I wanted to provide an update on the ongoing work around risk assessments and the process whereby increased staff numbers are being asked to the workplace.
We are currently involved in Tranche 3 of 3 having carried out risk assessments in some 36 locations with the remaining likely to be finished early next week. Completed risk assessments are now being finalised and these will be signed off between the management risk assessor and TUS safety rep before being shared with all staff. It is also the case that any decision to return staff to the workplace is a matter for consultation between LTUS and local management and so if reps have not done so already, they should write to their management asking for their plans about returning staff to the office including numbers, timescales, etc.
As members will know, the current advice from the NI Executive, the Public Health Agency, the Health & Safety Executive and as agreed in the guiding principles for the risk assessments is that - If you can work for home, then stay at home. Recent correspondence from the Head of the Civil Service, David Sterling, has also reinforced this position.
If you have been allocated the necessary IT to allow you to work from home, then you should work from home. It is only those staff who have not been allocated IT or who's duties cannot be completed at home who should be asked to attend the office. And that numbers asked to attend the office should not exceed the figures agreed in the risk assessment. However, the figures in the risk assessment are not a target to be achieved by management, they are a maximum safe number. However, the more staff who work from home, the safer it is for them and the safer it is for those having to attend the office.
Where any member has been asked to attend the office, has IT to work from home and who's duties can be completed at home, then they should write to their line manager asking why they have been asked to attend when the advice is that they should not. If a member has duties that can be completed at home but has not yet been allocated the IT, they should speak with their manager regarding when It may become available. It is not the case, as has been reported to us, that the allocation of Mini-PCs has ceased to force staff to return to the office and Mini-PCs continue to be allocated to staff.
I hope this explains the current advice on this issue. Remember, if you can work from home, you should. Office risk assessments should be shared wit hall staff once agreed by TUS and the return of staff to a building is a matter for consultation between LTUS and local management.