A third of carers get less than £100 a week for having to shield or self-isolate during the pandemic, a study reveals today.
Some receive no pay at all for being forced to quarantine, according to a survey of 4,249 workers by union Unison.
Employees face pressure from bosses to go into work, despite displaying virus symptoms or needing to self-isolate, the poll found.
Fifty-one-per cent had to self-isolate on occasions in the last 15 months – but only half received their full wages.
Of the rest, 11% got no pay at all if they had to be off work, a third received statutory sick pay of just £96.35 a week, and 6% were paid more than SSP but less than their full wage.
Fear of losing out financially meant some staff with suspected Covid-19 continued to care for vulnerable people – increasing the risk of outbreaks.
Money worries were cited by 13% for carrying on working despite having possible symptoms, and by 8% who continued going in when they should have been self-isolating.
Pressure from employers to go to work was an issue for 10% who had possible symptoms and for 7% who should have been in quarantine.
Unison urged the Government to guarantee all care sector workers automatic access to full normal wages for periods of self-isolation.
Payment should be mandatory and the responsibility of all care employers, the union demanded.
Its senior national officer for social care, Gavin Edwards, said: “It’s over a year into the pandemic and staff still face severe financial hardship for self-isolating.
“Care workers who follow official health guidance mustn’t be penalised with huge cuts in wages.
“Not paying those affected by Covid puts the vulnerable at risk by driving up infections.
“The Government should ensure all care employers guarantee staff full income.
“The care sector also needs to be reformed urgently – and that includes decent wages for workers.”
Shadow Health Secretary Jonathan Ashworth said: “It’s monstrous that over a year on hard working care staff still don’t have adequate sick pay and support to isolate when ill.
“Ministers claim the sick are more interested in ‘gaming the system’ to justify their own failures.
“It’s a disgrace. Care workers deserve decent sick pay.”
The poll, carried out in April and May, included carers working in care homes, providing care to people in their own homes or in supported living, as well as social workers and those providing personal support.
A Skills for Care report last July estimated 1.52 million people worked in adult social care in England.