The previous extension to face to face services, from 12 April, led to increased office closures and our consultative ballot on safety.
From 12 April, despite PCS’s opposition on health and safety grounds, DWP extended face to face services in jobcentres, asking more staff to go into work.
From 17 May, DWP is increasing face to face activity further. We have received reports that work coaches have been told they must carry out up to 9 face to face interviews each day.
DWP claimed that the increase in face to face activity would be slow, steady and safe, with work coaches being able to decide which of their customers to see face to face. This latest announcement breaks that promise.
Since face to face contact was extended on 12 April we have been receiving regular notifications of Covid-related office closures, proving that it is still not safe. The jobcentre at Brocol House in Wigan is currently closed for a deep clean after staff contracted the virus.
PCS believes that it is irresponsible to insist on this further increase in face to face contact, particularly while there are rises in infection rates due to new variants, which may lead to renewed localised lock-downs.
We are currently balloting members who work in jobcentres over safety in a consultative ballot. The ballot closes on 21 May.
We have also set up an e-action asking the Secretary of State for DWP to support safe working in jobcentres.