A care home in Falkirk where 22 residents died with Covid-19 has been criticised for putting staff members on furlough without topping up their salary.
Bosses at Newcarron Court care home say they have utilised the UK Government’s coronavirus job retention scheme in order to avoid “financial challenges translating into staff redundancies”.
But unions have criticised the decision, saying the care home’s operator, Advinia Health Care, makes more than enough in profits to subsidise incomes.
GMB regional organiser Chris Kennedy said: “Because occupancy levels have dropped off the care staff are being furloughed on a rotational basis.
“The firm makes massive profits so they could easily afford to make up the wages. Plunging these workers into poverty is a shameful way to treat them after everything they’ve been through.”
“Many of these workers will now struggle on 80% of less than £10 per hour. This is why we need a national care sector and a £15 per hour minimum now.”
Last year, the Care Inspectorate raised serious concerns over how Newcarron Court was responding to the Covid-19 crisis.
The watchdog wrote to the care home with “significant concerns” about cleanliness, infection control, access to PPE and the management of waste.
It also gave operator Advinia Health Care six requirements its service must meet.
Falkirk’s health and social care partnership supported the care home to fulfil its obligations ahead of a follow-up visit.
A spokesperson for Advinia Health Care said it was “not financially viable to supplement” workers’ salaries.
The spokesperson said: “Our dedicated and compassionate colleagues have worked tirelessly throughout the last year providing essential support to some of the most vulnerable members of our community.
“However, as our colleagues are aware, our home has experienced significant financial challenges during the pandemic as a result of its decreased occupancy rate.
“Our priority has been to do what we can to avoid those financial challenges translating into staff redundancies. In order for us to do this, we have had to utilise the coronavirus job retention scheme and we are very grateful to colleagues for agreeing to this.
“Against this backdrop, it has simply not been financially viable for us to supplement the payments received from the coronavirus job retention scheme.
“We recognise this means our colleagues will be experiencing a short-term reduction in wages and to ensure the impact is minimised in so far as possible, colleagues are being rotated on and off furlough.
“We are now working hard, with all of our relevant stakeholders, to significantly improve occupancy at the home, which is one of the largest in Scotland.”