I wanted to update you on the re-opening of public offices on a limited basis to deal with Free School Meals and Uniform Grants.

As you know, we have been engaged with management from Tuesday last week about their desire to open the offices to deal with Free School Meals and Uniform Grants. Due to an oversight by Education Authority, claimants were told they could attend JBOs even though they were closed.

Management have informed us the the Minister has been keen to open the offices to provide a service for those looking to claim FSM & UG especially with restrictions being eased and offices in other areas of the public sector opening.

We have gone through many different options for completing this work with management and have managed to get significant changes to the original plans for opening that will reduce the numbers of those attending and ensure that staff are protected when members of the public do attend.

We had a further meeting this afternoon with DfC management to finalise the risk assessment process that will allow for office opening on a very limited basis with protections in place for members and a prescribed journey for claimants from the front door to the welcome desk and back again. Once this finalised documentation is received by Dept TUS, we will identify offices and safety reps who will complete a risk assessment for each JBO based upon the limited opening arrangements. The risk assessment process will involve DfC staff at the welcome desk and G4S staff and I have organised a brief training session for some NIPSA safety reps for tomorrow. No office will open until the risk assessments have been properly completed.

I will forward on a copy of the finalised risk assessment once it is received and a copy of the risk assessment will be made available to staff when completed. I hope this explains the current position and i will be in touch again soon.

Dooley Harte
Assistant Secretary