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Government’s exemption from self-isolation scheme is in chaos – Usdaw seeks clarification

Date: 26 July 2021 Usdaw General Secretary Paddy Lillis has today written to the Prime Minister seeking urgent clarification on the Government’s scheme which will allow isolation exemptions for ‘critical workers’ who are deemed to be close contacts of individuals who test positive for Covid-19.
Usdaw is deeply disappointed that last Friday the Government announced this to the media, yet has still not published full details of the scheme. The union has now been contacted by employers stating that they have been advised they will be eligible for the scheme yet it is not at all clear exactly what the scheme entails.
 
Letter in full: www.usdaw.org.uk/PMexemptionsletter
 
Paddy Lillis – Usdaw General Secretary says: “Our members in industries that have apparently been included in the scheme have played a key role in ensuring that the country can get through the pandemic. Usdaw is extremely concerned that removing the requirement or guidance for these workers to self-isolate is likely to further spread the virus. The Government’s primary focus should be on driving down infection rates.
 
“We are looking for the Government to immediately revert back to mandatory face coverings and social distancing, in all public indoor spaces, develop effective local public-health based tracing systems and ensure that people who need to isolate get the practical and financial support they need to enable them to do so.
 
“So far, the scheme has already been criticised for causing chaos across multiple industries. Usdaw is deeply concerned that Government mishandling of the virus and the exemption scheme is putting health and the economy at significant risk.
 
“Usdaw, along with other trade unions, has been eager to work with the Government to overcome the pandemic. So it is deeply concerning that the Government has sought to create a scheme to exempt workers from self-isolation without consulting with worker representatives. This has unfortunately led to a significant number of issues that need to be urgently addressed before the scheme can move forward.
 
“So today I am seeking urgent clarification on matters like whether participation is voluntary, testing regimes, what is the basis for the Government reportedly including unvaccinated workers in the scheme, will mandatory face coverings and social distancing be re-introduced, are there going to be additional health and safety inspections and will workers that test positive with Covid-19 be supported on full pay.
 
“Usdaw shares concerns about the impact of the current infection rate on the food supply chain and remains ready to assist the Government in identifying resolutions to the current situation.”
 
Notes for editors:
 
Usdaw (Union of Shop, Distributive and Allied Workers) is the UK's fifth biggest trade union with over 400,000 members. Membership has increased by more than one-third over the last couple of decades. Most Usdaw members work in the retail sector, but the union also has many members in transport, distribution, food manufacturing, chemicals and other trades.
 
For further information please contact Usdaw’s Media Officer, David Williams on: 0161 249 2469, 07798 696 603 or by e-mail to [email protected]
 
For Usdaw press releases visit: http://www.usdaw.org.uk/news and you can follow us on Twitter @UsdawUnion

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