Outsourcing firm ISS will pay Homerton Hospital cleaners sick pay if they must self-isolate over coronavirus
- Credit: Lola McEvoy, GMB
The firm which delivers cleaning services at Homerton Hospital has announced it will pay staff if they have to self-quarantine or are off sick with Covid-19 symptoms.
Some staff who work for the multinational facility services firm ISS are only entitled to statutory sick pay, meaning they aren't paid for the first three days of sickness and only get £94.25 a week thereafter - the equivalent of £3.43 an hour.
Faced with the prospect of no pay at all, the staff who who also serve hospital patients food and transport both patients and equipment through the Homerton's corridors, sometimes end up working while they are sick.
This week 18 signatories including Hackney Mayor Phil Glanville and MP Diane Abbott signed a letter calling on ISS to ensure staff who need to isolate because of Covid-19 are on "full pay from day one", with the days of absence treated as special leave. It is part of a campaign led by ISS workers with support from the GMB workers' union which launched in December, calling on hospital chiefs for proper sick pay from day one of any illness and for the outsourced service to be brought back in house when ISS' contract expires in autumn.
They said: "Low-paid workers currently face a terrible dilemma - attend work when ill, with obvious implications for patient safety, or face acute hardship. Against the background of a local corona outbreak, would an ISS employee be forced to self-isolate for two weeks - or more - without proper sick pay?"
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In a statement released last night a spokesperson for ISS said: "It is not every day that we deal with a situation such as the Coronavirus outbreak.
"Providing that an employee is able to provide reasonable evidence for the reason that they are self-isolating and are unable to work, for example, travel documents, the employee will receive their usual pay."
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Lola McEvoy, GMB's regional organiser, said the announcement was a "step on the journey" to achieve their goals.
"This is an admission of the failures of statutory sick pay and increases the pressure on government to now follow ISS' lead and ensure no worker is forced to make the choice between public safety and paying their rent," she added.