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PCS has been in communication with SSCL since 10 March regarding Covid-19. PCS requested regular meetings to take place between the recognised unions and SSCL throughout the Covid-19 pandemic. SSCL agreed to arrange a telephone meeting with all the unions to enable members concerns to be discussed and resolved, and from today daily meetings will be taking place.
On 23 March 2020 PCS requested that all SSCL staff should work from home apart from those who perform a vital function that cannot be done away from the premises. As part of a telephone conference today SSCL have told us following the Government’s announcement yesterday evening the vast majority of staff will be working from home by the end of the week. A small number of 30 employees will be attending offices across the country. Desktop computers and equipment, for those without laptops, will be either collected by the staff member or delivered to the home once enabled by IT. This process commences this afternoon. We have requested that for those who do not have a business critical role, they should be able to remain at home on paid special leave until they receive this equipment. We are now awaiting a response from SSCL to this request.
For those employees with serious underlying health conditions who are well, currently at home but unable to work because they do not have a laptop, the expectation is that once you have the equipment you will be able to recommence work. SSCL will be contacting you to arrange delivery of the equipment.
Sickness pay from day one
SSCL confirmed that all SSCL staff including those on probation with Covid-19 symptoms will receive sick pay from day one.
Flexibility on start/ finish times whilst working from home.
SSCL have stated they recognise that working from home where you may have caring responsibilities for elderly parents or children may mean that you are not able to work to your contracted hours or normal 9 to 5 day, but would expect staff to try and work around this if possible. For those who currently have children in schools for key workers, the option is also available to keep children at home should you wish. The unions have requested that targets be suspended during this period to account for the unusual pressures that staff may be under. We are now awaiting a response from SSCL.
Health and Safety
Within the last two day PCS received concerning reports from members that social distancing was not taking place, and that staff were having to work within 2 metres of each other within fairly crowded office spaces. In addition hand sanitiser and wipes were not being provided to the extent that they should be. SSCL explained that during the interim period (up to and including this Friday) until all staff are working from home a big press is being made on social distancing. In addition as staff are enabled to work from home then offices should become less crowded and it will be easier to practice the 2m social distancing by using desks further away from colleagues.
SSCL explained that the provision of wipes and sanitiser are dependent on supply, and clearly there is a shortage of these at this time. However, the provision of sanitiser has been based on numbers within offices and there should be a sufficient amount of this. Staff will not be penalised for taking the time necessary to walk to the nearest hand sanitiser should they wish to use it. SSCL reiterated that washing hands as advised by the Government is as effective a measure for limiting the spread of the virus.
Advice and Support
If you need any advice or support then you should contact your local PCS representative in the first instance.