Coronavirus: advice regarding School Closures

30 Mar 2020

PCS has been fielding a number of queries from members regarding phone calls they have been getting from managers throughout DWP. The calls have specifically been to demand that staff make themselves available to come into the office as they have been categorised as key workers in the government's latest advice.

The revised HR guidance, which was issued on Friday afternoon, completely changes the supportive emphasis of the original advice, which allowed for paid special leave where members had been unable to find alternative childcare provision following the government's decision to close schools, to protect our children and the wider community, during this national crisis.

The amended guidance now states that paid special leave will be the exception due to DWP key worker status being declared on 20 March and due to the majority of schools being open and "under used".

No consultation

PCS was not consulted about this significant amendment to guidance and has put it on the agenda for a meeting with the employer tomorrow (31 March). PCS does not accept the premise on which this guidance is based and intends to robustly challenge the content as it clearly places our members, our children and the communities in which we live at risk; PCS also believes it is contrary to the safety advice issued centrally by government.

Inappropriate behaviour

PCS has also been made aware of examples where managers have been contacting local schools to demand that they make places available for children of DWP staff, due to our key worker status.This behaviour is totally inappropriate and is irresponsible, placing in jeopardy the security of the school and the personal data of the child and their family, protected under GDPR.

Any further examples of this behaviour or of staff being pressured by line managers to come into work and place the onus on you to demand a school place should be reported to your local PCS rep immediately or through group office.

PCS will issue further advice following the meeting.

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