Ending isolation without clear guidance creates big public risk, says UNISON

Christina McAnea says ditching rules is reckless and will cause confusion

Ministers must give clear, detailed guidance to prevent a “super spreader free-for-all” in workplaces when Covid isolation requirements ​end ​in England ​​later this month, says UNISON ​today (Friday).​​

The health of vulnerable people and colleagues must not be left to individual choice when so much is at stake, the union says. The changes could also lead to some employers insisting staff work despite virus risks, or face penalties for staying away.

Those who have been exposed to ​Covid or have it themselves​ could soon be free to work and socialise without the mandatory need for isolation. This follows the surprise announcement by the Prime Minister this week.

More clarity is needed from the government about how this will operate, otherwise the virus could be spread by those who carry on working, says UNISON. Employers could easily find themselves at odds with existing health and safety regulations, the union says.

UNISON general secretary Christina McAnea said: “Ditching Covid rules while the virus rages suggests public health is less important to the Prime Minister than saving his job.“Putting a match to sensible safety measures, without providing guidance to employers, is reckless and will cause confusion and alarm.“People will take the virus into work ​and school, risking the health of colleagues and commuters. Anyone vulnerable will rightly feel they’ve been flung under the bus.“It will be a nightmare for employers struggling ​to protect staff ​from a potential super spreader free-for-all.“Ministers must quickly get to grips with the situation and provide clarity to employers and workers in every sector of the economy.

“A week ago health and care staff faced the sack if they weren’t double jabbed. Soon they’ll have the green light to work, even if they’ve got Covid. This means fresh anxiety for the relatives of anyone in a care home​.

“Many care staff with little or no sick pay may feel compelled to go in to work, particularly as the cost-of-living bites. This underlines the need for a proper sick pay system that ​rewards people properly for doing the right thing.”

Notes to editors:           – UNISON is the UK’s largest union with more than 1.3 million members providing public services in education, local government, the NHS, police service and energy. They are employed in the public, voluntary and private sectors.    Media contacts:    Anthony Barnes M: 07834 864794 E: a.barnes@unison.co.uk  Liz Chinchen M: 07778 158175 E: press@unison.co.uk