I believe that carers should not be financially penalised when they have to self-isolate because of a positive COVID-19 test. This necessary action is to protect the vulnerable people that they care for.
On 5 July, I submitted a written question which went as follows:
‘To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, if his department will take steps to increase financial support for carers when they have to stay of work because they tested positive for COVID-19.’
My question has now been answered by Gillian Keegan, the Minister for Care and Mental Health, who said:
‘We are continuing to provide free personal protective equipment, testing and vaccinations to the social care sector to manage the spread of COVID-19. While the vast majority of care workers are employed by private sector providers which determine their pay and terms and conditions, we expect all care providers to support good health and safety practice. This includes ensuring that staff stay away from the workplace when there would be a health risk to those in their care, as before the pandemic. We continue to review infection, prevention and control measures in line with the latest evidence on COVID-19 infections.’
It is disappointing that the Government continues to be unwilling to increase sick pay, which is well below the National Living Wage, let alone the Real Living Wage. Clearly, if you leave it to employers, 9 times out of 10 they will choose the option that costs them the least and returns the most profit.
The Office for National Statistics has set out clear evidence that care homes which provide proper sick pay have lower levels of COVID-19 infections. To protect both care home staff
and residents, I believe that the Government must ensure that care workers can afford to self-isolate when they need to do so.