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Coronavirus-struck Portree care home operator agrees 'to do the right thing' over pay to sick staff after MP Ian Blackford intervenes

By Hector MacKenzie

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Carers at Home Farm in Portree will get full pay while off sick.
Carers at Home Farm in Portree will get full pay while off sick.

A ROSS-SHIRE MP says he has brokered an agreement with the operator of a care home at the centre of a Covid-19 outbreak to ensure staff receive full pay while signed off sick.

Ross, Skye and Lochaber MP Ian Blackford said the agreement will ensure staff at stricken Home Farm Care Home on Skye receive full payment while signed off sick with the coronavirus.

Mr Blackford wrote to Home Farm owner HC-One Ltd. to point out what he called the “moral and ethical responsibility” of the company to adequately remunerate staff members who had tested positive for the virus.

This afternoon, HC-One bosses confirmed that full payment would be made to all staff who find themselves in this position – in Portree and throughout the UK.

TheMP had been approached by local care workers who said they were forced to rely on statutory sick pay of £95 after testing positive and being signed off work.

Earlier this month, 54 residents and staff tested positive for the virus. Sadly, 10 residents have subsequently died.

Mr Blackford said: “I was appalled to learn that people who were doing the right thing, who were off sick for a very good reason, were suffering a financial penalty. I am absolutely delighted that HC-One has now revisited their original decision and have agreed to do the right thing. The company has agreed to make sure that all those who have tested positive for Covid-19 will

receive full pay and that this will be backdated to cover the period that people have been off ill.

“I would like to thank HC-One for agreeing to this. Often in these situations you can end up in a battle with a company but here we have a situation where the company has recognised it has a responsibility to look after staff who, through no fault of their own, have been off sick. These workers have done the right thing, both in terms of their own health needs but also, crucially, in order to safeguard the health of residents of the home.”

He added: “ While this is good news for those who work at Home Farm, it also means that others who work in HC-One care homes throughout Scotland and the rest of the UK will benefit from the company’s change of heart.

“So I’d like to say ‘well done and thank you’ to HC-One. I am pleased that employees at Home Farm and

elsewhere will be receiving their full payment.”

He says he has also written to Chancellor Rishi Sunak to request immediate top up payments for careworkers elsewhere who are facing similar circumstances.

The regulator, Social Care and Social Work Improvement Scotland (SCSWIS), earlier took legal action aimed at suspending HC-One’s licence to run the Portree facility.

However, a sheriff ruled on Tuesday that HC-One could continue running the site for the next three weeks after agreement was reached with NHS Highland and other agencies to minimise disruption at the care home.

Related: Sheriff gives care home operator three-week reprieve

News from Ross-shire

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