For members working for WSCC:
- Corporate staff (i.e. non-schools)
- Schools staff
The Local Government Association – the national membership body for local authorities – has issued new guidance to councils.
This states that staff who are clinically vulnerable (CV) to Covid-19 should work from home. (The differences between ‘clinically extremely vulnerable’ and ‘clinically vulnerable’ to Covid-19 are set out here.)
After lengthy negotiation with UNISON, which commenced on the date the LGA issued its advice (Monday 11 January), WSCC has concluded that it will not follow LGA advice. This is very disappointing news and a worrying development.
In the first wave of the pandemic, WSCC followed LGA advice for corporate staff. It did not however follow LGA advice for schools staff, citing DfE advice instead. Now WSCC is choosing not to follow LGA advice for both corporate and schools staff. This is despite the major incident declared by the Sussex Resilience Forum, the new more infectious and deadly variants of Covid-19 and the increasing infection and death rates. UNISON believe an opportunity has been missed both to protect staff and to curtail infection rates and protect the NHS.
UNISON position for WSCC members who are clinically vulnerable
If you are clinically vulnerable, both UNISON and the LGA believe there should be no expectation or requirement for you to attend the workplace. You should discuss with your manager how best you can undertake your role from home. If elements of your role cannot be undertaken from home, you may be allocated alternative duties that can be. In the unlikely event there are no alternative duties available to perform at home, the employer would have no choice but to accept there would be a need for you to remain at home on full pay. The above should apply even in services which are declared ‘business critical’ by Directors and should apply in WSCC schools even though the DfE position is different.
In matters of health and safety and protecting yourself and your family, solutions are very individual as they pertain to your personal health and the circumstances of your role and workplace.
UNISON wishes to reiterate to all its WSCC corporate and schools members, particularly those who are clinically vulnerable and find themselves under pressure or expectation to attend the workplace, that UNISON is here to support you. We are confident we will be able to find solutions to protect your health and safety where you believe it is at risk.
Clinically extremely vulnerable members should not of course be in the workplace at this time.