I wanted to provide a brief report on our engagement with management on 08 April 2020. Folks

Cover for Essential Work

We continue to engage management at a local, group and departmental level on cover arrangements for Universal Credit and Discretionary Support. We have agreed that staff from other business areas can cover this work but only where they have capacity and it is safe to do so. Reps should continue to ensure they engage with their local manager to understand what the plans are for their own areas and should provide a regular report through to seconded officers.

Overtime in UC

Overtime has been offered for UC over the Easter weekend. We have raised the issue of cleaners in offices for O/T and management have agreed that if there is no cleaner, there will be no overtime. As many are NIPSA members, we have also raised that cleaners should be paid an overtime premium, especially as we need them to be on site. Reps should also seek to recruit cleaners to NIPSA. We await a response from management on this.

Impact of Increased hours on benefit claims

We asked that consideration must now be given to the potential detrimental impact for claimants, including some DfC staff, who are working more hours to assist with Covid19 but whose future claims to benefit may be adversely impacted. Management agreed to consider this.

Insurance and Remote Working

Concern has been raised regarding house insurance policies that may required members to declare if they were working from home and this may attract an increased premium from insurers. I stated that given we had over 1000 staff working remotely, management should be advising staff to check their policies. And if increased premiums were applied, then management should meet this cost. Management will consider this but I would advise all members to check their own policies.

Free Public Transport

I referenced the letter received from Minister for Infrastructure to the General Secretary confirming that free public transport would not be provided to NICS essential staff. I expressed my disappointment at the response and said that the Perm Secretary should now look if the department could provide financial support to meet the cost for staff travelling to work. Management stated that a range of options were being considered.

Social Distancing and Cleaning

While there has been a significant improvement in both safe distancing and cleaning regimes in workplaces, we still are getting isolated incidents were standards are not being maintained or applied. If any member or rep is concerned about safe distancing, circulation space for members to safely walk around offices or cleaning in offices, please contact your seconded officer for support and advice.

Dooley Harte
Assistant Secretary