PCS wins vital health and safety concessions at the Home Office

26 May 2020

The Home Office has reversed its position on not allowing officers to wear face masks in operational and public facing settings, following PCS campaigning.

Since the start of the lockdown PCS has been objecting to the Home Office stance of not providing front line Border Force officers with face masks and not installing screens at passport controls and at other public facing enquiry points.

Senior management within Border Force and the Home Office kept referring to government and Public Health England guidelines, refusing to consider the reassurance that masks might provide to our members working to keep the borders secure during the pandemic.

However, our constant pressure has led to a change in the employer’s position and Border Force officers and other public facing Home Office staff are now being provided with face masks to be worn when social distancing in a public setting is impossible.

In addition, the fitting of protective screens is now being rolled out across all operational ports, airports and public facing offices.

We have also called on the Home Office to go further and to support the wearing of face masks/coverings for all staff where they are being brought back into workplaces or where they may come into contact with the public and colleagues.

More to be done

Passport Office (HMPO) management is keen for more staff to return to their normal workplaces, while we maintain that the safest place for staff to be is at home.

Despite PCS slowing the numbers HMPO wanted to return, we are now seeing over 1,000 staff being brought in to offices daily. Under pressure from PCS there are strict social distancing measures and heightened cleaning regimes in place. However with around 29% of the workforce in the office, we have called on the Home Office to introduce mandatory temperature screening with touchless temperature scanners to determine whether employees should be allowed to enter a workplace. An elevated body temperature of above 38°C is one of the primary symptoms of Covid-19.

Data from the Office for National Statistics has shown that security guards are the most likely cohort of workers within the civil service to die as a result of Covid-19. We also know that cleaners are a high-risk category. While in many cases the Home Office does not directly employ cleaners and security guards we have been pushing the department to ensure contractors are acting appropriately to protect these staff.

Need help?

If you have concerns read our coronavirus Q+A and you can log an enquiry with our response team by email responseteam@pcs.org.uk  

Read further information on our response to the coronavirus outbreak on the employer pages of our website.  

If you want to get more involved in PCS, register to become a PCS Advocate.

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