Bristol UNISON Calls for Fair Treatment for Care Staff
With the recent COVID-19 pandemic, care staff have been on the
frontline. But the furlough scheme (where staff can be retained at
80% of their wages) doesn’t always seem to be applying care
providers. Because some of us are self-isolating with underlying
health concerns, we are not covered by the scheme, instead we have
found ourselves on statutory sick pay and are receiving
£92.24 per week instead, or are just standing down (on no
pay) for the duration.
The majority have remained at work and have been supporting vulnerable service users through what can be a life-or-death situation. Some of us might see residents die or become seriously ill. Some of us with health conditions have had to work through this crisis. Some of us have had to work without proper personal protective equipment (PPE). Like the NHS, we have provided world class support, but normally behind closed doors without the public support enjoyed by the NHS.
We are often on poverty pay with some of us on the minimum wage, whilst others might enjoy the living wage. Also, the vast majority of us don’t have occupational sick pay, only statutory sick pay. This means we and our families endure poverty or we come into work and potentially infect other workers and service users. Shortly after the beginning of the pandemic, the government increased SSP from day-one of sickness rather than after the third day.
But Statutory Sick Pay is £92.24 per week – do you think a politician could live on this?
So, the choice is the same, stay at home and go without or go to work and possibly infect, or in the case of those with underlying health needs, perhaps become infected and with potentially disastrous outcomes.
We also note that during the pandemic it was not politicians, bankers, celebrities, or football players who strove to defeat this virus and look after vulnerable service users: it was us, key workers in care, and other frontline workers. We deserve to be respected, treated fairly, paid well, and kept safe whilst undertaking our duties.
Therefore, UNISON members in care call upon all care companies to implement at least stage one of the Ethical Care Charter…
… but with the addition of a properly funded occupational sick pay scheme.
Normally, an occupational sick pay scheme would be a stage three benefit, but we think that the current crisis has shown the importance of protecting the wellbeing of staff with such a scheme.
Bristol UNISON and the Ethical Care Charter calls for
• At least the living wage for all workers, irrespective of age
• Proper occupational sick pay from day-one for all workers. An end to the choice between poverty for us and our families, or cross-contamination for others
• Full personal protective equipment for all workers, held at care settings so that it can be accessed in time of need
• Pay for home-care workers, for travelling time
We also call upon Bristol City Council and other funders to implement this, and only fund those organisations who sign up to these principles. This will have wider benefits with recruitment and retention. Many care workers will be leaving over the next few years, and there is already a staffing shortage. Many will leave the caring profession after this crisis due to the way they have been treated. Whilst others from Europe will be returning to their places of birth due to Brexit.
We ask that this is debated at Full Council on ……………….. and implemented.
In solidarity there is strength,
Bristol UNISON Area Organiser,
Bristol UNISON Branch Secretary,
Started by: Steve Mills (Bristol UNISON)
This ePetition ran from 17/07/2020 to 28/08/2020 and has now finished.
127 people signed this ePetition.
Thank you for bringing your petition to Full council.
I would like to start by thanking you, your colleagues, and care workers across the city for the commitment, the skills and the selflessness you have brought to your roles throughout this crisis.
We have been clear throughout, that if government want people to do the right thing and self-isolate if they suspect they have coronavirus or have received a positive test, they must ensure people are able to financially support themselves and their families. I have joined over 1,200 local leaders in calling on the government to take a range of measures to help families and our economy as this crisis continues, including extending the furlough scheme, introducing a job retention scheme and providing support that goes beyond Statutory Sick Pay.
More broadly, we have confirmed our commitment to sign up to UNISON’s Ethical Care Charter (the formal signing we scheduled in March at the Festival Of Care was unfortunately cancelled due to the onset of the pandemic). We will continue to work with our current providers to help them achieve stages one and two of the charter within two years, and the aims of the charter will be incorporated into our new commissioning framework, due to be brought forward next year.
We are aware of the challenges of retention and attracting new care workers to the profession. We continue to support initiatives such as Proud To Care to recruit and retrain care workers, and to continue invest in improving pay, conditions and opportunities within the sector. We will continue to work with unions to realise these aims.
Mayor of Bristol
This petition was presented at Full Council on the 8th September 2020 during Agenda Item 6 Public Forum, Papers can be found here https://democracy.bristol.gov.uk/ieListDocuments.aspx?CId=142&MId=8368