A SOUTH Ayrshire Council employee has blasted the way she’s been treated at work since the pandemic started, saying that risk policies were inadequate and not adhered to, putting her own life and those of her colleagues, at risk.

Forty-two-year-old Nicola MacLean from Saltcoats works as a Hostel Support Worker at Viewfield Gate homeless hostel in Ayr, where management asked employees to do tasks that went against safety measures that had been put in place to protect staff from COVID.

As part of a risk policy drawn up by management and seen by the Advertiser it was said that employees would not enter rooms of tenants unless for an emergency.

Yet Nicola, who has fibromyalgia, found herself being asked to clean the rooms and change bed slats, despite the fact it explicitly stated in the risk policy that employees were not to enter rooms for cleaning.

There was a professional cleaning company that had been hired for that purpose, but when they had been unable to clean and prepare all the rooms in a shift, hostel support workers were being asked to go in and finish the job.

Nicola raised the issue with her manager but her concerns were dismissed, her manager told her: "I see no issue with hostel support staff making up beds", and this despite the risk policy saying they were not to enter rooms.

Upset with her treatment, Nicola filed a grievance.

She said:”The grievance I put in was regarding not following risk assessments, as I had been asked to breach them by going into service users at the hostel. We were told we weren’t supposed to be going into the flats and then my manager’s asked me to go in and do cleaning, cleaning of beds etc, basically my manager’s asked me to put myself at risk.”

Nicola says that her outspokenness on the risk policy led to her being singled out for harsh treatment from her superiors, who she believes, want to push her out.

Around the same time as Nicola first raised concerns about the risk policy, she was asked to change shift pattern at just a week’s notice, which she agreed to on the basis that the service was in need so she would help, but on the understanding that it would only be temporary, for a period of 12 weeks.

She said: “Once I started questioning the risk assessment they decided all of a sudden well we’re gonna change your shift patterns, you’re meant to have a 14 week grace period, but they never gave me that, they gave me a week’s notice and if it hadn’t have been for the schools being off and my husband being at home I’d probably have to have given my job up.”

She was shocked to hear a week later that the changes would be permanent.

She said: “My manager phoned and said can you do it for a few weeks so I agreed, but then my first day back they told me that my shift changes were permanent.”

Nicola has tried raising the issue with her employers, submitted a grievance complaint, and got her union involved. She continues to fight her corner.

A council spokesperson said in response to the accusations: “The council does not comment on matters relating to individual employees.”