It looks like the weather is changing for the better; and it appears that’s not the only change coming. The announcements from the government today signal a significant easing of the lockdown. We are sure that many people will be pleased at this lifting, but that this may also be accompanied by a sense of anxiety and concerns for some. We all hope that these changes are not premature, and are a sign that we are past the worst of this crisis. We will of course monitor what these changes will mean for workplaces and our members.
Lockdown Eased from 4 July
The Government has announced today a number of changes to guidance that are planned from 4 July. First the social distancing requirement will be reduced from two metres to ‘1 metre-plus’ the plus referring to mitigations to reduce transmissions. What that will mean for specific workplaces will be known in the coming days, as more guidance is released and we consult with employers.
Additionally the following can open:
- Theatres (but not to live performance)
- Museums and Galleries
- Outdoor Gyms and Children’s Playgrounds
- Hairdressers (which may interest members in Wirral Met College)
However that does not mean that all the above facilities will open on 4 July; we will be consulting with employer on all aspects of safety. We know that the Council share our view that is better to be cautious and safe. What will definitely not be restarting are outdoor events (such as concerts in Birkenhead Park, swimming pools and indoor gyms. We will of course keep you fully update.
Shielding: New Guidance
The 2.2 million people who have been self-isolating because they are clinically extremely vulnerable in England during the pandemic will no longer need to shield from 1 August. (From 6 July, they will be able to meet up outdoors, in a group, with up to five others and form 'support bubbles' with other households.) That means the government says you can return to work, if you can't work from home, as long as your workplace is COVID secure, which will be a key question for many of our members. However, they should still follow social distancing guidelines when outside their homes and wash their hands regularly to reduce the risk of being infected.
The changes mean those shielding will no longer be eligible for statutory sick pay - unless they develop coronavirus symptoms, or someone they know develops symptoms, and they are told to self-isolate and cannot work from home; which we know will be a worry for many. It is a concern that many care providers are still not paying full sick pay for Covid related absence. We know this will be a worry time for many who have been shoielding and please feel free to contact us to discuss your concerns. The full government advice can be found here
Guidance has not changed for those who are clinically vulnerable. We are concerned however that as a result of removing the shielding provision, those members who are clinically vulnerable, may come under more pressure to return to work.
For both categories, clinically extremely vulnerable (or shielding) or clinically vulnerable, the important question is, is your job or workplace safe for you to return to. Can social distancing be ensured (even at 1 metre), is there an increased risk of transmission. Your employer is obliged to undertake a personal risk assessment to consider these questions. Please contact us for advice on this process if you are affected.
Unison – The Union for Social Workers
If you are a Social Worker, Unison is the union that will represent you. We are the biggest public sector union, with an overwhelming number of social workers who are members. Many of our activists are Social Workers, including two of our leading activists in Wirral. But consider these reasons as well
National Campaigns. Unison is playing a leading role in the campaign against the emergency legislation the government introduced under the cover of Covid (SI 445) which dilutes the rights of children in care. We are pleased that Wirral Council is not implementing these changes; but they must be opposed on a national level. Unison has also made key representations on the formation of Social Work England and the piloted National Accreditation System
Pay and Conditions – We are recognised by the employer (unlike some unions) and therefore we negotiate pay and conditions at a national level. And as a member you get consulted.
Local Conditions – It was Unison that led representations on the formation and improvement of the Career Progression Framework. We have also ensured that Adoption Social Workers have the best possible conditions since the creation of AiM.
Disciplinaries – Lets hope it doesn’t come to this. But if you are put on formal procedures we have experienced and skilled reps, that will proactively represent you. And we have an enviable record of success.
That’s all for today everyone! We will have more tomorrow, please pass our updates on to colleagues and urge them to join Unison if they haven’t done already. Here’s the link to join up! JOIN UNISON
Take care of yourselves and each other.
Lois and Dave
Dave: firstname.lastname@example.org 07880199539
Lois: email@example.com 07384512521
Branch Office:0151 666 3040
Published on: June 24, 2020