Update for Capita members

Mandatory Wearing of Masks

On 8 October Capita sent an email to all staff called ‘Capita Download’ saying all Capita staff must now wear face coverings in all common areas – hallways, toilets, kitchens etc. It threatens disciplinary action for failure to comply. Capita staff work in WSCC buildings where masks have not been deemed necessary by the council’s Director of Public Health. This creates the inequitable situation where Capita staff are forced to wear masks and WSCC staff are not – whilst working in the same room.

UNISON reps have received complaints from members about this and the difference of treatment of the staff groups. Use of masks in offices should currently be a voluntary and a personal decision in line with the WSCC approach otherwise this creates unhelpful tension in the workplace; the threat of disciplinary action is unnecessary and provocative; and where mandatory use of facemasks is dictated by an employer’s policy, this should become a PPE issue and PPE be provided by the employer.

Capita should work with WSCC to discuss policy and work to resolve differences rather than imposing them from London regardless of local circumstances.

UNISON rep Ian Harvey raised this at the regular UNISON/Capita Joint Consultative Committee. Ian also mentioned the view members may feel they are unsafe – based on Capita’s insistence that masks are necessary – if they are exposed to areas where mask-less WSCC colleagues are also working. In response we were told that it is a Capita-wide policy which will not be changed for individual workplaces.

UNISON reps also asked for the masks to be supplied by Capita. If Capita considers masks to be necessary for the safety of its employees, they should provide them as PPE. The employer’s response was employees already own masks to go to shops, or to use public transport etc, so they do not need them to be supplied!

Ian has raised his concerns with Abby Kimantas, National Officer in UNISON’s Private Companies Unit. She said, “If members do have a serious issue with the requirement to wear a face covering in a common area, they can of course submit a grievance to the employer.” If you are considering this as a course of action, or would like to be a part of a collective grievance with other members on this issues, please email ian.harvey@westsussex.gov.uk to discuss.

Annual Leave Booking Deadline

Capita introduced a deadline of 30 October to book all leave as there were issues regarding the number of employees who had untaken leave to book. On the 8 October, Capita announced they were moving the deadline to 16 October as not enough people had booked their leave. In the email announcement Kerry McAtkin said, “Please don’t delay in booking, as the days will unfortunately be lost from the system if not booked in time and then cannot be taken.”

UNISON members were unhappy with this threat to take away their legal holiday entitlement. We would like to hear from any member who has been told they have lost their leave as a result of this deadline being imposed. If this has happened to you, please email ian.harvey@westsussex.gov.uk.

At the JCC meeting, Dale Wood, Partnership Director for Capita, acknowledged members were unhappy with the way this was communicated and stated it was not the intention to upset employees.

Capita People Survey

There is a deadline of 3 November 2020 to take part in the ‘Capita People Survey’. Some members have expressed concerns regarding anonymity as we must supply our ‘P Number’ to access it.

Capita rep Ian Harvey said, “I understand concerns regarding anonymity. I am happy the P Number is only used to access the survey and managers will not know who has given what feedback. I have completed the survey and am comfortable my anonymity is protected. I heartily encourage members to take part to inform Capita of their views, particularly in light of recent directives which many members have said they are unhappy with.”