UNISON warns of risks of sudden end to Covid restrictions

A leading union has warned that plans to scrap Covid restrictions could put employers and workers in a difficult situation without clear guidance.

Woman wearing face mask in a work setting with a laptop


A leading union has called on ministers to give clear, detailed guidance to prevent a “super spreader free-for-all” in workplaces when Covid isolation requirements ​end ​in England ​​later this month.

UNISON says t​he health of vulnerable people and colleagues must not be left to individual choice when so much is at stake. The changes could also lead to some employers insisting staff work despite virus risks or face penalties for staying away, it says. And employers could find themselves falling foul of existing health and safety regulations.

​The Prime Minister announced the ending of all Covid restrictions in England by 24th February, including the requirement to isolate if you test positive for Covid. Instead there will be guidance which advises people to avoid going to work if they test positive, but this will not be legally enforcible or attract fines.

UNISON general secretary Christina McAnea said: “Ditching Covid rules while the virus rages suggests public health is less important to the Prime Minister than saving his job.

“Putting a match to sensible safety measures, without providing guidance to employers, is reckless and will cause confusion and alarm. People will take the virus into work ​and school, risking the health of colleagues and commuters. Anyone vulnerable will rightly feel they’ve been flung under the bus.

“It will be a nightmare for employers struggling ​to protect staff ​from a potential super spreader free-for-all.

“Ministers must quickly get to grips with the situation and provide clarity to employers and workers in every sector of the economy.

“A week ago health and care staff faced the sack if they weren’t double jabbed. Soon they’ll have the green light to work, even if they’ve got Covid. This means fresh anxiety for the relatives of anyone in a care home​.

“Many care staff with little or no sick pay may feel compelled to go in to work, particularly as the cost-of-living bites. This underlines the need for a proper sick pay system that ​rewards people properly for doing the right thing.”

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