Society slams government plans to cut Covid-19 sick pay

Move described as "political posturing"

Published: 13 July 2022 Trade Union & IR

The government is ending special sick pay arrangements for NHS workers who contract Covid-19 in a move described by the SoR as “political posturing”.

Dean Rogers, the Society's executive director of industrial strategy and member relations, said the plan was “a sad example of political posturing from the Government trying to send a message that they have beaten Covid, when in reality employers and staff know it is very much still a reality in hospitals with the number of cases rising again”.

The move was announced on the NHS Employers website and will see “a return to normal contractual arrangements and includes the removal of COVID-19 sick pay (full pay) for COVID-19 related sickness absences and COVID-19 special leave (full pay) for self-isolation

All remaining temporary enhancements within the guidance will cease with effect from 7 July 2022

The arrangements for the withdrawal of COVID-19 sick pay and COVID-19 special leave will be phased over a period of two months, commencing 7 July 2022.

Rogers said the move could lead to a culture of presenteeism where employees remain at work despite being ill.

“Our main concerns are that people with symptoms will be pressured into work and that, with critical levels of staff shortages, presenteeism will be encouraged by the removal of these protections – although this risk is explicitly covered in the joint guidance’” he said.

Rogers added that, since the decision was being imposed by the government, entering into a dispute with NHS employers was “pointless’.

“In response to questions about a dispute, the consensus across almost all unions at the last TU side meeting was that there wasn’t scope for a formal dispute as that would have to be with the employers and in this case they agreed with us but the regulations were just withdrawn by Government dictate. So we could go into a dispute but it would be pointless,” he said.

“However, we can, have and will continue to register that this is a premature step that will do nothing for staff morale at a critical time,” he added.