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All staff members who get infected with COVID-19 at the Skye care home where 10 residents have already died from the virus, are now to get full sick pay.
And any employee who has previously tested positive for the disease at Home Farm care Home in Portree and all their other UK care homes, and were only receiving Statutory Sick Pay (SSP), will have full pay back-dated.
HC-One, the operator of Home Farm, confirmed the change of heart this week after a deal, said to have been brokered by local MP Ian Blackford, was agreed following anger over the situation facing some care staff.
The SNP’s Westminster leader wrote toHC-One to point out the ‘moral and ethical responsibility’ of the company to adequately remunerate staff members who had tested positive for the virus.
The move follows an approach to the Ross, Skye and Lochaber MP by local care workers who were forced to rely on SSP of £95 after testing positive and being signed off work.
Earlier this month 54 residents and staff tested positive for the virus, with 10 residents subsequently dying.
HC-One told the Lochaber Times: ‘We will be paying full pay to all colleagues while they have a positive COVID-19 test. Where a colleague has previously tested positive and been in receipt of SSP, we will process full pay retrospectively.’
Mr Blackford commented: ‘I was appalled to learn that people who were doing the right thing, who were off sick for a very good reason, were suffering a financial penalty.
‘I am absolutely delighted that HC-One has now revisited their original decision and have agreed to do the right thing. I would like to thank HC-One for agreeing to this.
‘Often in these situations you can end up in a battle with a company but here we have a situation where the company has recognised it has a responsibility to look after staff who, through no fault of their own, have been off sick.
‘These workers have done the right thing, both in terms of their own health needs but also, crucially, in order to safeguard the health of residents of the home.’
‘While this is good news for those who work at Home Farm, it also means that others who work in HC-One care homes throughout Scotland and the rest of the UK will benefit from the company’s change of heart.
‘So I’d like to say ‘well done and thank you’ to HC-One. I am pleased that employees at Home Farm and elsewhere will be receiving their full payment.’
All staff who contract COVID-19 while working at Home Farm care Home in Portree, pictured, with now be eligible for full sick pay. Photograph: BBC Scotland.