Leicester

Coronavirus: Leicestershire care home workers face 'insulting' pay cuts

Carer holding hands with an elderly person
Image caption Unison said the move "highlights the desperate state of the social care sector"

Proposed pay cuts for nearly 100 care home staff helping the elderly during the coronavirus pandemic are "beyond belief", a trade union says.

A total of 97 Leicestershire County Care (LCC) workers face wage cuts, reduced holidays and lower sick pay.

Unison said the move was an "insult" to carers who are already on low wages.

LCC said its "urgent cost-saving steps" would also see management salary cuts, no payment of dividends and reduced capital expenditure.

According to the Local Democracy Reporting Service, the worst-affected workers will see their weekly pay cut by nearly a third, while changes to the existing sick pay scheme will entitle employees only to the minimum state payment of £95.85 a week.

Unison said annual leave would be reduced by two weeks and maternity, paternity and adoption leave would also be reduced to legal minimums.

'They're punishing us'

One care worker said most people would see a £2,000 annual drop in pay, which would have "a significant impact" on many employees.

The care worker, who did not want to be named, said LCC was using the pandemic as "an excuse to change our terms and conditions".

"It's a stressful time, we should be worrying about the residents, not thinking about our pay being slashed.

"At a time when staff are dealing with residents who have Covid-19 every day, rather than thanking us for our hard work they're punishing us."

LCC, which runs former council-owned homes, told Unison last week of its intention to scrap payments for night work, weekend shifts and overtime.

Davie Vive-Kananda, its chief executive, said staff transferred from local authority contracts had been given "unusually generous additional benefits".

"These terms have been honoured for the past eight years but are now simply unaffordable as the pandemic has substantially increased our operating costs with dramatic increases to the cost of supplies and agency staff," he said.

"LCC is trying to avoid having to dismiss any of the relevant 97 employees and has never previously made any employee redundant."

Chris Jenkinson, East Midlands secretary for Unison, said the move "highlights the desperate state of the social care sector".

"It's beyond belief and insulting to staff that [they] would behave like this, especially at a time when staff are putting their lives on the line," he said.

"These are among the lowest-paid workers in the country and they already struggle to make ends meet."

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