PCS is opposed to the planned extension of face to face services in Jobcentres for health and safety reasons. We have raised our concerns about our members' safety with the cabinet office. PCS has been assured by both the Cabinet Office and the DWP, that only staff who volunteer to carry out face to face activity will be expected to do so once the doors re-open to the public.
PCS is not satisfied that the risk assessment is safe. PCS does not believe that all necessary safety arrangements are in place and the level of risk remains unacceptable. PCS advice to our members in Jobcentres is do not volunteer to do extended face to face activity if you have concerns for your safety.
Advice from PCS to managers
A number of Jobcentre Managers (JCM’s) who are union members have highlighted serious concerns to PCS about safety in their office. Many have stated they do not feel equipped to confidently sign-off their office as safe, while others are informing us it is not their decision. PCS has received assurances from senior DWP management that no office will open if it isn't safe and JCM's will have the final say. JCM's should not agree to open their site if they have any concerns over the safety of themselves, their staff, outsourced workers or the public.
Don't be pressured
If you feel pressured into carrying out face to face activity or as a JCM into opening an unsafe office you should report this immediately to your local PCS representative or contact the PCS DWP office via firstname.lastname@example.org. The union will give you advice and support you.
PCS is putting safety first
PCS has been reasonable. We have told management we are willing to work with them on a trial to get the risk assessment right and Jobcentres safe but they are rushing ahead and putting staff at risk. We have placed the safety of our members above all else throughout this pandemic and we believe DWP extending face to face services at this stage without an agreed risk assessment increases the risk to our members - including security guards and cleaners - and the public who visit DWP offices. Despite the union’s best efforts DWP have not pulled back and the Minister has made public declarations about Jobcentres "re-opening".
PCS is still unaware of how many offices will open the doors today or this week but feedback suggests a number will. We have emailed all members who have registered a personal email address with us to advise you of your rights under health and safety legislation. They are also on the website.
Employer served notice
PCS has served the employer with a Union Inspection Notice (UIN), which details where we believe the department may be in breach of health & safety legislation. We will keep members informed of further developments.