Skip to main content

26 Jun 2020

Social service workforce

Testing for COVID-19 in social services – a message from the Scottish Social Services Council and Care Inspectorate

As testing for workers is rolled out across social services the Care Inspectorate and the SSSC want to emphasise its importance to your own wellbeing, your colleagues and to people experiencing care.

The Scottish Government and Health Protection Scotland are rolling out a Test and Protect programme, so you may be asked to take a COVID-19 test even if you have no symptoms. The testing aims to reduce transmission and protect vulnerable people receiving care.

On 24 June 2020 the Cabinet Secretary for Health and Sport and COSLA issued letters to staff working in care homes and managers of care homes with important information. You can read the letters here:

The Scottish Government also launched the Social Care Staff Support Fund to enable statutory sick pay top up, which was agreed between Scottish Government, providers, COSLA and trade unions. You can read guidance about the Social Care Staff Support Fund here.


Employers have a responsibility to make sure their staff are fit for the duties they perform and have appropriate procedures in place for the prevention and control of infection. This includes supporting workers to take part in the national Test and Protect programme.

There is guidance for employers in the Scottish Government guidance: Coronavirus (COVID-19): Test and Protect - advice for employers (26 May).

This includes the agreement between Scottish Government and the Scottish Trades Union Congress (STUC) that workers who are required to self-isolate due to COVID-19 should not be financially penalised by reduced pay.

If for any reason workers do not take part in testing, you should consider whether they can continue working directly with people using your service or can be moved to other duties.

Registered workers

If you are a registered social service worker employed in a care service where COVID-19 testing is taking place we encourage you to be tested. This is to protect yourself, your colleagues and people experiencing care.

We understand some of you may be worried about taking the test for various reasons, including whether your pay will go down if you must self-isolate. This shouldn’t happen as Scottish Government has pledged funding for employers to continue paying you as normal.

If you have concerns about being tested please speak to your line manager.

If you don’t take the test it may have an impact on your role. You should discuss that with your employer.

The Test and Protect programme will support social service employers and workers to keep on delivering the best quality care during COVID-19 while ensuring public protection.

If you have any questions about the Test and Protect programme, please speak to your employer or contact your local health protection lead.

COVID symptoms

Social service workers must continue to be alert for changes in their own health and take action to self-isolate following the most up to date guidance from Health Protection Scotland if they have any symptoms that may indicate they have COVID-19.

The most common symptoms are:

  • continuous cough
  • fever/high temperature (37.8C or greater)
  • loss of, or change in, sense of smell or taste (anosmia).

A new continuous cough is where you:

  • have a new cough that’s lasted for an hour
  • have had three or more episodes of coughing in 24 hours
  • are coughing more than usual.

A high temperature is feeling hot to the touch on your chest or back (you don’t need to measure your temperature). You may feel warm, cold or shivery.

Some people will have more serious symptoms, including pneumonia or difficulty breathing, which might require admission to hospital.

Updated guidance

The Scottish Government issued a letter with further guidance on testing for care home and NHS employers In November 2020.

If you have any queries please contact us using the web form on our Contact us page.

Contact information

Lorraine Wakefield
Communications Manager
Scottish Social Services Council