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COVID-19 delivers financial blow to ill or self-isolating locums

Locums could find themselves in a vulnerable position if they are unable to work due to COVID-19, agencies have warned.

As self-employed contractors, locum pharmacists will not be entitled to statutory sick pay if they fall ill with COVID-19.

Earlier this month, Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced that statutory sick pay would be paid to employees from day one of leave, rather than day four, to help mitigate the detrimental economic impact of COVID-19. When announcing the budget on March 11, chancellor Rishi Sunak said this would be extended to those self-isolating with potential COVID-19 “even if they haven’t yet presented with symptoms”.

However, this does not extend to self-emplyed people.

Miraj Patel, CEO of locum booking platform My Locum Choice, told C+D last week (March 18) that the only way for locums to guarantee income is to have “a level of income protection [insurance] in place”.

Some locums are now “kicking themselves a bit for not doing it sooner”, as they can’t sign up and start claiming immediately, he said.

“My main advice is, even if you were too late now, you should sign up for income protection because something else will happen sooner or later – like sickness or injury,” Mr Patel added.

Locums “under huge pressure”

Stevie McIntyre, marketing manager at Locate A Locum, a platform that connects locums to employers, told C+D today (March 23) that it has seen an “increased demand for locums as pharmacies are trying to deal with rising footfall and an additional workload”.

In a statement issued last week (March 19), Locate A Locum also said pharmacists are “under huge pressure” to continue to deliver exceptional service during the COVID-19 outbreak.

Mr McIntyre suggested that locums who can’t work due to illness look to government resources for help.

According to the statement, Locate a Locum has recently “seen shifts posted” on its marketplace paying “over £50 per hour, which is “similar to high demand times like the Christmas holidays” – reflecting  how busy pharmacies are  as a result of the outbreak.

Due to COVID-19, workers across UK pharmacy are under great pressure right now. If you would like to find out how you can help, take a look at current vacancies in and around your location. All levels of pharmacy professionals are needed.

How has coronavirus impacted your pharmacy?

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