Hospital refuses to pay workers sick pay

Note: on 22.10.2020 BRHUT revised their answer (see comments section below). We are unsure if this was due to pressure from Safe and Equal supporters or if the original email contained an error. In any case, we continue to encourage supporters to make FOI requests of their local NHS Trusts to ensure they are complying with instructions to pay outsourced workers and bank staff full sick and isolation pay.

A Freedom of Information request from Safe and Equal supporters at Redbridge Trades Council has found that Barking, Redbridge and Havering University Hospitals NHS Trust (BRHUT) is in breach of government instructions to ensure all healthcare staff have rights to full sick and isolation pay.

Bank staff working at the Trust, which includes King George Hospital in Goodmayes and Queen’s Hospital in Romford, are only entitled to Statutory Sick Pay at £95.85 a week if they have to isolate following public health guidance. On 27th March, Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC), NHS England and NHS Improvement, Public Health England (PHE), Health Education England and NHS Employers put out a joint statement: “It is essential for infection control purposes that staff members who are told to self-isolate, do so as quickly as possible. NHS England and NHS Improvement wrote to chief executives on 2 March 2020, stating staff should receive full pay whilst in self-isolation. This includes bank staff and sub-contractors, who have to be physically present at an NHS facility to carry out their duties.”

DHSC understood at the beginning of the pandemic that the miserly £95.85 a week SSP would create a financial pressure that would drive staff into work when they should be isolating, potentially infecting other workers and vulnerable patients. By refusing to implement this instruction, BRHUT are failing in their duty of care to patients and their health and safety duty to staff, to take all reasonable measures to reduce the risk of infection upon Trust premises. 

This admission that the Trust is breaking DHSC rules for bank workers raises questions about the provision of full sick and isolation pay for outsourced workers: the many domestics, porters, security, maintenance and other essential staff who keep our NHS running. It also suggests there may be other Trusts breaking the rules and letting pre-Covid norms of poverty pay, zero hour contracts and no sick pay continue despite knowing this increases the risk of infection. One study found 12.5% of Coronavirus patients contracted the disease in hospital. BRHUT bosses have admitted to a “small number of outbreaks” within their hospitals. How many of these hospital-acquired infections were caused by keyworkers who can not afford to take time off to isolate because their employer denies them full sick and isolation pay.

Safe and Equal campaign are calling on supporters to follow the lead of Redbridge Trades Council, submit your own FOI request to local hospital trusts and build pressure to ensure all NHS staff are receiving full sick and isolation pay.

Model FoI request:

I would like to make a request under the Freedom of Information Act 2000.

As is widely acknowledged within the NHS (, it is essential for infection control purposes that workers within NHS premises experience no financial pressure to attend work when they should be isolating following public health advice. This is especially important when some Covid-19 symptoms, such as loss of taste and smell, are invisible and many people who should be isolating, and are potentially infectious, are asymptomatic. 

Please can you

  1. Confirm that the Trust is fully compliant with the instructions issued by NHS England and NHS Improvement on 2nd March 2020 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.”
  2. Explain the arrangements that you have with your subcontractors for paying outsourced workers full sick or isolation pay should they need to isolate following public health advice
  3. Explain how this right to full sick or isolation pay has been communicated to all workers with duties on Trust premises.

Please let us know what responses you get to this query and we will publish the results.

Millions miss out on new isolation payment

On 20th September the government announced a new scheme aimed to support low paid workers to self-isolate. The scheme itself is wholly inadequate but it is the third and most high profile admission by government that low wage, insecure work and the miserly Statutory Sick Pay scheme are major obstacles to controlling the spread of Coronavirus.

From the 28th September, some workers will be eligible for £500 for two weeks isolation but only if you meet the government’s four criteria:

  • You must be receiving Universal Credit, Working Tax Credit, income-based Employment and Support Allowance, income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance, Income Support, Housing Benefit and/or Pension Credit
  • You must be employed or self-employed
  • You must be unable to work from home and will lose income as a result
  • You must have been told to self-isolate by NHS Test and Trace

The government claim this will help out 4 million workers. But the scheme is full of flaws. 

Firstly, it does not offer any support for low waged workers who have Coronavirus symptoms or those who are living with people with symptoms. It only covers people who have been told to isolate by Test and Trace. If workers are coughing or have a fever then they still face an impossible situation: isolate on £95.85 a week SSP or continue to work potentially infecting others. 

The government has identified three categories of people who are likely to infect others: those with symptoms, those living with those with symptoms and those identified by Test and Trace. Of these three categories, the people identified by Test and Trace are the least likely to be infected. These are people who shared an indoor space with someone who later tested positive. Some infection is spread in this way but many scientific papers have been written showing that you are most likely to be infected by someone in your own household. If Test and Trace is effective it will help efforts to slow the rate of infection but at best this is only topping-up the main means of limiting the spread: isolation for those with symptoms and members of their household. The new scheme releases some of the financial pressure of isolation from the least risky, but does nothing to alleviate the financial pressure to ignore isolation rules on the people most likely to infect others.   

Unless you have occupational sick pay, the financial penalties of isolating when someone in your household has symptoms are greater than the penalties of isolating under instruction from Test and Trace (even without the new £500 scheme). If you have to isolate because of Test and Trace, other members of your household can continue to go to work as normal bringing in an income. If you have to isolate because someone in your household has symptoms, this means a whole household should isolate potentially losing several incomes. This not only means that many workers will continue to work when they should be isolating, but also that many will avoid getting a test.

Government figures suggest 12 million workers do not receive occupational sick pay and will only receive SSP if they have to isolate. Only the worst paid 4 million – those that have their incomes topped up by social security payments – will qualify for this scheme. The other 8 million will still have to take a massive financial hit if they are told to isolate by Test and Trace meaning many will take measures to avoid being traced. Furthermore, many of the 4 million workers who qualify will be employed part-time and may well earn more with this £500 isolation payment than they would have done for two weeks work. In contrast, a low waged full time worker who does not qualify for social security payments would suffer much more financial hardship if they have to isolate on SSP. This scheme does not  help those with most to lose from isolation.

For example, a family of two adult minimum wage workers with no occupational sick pay entitlement could lose nearly £800 of income if one of their children developed symptoms of Coronavirus and they had to isolate for two weeks on SSP. The family next door might have one adult in full time work and another working 5 hours a week topping up their income with housing benefit. If the part time worker gets told to isolate by Test and Trace this household could have an extra £400+ for the two weeks of isolation. Statistically it is more likely that the adults in the first household are infected with Coronavirus.

Because the scheme is only for those workers who claim benefits, it will not help over a million workers who have no recourse to public funds status.

In addition to these problems, the scheme is very bureaucratic. Workers are entitled to this money from 28th September but the schemes, run by cash strapped local authorities, will not be up and running until 12th October. Councils have been told to back pay workers who make claims into this scheme but that could leave many workers with financial difficulties while they wait for the payments to come through. The payment is not automatic and workers need to apply for the money and provide all sorts of documentation.

According to the government’s own estimates, over 80% of people who should be isolating are not. Over 80%! The majority of this non-compliance must be due to severe financial pressure driving people to work because they cannot afford to get by on SSP or risk losing insecure work by taking time off. 

Alongside this inadequate £500 scheme, the government has also said they will fine people £1000-£10,000 if they do not isolate when they should. However, there is no easy way to police who should and who should not isolate at any given time: most people who should be isolating will be asymptomatic or have very mild symptoms. If the government were serious about issuing these £1000 fines they would need a level of state surveillance significantly beyond anything that exists in the UK. There is no indication this is what they are planning and in any case, they would mostly be targeting people who could not afford to pay the fines!

Other European countries do not have this problem and do not have our death rates. This is in part because all other European countries have generous state run sick pay schemes, many of which pay full wages for periods of sickness. These were extended during the pandemic to include payment of normal wages for periods of isolation. When our European neighbours get symptoms they can stay at home without having to worry about eviction, paying the bills and putting food on the table. The UK’s SSP is the worst in the developed world by a long way. This latest gimmick does little to address the problem, but it is an admission by government that there is a problem. They have been forced to make this concession by workers’ campaigns. By campaigning at work and in our communities we can win much more: a levelling up for those 12 million workers to the same rights to sick and isolation pay as exist for many unionised workers.

London Underground sick pay scandal

Reprinted courtesy of the Tubeworker blog

At the beginning of the pandemic, RMT won an agreement from TfL and cleaning contractor ABM that any cleaner who needed to self-isolate, or take time off sick due to Covid, would be paid in full. Normally cleaners only receive Statutory Sick Pay of £95.85 per week, well below their usual weekly rate and clearly not enough to live on. This agreement meant cleaners who had symptoms could afford to self-isolate, and wouldn’t have to drag themselves to work, putting themselves and others in danger, because they were worried about paying the bills.

That agreement has now been withdrawn. 

This is an absolutely scandalous move from penny-pinching bosses. Tube cleaners are absolutely on the frontline of confronting the pandemic, doing vital work to keep our stations, trains, depots, and offices clean. If they can’t afford to follow public health guidance and self-isolate when necessary, that represents a huge infection control risk that puts the cleaners themselves, other workers, and passengers in danger.

RMT is taking up the issue with ABM, TfL, and the Mayor. If ABM “can’t afford” to pay full sick pay, TfL should subsidise them. Although as an RMT report from January showed, ABM is making profits.

If progress isn’t made quickly, the issue needs to be escalated, including via industrial action – and not just by cleaners. Although anti-union laws prevent workers from striking directly in solidarity with others, our unions should explore the possibility of declaring disputes on behalf of directly-employed TfL and LU staff on the basis that TfL/LU’s refusal to guarantee full sick pay for cleaners puts all workers in the workplace at risk.

Official: government paper suggests less than 20% are following isolation guidelines

An official government document released at the end of August stated that “the rate of self-isolation and quarantine for those that test positive [is] currently estimated to be <20% fully adherent.”

Many of us will be aware of the many bizarre rules that now govern our lives, from the rule of six to the one-way systems in workplaces. But none of this is much help if 4 out of 5 people who are infected or highly likely to be infected are out and about, mixing with others and spreading the virus.

If the government believe over 80% infected or probably infected people are breaking isolation and spreading infection to everyone else, why are they not doing anything about it?

Compliance with most Covid measures is much higher that 20%. For example, the Office for National Statistics found that 61% of people wore a face covering when they went out in public. A major part of this lack of compliance with the isolation guidelines must be that millions of people cannot afford to take time off work on £95.85 a week Statutory Sick Pay.

The government are aware of this and it is the reason they introduced isolation pay for outsourced workers in the NHS in March 2020 and (in a partial way) in the care sector in June 2020. They must also be aware that the devolved administrations have heavily criticised SSP and that lack of sick pay has been a factor in local outbreaks in the North Wales meat factories and elsewhere. The government must also know that SSP was described by the Council of Europe as “woefully inadequate”, that it is the most miserly sickness benefit system in the OECD by a long way.

If the government were serious about improving compliance with their isolation strategy and serious about slowing the spread of the virus then they would organise to ensure all workers could isolate on full pay.

Careworkers to strike for NHS terms and conditions and £12 an hour

Careworkers in North London have threatened strikes in struggle to win £12 an hour and NHS terms and conditions.

They are organising in the United Voices of the World union who say:

“Throughout this deadly pandemic they have risked their lives to care for the elderly and some of the most vulnerable, and all on poverty wages and Dickensian terms and conditions of employment. And the only “reward” they’ve been given is a free pizza for lunch one day!

This is UVW’s first ever care worker dispute, and you can be sure that we will fight to win to the bitter end!

So, if you want to support these heroes in their battle for equality, dignity, and respect in the workplace, please drop us a message at

Quality care deserves quality pay!

Tribunal rules: Pay homecarers travel time!

Home careworkers in Haringey, supported by Unison, have been award over £10,000 each at employment tribunal in a signficant victory that could result in large payouts for hundreds of thousands of home care workers across the country.

The employment tribunal ruled that the employers,  Kaamil Education Limited, Diligent Care Services Limited, and Premier Carewaiting Limited – had acted unlawfully by not paying workers for travel times between visits. They were ordered to pay more than £100,000 in backdated earnings to the ten homecare staff who took the claim.

It is commonplace for home careworkers to have to travel without pay between visits but those workers could now receive large sums in unpaid backdated wages. Unison explain:

“The judgment said that travelling and waiting time of up to 60 minutes between appointments should be treated as working time…The fact ​that the compensation details involving the 10 workers are public – and not subject to a confidentiality clause – is also significant… Other homecare workers on similar pay ​rates will now ​feel empowered to challenge ​any employers who fail to pay them correctly.”

Careworkers ​who are working for super-exploitative bosses who do not pay travel time should contact their union immediately and submit a claim for backdated wages for all that unpaid travel time. Any careworkers not in a union can find out how to join here.

Just 41% care providers pay staff to isolate despite being given £600 million taxpayer’s money

According to the latest figures from government, just 41.4% of care providers in England have used the £600 million Infection Control Fund to pay workers who are isolating following a positive test. The government now plans to add a further £546 million to the fund.

There remains some doubt as to what the remaining 59% of care providers are doing but we suspect that hundreds of thousands of careworkers are still in the terrible position of being unable to afford to isolate if they have suspected Coronavirus infection. Even when care agency bosses are given free money by the taxpayer, some are still refusing to pay their workers isolation pay. The government-backed Vivaldi study which surveyed over 9000 carehomes found that just over 14% of carehome providers paid occupational sick pay, with 79% paying just SSP and 7% claiming their workers get nothing at all when they are sick (which is illegal).

In recent months the GMB have won national deals with Larchwood and HC-One to ensure workers can isolate on full pay following a positive test.

Progress is being made but carehomes remain high risk areas for Covid-19 infection because the provision is so patchy and limited. It is not clear that careworkers are getting paid if a member of their household has symptoms or they are told to isolate by Track and Trace. It is not clear whether this has been extended to domicillary careworkers.

In Scotland and more recently in Wales, the devolved administrations have introduced very clear policies to ensure full isolation pay for all careworkers. In Northern Ireland, careworkers receive 80% wages if they have to isolate. Unlike in England, the government have set out a clear policy that all careworkers are entitled to this provision, rather than funnelling money through a convoluted voluntary scheme via local authorities and carehome bosses. Most importantly, Scottish, Welsh and Northern Irish governments have made clear statements about why full isolation pay is necessary to keep carehome residents safe, while the English government has been virtually silent.

The pandemic is showing clearly that all careworkers need decent pay, terms and conditions and the whole social care system needs to be taken out of private hands and run as a democratically accountable and publically owned service.

UK: bottom of the league for sick pay

Since the beginning of the pandemic most of the 34 countries in the OECD have expanded or initiated statutory paid sick leave and other forms of financial help. We need to make the arguments for most of these new arrangements to stay in place or be further improved. And we need to win the arguments over the general importance of paid sick leave in protecting health, jobs, and income.

The OECD data showed the governments that did most to support workers during the pandemic were Spain, Portugal, France, Finland, Australia and Canada across a range of measures. The least “popular” measures for governments were specific support for frontline workers and financial help for people with caring responsibilities.

An online report by the Centre for Economic Policy Research, analysed the OECD data, highlighting the fact that 4-6% of all employed workers were on paid sick leave in the most critical period of the pandemic. That’s a lot. The percentage would have been significantly higher if so many workers had not been put onto job retention schemes.

But the levels of sick pay also count. On average, across all the OECD countries, workers receive about 70% of their last wage as statutory (or mandatory) sick pay. It is as high as 100% in a significant number of countries.

This sick pay has to be paid by employers for a period of time; in the UK it is up to 28 weeks. But the UK’s £95.85 per week statutory level is now the lowest, as a percentage of earnings, of all OECD countries. As elsewhere, in the UK some workers are covered by agreements with employers which provide much better sick pay but the low level of statutory sick pay is a scandal and it exacerbates all sick pay agreements.

Almost half of countries, notably Finland, France, Israel and New Zealand increased the level of statutory sick pay for the duration of the pandemic. Not the UK.

Everywhere the picture is not great for self-employed workers (depending on insurance rules), and is very bad for those working in casual and the gig economy employment.

Outside of pandemic conditions employers try to avoid paying sick pay by instituting the maximum number of sick days and bullying workers back to work. That has been less possible to justify during a pandemic when openly bullying workers was undermining quarantine. On the other hand in most countries during the pandemic governments have allowed employers to reclaim statutory sick pay, and pay sick pay to people quarantining. So there was no real need for bosses to put the squeeze on workers over sickness days in their usual ways. It was the low level of sick pay, and the inability of workers to afford to quarantine, which pushed UK workers back to work.

Now we need to make the arguments to continue these concessions and improvements in sick pay, demanding action from both bosses and government:

• Paid sick leave remains important to protect us all from a second infection of Covid-19.

• Paid sick leave allows infected and potentially infected workers to quarantine quickly, without job loss and with limited income loss. 

• Paid sick leave can protect us from infectious diseases at other times. 

• Paid sick leave preserves the jobs of sick and quarantined workers. (According to other research, job losses and working hour reductions during the COVID-19 outbreak have been larger in US states without a paid sick leave);

The OECD research, showing inconsistency in sick pay regimes, points to the need to level up and improve sick pay across the board and internationally. We need to argue for:

• Levels set at 100% of wages, over a long-term, for both sickness and quarantining and to enable caring responsibilities.

• Sick leave for all groups of workers and all types of disease and illness;

• Carers leave with the same comprehensive conditions.

• A strong framework for returning to work including flexible payments and hours.

• Stronger systems of help during epidemics.

Official: lack of sick pay is costing lives!

On 3rd July an official government commissioned survey found that lack of sick pay and insecure work increase the risk of carehome residents contracting Coronavirus.

The Vivaldi study1 looked at coronavirus (COVID-19) infections in 9,081 care homes providing care for dementia patients and the elderly in England. They found risk of infection was reduced by between 7-18% when staff had paid sick leave entitlement. Risk of infection almost doubled when carehomes employed bank and agency workers on zero hours contracts.

It is likely that the survey significantly under estimates the risk caused by lack of sick pay. The survey was carried out by interview by care home managers who were asked whether they offer sick pay to staff. 93% said that they did, however we know from various studies that only around 20-40% of care providers pay full sick pay.2 3 The ONS have confirmed that this discrepancy is because the authors of the study decided to group together those who pay full sick pay (ie normal wages for sickness absence) with those who just pay Statutory Sick Pay (£95.85 a week) and compared this group to the 7% who say they offer no sick pay at all (despite this being a legal requirement). The difference between full sick pay and SSP is around £197 a week for a minimum wage worker. A careworker who only gets SSP for two weeks self-isolation will lose almost £400 in income. For low wage worker that means serious difficulties paying the rent and putting food on the table. It is this financial pressure that is driving care workers into work when they have signs of Coronavirus infection.

By grouping these two types of sick pay together, the study significantly under-estimates the increased infection risk posed by workers not having full sick and isolation pay entitlement. They have found that careworkers are more likely to isolate if they only have to take a £200 a week financial hit rather than £292 a week, and this effect makes carehomes 7-18% safer for residents. But what they are reluctant to tell us is how much infection risk is reduced in carehomes where workers can isolate without suffering severe financial hardship.

While this is the first time that an academic study has found a link between lack of sick pay and risk of infection, it is not the first time the government has conceded this is a problem. The central measure in the government’s public health strategy is self-isolating those who are symptomatic and those who are in close contact with people who are symptomatic. But millions of workers – those without sick pay, on zero hours contracts, those with “no recourse to public funds” status – cannot afford to take time off work. This widespread problem increases the risk of infection in those workplaces where workers do not have these basic rights, and means Coronavirus spreads more rapidly.

Recognising this argument, in early March NHS England insisted that all workers (including bank and outsourced workers) with duties on NHS premises should be paid normal wages if they were isolating on public health advice. In fact, this has only been done in a botched and partial way4. The complexity of carrying out this instruction within a service that has been fragmented and privatised over many decades means that even in the NHS there remain many low paid workers within our hospitals without paid leave entitlement. However, in social care the problem is even more acute. A majority of care homes employ people on minimum wage with no occupational sick pay entitlement. Hundreds of thousands of workers, caring for hundreds of thousands of people who are at highest risk of dying if they get Coronavirus, are being driven into work when they have signs of infection. Despite understanding this risk back in early March and taking steps to mitigate the risk in the NHS, it was not until the middle of May that Department of Health and Social Care attempted to address the sick pay issue within care homes. Early results suggest that the way they have addressed this problem is far from adequate.5

The devolved administrations have also been slow to act, but they too have now recognised the problem. On 3rd June the Northern Irish government introduced a scheme guaranteeing 80% wages for any careworker who needed to isolate following public health advice.6 On 24th June the Scottish government took much more decisive action on careworkers sick and isolation pay providing an Enhanced Statutory Sick Pay scheme that ensures full pay for all social care workers, including home care workers.7 On 26th June the Welsh government issued advice to prevent further outbreaks of Coronavirus in food processing plants: “Employers should…ensure that employees who are required to self-isolate do not suffer a financial detriment as a result of self-isolation.”8

The UK has the second worst sickness benefit scheme in Europe (the worst is Malta). An EU report found it was “woefully inadequate” and in breach of its obligations under the international law. Most other European countries guarantee all workers can take paid time off usually paying between 70-100% wages. In Germany, for example, all workers are entitled to six weeks off on full pay. The Enhanced Statory Sick Pay scheme for careworkers announced in Scotland suggests that the UK government could act quickly to guarantee full sick and isolation pay for all. The UK government has recognised the inadequacy of SSP and casualised work since March and now has scientific proof to back up this argument. Their delay in addressing this problem will cost lives.

If you going out to work at this time, do not wait for the government to act. Organise your workmates and campaign for full sick and isolation pay for all workers in your building, including outsourced workers. Your boss has a legal duty under the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 to do whatever is reasonably practicable to ensure that workers and others are protected from anything that may cause harm, effectively controlling any risks to injury or health that could arise in the workplace. The Vivaldi study proves that there is an increased risk of Coronavirus infection in workplaces where workers do not have sick pay and job security. Measures already taken in the NHS, in the Civil Service, on London Underground and at Lambeth Council show that it is reasonably practical for employers to address this risk.



3Chart 3.7






Progress so far with careworkers’ sick pay

Almost a third of COVID19 deaths, over 16,000 people, have occurred in carehomes. Careworkers are twice as likely to die of COVID19 than the general public.

A little acknowledged but major factor in these carehome deaths is the low pay and insecure employment of careworkers. It is estimated that around 440,000 care workers have no rights to occupational sick pay.1 If they develop symptoms of Coronavirus or a member of their household develops symptoms, then they are faced with an impossible choice: take time off on Statutory Sick Pay (just £95.85 a week) or continue to work potentially infecting vulnerable adults. A Unison survey of 2600 careworkers found 8 out of 10 would not get paid if they had to self-isolate. The survey found many careworkers and their co-workers are not always selfisolating because of poverty and fear of poverty.2 A GMB survey found 78% of careworkers feared getting a test in case it meant they had to take time off on Statutory Sick Pay.3

In the words of Nadia Whittome MP: “Those least able to afford to self-isolate are working with those most likely to die if they catch Coronavirus.”4

But careworkers have been organising with the Safe and Equal campaign and in their unions and have been winning victories.

Unison North West has won a number of victories, securing full isolation pay for careworkers in Salford and a number of other local authority areas.5

In Scotland the government announced on 24th May that it was introducing an “Enhanced” Statutory Sick Pay for careworkers. The details of this scheme are yet to be confirmed.6

In Northern Ireland, the Department of Health announced on 3rd June that it would pay 80% wages for any careworker that needs to isolate following public health advice.7

In England in mid-May, the government announced a £600 million Infection Control Fund for carehomes. Among other measures this money s for “ensuring that staff who are isolating in line with government guidance receive their normal wages while doing so. At the time of issuing this grant determination this included staff with suspected symptoms of Covid 19 awaiting a test, or any staff member for a period following a positive test.”8

Local authorities were supposed to write to the government by 29th May explaining how the money has been used and reporting any problems. These returns were supposed to be made public. Some local authorities have complied, others have not.9 Safe and Equal are collating information to find out if the £600 million taxpayers money is reaching the frontline and specifically ensuring that careworkers do not miss out if they need to selfisolate.

Below is a list that will be updated as we receive more information. The number next to the local authority name is the number of carehomes who are paying normal wages for workers who need to self-isolate as a fraction of the total number of carehomes within the local authority area e,g, in Barking and Dagenham 7 out of 20 carehomes are paying full isolation pay.

Barking and Dagenham 7/20 “Care homes have identified that they would require support in funding full wages for staff isolating after a positive test.”10

Bath and North East Somerset 31/58 “This is in place, where appropriate, but providers have taken forward a range of options to support staff. SSP being paid in some services – Another service is paying staff their SSP and company sick pay entitlement from the first day of isolation (regardless of a test). If they are entitled to full sick pay then yes paid in full but if they have used there entitlement previously then no or possibly half pay.”11 

Bexley 14/31 “14 out of 31 care homes confirm that they are able to pay staff full wages while isolating following a positive test.”

“care home providers said that being able to offer more than Statutory Sick Pay would be helpful. For example, extra funding to give full or at least 80% pay would be helpful. However, this may be difficult for small providers

  • extra financial support would be helpful. For example, to maintain cashflow and debt liquidity to maintain supplier relationships or to cover the added expenses of agency staff, whilst a staff member self isolates

“currently, where staff are concerned or unclear about whether they will be paid a full wage whilst off, they may be discouraged from getting tested, particularly those who are asymptomatic

  • some providers mentioned that Statutory Sick Pay is agreed from Day 1 currently
  • the feedback suggests that care providers may have different policies in place. For example, only paying full pay for the first period of isolation or making this dependent on previous sickness record. Getting some consistency in approach across the independent sector, sharing good employment practice, promoting adoption of minimum standards or taking action to raise these standards should be further considered at a national level”12

Birmingham “Financial assistance has been provided to care providers who have been unable to claim Statutory Sick Pay at present, to allow them to continue to pay staff wages.”13

Blackpool 19/69 “Most homes report they would require additional funding – either nationally or from the Council to be able to afford this. Mainly rely on SSP.”14

Brent 61/61 “We know that not all homes pay all staff when they are absent because of sickness. However, we would expect the infection control funding to be used in order to do this so that staff do”15

Brighton and Hove 29/93 “Information taken from Capacity Tracker, but not all Care Home’s have completed this field. In-house staff are being paid their contracted hours if they have to self isolate or cannot work from home. But this only makes up a very small proportion of care home (three in total). The vast majority of homes are privately owned or run by charities. The Registered Care Association Chair has stated that care homes are very unlikely to be paying staff who are self isolating their full wage. Staff who are self isolating are regarded as off sick and therefore receive SSP. People who are ‘shielding’ for 12 weeks are treated differently; they are unlikely to be paid but will be furloughed by the government (as they have instructed them to stay at home), so will receive 80% of their pay.”16

Bromley “Just under 30% of the care homes reported paying full wages to those staff isolating following a positive test. The most common issue raised by providers was the need for funding to implement this measure.”17

Buckinghamshire: 35/134 responses “Homes require further information on the expectation of care homes to do this and whether this is covered by Covid-19 crisis funding. Ensuring everybody understood how to access the financial assistance during Covid. If 100% of care homes claimed for 100% of this related cost and the additional staff to cover the shift this would cause huge pressure on the monies given to the local authority.” 18

Bury 56/56 care homes responded: “Every care home is able to access additional funding to any additonal costs related to the pandemic including this one”19

Cheshire West and Chester “The funding will also allow providers to pay staff ‘normal’ wages when they are self-isolating or following a positive test to prevent staff attempting to return to work too soon. We welcome this additional measure as a means of supporting delivery of the “Unison versus Covid-19” pledge, which the Council Leader has committed to support.”20

Cumbria 78/150 “A separate centrally managed scheme (similar to the furlough scheme) for care staff isolating due to COVID-19. This would reduce the risk of transition of the infection and improve staff take up of testing as we are aware that some care staff are reluctant to be tested due to the financial impact of only receiving statutory sick pay. Many care homes have identified that statutory sick pay is payable to care staff who are isolating following a positive test. This may explain the reluctance of some staff to participate in covid-19 testing.”21

Darlington 10/32 “A number of providers only able to pay SSP/80% of pay.”22

Derbyshire 90/260 “228 responses were received to this question. The county council is clear in its view that if care staff are paid their normal wages there is greater chance they will take the right decision to self isolate rather than needing to work to maintain family income, with some care providers needing to pay the worker their average wage for a working week to compensate for any short hours contracts. The additional Government funding which has been announced for care homes will enable care providers to put this is place as quickly as possible, and the county council has arrangements ready to passport the funds to providers as a matter of urgency.”23

Doncaster 18/79 “64 homes have answered this question (15 have not) 18 answered yes 46 answered no.”24

Durham: 33/145 “Provider Data from Capacity Tracker: Yes 33 / No 68 / Did not respond 44”

Our guidance to care homes on financial support from the Council and associated contract addendum, specify that providers should continue to pay staff as appropriate, in line with Government guidance and PPN 02/20 in particular. This does not include the specific arrangements covered by the question however. With c150 care homes in the County and the relevant staff being employed directly by a high number of independent sector providers as a result, we would need to engage with providers across the market specificlly in order to fully confirm the position on this issue.”25

Ealing 28/48 “Care Homes suggested a change in national policy to either provide more direct financial support to pay full wage during the isolation period, and cover backfill costs, and have access to a Government funding for this purpose. A pressing concern for many homes, impacting financial viability as reduced occupancy affects income. “26

East Sussex 78/314 “This situation will be monitored through direct dialogue with providers, and the use of the new ICF to support workforce costs.”27

Hampshire 287/485 “The Hampshire Care Home Support Plan has identified and is working with providers to support them to utilise all available funding. This includes additional temporary funding provided by Hampshire County Council for publically funded residents, additional NHS funded provision, access to national government support and provision of the £600m infection prevention and control funding.”28

Harrow: 25/56 “Provider feedback indicates this is a financial issue for their homes and they would require further financial support to pay staff their wages following a positive test.”29

Hartlepool 7/26 “Providers will be encouraged to use the Infection Control Funding to deliver this action.”30

Havering 24/63: “The theme was focussed on financial support for additional costs in relation to additional staff, sick pay and more general financial support.”31

Hounslow: 14/31: “The Adult Social Care Infection Control Fund should address this with financial support”

Herefordshire 33/87 “This requirement was flagged to providers at the start of the crisis period, however the council or partners cannot mandate this. We would like national direction on this issue, it feels unfair that providers who do not do this should receive equal funding.”32

Gloucestershire 91/229 “Financial implications of extending clause to cover pay for staff who are self isolating. Providers have raised the issue that they need security around what funding is being provided and how long for. Query about move from paying SSP to full wages.

Islington: Response to lobbying by Unison “Despite the Government claiming it as extra funding for councils, the additional £600 million ring fenced infection control fund to support care homes, which you mentioned, is in effect an industry fund and not Council cash – an industry that faces mounting challenges. It is estimated that the fund will provide a 50 bedded care home with about £50,000 additional resources, but if the occupancy levels are down to around 30 residents, the home will be making a loss of around £10,000 per week. Islington Council has also seen income reduce sharply over the past few months as costs linked to the pandemic rise and we have no idea for how long the current situation will go on.”

Kent 154/54333

Lambeth 17/40 “Additional funding support for local authority or passported directly to providers”34

Leeds 51/151 “We would expect this figure to go up once the Infection Control Fund is distribute.”

Leicestershire: 49/182 “Funding to support Care Homes to pay for this after September. Only 39% of those who responded pay staff isolating. This is a key area to be addressed by additional funding”35

Lincolnshire 93/287 “The Infection Control Fund will go some way in enabling Care Homes to pay staff full wages, although issues of equality will be raised as homes may not have been able to afford to pay staff full wages prior to being in receipt of this fund.”36

Liverpool: “In April 2020, the Council made available grant funding to all commissioned care home operators in the City on a non-selective basis to cover additional costs incurred related to Covid-19. An initial grant equivalent to one full week’s commissioned services was offered to 30 June 20. Permitted uses of the grant [include] To ‘top-up’ SSP and/or normal contractual sick pay so that care workers receive full pay when self-isolating and/or during any period of sickness absence directly due to infection with Covid-19.”

“Funding has been made available to providers to pay staff when they are self-isolating or symptomatic. This ensures that the risk of staff working when symptomatic due to financial concerns is minimised.”37

Luton 19/40 “from these responses it seems that providers are not all paying staff when isolating. It is important that there is no dis -incentive for staff to self -isolate so this needs to be looked at further and supported.”

Manchester: No responses from 91 providers: “Unable to respond whether this is an issue or further support is required because this question is not asked of care homes on our daily ring around”38 The response for Manchester is strange as Mayor Andy Burnham had previously been on national television arguing that careworkers need full isolation pay39.

Medway 22/72 “22 of the 45 homes that have responded indicated that they are paying their self isolating staff a full wage.”40

Middlesborough 16/45 “Infection Control Fund will assist in part to improve these measures. Test, track and trace may increase the number of staff self isolating and therefore funding may not meet the top up costs.”41

Newcastle upon Tyne “Our Care Homes Programme Board will consider this area of provider response in more detail in order to fully understand the support a home might require to pay staff while isolating, particularly as some homes are already doing so. It is also worth noting that in some instances, it would be appropriate also to pay staff in continuing isolation following a negative test, when clinical suspicion or assessment of prevalence / prior probability of infection renders the negative predictive value of the test too low to be considered safe. Where meeting this expectation creates an additional funding requiremen, then that funding would need to be provided centrally.”42

Response to lobbying from Unison “The council has received £3.4M from the government with another tranche to be provided end of July/start of August 75% of that money has to be passed through to care home providers based on the number of beds in that care home, the council has no discretion about how that money is spent. The remining 25% does have some conditions, but they’re not particularly strict. None of the conditions stipulate that workers have to receive the money or anything about full pay for self-isolation. The second tranche of cash also requires 75% to be passed over to care home providers on a per bed basis, but they are supposed to supply an infection control compliance plan.The remaining 25% requires an action plan to be provided

In terms of council funding, NCC applied a 5% uplift to the rates paid to care home providers with a promise that they would provide “full cost recovery” for costs associate with covid-19, most other councils only provided the 5% uplift.”

Newham 21/25 “Additional communication will be sent to the homes that reported NO to ensure they are aware that this should be met from the additonal funding provided.”43

Norfolk 111/348 “DHSC to issue clearer guidance around the expectations of care homes paying full wages as a result of a positive test. Longer-term, it is essential to retain the numbers and skills of an engaged and supported workforce. DHSC to support additional Financial assistance in exceptional circumstances, for example, loss of revenue from empty beds and the risk this brings to care home business continuity.”44

Northamptonshire 77/246: “While there remains a consistent proportion of homes that have not answered, the return shows that a sizeable group of homes (98) are not able to pay staff their full wages during a period of self-isolation. we know that this relates to the use of flexible or zero-hour contracts for some staff or because of provider specific employment policies that may only follow minimum statutory sick pay requirements. These are common features across the care market and therefore not unique to Northamptonshire.”45

North Lincolnshire 25/60 “This will be an expectation of the infection control grant”46

North Somerset: 44/99 “NSC has provided all contracted care homes with an additional payment to address pressures, incuding the need to enable staff to isolate. This amounts to £100 per week per funded bed. Currently in place at least until 30th June. We will provide additional infection control payment in line with guidance. COVID-19 represents a pressure on local authority finances generally, of which adult care is a major but not sole issue. Funds provided are not sufficent to enable all costs of all providers to be fully reimbursed. Further engagement with providers to prioritise this support”47

Nottingham City “Information has been received from 70 care homes to date, of these 29 have continued to pay staff full wages whilst isolating following a positive test. The other 41 either have not had a positive test or staff will be accessing statutory sick pay.”48

Nottinghamshire 270/270 “We expect funding in the infection control grant to be insufficient in some cases and therefore we may require further funding for COVID-19 costs. A number of measures have been put in place locally to support providers financially. This includes an increase in fees to account for the NLW, a 5% upfront payment to support with cashflow and also monthly claims for additional costs incurred relating to Covid – 19. PPE has also be supplied free of charge when providers have not been able to source their own. Whilst the additional grant funding is welcomed it is not thought to be sufficient to sustain the sector and to be able to cover all of the additional costs incurred. Some homes will have had significant reductions in the numbers of people within their service due to the high number of deaths from Covid-19 which will impact significantly on their income. However, income is not something that the Council can reimburse for due to State Aid regulations and also the cost to do this for all services would be prohibitive.”49

Oldham 44/44 “How this is sustainable in the longer term in the absence of a continuance of increased funding post covid specific support. Through the financial support offered by the local authority from central government non-recurrent covid grants received, providers are able to claim finanical assistance with the cost of backfill for absent staff, which enables them to pay their absent staff a full wage.”50

Oxfordshire 61/123 “There has been no national statement mandating that this is in place, this would help the care sector in ensuring this.”51

Peterborough and Cambridgeshire “We recognise that some infection prevention and control measures can be difficult for providers to implement due to available space and associated costs, including isolating of residents, minimising workforce movement and maintaining staff salaries whilst staff are isolating or off sick. Practical support to aid these specific areas of concern are being implemented via the introduction of alternative isolation accommodation and financial support, including via the Infection Control Fund.”52

Portsmouth 18/39 “Further clarity to homes about how to manage this in line with the grant conditions. Additional funding may be required to support this. A number of homes have rasied concern about how they can do this equably in line with their existign HR terms and condiiton”53

Redbridge 38/71 “National policy/law/grant to pay staff in full if sick with covid not just S”54

Rutland 7/11 “Funding to support Care Homes to pay for this after September.”55

Sandwell 35/86 homes responded

Salford 20/45 “Salford’s existing integrated commissioning arrangements together with our pooled budget provided a framework through which the Council, Salford CCG and Salford Care Organisation have been able to quickly develop a local financial support offer. We wrote to our care providers on the 27 March with this initial local financial support offer that included: • Funding to support pay for people who are unable to work due to Covid related issues, to reduce their financial pressure and likelihood of them working with Covid symptoms • Funding to support backfill at 100% of cost • Funding for additional PPE costs • Funding for additional staffing linked to Covid pressures • Block-booking of existing commissioned beds to increase market stability We will be further enhancing this local financial support using our share of the recently announced £600m to enable the adult social care workforce to receive 100% of their normal pay if they are unable to work during the Covid crisis. Salford will publish on our web site, information on how we have financially supported our care homes over this Covid crisis. Through this period the Council has maintained close liaison with local Unions who have played an important role in providing intelligence and constructive challenge in support of our collective aspiration to support the adult social care workforce through this crisis.”

“Salford is planning to update our local financial support offer to enable funding to be allocated to care homes for this purpose. This funding will be backdated to the start of the Covid period.”56

Sefton 30/131 “Financial support model availible to help Care Homes meet the cost of additional staffing. Further engagement with the market needed. Please note 76 said no and 25 did not respond”57

Slough: 9/16 providers responded “A reduction in demand for care homes and an increase in vacancies mean that some providers have concerns around financial sustainability and are not paying staff full wages whilst isolating.”58

Solihull 24/64 “[Would like additional support to] enable this to be possible on a more long term basis”59

South Gloucestershire “The LA is normally unable to mandate terms and conditions of private organisations, although good practice can be encouraged. However, we interpret the IPC fund allocation as being intended to cover this and can seek compliance within the funding arrangement. 4 care homes (all of which belong to the same group) did not answer this question but from previous recorded conversations we know that they pay SSP from day one. 1 home did not enter any data. All have been contacted to encourage responses.”60

South Tyneside 16/34 “We will be working with the homes as part of the allocation of the infection control fund to ensure full payment of wages where required, for those homes who havent as yet paid full wages, those staff have been in receipt of statutory sick pay. No additional support is necessary as we can facilitate this locally.”61

Southend “Over 40% of Southend homes have consistently paid staff their full wages when self isolating and additional funding will move to 100%.”62

St Helens 36/37 “Payments are being made on a block basis and the Council have moved to payment in advance arrangements for Care Homes where they have been happy to do this, easing cash flow concerns. The following is funded from the grant announced by the government for local authorities to support the costs of COVID-19 for providers:

• Staff who self-isolate due to Covid-19;
• Paying staff who are shielding due to Covid-19;
• Increased overtime and agency use to cover staff absences related to Covid-19;
• Supplying additional PPE to Care Home staff in line with government guidance;
• Any other reasonable additional costs associated with the provision of services. This includes funding training or releasing staff to attend Covid-19 related training.”63

Stockton-on-Tees 19/53 “Additional IPC funding will accommodate”64

Thurrock 16/29 “The risk of care staff returning to work whilst they should be isolating does not just relate to those who are isolating as a result of a positive test. The ‘ask’ should be broadened to include those who are shielding, and those who are selfisolating whilst waiting for a test aswell as those who have to self-isolate as the result of a positive test. There are a number of scenarios to be considered that includes zero hours workers and those staff who do regular extra overtime.”65

Trafford “Sufficient funding to enable us to pass on funds to providers, to ensure stability and sustainability post COVID. Long term funding for Social Care to be addressed by central government – not as part of payments to the NHS. We have advised homes to pay staff required to isolate, however this information has not been collected and the expectation has been that they would be paying staff at least 80% of their wages. The Council is looking to make it a condition for care homes of receiving any additional funding from us following the latest government announcement re. infection control funding in May 2020. To support the care home sector, the Council has inflated the market prices for 20/21 through its inflationary uplift together with carrying out a rebasing of as decsribed in the FPFC executive report to the Council in Feb 2020; moved to payments in advance from March 2020 and payment on planned care for home care, block contracts for D2A, residential and nursing care, making additional increases to fee rates as a COVID payment in April following goverment funding announcements, and the introduction of a sustainability payment if care home providers drop below 90% occupancy back dated to April 2020.”66

Wandsworth 22/34 “Care homes as employers report that one of the biggest issues they face in staff pay and the additional costs associated with staff sickness or having to self isolate (given SSP is very limited). Reliance upon limited Council funding will unlikely resolve this as an on-going issue.”67

Warwickshire: 58/172 “WCC needs to engage with providers and Association of Directors of Adult Social Services (ADASS) partners to better understand the detail, scope and financial implications of this issue; ensure aligned messages (national and local) to help providers better understand available support and provide advice to individual care homes regarding strategic approach and managing individual situations.”68

Wokingham 29/52 “Further financial support going forward to cover sickness costs for the care homes. We would expect that this additional funding will support providers to be able to carry out this task, should it not be their current practise.”69

Worcestershire 46/179 “Infection Control Fund will support with this area. Financial support has been offered to homes through percentage increases and additional funding on a case by case basis, and workforce payments via IPC. There is ongoing work through the One Worcestershire business support offer to ensure homes are aware of and can access all available funding streams. 70