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19.05.20

RCN seeks clarity on furlough for independent sector nursing staff

Nursing staff working in organisations including care homes, social care providers and other independent employers have in cases been left uncertain as to whether they are eligible for the government’s furlough scheme, with the Royal College of Nursing (RCN) contacting the Chancellor for clarity.

In a letter to the Treasury, the RCN has urged for confirmation nursing staff in these roles are eligible for furlough support to compensate those requiring to shield from coronavirus.

Guidance from HM Revenue & Customs has indicated employers could place nursing staff who are shielding on the furlough scheme and claim government support for 80% of their salaries, but contradictory guidance has equally been issued from Treasury indicating staff are instead entitled only to statutory sick pay.

With the confusion in guidance leaving many care sector employers uncertain as to whether they can apply for and implement furlough schemes for their most vulnerable staff, some have been forced to shield at home on only statutory sick pay and there are fears many may be forced to continue working despite their heightened risk.

READ MORE: Health Foundation: Care homes remain on the front line in the fight

Fearing the limited income could indeed see some nursing staff across the independent sector forgo medical advice and return to work due to financial difficulties, the RCN contacted the Treasury in order to clarify the matter at hand.

RCN Executive Team Lead for the Independent Sector, Theresa Fyffe, said: “All nursing staff, no matter where they work, should receive full pay if they become sick, need to self-isolate or shield throughout the pandemic.

“The Chancellor must clarify that the furlough scheme extends to care home workers who are shielding. When the guidance isn’t clear, it is hard-working nursing staff who suffer. We expect all health and care employers to provide full pay for staff who have to be off work due to COVID-19 sickness, self-isolation or shielding.”

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