Somerset County Council reaffirms commitment to care workers

Somerset County Council has reaffirmed their commitment to care workers, promising them full pay for COVID related absences.

The announcement comes after negotiations between UNISON and the council and means that if care workers are required to self-isolate they can afford to do so.

In August 2020, the council became the first in the South West to sign up to UNISON’s ‘Stop the Spread’ pledge, an initiative which seeks to protect care workers throughout the pandemic.

Measures included priority testing for care workers, suitable personal protective equipment, and pay protections such as full pay during self-isolation, and carers leave on full pay for workers caring for a dependent with Covid-19.

UNISON South West regional secretary, Joanne Kaye, said:

“Care workers should not lose pay for putting the safety of the people they care for first. Somerset County Council have recognised this, and carers will not have to worry about putting their colleagues and service users at risk, simply by going to work to provide for their families.

“The council have reaffirmed their commitment to care workers, who have been on the frontline throughout the pandemic. Our social care workers deserve every level of protection an employer can provide.”

Somerset County Council’s Director for Adult Social Care, Mel Lock, said:

“I want to personally thank all care workers in Somerset for their unfailing dedication, bravery, and selflessness. It is absolutely essential that they take time off if they test positive for Covid-19, and our recommitment provides further assurance that we will of course continue to support them with full pay.

“We also offer support with recruitment and staffing, pastoral and wellbeing support, and regular communication and updates. From the outset of the pandemic we provided additional funds, sourced PPE during a time of national shortages, and supported each case and outbreak. Our vaccination programme continues to rollout across the county at pace, and we are now in the early stages of offering the second dose of the vaccine to care homes.”

Somerset County Council’s Cabinet Member for Adult Social Care, David Huxtable, said:

“We are incredibly grateful to care workers across the county for the sacrifices they have made to care for Somerset residents during the pandemic. Our social care sector has been under enormous strain over the last year, and we have been working hard to raise awareness about the intense challenges they have been facing.

“We will continue to support this sector, and have committed an additional £10.2m to be invested in adult social care services next financial year.”