UNISON Northern Ireland has welcomed yesterday’s announcement by minister of health Robin Swann that the Department of Health will provide funding for care homes to pay staff 80% of their salary when on sick leave for reasons related to COVID-19.
Regional secretary Patricia McKeown said: ‘‘UNISON has been calling for full pay for workers who become sick or have to self-isolate from the beginning of the pandemic. This is a step in the right direction for care home staff who have faced fundamentally unfair and unethical treatment while working in extremely difficult circumstances.”
However, Ms McKeown also noted that the union is seeking clarity from the department and the health and social care trusts as to how they will ensure that this funding “ends up in the pockets of our members, not in their employers’ bank accounts”.
She said: “The department must ensure that this funding genuinely benefits workers in care homes and enables them to stay away from work, where needed, to help prevent the spread of COVID-19.
“Now that the Department is providing this funding, we expect all employers to step up to the mark and guarantee 100% of their workers’ wages when they have to take sick leave or self-isolate. They cannot avoid their responsibilities.”