Jobcentres still not safe

04 May 2021

PCS members have been sharing their concerns about safety in their offices as more staff and customers are being asked to return to jobcentres

PCS has opposed DWP’s plans to extend services in jobcentres as we do not believe that the work can be done safely due to Covid or that the necessary risk assessments and safety measures have been put in place.

In a recent survey, only a fifth of staff said they felt safe returning to work in jobcentres, while 58% said they felt unsafe.

PCS members working in jobcentres have been telling us what they think about safety in their offices. Problems with social distancing, enough space for staff to take their breaks safely and ventilation were issues raised by many members.

One member told us: “my office is a small office with an increased number of staff from the recruitment drive that took place during lockdown. I don't see how the office can safely accommodate all staff as well as customers and still adhere to Covid regulations and social distancing.”

Not safe

Another member pointed out that today’s problems have been exacerbated by a lack of investment over a long period of time, saying that offices “haven’t been fit for purpose for a long time, still don’t feel safe and are actually not safe on grounds of ventilation, not enough toilets, not big enough staff kitchens for people to easily socially distance and the general substandard facilities of a rundown estate.”

Anxiety

Another member summed up the fear that many staff are feeling: “I have been told that I have to go into the office to conduct face to face appointments. We will have all age groups coming onto the floor including 18-24 who have not been vaccinated. My manager keeps telling me that the office is “safe”. I have not been in contact with anyone outside my immediate for over 13 months and I am getting extremely anxious.”

PCS will be running a consultative ballot of members working in jobcentres, which will open on 5 May. If you are affected, look out for your ballot paper in the post soon.

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