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MU Responds to the End of Free Covid-19 Testing

The Musicians’ Union has serious concerns about how the end of free testing may affect all musicians, and in particular clinically extremely vulnerable musicians.

Published: 31 March 2022 | 4:30 PM Updated: 01 April 2022 | 11:55 AM
Nurse in protective blue cap, gown, gloves and facial shield holding a COVID test tube and swap.
"Free testing must continue so all of our members, and especially those who are still shielding to protect their health, can safely go to work". Image credit: Shutterstock.

The union wrote to the Government in February to ask that free testing be retained for workers, like musicians, who are generally unable to work from home and often unable to socially distance.

MU General Secretary Naomi Pohl, says:

“Free testing must continue so all of our members, and especially those who are still shielding to protect their health, can safely go to work. The end of free community testing means most people won’t know if they have the virus and could unknowingly pass it on". 

“It is unfair to expect musicians, many of who will be in insecure work and on low pay, to also shoulder the cost of regular testing. This will only add to the cost of living crisis. The government must ensure Covid-19 tests remain free for all workers.”

Making sure all musicians can get back to work safely

Joint MU and The Ivors Academy research in September 2021 revealed that 40% of clinically extremely vulnerable musicians would still have to shield beyond the lifting of Covid-19 restrictions and the end of the vaccine roll-out to protect their health or the health of someone they live with.

The research also showed that nearly 60% of musicians and music creators received no financial support whilst shielding (60% of these because they did not meet the eligibility criteria), and over 60% anticipate they will lose 50-100% of their usual income or work opportunities to September 2022 because of their continued need to shield.

MU General Secretary Naomi Pohl added:

“We know from our roundtables with musicians earlier this month that they have real concerns about how they are going to sustain their careers and protect their health or the health of somebody they live with. With most Covid restrictions in the UK ending and the end of free testing, the messaging from Government implies that the pandemic is over. Unfortunately, that is not the case”.

“Musicians at the roundtables told us about the work they continue to lose and the discrimination they face because they are still shielding. As an industry we have a responsibility to make sure that everyone can get back to work safely. We must engage with this group of musicians about their access needs and accommodate them.”

The MU will continue to work with our partners Attitude is Everything, The Ivors Academy, Help Musicians, and Connects Music to provide a space for musicians who are still shielding to access peer support, connect with other musicians, and share experiences and approaches to navigating this part of their careers.

Advice for employers and engagers

When working with Clinically Extremely Vulnerable musicians the MU would advise employers and engagers to:

  • Consult this group of workers on the best measures that can be put in place to allow a safe and supported return to work. It’s important to remember that many musicians who are still shielding will meet the definition of disability under the Equality Act 2010 and would have a right to reasonable adjustments at work.
  • Observing protocols such as mask wearing and social distancing when requested
  • Respect an individual's decision to continue wearing, including performing in, a mask when others are not
  • Continued remote and hybrid working for those who still need to shield for their own or another's safety
  • Musicians with Long Covid may also need reasonable adjustments to support their return to work. The MU would advise employers and engagers to focus on reasonable adjustments that they can make to facilitate musicians continued employment.
  • Implement the We Shall Not be Removed alliance’s 7 Inclusive Principles
  • Provide support to enable this group of workers to maintain their professional networks

The MU urges members to email their MPs to ask that free testing be reintroduced for workers, like musicians, who are generally unable to work from home and often unable to socially distance.

 

 

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