Low-paid NHS cleaners denied sick pay rights and forced to work while ill

Low-paid hospital workers on private contracts are being forced to work when they are ill, claim union leaders and MPs.

Staff employed by outsourcing giant ISS say they do not get sick pay for the first three days of illness so they end up working when they are ill.

ISS also allegedly will not pay over the sick pay minimum of £3.43 an hour to full-time workers, many of whom had worked in the NHS for years. Campaigners say tens of thousands, including cleaners and porters, are employed on private contracts with worse terms and conditions than NHS staff in similar jobs.

They urge the Government to guarantee NHS rates for all staff working for private contractors in trusts.

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ISS workers at London’s Chelsea and Westminster and Homerton hospitals will stage a demonstration on Tuesday calling for NHS chiefs to bring them back “in house”. 

One domestic worker with 20 years’ service said: “When you work in a hospital, you’re more likely to get ill as you’re more exposed. This makes it even more unjust that our pay is docked if we have to take a day off ill. My colleagues and I can’t afford to lose three days’ work so we’re forced to struggle on and keep coming in.”

Unions have protested that workers on private contracts have reduced pay and pension rights.

The GMB union’s Lola McEvoy said: “It’s wrong that these outsourcing giants are making a profit from taxpayers’ money off the backs of hardworking hospital staff.”

Labour health spokesman Jonathan Ashworth said: “It’s shocking that people working in public health should be robbed of basic workers’ rights, like sick pay from day one.“

ISS said: “The terms and conditions enjoyed by ISS employees are at least comparable to those in the commercial sector, and are those agreed with our public sector clients.”

Chelsea and Westminster NHS trust did not comment.

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