The current Coronavirus/Covid19 situation is extremely worrying for members, representatives, our families and wider society. This is the biggest challenge facing us all in generations and circumstances and advice is changing rapidly.
In the first instance it is vitally important that we follow the guidance which will change on a daily basis and take the necessary steps to protect ourselves and others.
NIPSA is not in a position to give individual advice to members as each person’s circumstances may be different. The current general advice is as follows:
- If you or another person in your family has either a new dry cough and/or a fever then the whole family should self-isolate for 14 days. During this period of time you should not socialise with any other family/friends, nor should you go to the shops, pubs, restaurants, clubs or other social venues. This will help contain the virus.
- Where possible, members should discuss with their employer about working from home options. In many cases due to the nature of your job this is not possible. In those circumstances NIPSA are pressing for employers to issue clear, unequivocal advice to their staff about what they should do. In some areas such as the Health & Social Care Sector staff may be required to be diverted to other work for which they are trained and are capable of undertaking.
- In most areas of the public sector NIPSA have been able to secure that staff who are required to self-isolate should not have this absence counted towards sick absence triggers and they should receive their normal contractual rate of pay. One exception to this is agency workers. We are pressing hard that Agency Workers are treated the same as permanent members of staff for the purposes of self-isolation ie they should receive their full contractual rate of pay for that period. This is a public health issue and we must insist that agency workers who are delivering vital public services are not disadvantaged.
- Only essential travel should be undertaken. Therefore were staff are required, by their job, to travel to other parts of the UK or Ireland this should be questioned and any member who feels under pressure to attend meetings in say London etc should contact NIPSA for further advice and support. In the current climate meetings should be able to be undertaken using other IT solutions.
- Most public sector employers have issued guidance, which will be constantly updated. Members should be encouraged to read that guidance in detail and raise queries directly via their Branch Representatives.
- Those with caring responsibilities. Across most areas of the public sector employers are currently advising that they will pay up to 5 days paid special leave so that carers can put in place alternative arrangements. NIPSA is seeking improvements in this provision in many areas of the public sector. Where improvements are negotiated these will be communicated to members in those particular employment areas via circulars and the NIPSA website.
NIPSA HQ and Regional Office
All meetings in NIPSA Headquarters are cancelled until at least 30 March and this situation will be kept under constant review.
The switchboard is closed but will re-open on Monday 23 March 2020 after we have risk assessed the situation and put in place proper contingency plans.
Please note that we are experiencing a high volume of emails and we will endeavour to get back to you as quickly as possible.