Since Unite issued this release earlier today (Friday 22 May), the union has been in dialogue with the Department of Health and Social Care over how many care workers may or may not be included in the £60,000 life cover.

 Despite this dialogue, Unite believes that there are too many ‘grey areas’ in the guidance and is seeking a definitive statement from the department on the exact number of care workers who qualify. We don’t want to hear ‘ifs’ and ‘buts’.

Unite stands by its right to raise issues that are in the interest of our members and, also in the wider public interest, during the course of the pandemic.

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Thousands of social care staff in England could be falling through the net when it comes to the provision of the £60,000 payment in the event of death due to Covid-19.

Serious concern was expressed today (Friday 22 May) by Unite, Britain and Ireland’s largest union, which has combed through the small print as to who the payment applies to.

According to the government document, Coronavirus Life Assurance Scheme - Death in Service (England only): ‘Any employee who works for a private social care organisation which receives no public funding’ is not eligible for the payment.

Unite called on health and social care secretary Matt Hancock to clarify and rectify the situation as a matter of urgency, given that more than 300 NHS and social care workers have now died as a result of Covid-19.

Unite assistant general secretary Gail Cartmail said: “Matt Hancock needs to clarify what the small print actually means, as it is totally unacceptable that possibly thousands of social care workers are barred from this scheme because their place of work has no public funding.

“We can’t have this two-tier situation where one care worker’s contribution, fighting coronavirus, is regarded of less value than another in a different setting. If you are risking your life in the battle against Covid-19, your workplace and how it is funded are irrelevant.

“We don’t know the true scale of the problem across England – it could be that thousands of care workers are being denied this cover – but if it is only one, it is one too many.

“Unfortunately, the health trade unions have not been consulted in drawing up this eligibility criteria in England – if we had been, we would have objected in the strongest possible terms to what is now in place.

“The government has shown that it is capable of righting a wrong, as was proved yesterday with the U-turn on the £400 charge for NHS migrant workers. This is another case where a ministerial rethink is in order.”

 Last month, Matt Hancock announced that families of NHS and social care workers, who have died after contracting coronavirus in the course of their duties, will receive a £60,000 payment from the taxpayer.

 ENDS

 Notes to editors:

For more information please contact Unite senior communications officer Shaun Noble on 020 3371 2060 or 07768 693940. Unite press office is on:  020 3371 2065.

Please note the numbers above are for journalists’ enquiries only.

Email: shaun.noble@unitetheunion.org

Twitter: @unitetheunion Facebook: unitetheunion1 Web: unitetheunion.org 

Unite is Britain and Ireland’s largest union with members working across all sectors of the economy. The general secretary is Len McCluskey.