Workers for outsourced companies in NHS hospitals who need to shield during lockdown say they will risk their lives to go to work if they are only offered statutory sick pay.
Hospitals across London use workers from private companies but unlike NHS employees, if they have to shield during lockdown, they have not been guaranteed full sick pay according to GMB union.
At present, workers have not been told if they will receive more than the statutory sick pay of £95.85 per week.
One worker, who wished to remain anonymous, works in the cleaning and portering department at Croydon University Hospital. He is employed by G4S and had to have a medical operation three months ago which left him on statutory sick pay for two months and created a cycle of debt.
The worker said: “I will need to shield but if it is only sick pay I cannot. The sick pay is too low. When I found out it was only £90 a week I was crying. I wanted to give it back. It’s not even enough to buy milk for a month.
“I can’t support my family. We haven’t been able to pay rent for two months since the last time I had sick pay. It’s a choice between dying out here and dying in there.”
The worker said around 30-40 people who work for G4S would need to shield and no one has been told if they will receive more than statutory sick pay.
“The government announced for people to shield but G4S haven’t said anything. There should be no delay I don’t want to happen what happened last time where many workers died because of delays,” he said.
The union for NHS workers, GMB, is demanding full wage for their members who work in South London hospitals while they are shielding for medical reasons.
Helen O’Connor, GMB southern regional organiser said: “Today, GMB Union has written to G4S and all private companies operating in hospitals throughout South London to clarify their position on pay for workers who are medically required to shield.
“It is now accepted that Covid-19 is on the rise once again and all reports indicate that the hospitals are inundated with those most unwell with this virus. This means that hospital workers, including outsourced workers, are most at risk from contacting the virus themselves and dying from the virus.
“It is also the case that outsourced hospital workers who do not benefit from contractual sick pay are more likely to go into work and put themselves and others at risk from infection and cross infection.
“GMB Union is calling on all private companies with public NHS contracts in South London, including G4S, to pay full wages to all workers required to shield.”
A spokesman for G4S said: “The well-being of our staff is paramount. For those who have received letters from the government stating that they are to shield as they are deemed as Clinically Extremely Vulnerable, we have clearly communicated that they will receive full pay, even where this exceeds the terms of their contract.”
Pictured: Croydon University Hospital
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