Carers to get full "thank you" payment after council U-turn

Social workers and carers on full-time contracts with Scottish Borders Council will now get the full £500 “thank you” Covid payment after the local authority was forced into a rethink.

Scottish Borders Council headquarters in Newtown St Boswells
Scottish Borders Council headquarters in Newtown St Boswells

The payment, from the Scottish Government was meant to thank workers who were on the front line, caring for people during both lockdowns, as coronavirus ground the country to a halt.

However, the council originally told care workers union Unison that those employees who worked less than 37 hours a week would have their payment deducted accordingly, and those who worked 35 hours per week between 17 March and 30 November 2020 would receive £472.97 prior to deduction of tax and national insurance, instead of £500.

Unison was set to take action over this penny-pinching move, as 35 hours is seen as a full-time contract, and now the council has had a rethink, and now all full-time workers will be paid the full £500 amount in this month’s payroll.

A spokesperson for the council said: “The council is very proud of the outstanding work of all our workforce during the pandemic.

“The Scottish Government bonus payment is scheduled to be paid in our May payroll and we recently advised staff of the payment calculation process. We were aware that the variance in standard working hours was impacting on the payment for some of our staff.

“The council had reviewed this situation in response to individual staff raising concerns and to ensure the spirit intended for the payment was recognised.

"The payment remains scheduled for the May payroll and staff will receive the full bonus if they work 35 hours or above per week."

However, the spokesman said the dramatic change in thinking was not down to any planned action by Unison.

He added: “Despite the monthly trades union meeting taking place on May 20, the council was unaware of any grievance being raised by Unison.”

Following the U-turn, Greig Kelbie, Unison Scotland regional organiser, said: “We welcome that the council has seen common sense.

"Key workers have been working throughout the pandemic putting themselves and their families at risk.

"We just wish that Unison didn’t have to threaten a mass grievance to get the council to act.

"At least we have a positive result and staff can expect their bonus payment in May.”