This is a very difficult time for our members, many of whom are delivering frontline services at this unprecedented time.
UNISON members will still need support from activists – and this will also mean challenges for our stewards and reps, including Health and Safety reps.
The most important advice is that you keep yourself and our members safe.
You should follow government advice and work from home unless absolutely necessary. There are a number of technological solutions which allow online meetings with members and employers, in addition to the telephone.
You should also follow the government’s social distancing rules, keeping two metres apart if you absolutely have to attend the workplace.
Working with the Branch Health and Safety officer
Health and Safety reps have important statutory powers, including to make inspections to identify potential risks or hazards. You should work in partnership with the branch Health and Safety rep to identify any issues.
Up to date advice on government guidance and rights at work can be found on our general Coronavirus advice page.
Representing our members
Whatever your role you have an important part to play, and your employer should be talking to you on the issues that affect your members. These include:
- Any new working arrangements
- Re-allocation of duties
- Reasonable adjustments
- Additional support for older workers and those with underlying health conditions
- Any training requirements
- Social distancing rules. In some jobs these can be difficult to maintain, and new working arrangements and training may be required
- Provision of Personal Protective Equipment or any other new equipment
- Use of volunteers
UNISON Equality Reps should also be able to help disabled members and those with underlying health conditions to access home working, in accordance with government guidelines.
We have produced a COVID-19 model workforce policy which can be negotiated with your employer.
UNISON has also produced a Homeworking policy which can be negotiated locally to agree temporary homeworking for the period of the current crisis.
We have also produced a policy on the job retention scheme – ‘furloughs’.