25 November 2021

PCS achieves great result for DWP members working in Wales

After weeks of pressure from PCS, DWP has finally agreed to back track on its decision to force members in Wales doing non-customer-facing roles back into offices.

While this is great news for our members in Wales we will continue to press the department to halt plans in Scotland and England to force thousands of staff back into workplaces.

We believe it is irresponsible for DWP to force staff back to work as scientists are clear that Covid-19 still poses a very serious public health risk. And in Wales and across the UK we will continue to press DWP on its approach in front facing roles, especially considering Welsh Government guidance which specifically states: "limiting the number of people who are present on your premises, for example by allowing people to work from home or reducing the number of visitors who can attend”.

PCS has insisted that the Welsh and Scottish guidance is absolutely clear that if workers can work from home they should.

We have also been arguing consistently that it is not yet safe for members to be delivering face to services in jobcentres. We have been pushing DWP to reduce face to face activity to safe levels and that the unacceptable pressure that our jobcentre members are facing as a consequence must stop.

We will continue to fight for the safest working conditions for all members in DWP.

Government guidance in England, Wales and Scotland

Unfortunately, the government guidance for working safely during the pandemic in England is extremely weak and has been further diluted as recently as 15 November. And the DWP has chosen to effectively remove many of the pre-existing safeguards that staff have had insisting it is following the English guidance.

Action for members working in Scotland

We believe that if we ramp up the pressure on DWP we can force them to change their mind.

PCS has issued guidance already advising members what they can do, using section 44 of the Employment Rights Act 1996, if they do not think it is safe to return to working from their offices yet. We will issue another email to personal email addresses confirming that advice.

Use our e-action to email your Westminster MP or MSP, asking them to write to work and pensions secretary Therese Coffey to insist that members in Scotland can continue working from home if they want to.