0151 666 3040 unison1@wirral.gov.uk

Coronavirus update 06.07.20

Dear Member

Hello! We hope you all had a lovely weekend and managed to relax if you were off. If you had to work over the weekend, we hope you have a well-deserved rest very soon.

Working from home

Many of our members, like us, will have been working from home for a number of months now. Perhaps the novelty is beginning to wear off and we are beginning to get an understanding of what it may feel like to work from home in the longer term. That means you may be appreciating some of the benefits from being a home based worker, but you may also be encountering some of the challenges. We know that some of the benefits include, reduced travel time (bed to spare in spare room in under 2 minutes), not having to wear a suit (or in fact anything other than pyjamas) and being able to sun yourself while talking to colleagues. We fully understand these benefits but you will perhaps forgive us if we spend some time addressing the challenges that may arise from working at home. We know that you can be struggling with the challenges at the same time as appreciating the benefits; it’s a new way of working for us all and its okay not to have got to grips with it just yet. The challenges can be physical, in terms of bad backs, stiff necks etc, they can be mental, in terms of feelings of isolation or difficulties separating work from home or they can be emotional, a child tugging at your sleeve (and heartstrings) looking to be entertained while you try to work. Not to mention the detrimental impact that working from home may have upon your practice; many of us will recognise the scenario where you just need to run something by a colleague to check it’s the right course of action or get another perspective. This is easily done when we’re all in the same room and we can see if others are busy or available for a five minutes chat, it can be much more tricky when we’re all at home and you’re less sure if people can be disturbed even if just for a few minutes.

Whilst we’ve been doing a bit of reading and research, in to all things Covid-19 related, we came across this article from an Australian Health and Safety organisation. It addresses some of the challenges we have referred to, such as ergonomics and isolation and you may find it of some interest. We would also urge anyone who is working from home to complete their organisations display screen equipment (DSE) risk assessment. Please also contact us for any advice you may need or just to share your experience.


As we approach the end of the school year, thoughts may already be turning to how schools will operate come September. You may have seen that the government has issued ‘guidance’ to schools on how they should prepare upon return in September; this guidance poses as many questions as it proports to answer. Notwithstanding that, Unison will in the coming days, be writing to all schools to ask for consultation on their revised Risk Assessments in light on the new guidance.

There has been some talk in the media as to whether schools will open for at least part of the summer holidays. We are not aware of any schools in Wirral that  have made any definite plans for opening in the summer. However, if your school does decide to open for pupils during the summer, we can offer our members some guidance. If you are on a term time contract and you are asked to work over the summer holidays this should only be on a voluntary basis; we do not expect that any member is obliged or expected to work over the summer holidays. If you are asked to work and you are willing to do so, this should be at the enhanced overtime rate, especially as you are giving up your valuable time off that you would normally spend at leisure. If you have any queries about this, please get in touch with us or Steve, our Schools Officer who can be reached at stephenbennett@wirral.gov.uk

National Care Service

A couple of weeks ago we highlighted that Unison was calling for the creation of a National Care Service that would mean Social Care was provided on the same basis that our health services are. Yesterday, on the 72nd anniversary of the creation of the NHS, the head of the health service, Simon Stevens effectively repeated our calls in saying that a new method of providing social care  needed to be in place within a year. In an interview yesterday, he drew a parallel with the creation of the NHS after the second World War, noting that at a time of rationing, debt and uncertainty, the government did not hesitate. Calling for the government to take action now in the aftermath of this pandemic, he said “We must use this to resolve, once and for all to actually, properly resource and reform the way in which social care works in this country.” We agree, our Care Workers, who have literally risked their lives during this crisis deserve no less.

That’s all for today; we’ll be back in touch on Wednesday. As always, please feel free  pass our updates on to colleagues and encourage them to join Unison if they haven’t done already. Here’s the link to join up! JOIN UNISON

In solidarity!

Lois and Dave

Dave: davidnjones@wirral.gov.uk  07880199539
Lois: loisfounds1@wirral.gov.uk   07384512521
Branch Office:0151 666 3040

Published on: July 7, 2020