News

Don’t leave nurses out of pocket due to extended school break, warns Unison

Union urges Northern Ireland's Department of Health to ensure that healthcare staff unable to work do not suffer financial loss as half-term break is extended

Unison the union urges Northern Ireland's Department of Health to ensure that healthcare staff unable to work due to child care responsibilities do not suffer financial loss

If healthcare staff are unable to work, child care responsibilities must come out of annual leave, unpaid leave or they must work extra hours to make up the difference. Picture: iStock

Unison the union insists that nurses must not be left out of pocket if school closures in Northern Ireland force them to take time off work.

Schools in Northern Ireland have had the half-term holiday break extended from today (19 October) to 30 October in an attempt to slow the spread of COVID-19.

Unison says current Public Health Agency guidelines stipulate that if health and social care workers are unable to work, home child

Unison the union urges Northern Ireland's Department of Health to ensure that healthcare staff unable to work due to child care responsibilities do not suffer financial loss

Picture shows mother working with child on tablet computer.
If healthcare staff are unable to work, child care responsibilities must come out of annual
leave, unpaid leave or they must work extra hours to make up the difference. Picture: iStock

Unison the union insists that nurses must not be left out of pocket if school closures in Northern Ireland force them to take time off work.

Schools in Northern Ireland have had the half-term holiday break extended from today (19 October) to 30 October in an attempt to slow the spread of COVID-19.

Unison says current Public Health Agency guidelines stipulate that if health and social care workers are unable to work, home child care responsibilities must come out of annual leave, unpaid leave, or they must work extra hours, to make up the difference.

Nurses who cannot work at home could be put at unfair financial disadvantage

But Unison Northern Ireland's incoming joint convenor for health James Large said health and social care staff, such as nurses and healthcare assistants, who cannot work from home, are being put at an unfair financial disadvantage due to the policy.

‘These essential workers should not have to choose between paying a bill or using that money to pay for additional costs for childcare,’ he said.

‘These same workers have also had to use annual/unpaid leave or work hours back when a child has been sent home from school to isolate after positive cases in the class bubble.’

Unison is now asking the Department of Health (DoH) to ensure health and social care workers do not experience a financial loss if they need to take time off to care for children due to school closures in the country.

A Department of Health spokesperson said they were aiming to do all they could to support employees to balance work, caring responsibilities, and down time, during the pandemic.

'In particular, we aim to do everything we can to support employees to work as flexibility as possible whilst caring for children i.e. remote or home working and/or flexible working patterns and offer as much flexibility, compassion and understanding as possible,' they said.

The spokesperson advised health and social care employees to speak to their line manager and human resource department to find out what flexible work and support options are available.

View our COVID-19 resource centre


In other news

Sign up to continue reading for FREE

OR

Subscribe for unlimited access

Enjoy 1 month's access for £1 and get:

  • Full access to cancernursingpractice.com
  • Bi-monthly digital edition
  • RCNi Portfolio and interactive CPD quizzes
  • RCNi Learning with 200+ evidence-based modules
  • 10 articles a month from any other RCNi journal

This article is not available as part of an institutional subscription. Why is this?

Jobs