fighting from the outset of this crisis to ensure private care workers are protected with full pay if they fall sick or must self-isolate.

“We told employers and government a testing regime is undermined if it does not go hand in hand with full sick pay, and without it tens of thousands of low paid workers, and mainly women, face poverty in sickness.

“HC One has now recognised this scandal and their decision is the right thing to do.

“The changes GMB has won for HC One workers across the country should act as a trigger for full coverage across the private care sector – no excuses.

“Everyone should now recognise the valuable work performed by this largely female workforce, but it should not have taken an unprecedented public health crisis to wake up to the shameful conditions of workers in the care sector. 

“Today’s announcement should fire the starting gun on the changes we need to see in the social care sector to ensure these workers, scandalously underpaid, are properly valued as the professionals that they are.”