PCS calls on civil service to instruct government workers to work from home

06 Jan 2021

PCS is calling on the UK Civil Service to urgently instruct all UK government workers, contractors and agency staff to work from home wherever they can as the latest national lockdown measures are introduced.

Following the new lockdown measures, we demanded that everyone should be allowed to work from home where possible. That simple message should be immediately cascaded to all those who work in the UK Civil Service as well as contractors and agency staff.

Yesterday, we and the other public sector unions had a virtual meeting with Cabinet Office officials who said they would consider instructing all civil servants to work from home wherever possible. We are meeting again tomorrow to discuss the details of the measures the civil service should urgently take to ensure all work by UK government workers, contractors and agency staff can now be done from home unless it is demonstrably not possible to do so.

We are calling for all tribunals and courts currently open to the public to be shut. We know that courts and tribunals can operate digitally. And in the case of jobcentres we fully accept that a limited service to vulnerable people should continue but that is all. Services provided to the public such as driving tests must be paused.

As a matter of urgency, we request that the civil service reviews those areas where the mass roll-out of IT kit has not happened, for example in the DVLA, and to put arrangements in place so that work can be done from home.

In relation to DVLA, we know that the contact centre has the highest infection rates in the agency, in an area (South Wales) which has some of the highest rates in the world. Therefore, the contact centre should be immediately shut down.

A number of departments, for example MHCLG, DVLA and DEFRA are in the process of opening new or existing offices. That of course should stop.

Special leave

All governments now say that those who are clinically extremely vulnerable should not attend work. Therefore, these staff should be instructed to either work from home or, if they cannot, be put on special leave with pay. We are proposing further that all clinically vulnerable staff should also be placed on special leave with pay if they cannot work at home.

Special leave with pay should be given to parents where childcare has been disrupted owing to school closures. Also, if key/critical workers require children to be at schools so that they can work from home, this should be facilitated.

All those working on civil service contracts, including facilities management staff, should receive the same Covid-related consideration as civil servants. Such staff should receive full pay if they have to self-isolate for any reason.

The current lockdown should also be used to carry out a review of risk assessments for all staff and contract staff in each workplace, in light of the new strain of the virus.

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