Care workers are on the frontline of the coronavirus pandemic providing support to the most vulnerable in our communities, often at great risk to themselves. It is absolutely essential that commitments are made early and clearly by providers, commissioners and policy makers to protect jobs, protect pay, and protect workers and their families during the outbreak.
UNISON has outlined a basic standard of worker safety that we would like to see all care providers adopting, as a minimum, during the COVID-19 pandemic.
We’re asking care workers to join us in calling on providers, commissioners and policy makers to commit to these standards and protect the lives and livelihoods of care workers. This is an opportunity to protect the welfare of those on the frontline of the Coronavirus and, by doing so, protect the health and wellbeing of communities at the same time.
The six standards UNISON is calling on care homes to commit to are as follows:
Keep care workers safe
Care workers will have access to the personal protective equipment (PPE) they need under Public Health England guidance and will receive adequate training to use it effectively.
Protect care worker’s pay
If a care worker is required to ‘shield’ under government guidance they will receive full normal pay.
Protect care worker’s jobs
Care workers should not be dismissed for staying at home to care for themselves or for their family and Coronavirus related absences will be excluded from absence management triggers.
Enable access to testing
If a care worker has reason to seek testing they will not be prevented from doing so by their work commitments and they will not be required to work before the results of the test are confirmed. They will continue to receive full pay in this period and the same will apply if a member of the worker’s household is getting a test.
Make workplaces safe
Suitable measures and arrangements will be put in place to ensure social distancing and other precautions are possible in non-care workplace settings not already covered by PPE provision outlined in standard one.
Establish worker representation
Employers will establish a health and safety committee with trained Health and Safety representatives with free access to independent advice and legal support. This will provide an opportunity for workers to identify (via their representative) any concerns or needs they have in the health and safety provision and procedures in their workplace and work with management to implement improvements. Future risk assessments will take place in consultation with these Health and Safety representatives.