9 July 2021

PCS condemns end of Covid restrictions and sets out safety demands

PCS believes Boris Johnson’s decision to end Covid restrictions in England on 19 July is wrong and we have made a series of demands to the Cabinet Office with the aim of ensuring staff and workplaces are safe.

Given the rising numbers of cases caused by the Delta variant of the various and because the vaccination programme is incomplete we believe it is premature to end restrictions.

At a meeting with the Cabinet Office yesterday (8) we made the following demands:

  • National law and guidance in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland must be followed
  • There must be no arbitrary targets or dates for staff to return to workplaces
  • Departments and agencies must consult the unions in advance of any plan for staff possibly returning to the workplace
  • Social distancing must remain in place; face coverings should be used in communal areas and in any setting they are currently being used; existing screens should remain in place
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  • Proper ventilation is vital in buildings and unions must be reassured on this before any return to the workplace
  • Vulnerable employees, including those not vaccinated, should remain working at home unless on the balance of risk it would be better for them to return to the workplace
  • Risk assessments, both individual and collective, should include travel to work and must be undertaken in advance of staff returning to the workplace
  • That in multi-occupied buildings/sites, health and safety arrangements must be put into place to ensure that unions are properly consulted at a building/site wide level as to all aspects of health and safety regarding a return to the workplace. 

We are expecting more information from BEIS and the UK Government next week about the effects of easing Covid restrictions and we will publish further guidance.

There is a meeting of senior lay officials next week to take stock of the situation and agree necessary actions to protect members.