NHS Employers have put out a statement on 27th March: “It is essential for infection control purposes that staff members who are told to self-isolate, do so as quickly as possible. NHS England and NHS Improvement wrote to chief executives on 2 March 2020, stating staff should receive full pay whilst in self-isolation. This includes bank staff and sub-contractors, who have to be physically present at an NHS facility to carry out their duties. [my emphasis].
This may be the first time that NHS employers have publically made the link between workers’ rights to paid leave and infection control: an argument that has been made by the health trade unions over many decades. This short statement is an admission by NHS Employers that the fragmentation and privatisation of the NHS and the erosion of workers’rights that they have overseen, has left us ill-prepared to confront the pandemic.
Any serious attempt to slow the spread of the virus must rely on workers being free to follow public health advice without suffering financial detriment. This applies not only in the NHS but in all sectors of the essential workforce.