Advice to members in Children’s social work teams

1. UNISON position on CYPL All Staff message from Lucy Butler, 7th January 2020

2. Advice for members

UNISON has written to WSCC to express our disappointment with both the communication and having been given no time to input to it prior to its release to both managers and staff.

We set out that in both content and tone the email had given a signal to managers and staff that the service is in BAU, regardless of C-19 developments over the weekend.

The intention to enforce F2F visits for Red, Amber and Green first visits is a widening from last lockdown requirements of staff. This is despite there being a more aggressive and widespread form of the virus in circulation.

There is no mention in the email of staff making risk assessments of each potential visit beforehand, whereby staff would assess by phone the potential for the visits to be safe, social distancing to be facilitated and staff personal space and safety to be respected.

The facility for ‘eyes on’ / doorstep visits appears to have been removed for all cases except for Green RAG-assessed cases which are not first visits.

There is no reference to CV/LCEV/LCV staff or the need for sympathetic handling of the concerns they will undoubtedly have.

Overall, the emphasis on staff and their safety is not considered sufficiently, at a time when the visits that could be undertaken during the first (good weather) lockdown cannot easily be replicated in January.

UNISON has asked for the communication to be reviewed urgently.


Members should insist on an updated individual risk assessment before they conduct any further F2F visits. The objective conditions of C-19 have changed, requiring a refreshed risk assessment.

Members should conduct a separate risk assessment prior to each F2F visit to ensure they are satisfied that the visit can be conducted safely (see above). If there are doubts or concerns, staff should seek to make a doorstep / eyes on visit or conduct the visit remotely.

Staff should question with their manager the validity of Red and Amber ratings where those are of concern. UNISON understands that Hampshire CC is only prioritising critical safeguarding issues. It is not clear why WSCC is not following a similar course,

If members are not satisfied that they can safely conduct a F2F visit but are under pressure to do so, members should contact their UNISON rep or the branch office for advice. We will advise you on your rights to work in a safe environment and how to withdraw from unsafe working, whilst making yourself available to work at home. This is of additional importance to members who are CV/LCEV/LCV.

UNISON has received an invitation to attend one team members’ meeting by Zoom. If you would like a UNISON rep to meet with your team, please get in touch with us,