CWU BT Members Bulletin – Latest FAQ’s – 27th March 2020
FAQs about pay, absence and leave – 26th March 2020 (Download)
HR FAQ’s – 26th March 2020 (Download)
CWU Coronavirus Covid-19 – My rights at work – 26th March 2020
During these extraordinary times, and the rapid change in response to Covid 19, our support to our members is paramount. Regardless of the company you work for the CWU are here to help and monitor the terms under which you work. You are the invisible group of key workers keeping the backbone of communication and financial support in this country running. You are ensuring people are connected to the outside world in their homes as well as providing financial support. We are trying to keep you up to date with the evolving situation so we can provide some solid advice for each employer you work for. No worker should be penalised for following the government advice.
If you wish to contact the CWU, we are still working as normal. Your first contact should be with your local branch. Click Here to go to Branch Contact Page.
We have also set up a dedicated email address for you to email with your concerns. This is firstname.lastname@example.org. This will be checked on a daily basis and will make every effort to respond as soon as we are able.
The situation changes daily, however, the NHS information should help you and your families keep up to date. https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/coronavirus-covid-19/
Covid-19 is having an unprecedented effect on working life. Many of you have been identified as key workers and aren’t able to work at home, therefore have genuine health and safety concerns. The CWU want to ensure that your attendance at work is only to perform critical duties. The health and safety of our members is paramount. We are therefore working with your employers and challenging them on a number of fronts. We will be in touch very soon to provide more detail for the specific employer you work for. In the meantime please email our dedicated email address above if you feel your concerns are not being listened to.
Below are some key points :
· If you have to be at work – you shouldn’t be hot-desking and employers should ensure the required two metre rule for social distancing. Employers should sanitise all work areas and provide the appropriate health and safety equipment to employees including hand washing facilities or hand sanitiser.
· If you are able to work at home you are entitled to ask your employer for the right equipment to be able to do this.
· The Government has categorised two types of vulnerable people:
· The Government advice to vulnerable people is to be particularly stringent in following social distancing. You should work from home if you can. If you are a key worker you should only be carrying out critical work and in a way that follows the Government guidelines on social distancing. The CWU are negotiating with your employer for you to stay at home on full pay.
· If you have been identified as extremely vulnerable – and have received a letter from the NHS regarding shielding you should not be at work for the next twelve weeks. See a list of these people here. You can however work at home, but this must be in isolation. Anybody in this category of ‘at risk’ workers who are unable to work from home should be receiving full pay, nobody should be financially worse off for trying to save their own or other people’s lives.
· If you live with someone who is shielding and don’t want to put them at further risk by coming into work, you should talk to your employer but also seek help from your CWU branch.
· If you are a pregnant employee, you should not be made to go into work even if you are a ‘key worker’. The government has categorised pregnant women as belonging to a ‘vulnerable group of workers for COVID-19 and has advised pregnant women to avoid going outside where possible. The CWU believe you should have a right to stay at home for health & safety reasons if you are pregnant.
More generally for all workers the TUC has called for a number of measures that the government should put in place to ensure workers in the UK are not disadvantaged.
BT Wellbeing Web Site – 23rd March 2020
See the latest advice about Engineers accessing customers premises the link for all information is here and requires EIN and Password to access the site remotely. (now available on a mobile friendly site)
This site has most of the advice and answers currently provided by Openreach on entering the premises and is quite extensive.
Remember each case is different and the engineer should make their own risk assessment. NB: All advice is changing so visit the site regularly to ensure you give up to date information.
LTB 143/20 – Coronavirus COVID-19 – CWU Headquarters – 20th March 2020
The purpose of this LTB is to give further and important information on the services provided by CWU Headquarters during the Coronavirus crisis.
As you will have seen government advice continues to change daily and as an organisation we have a responsibility to the people we employ, their families and communities to do all we can to limit the spread of this virus.
In London the Mayor of London has issued strong advice around the use of public transport i.e. it should be avoided unless for essential work. This places a further strain upon our staff when it comes to attending for work.
In addition, we have had to ensure that those who are in the high-risk category or who live with those so classified do not attend for work. We now also have to plan for the impact of the school closures announcement in that a further group of staff will simply not be able to attend for work as a result of having childcare responsibilities.
As a result of the above it is becoming extremely difficult to adopt a business as usual policy. We don’t have the staff numbers available to do that.
Accordingly, we have taken the decision to close the building at 5 p.m. tonight and we have put in place a plan that will enable key members of staff to continue to provide a level of service to our members. This means key members of staff have been equipped to work remotely during our normal hours. As a result, Branches and Reps should continue to contact departments as normal.
In prioritising this streamlined operation, particularly to continue servicing members industrially, we will continue to review these remote working arrangements and changes are likely to be made in the light of experience.
Attached to this LTB is a directory of a small number of CWU key employees as well as key representatives with their contact details, this should assist in raising issues you may have.
We are in the process of setting up a phone transfer system that will transfer desk numbers to mobile phones for key staff and representatives to further allow as much business as usual as we possibly can.
In addition, the out of hours email address email@example.com will be constantly monitored during normal business hours and any enquiries that come into the organisation by this method will be forwarded to the appropriate departments. The normal voicemail message has been changed to reflect the change in circumstances resulting from the closure of 150 The Broadway.
The above actions are being put in place to enable us to receive contact as best we can.
Our Communications team, are fully equipped to work remotely and our Comms team will therefore be able to ensure all our key messages are sent out as normal across all of our communications platforms.
CWU Legal Service – we ask both branches and members to limit any legal enquires to those of an urgent nature whilst the Government’s restrictions are in place. We would also ask that any enquires are conducted via email for the time being. If your enquiry is relating to an employment law matter could you please use the following: firstname.lastname@example.org
If your matter is relating to personal injury could you use the following: email@example.com
Members can register any PI claim via the Unionline link found on the CWU web page, rather than submit the usual LS3s.
With regard to our Finance operation, this has also been prioritised. As you would imagine finance systems, particularly interfacing with the bank and making payments requires access to secure systems. Accordingly, some but not all Finance staff will be able to work remotely and securely.
We are planning at this stage to pay the March rebate as normal as well as be set up to receive income in the usual manner. Whilst we will have to monitor this operation on a daily basis there is likely to be an impact on any exceptional, one off or expense claims as a result of not all finance staff being able to work as normal.
We are doing all we can to ensure that as much of our day-to-day operation carries on, but to be clear the services we will be able to provide are on a contingency basis and these may need to be changed as circumstances dictate.
Any enquires should be address to the SDGS firstname.lastname@example.org.
LTB 138/20 – Coronavirus COVID-19 Outbreak declared ‘Pandemic’ by the World Health Organisation (WHO) – What Does it Mean? – 19th March 2020
The coronavirus outbreak has now been labelled a pandemic by the World Health Organization (WHO). Declaring a pandemic has nothing to do with changes to the characteristics of a disease, but is instead associated with concerns over its geographic spread. According to the WHO, a pandemic is declared when a new disease for which people do not have immunity spreads around the world beyond expectations.
Cases that involve travellers who have been infected in a foreign country and have then returned to their home country, or who have been infected by that traveller, known as the “index case”, do not count towards declaring a pandemic. There needs to be a second wave of infection from person to person throughout the community.
Once a pandemic is declared, it becomes more likely that community spread will eventually happen, and governments and health systems need to ensure they are prepared for that.
An ‘epidemic’, on the other hand, is a sudden increase in cases of an illness or disease that can be unique to one country or community.
Ultimately, the WHO gets the final say when a pandemic is declared. There is no threshold, such as a certain number of deaths or infections, or number of countries affected, that needs to be met. For example, the ‘SARS coronavirus’, identified in 2003, was not declared a pandemic by the WHO despite affecting 26 countries. However, its spread was contained quickly, and only a handful of nations were significantly affected, including China, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Singapore and Canada.
‘Pandemic’ is not a word to use lightly or carelessly the WHO have stated clearly. It’s a word that, if misused, can cause unreasonable fear, or unjustified acceptance that the fight is over. The last pandemic was in 2009 with the ‘Swine Flu H1N1 Virus’. That pandemic, which was first detected in Mexico, killed an estimated 200,000 people and hit young adults and children hardest. The ‘Coronavirus-COVID-19 Virus’ pandemic on the other hand is killing mostly older adults with underlying health conditions.
If declaring a pandemic triggers global panic, this can defeat the purpose of trying to raise awareness stated the WHO. Much has been written about whether the declaration of ‘Swine Flu (H1N1)’ as a pandemic in 2009, caused unnecessary panic, overwhelming emergency departments and causing governments to overspend on antiviral medications.
Medical experts state “It should be remembered that Coronavirus symptoms are generally mild and most people recover within six days.”
Now the WHO has declared Covid-19 a pandemic, what will it mean for the way the outbreak is treated and prepared for?
The WHO has stressed that using the word “pandemic” does not signal a change in its advice. It is still urging countries to “detect, test, treat, isolate, trace and mobilise their people”. The change of term does not alter anything practically as the world has been advised for the last few weeks to prepare for a potential pandemic, which has hopefully been taken seriously by all countries.
The use of this term however highlights the importance of countries throughout the world working cooperatively and openly with one another and coming together as a united front in our efforts to bring this situation under control.
See Links below: (updated daily):-
UK Government Policy Paper – Coronavirus action plan: a guide to what you can expect across the UK https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/coronavirus-action-plan
Public Health England Paper – Coronavirus (COVID-19) – 5 things you can do to protect yourself and your community https://publichealthmatters.blog.gov.uk/2020/03/04/coronavirus-covid-19-5-things-you-can-do-to-protect-yourself-and-your-community/
Department of Health and Social Care and Public Health England – Number of coronavirus (COVID-19) cases and risks in the UK. https://www.gov.uk/guidance/coronavirus-covid-19-information-for-the-public
LTB 105/20 – BT Personnel – Coronavirus (COVID-9 – 5th March 2020
The Union has been in discussions with BT during the past week on the Coronavirus outbreak.
The general advice from Public Health England is outlined below including the link as the advice may change over time. This also covers guidance for people who may have visited affected areas and general hygiene.
There is also a link to the NHS 111 online service.
Further information from the World Health Organisation is also given.
World Health Organisation https://www.who.int/
Public Health England – Present Advice
The advice for anyone in any setting is to follow these main guidelines.
- If you have been in contact with someone with coronavirus or have returned from an affected area identified by the Chief Medical Officer as high risk and you are feeling unwell with a cough, difficulty breathing or fever, stay at home and use the NHS 111 online coronavirus service or call NHS 111.
- Wash your hands more often than usual, for 20 seconds using soap and hot water, particularly after coughing, sneezing and blowing your nose, or after being in public areas where other people are doing so. Use hand sanitiser if that’s all you have access to.
- To reduce the spread of germs when you cough or sneeze, cover your mouth and nose with a tissue, or your sleeve (not your hands) if you don’t have a tissue, and throw the tissue away immediately. Then wash your hands or use a hand sanitising gel.
- Clean and disinfect regularly touched objects and surfaces using your regular cleaning products to reduce the risk of passing the infection on to other people.
As mentioned above, the situation could change but the links within this LTB should help members to keep up-to-date with the medical advice.