NIPSA, in response to a number of member concerns around Public Service Employers’ proposals to return staff to the workplace despite the NI Executive ongoing “work from home” guidance in place by the NI Executive, continues to express concerns around the necessary balance between safety of both service users and staff, particularly at a time when infection rates and associated deaths remain high and we are entering the time of year when seasonal associated infections will also be circulating.

NIPSA has advised members to raise their concerns and ensure any proposals are in line with Government Guidance and Public Health Advice, while also ensuring that all necessary updated risk assessments and, in cases of individual concern, Individual Risk Assessments have been completed along with Occupational Health advice.

NIPSA has also been negotiating with Employers to ensure that the positive experiences of home working with associated benefits are equally considered and incorporated into Hybrid Working Policies for the benefit of all concerned when planning a way forward.

The extract from the NI Direct website reads:


You should continue to work from home where you can.

Employers are encouraged to consider the risk within their workplace and begin planning a gradual return to the office, or other place of work, for employees.

Where appropriate, following engagement with staff and trade unions, consideration should be given to the development of flexible working practices.

Employers should take every possible step to facilitate their employees working from home.

Employers that require staff to come into the workplace must complete a mandatory risk assessment. Some employers may have introduced regular COVID-19 testing for employees as part of these measures.

Finally, I would advise that I have sent correspondence to the Department for Communities Minister seeking urgent clarification in respect of the current NI Executive guidance and Public Service Employer’s intentions to return staff to the workplace in advance of the lifting of the “work from home” message.

Terry Thomas
Assistant Secretary (Acting)