Coronavirus guidance for health and safety reps

Since March 2020, UNISON members have been at the frontline of the pandemic, providing essential services to the public, often putting their own safety at risk.

These are difficult and challenging times for our members who continue to work under extreme pressure, against a backdrop of continually high rates of covid infections.

It is also a challenging time for UNISON’s safety reps who play such a vital role in keeping workers safe.

As a safety rep you are in a unique position to help and support members.

Sometimes, this can involve simply being there, listening and talking to members, sometimes explaining what is being done to keep them safe, sometimes simply explaining the facts as you know it, which in itself can help allay fears.

Your rights as a safety rep also gives you the opportunity to engage with employers in a spirit of partnership to make sure the concerns of our members are supported and listened to.

Here are just a few examples of the things you can do.

Represent members’ health and safety concerns

This could include issues such as ensuring those with who may be more at risk from covid infections, have the opportunity to work from home, or if that is not possible, are redeployed to roles where they are less at risk.

Carry out an inspection and investigate potential hazards

Coronavirus (COVID-19) continues to present a hazard in the workplace.

UNISON’s safety reps can use their rights to carry out inspections where required, to make sure that everything possible is being done to reduce the risk of spreading the infection.

Inspections also provide a good opportunity to talk to members and here about their concerns.

Get your employer to sign up to the Covid-19 workplace safety pledge

UNISON’s National Health and Safety Committee, supports the pledge developed by Independent Sage to promote the creation of safe spaces at work.  You can ask your employer to sign up to the pledge.   

Model Covid pledge letter for branches to adapt


If you have been successful in getting your employer to sign up to the pledge let the health and safety unit know at

Right to be consulted on matters affecting your members

As members return to their usual workplaces or move to more hybrid/home working, it is important that you are consulted on any health and safety implications of these changes.

It is also important that the employer consults you on what measures they are taking to make the workplace safer and reduce the risk of covid infections including assessing ventilation, supporting workers with covid symptoms to stay away from the workplace and enhanced cleaning regimes.

Involving you in these decisions will ensure employers and unions can work together to communicate the right messages.

Find out more

See our health and safety reps guide for a reminder of all your rights and functions