Coronavirus Update for Inverclyde Council Members

Dear Colleague

I hope you are all well and safe. Please find below some update information.

Returning to work – This is particularly relevant to members who are either partially office based or fully office based. From the 15th July some front line services such as libraries, the museum and the customer centre will re-open. From the 20th July it is planned for that other members will begin returning to work and managers will be contacting you over the next week or two to discuss these arrangements with you. It remains the council’s position that those staff who can work at home should continue to do so. However it is important to understand what this actually means in practice. Some members have been working from home but have only been able to undertake a small range of their normal duties. At the other end of the scale members have been working from home as effectively as if they were in work. Everyone else falls somewhere in between. Other factors which need to be considered include ICT and whether members have the technical capacity at home, suitability in terms of where you live (not everyone has a built in home office or even kitchen or dining room table that doubles up as a desk) and it is clear from talking to members that many are keen to return to work in some shape of form. Another key factor is that social distancing rules will mean that roughly speaking only 40% of members can be at work at any given time if it is in an office setting. This will mean rota’s for office working/home working along with staggering starting and finishing times. Any member who has yet to return from a period of self-isolation will need to have a risk assessment completed before returning to work.

Safe working Environment – Myself and other branch officers and stewards have been fully involved in recovery plans across all services. We have discussed at length how buildings will be made safe including walk rounds and we will only agree to staff returning to work if we are satisfied that it is absolutely safe to do so.

Child Care – Members who have been working at home or on authorised absence for child care reasons can continue to be at home if there are no other child care supports. Given that the school term finished last Friday I assume that any member in this position will already have had a discussion with their line manager.

Annual leave – The council issued further guidance recently in respect of annual leave and this is broadly along the same lines as the guidance issued in April. Members are also being asked to talk to their line manager and try and plan annual leave for the remainder of the year. This does not mean that you have to have all of your annual leave booked with no prospect of changing dates should the need arise. It is important that members don’t find themselves in a position when services return whereby unable to get annual leave because none has been pre-booked. I understand that most members will want to keep some days free as would be the case normally. The council have extended the period for carrying forward annual leave to the 31st March 2021 and 5 days can be carried forward if necessary. As you may be aware the UK Government relaxed the working time regulations for key workers allowing a 2 year period for carrying over annual leave. This would only apply in circumstances whereby a key worker could not take their annual leave during the current annual leave year. Our position is that the council should make sure that all of our members are able to take annual leave. It is important from a health and wellbeing perspective that no member is forced to work for the full year without taking their full annual leave entitlement.

Robin Taggart
Branch Secretary
Unison (Inverclyde Branch)
Old Library
30 Bawhirley Road,
PA15 2BH