Coronavirus: Death payment and sick pay boost for care staff

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The families of care staff who die in the pandemic will receive a £60,000 payment, say the Scottish government.

It comes after ministers announced a similar death in service payment for families of NHS workers last month.

The health secretary also said enhanced sick pay would be given to care staff testing positive for coronavirus.

On Thursday, Scotland's biggest private care home provider said carers who were self-isolating would receive full pay if they tested positive for Covid-19.

HC-One had come under pressure to change its policy after lobbying from unions and fears that staff would continue working with symptoms of the virus for fear their income would drop to £95.85 a week - the current rate of statutory sick pay.

The company, which runs 56 care homes in Scotland including Home Farm in Skye where 10 residents have died in a coronavirus outbreak, said the extra money would also be paid retrospectively to those who were given statutory sick pay having tested positive, following a campaign by the GMB union.

Image caption,
Ten residents have died after a coronavirus outbreak at Home Farm care home on Skye

In additional to its sick pay fund, the Scottish government said a one-off payment of £60,000 would be given to a named survivor of any social care worker who died without death in service cover in their contracted pension arrangements.

Health Secretary Jeane Freeman said: "Social care staff provide a critical and valuable service, never more apparent than during this emergency period.

"While some employers offer employment contracts closer to the Scottish government's fair work principles, it is clear that others do not."


Ms Freeman said "fair work issues" and how they were realised in commissioning contracts would require to be addressed in future.

She added: "We will continue to work with local government, social care providers and trades unions on further details of the plans over the course of next week."

A survey carried out by the GMB union last week found 78% of its 1,000 respondents were worried about taking a test in case they were found to be positive, and then had to lose money.

Its Scottish secretary, Gary Smith, told BBC Radio Scotland's Drivetime programme he was pleased HC-One had listened to staff concerns, but he now urged other care home companies to follow suit.

Mike Kirby, Unison Scottish secretary welcomed the Scottish government's announcement and said the current low level of statutory sick pay had left workers with an "extremely difficult" choice.

He added: "The fact that social care workers often have their weekly income reduced to statutory sick pay is immoral and left care workers with exceptionally difficult choice between protecting they own health, protecting those they care for or putting them and their families in a very difficult financial situation."