19 March 2020 | Herpreet Kaur Grewal
Tens of thousands of outsourced workers across the NHS have been guaranteed full pay if they have to self-isolate because of coronavirus.
Private outsourcing firms Medirest, Mitie, Sodexo and Serco have confirmed that workers will be given full pay from day one should they have to self-isolate if they catch the Covid-19 virus.
A Sodexo spokeswoman said: "Patient safety is our top priority for our cleaning contracts in hospitals. We have clear infection control policies and procedures in place. We do not expect staff who are unwell to come to work and staff suspected of being unwell are kept from any contact with patients or sent home. All our hospital staff are entitled to sick pay from day one. When we inherit staff on contracts where they were not entitled to sick pay, we transfer them on to our terms and conditions, which are regularly reviewed."
A Serco spokesman said: "All our employees providing support services at NHS hospitals are entitled to sick pay at full rates of pay from day one of any absence, including if they are required to self-isolate. We take very seriously the health and wellbeing of our employees, patients, their relatives and our colleagues in the NHS alongside whom our teams work. We view this as an essential policy to encourage the right behaviours and we follow all NHS and government guidelines. We believe that to not pay employees to support these types of safeguarding approaches would place patients and NHS colleagues at risk."
A Medirest spokesman said: "We recognise the vital role our frontline healthcare colleagues are performing in the unprecedented current situation and want to support them however we can. This includes paying full pay from day one for these colleagues should they need to self-isolate for Covid-19."
In early March a letter from a senior NHS executive instructed NHS trusts to "ensure any member of staff including bank staff and subcontractors who has to be physically present at a NHS facility to carry out their duties, receives full pay for any period in which they are required to self isolate as a result of public health advice".
Separately, cleaners employed by ISS had walked out after not being paid at Lewisham Hospital, where cases of coronavirus are being treated.
But an ISS spokeswoman said it was as a result of technical errors that have now been corrected. She said: "ISS has recently transferred a large number of employees on to their payroll at the University Hospital Lewisham. This has involved moving to a different pay cycle and process for employees transferring to ISS. We are very sorry that some employees have not been paid correctly and we have been taking urgent action to resolve any issues. We have arranged drop-in sessions and 1:1s to meet employees who have had an issue and to ensure that they are paid in full. We are committed to ensuring a smooth mobilisation and encourage any employees with queries to contact us directly so that we can answer any questions and rectify any issues as swiftly as possible."