Virus test workers denied isolation pay

Submitted by AWL on 16 March, 2021 - 5:21
Virus testing worker

In response to an enquiry from Emily Thornberry MP, G4S have confirmed that many of their staff operating virus Test Centres are employed on zero hours contracts and have no rights to company sick pay. If these staff have to isolate, then at best they would be paid £95.85 a week Statutory Sick Pay.

Stuart Jordan from the Safe and Equal Campaign explains: “Many Test Centre workers are employed on super-spreader contracts without occupational sick pay or job security. If they have suspected infection they are in an impossible situation: either isolate and face severe financial hardship or go to work and perhaps infect others.

“In effect, NHS T&T is a system for concentrating together all the people in the country with suspected coronavirus infection and getting them to file past an army of workers who cannot afford to follow isolation rules. By using outsourcing firms that employ their workers on these super-spreader contracts, the government have created potential Corona hotspots at every Test site. This £37 billion disaster may actually be a net contributor to the spread of this virus.”

Paul Edwards, G4S HR Director for the UK and Middle East, replied to an inquiry by Emily Thornberry: “Due to the unpredictable and, so far, short term requirements of these contracts, most of the staff operating at the Covid-19 testing sites are agency workers provided to G4S, supplied and employed through a number of temporary employment agencies.

“For the remaining staff (namely management and security staff), these individuals are engaged on fixed term contracts or casual worker agreements (flexible hours contracts where staff choose which hours/shifts they work).

“In the circumstance of employees of G4S needing to self-isolate for reasons of exposure to Covid-19, in line with Government guidance, these staff would receive company sick pay or statutory sick pay. This depends on arrangements in their employment contracts”.

The good news so far from vaccinations does not guarantee safety. Measured Covid infection rates across the world, and across Europe and South America, have been rising steadily since mid-February, and daily world death rates are running higher than the April 2020 peak. We demand that governments requisition Big Pharma’s patents to enable rapid vaccine roll-out across the world. Safe and Equal is campaigning for full isolation pay for all and to bring social care into the public sector.

• More at safeandequal.org

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