Posted: Fri 26th Aug 2022

Covid-19 Sick Pay Enhancement for social care worker in Wales set to end

News and Info from Deeside, Flintshire, North Wales
This article is old - Published: Friday, Aug 26th, 2022

Care workers in Wales will not receive any top up to their sick pay if they have to self-isolate from the end of this month, the Welsh Government has said.

The measure was brought in at the height of the pandemic to ensure care workers could afford to self-isolate to protect vulnerable people they care for and other staff from the coronavirus.

The scheme was originally welcomed by trades unions as a good use of funds for the devolved nations from emergency funding in England.

Care workers in Wales at least were guaranteed normal pay if they had to self isolate.

UNISON Cymru has said care workers will now be facing a “double whammy” of the cost of living crisis and “being plunged into greater poverty simply because they are ill.”

In a written statement, Eluned Morgan Minister for Health and Social Services Julie Morgan Deputy Minister for Social Services said:

“The Covid-19 Statutory Sick Pay Enhancement scheme comes to an end on 31 August. This scheme has provided £8.2m of financial support to the social care workforce between November 2020 and June 2022.”

“The scheme has ensured social care workers who were required to self-isolate or stay home due to Covid received full pay. This has been an important support to the social care workforce and to infection prevention for some of our most vulnerable citizens through the heights of the pandemic.”

The statement goes on to say: “Recent evidence from the ONS Coronavirus Infection Survey suggests the prevalence of Covid-19 in the community is currently decreasing.  We are reviewing the asymptomatic testing of social care staff, and we will make an announcement shortly.”

“Frontline social care staff and residents in care homes for older adults are being prioritised for the Covid-19 autumn booster, which is being rolled out from the beginning of September. This will provide social care staff and our most vulnerable citizens with increased protection.”

It adds: “As we begin our transition from a period of pandemic emergency response to recovery, it is appropriate we bring this temporary scheme to an end. Consequential funding from the UK Government for the Covid response has ceased.”

“We will continue to look at how best we can promote greater occupational sick pay in the independent social care sector.”

In response, Mark Turner, head of social care for UNISON Cymru/Wales, said the decision by the Welsh Government not to provide any supplement to statutory sick pay for social care workers “will cause an impossible dilemma for staff in the private and third sector in Wales during the coming winter.”

He said: “This is disappointing, but perhaps not unexpected news.”

“With the English emergency funding long since finished, Welsh Government has extended this scheme as long as it could within the existing resources.”

“But, this latest decision will cause impossible dilemmas for care workers in the private and third sector in Wales during the coming winter.”

“If there is another, more transmissible or more severe  new strain of the virus, tens of thousands of already low paid care workers, will face a double whammy of the cost of living crisis and being plunged into greater poverty simply because they are ill, or to protect our vulnerable. It’s not sustainable and it’s not acceptable.”

Dominic MacAskill, UNISON Cymru/Wales regional secretary, said: “We know that Welsh Government is committed to improving pay and conditions for care workers, but it’s latest decision could provoke a deepening crisis in care.”

“UNISON is calling for the creation of a national care service, which takes the delivery of care back into direct council provision and removes the profit motive.

“That would be the easiest way to drive up standards and secure decent pay, conditions and dignity for care workers. As an immediate step ministers must prioritise the creation of collective bargaining across the sector, so things like proper sick pay, in line with the health service and council workers, be placed at the top of the agenda.”

“There can be no further delay. UNISON and other trade unions will be calling for care workers in Wales to receive decent sick pay before winter pressures hit.”

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