UNISON campaigning has pushed private ambulance firms providing NHS services to properly pay self-isolating staff.
The union believes all NHS staff, whether working for contractors or directly employed, should enjoy the same terms and conditions, but reps were dismayed to learn that some firms were still only paying statutory sick pay to staff self-isolating because they or their families had Covid-19 symptoms.
“It put staff in a difficult dilemma – either they come into work when they’re unwell and risk passing a possible infection on to their colleagues and patients, or they stay at home and take a serious financial hit,” explained UNISON Eastern regional organiser Sam Older.
“It also flies in the face of UNISON-brokered national agreements that anyone, whether directly employed or contracted out, working in NHS facilities should get full pay if they have to self-isolate.”
UNISON members from a number of employers contacted the region to raise their concerns, while organisers spoke to others during welfare calls.
The UNISON Eastern team quickly wrote to the outsourced employers and 15 clinical commission groups – responsible for planning local healthcare – in the region.
Following concerted pressure, E-zec Medical, a patient transport service in Suffolk and Norfolk, and Herts Urgent Care, which provides NHS 111 services, have now confirmed that any periods of absence due to Covid19 or self isolation will be paid.
One member who had to have two weeks off in March 2020 due to being very ill and self isolating contacted UNISON to say she was so pleased that following UNISON’s intervention her employer had changed its approach.
Mr Older said: “We’re glad that E-zec and HUC have come around and treated the staff on the front-line of a global pandemic with the respect they deserve.
“Just as public service workers are keeping going throughout this crisis, UNISON is here every step of the way to support them.”