OCS Covid-19 Update

23 Apr 2020

PCS met with OCS employer representatives on 22 April to discuss issues relating to the on-going Covid-19 pandemic. A number of key issues were discussed and agreements secured.

OCS communication on roster arrangements

PCS is aware of the communication from OCS around the requirement to introduce new temporary rosters. Members have asked the union to ask OCS to confirm that any contracted hours not worked due to roster arrangements would still be paid in full. We have raised this and are pleased to report that OCS have confirmed that officers will continue to be paid in full. PCS and OCS have agreed to issue a joint communication to confirm this agreement.

Roster Arrangements

We have been lobbying to ensure that roster arrangements that further protect the health, safety and welfare of members during the current pandemic are implemented. This has been agreed and OCS have advised that roster arrangements are starting this week and are being managed at a local level. We have been assured that there will be a conversation in every workplace about roster arrangements and that staff and managers must work together and jointly agree these plans. OCS have advised that these arrangements could take up to a week to organise but then would remain in place on a temporary basis for the period of the national emergency. Any issues with rosters should be escalated via local managers and reported to laurab@pcs.org.uk.

Members are continuing to report that social distancing is problematic. The move to implement roster arrangements will ensure that social distancing can be achieved and maintained. Members are asked to continue to escalate difficulties around social distancing to laurab@pcs.org.uk.

PPE

Members are continuing to report concerns about the supply of PPE and general concerns about safety. These concerns relate to social distancing, interventions and proximity to the public and others. PCS has raised these issues with OCS who have confirmed that supplies of gloves and hand sanitiser are available and any site that is running low should raise this with management as a matter of urgency. We were already aware of supply issues in Birmingham and Liverpool and a new batch of gloves and hand sanitizer has been issued today.

We are also pleased to let members know that following our previous representations OCS are in the process of distributing facemasks and goggles. This additional PPE will provide further protections for officers.

PCS asked OCS to confirm what advice is being given to officers in relation to undertaking work when they feel unsafe or where adequate PPE is unavailable.

OCS has confirmed that individuals should make a dynamic risk assessment and assess whether it is safe before taking action. OCS confirmed that officers are instructed not to carry out any activity without PPE or without carrying out a risk assessment.

OCS advised that a revised protocol has been submitted to National Health England to further protect officers and as soon as this is agreed it will be shared with PCS and officers. We will issue further advice to members on the impacts of the revised protocols as soon as we have received the guidance from OCS.

There are times when Officers will be called to attend panic alarm activations or called into court by court management. Whilst all CTSOs are trained to conduct a “Dynamic Risk Assessment” before any intervention, they must follow the current guidance provided by OCS, signed off by HMCTS and PHE.

With the exception of bag searching where there is a requirement for gloves to be worn, the advanced PPE (Gloves, Face Mask and goggles) are only to be worn during attendance / removal duties and / or First Aid Attendance. To reduce waste and reduce the usage of limited stocks, we would suggest that Officers decide daily between themselves which officers will conduct court attendance that day and numbers required, those officers will then carry the PPE kit with them that day as a precautionary measure.

Pay

PCS raised again at the meeting the huge number of queries that we have received on the issue of pay for Covid-19 related absences.

OCS and PCS have agreed that any member of staff who has received a shielding letter will now be furloughed as of 9th April and will therefore be paid at 80% of their salary. PCS has made representations to OCS regarding a top up payment of 20% to cover the rest of the individual’s salary and this is now under review. We will issue a further update on this shortly.

We are continuing to press our wider demands on pay with OCS and with the MOJ.

Covid-19 Testing

OCS advised that testing is being made available from HMCTS. We will issue further guidance on the approach that OCS will adopt on this shortly. PCS has highlighted the need to test all staff and to ensure the immediate priority for tests is those at work in hot spots and those who are mobile.

Car Parking

PCS raised the provision of car parking for officers at courts where car parks are available. OCS took this forward with HMCTS and have secured an agreement that PCS members in OCS can utilise car parks where there is availability of spaces. Officers are advised to speak to local HMCTS managers to make arrangements.

Next Steps

We will continue to update on a regular basis. We need more members to volunteer to get involved in PCS. If you are willing to become a PCS advocate or representative then please contact us: laurab@pcs.org.uk.

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