Given the ongoing spread of the Coronavirus, this page links to key external resources and advice that is being regularly updated by the government or the institutions involved.
Different employers will respond differently to coronavirus. The following is some general coronavirus guidance for union reps.
Reps should encourage employers to treat self-isolation as sick leave and follow the agreed policies. There is more information for members on our main coronavirus page.
Providing information, advice and guidance
There is a duty on employers to keep workers informed with up-to-date, reliable information from sources like the Department for Health and Public Health England. There are various sources of misinformation circling, which can cause undue stress, or even lead to workers taking measures which may end up causing more harm, not less. Management should also ensure that relevant contact numbers are up to date and readily available, and that they have received any necessary training on understanding COVID-19 and the measures needed should an outbreak be suspected.
Union safety reps should be consulted with and made aware of any policies or measures taken, and clear lines of reporting to managers should be established.
Safety representatives are urged to ensure that their employer notifies all their staff of what arrangements they have made to prepare for an outbreak of pandemic COVID-19, including what role they expect individual staff to take. Staff should be given information on the need for personal hygiene. This should be done in a non-patronising way and with the full involvement of stewards or safety representatives.
This text is taken from a TUC guide for unions on coronavirus, which can be downloaded here.
REMEMBER: existing H&S legislation still applies. Government guidance, including on Social Distancing should be taken into consideration by reviewing existing risk assessment/safe working procedures and companies should be communicating this guidance to the workforce.
Here are some further tips for what reps in businesses that are continuing to operate could ask about:
• Staggered start and finishing times of work
• Staggered breaks and ensuring when eating at work you have clear space and good hygiene available.
• Correct cleaning fluids available and regular cleaning routines
• Hand sanitiser is available
• Correct PPE is available (no sharing)
• Temporary safe working practices when employees have to breach the 2 metre rule. PPE supplied if necessary and kept to a minimum.
• Looking at alternative ways of working if the above cannot resolved
• Making allowances and understanding members’ concerns
• Looking after members’ Mental Health
• Clocking on/off procedures are reviewed to aid social distancing
• Procedures for contractors are as robust as your own company’s procedures
Government guidance to employers
Reps may want to familiarise themselves with the advice that government has issued to employers here.
ACAS have also issued guidance, which you can find here, that you may find useful.