UNISON leads fight to make sure members get proper PPE

If it is absolutely necessary that you go to work, it’s vital your employer considers all measures to keep you safe. Where measures such as social distancing and workplace adjustments have failed or are insufficient your employer will need to consider other measures. These include providing you with the correct Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) to do your job safely.

UNISON has taken your PPE concerns to Government.  We have asked Ministers to resolve problems with the supply of equipment and to provide clearer advice about what you need to protect you at work.

For more information on infection prevention and control of
COVID-19 please visit:


What protective equipment should I be getting from my employer?

Where a risk assessment shows a need for PPE, the equipment you will get depends on what you do, with whom and where you are working. For many staff, this will consist of items such as gloves and aprons. Those more at risk may require masks and face/eye protection.

PPE issued in relation to COVID-19 should only be issued when the risk assessment shows it is necessary.  PPE will largely be concentrated on those caring for patients with symptoms or cleaning premises contaminated by droplets/body fluids that may contain the virus.  This will allow PPE  to be concentrated on those that require it. It is important that you are trained in its use.

Incorrect use of PPE may be putting yourselves, colleagues, family and friends at additional risk. The virus lives longer on plastics than ordinary clothes, so if not correctly used and disposed of items such as masks can be become vessels for spreading infection.

For other staff, unless the risk assessment shows otherwise, measures such as working from home, workplace adjustments and following government guidelines on social distancing and self-isolation are the most effective preventive measures.

All PPE issued to prevent the spread of COVID-19 should be:

~ correctly fitted, taking into account any impairment or health condition, as well as body shape;
~ located close to the point of use;
~ stored to prevent contamination in a clean/dry area until required for use (expiry dates must be adhered to);
~ single use only (or sessional use ie a period of time where a healthcare worker is undertaking duties in a specific
care setting); and
~ changed immediately after each patient and or following completion of a procedure or task disposed of after use into the correct waste bin.

I am very worried about my finances. If I self-isolate and stay away from work, I cannot afford for my income to drop to statutory sick pay offered by my employer.  What should I do?

It is vitally important you follow public health advice and don’t attend work if you are experiencing symptoms of coronavirus.  Many of those in receipt of care are in the high-risk category, and everything possible should be done to avoid passing on coronavirus.

In every workplace that we have recognition to negotiate, we are asking employers to make sure that workers who self-isolate do not lose out financially.  Where employers ignore this advice, we will challenge them.   We are also pushing the government to put in place protection for low-paid workers, particularly in social care.  The current arrangements are not adequate and we will continue to push for action.

We understand that some employers in the care sector don’t prioritise the welfare of their staff.   Members experiencing financial difficulties can contact our welfare charity, ‘There for You’, which provides confidential advice and support service for members and their dependents.

I am self-isolating but the care provider I work for is refusing to pay my sick pay from day one.  What should I do?

The government has confirmed that statutory sick pay (SSP) is available for eligible people from day one of their absence, if they are self-isolating in line with Government advice.

This is available to all those who are advised to self-isolate, even if they don’t have symptoms.  It is particularly important that this is in place for workers in social care settings because of your close contact with individuals from high-risk groups.

If your employer is refusing to comply with this, contact the branch asap.

In the meantime, follow public health advice and do not attend work if you have Covid-19 symptoms.