UNISON Northern Ireland


UNISON recognise the difficult situation the NI Executive find themselves in with mitigating the impact of the Covid pandemic on society.

However, UNISON has again asked the Department of Health to ensure that health workers are not at a financial loss if they need to take time off to care for children as a result of school closures. We have reminded the Department that our health workforce is predominantly female and thousands have caring responsibilities.

James Large, UNISON Ulster Hospital branch secretary said: “It is no surprise huge numbers of staff cannot work from home in the health service and are now struggling to find alternatives for caring arrangements. Our members - nurses, domiciliary care staff, caterers, domestics and health care assistants cannot undertake these roles at home. These roles are also low paid. These essential workers should not have to choose between paying a bill or using that money to pay for additional costs for childcare. These same workers have also had to use annual/unpaid leave or work hours back when a child has been sent home from school to isolate after positive cases in the class bubble. This must stop, our members simply can’t afford this and Christmas is just around the corner.”

Nuala Conlon, Regional Organiser, added: “UNISON call on health employers to be as flexible as possible without having to resort to asking staff to use annual leave or take unpaid leave . At a time when Northern Ireland has the tightest restrictions across these islands we should also have the most robust supports for these essential health workers. "