Stone joins cross-party effort to protect social care workers
Far North MP Jamie Stone has signed a cross-party letter to the Secretary of State for Health and Social care, urging him to protect social care workers employed on zero-hours contracts.
Before sending the letter Helen Hayes MP - the letter’s lead signatory - said:
“Currently, care workers on zero-hour contracts are not being granted the same access to sick pay as NHS bank staff and sub-contractors. NHS trusts have been advised to pay all staff in full in order to ensure that they self-isolate when necessary.
“Social care workers who are advised to self-isolate face the difficult choice of financial hardship or continuing to work and risk passing on the coronavirus to their patients. It is vital that social care workers have the same sick pay arrangements as NHS staff”.
After signing the letter, Mr Stone said:
“It is right that the Government do what they can to protect social care workers during this national crisis.
“It goes without saying that they should have the same sick pay arrangements as NHS staff, so they are not discouraged from self-isolating for fear of financial loss.
“I will continue to work with other parties and the Government to ensure we support all aspects of our health and social care system at this critical time.”
TEXT OF THE LETTER | Click here to see signed copy
Dear Secretary of State,
Coronavirus and the social care workforce
We are writing as cross-party Parliamentarians concerned about the urgent need to provide support to the social care sector in the context of the Covid-19 pandemic. The social care sector plays a crucial role in supporting hundreds of thousands of vulnerable people in high-risk groups for Covid-19.
There is a need to ensure both that there are strong protocols in place to keep vulnerable residents safe, and also to ensure continuity of care in the event that a significant proportion of the social care workforce has to take time off during the pandemic.
We welcome the Chancellor’s commitment to provide local government with immediate financial support to protect adult social care services dealing with Covid-19 outbreaks, and the commitment that workers who self-isolate will be eligible for statutory sick pay from day one. We also welcome the guidance from NHS England advising NHS Trusts to: ‘Ensure that any member of staff, including bank staff and sub-contractors, who has to be physically present at an NHS facility to carry out their duties, receives full pay for any period in which they are required to self-isolate as a result of public health advice’.
However, we are concerned that these actions will not protect the quarter of the social care workforce who are currently employed on zero-hours contracts, and that the drop in income which will result from receiving SSP may act as a disincentive to some social care workers to self-isolate, putting vulnerable people at risk.
Most care workers are on low wages and any fall in earnings can cause significant financial hardship for them and their families. We are concerned that SSP, at £94.25 per week, is significantly lower than many care workers will regularly earn, and that many with irregular hours may be unable to prove that they earn the £118 per week threshold to qualify for SSP.
We therefore believe that the guidance to NHS Trusts should be extended to cover social care workers. Not only will this ensure care workers will not face financial detriment if they contract Covid-19, but it will help to delay the virus from spreading within care homes and amongst vulnerable people, potentially saving lives.
It is essential that the social care workforce is placed on an equal footing with the NHS workforce with regard to Covid-19 to ensure the protection of our most vulnerable residents.
We look forward to hearing from you.