I wanted to give you a short report on some of the issues we have been engaging senior management in DfC on relating to Covid-19.

Testing

You will have received information about the Public Health Agency extending testing for key workers, and their families, if they have Covid-19 symptoms. While this is welcome, we have asked that this is extended to cover all staff attending work in DfC and that it is provided on a regular and ongoing basis. Management are governed by PHA advice on this but have agreed seek further clarification on plans, if any, for the roll-out of testing for all key workers.

Laptops

We have raised queries about how laptops are allocated and that these should be to those key workers doing essential work in the first instance. Management confirmed that local managers will determine what their work priorities are and will allocate laptops accordingly. If you have a query on the allocation of laptops, please raise any concerns with local management in the first instance. We also asked hat information was provided to those working from home regarding H&S, security and GDPR. Click here to find out advice to members working from home.

Overtime

We are aware that some managers have not offered overtime to staff unless they were on rota the week before or only if they worked in a particular section. Following discussions with management, they have now confirmed that overtime should be made available for all eligible staff and if there are too many volunteers, normal action should be taken to select those who will be offered overtime. It is therefore important that LTUS reps engage managers on overtime to agree how overtime is offered to members and how staff are selected for overtime.

Return to Normal Work Strategy

While any strategy to return us to normal working will be governed by decisions from Westminster and Stormont as well as DfC management, we have sought to make early contact with management on this. A Recovery committee has been established at NICS level with DfC involvement and DfC TUS have now begun to engage DfC management on any departmental plans.

However it is just the start of a process and as safe distancing is likely to be in place for some time, we need to ensure that all members continue to be as protected as they can be, while in work. It is therefore critical that all NIPSA branches continue to engage with managers on social distancing ensuring that workplaces are safe, distancing measures are in place including circulation spaces to allow staff to move safely around the building. We need to risk assess pressure points such as entrances and exits to buildings and rooms, toilets, kitchens, lifts, etc and that fire evacuation plans are taking account of Covid-19 requirements. Our priority is, and must remain, the health safety and welfare of our members. If reps need any assistance with this, please contact your seconded officer.

Dooley Harte
Assistant Secretary