Family Court Section update 19 May 2020

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Napo continues to meet with Cafcass each week. The information below is a sumaary of issues discussed on 18th May.

Report to Napo FCS members on the meeting with Cafcass senior management 18 May 2020

Latest figures on Covid related absence and self-isolation are in line with previous weeks.

A stable picture with between 8 and 14 staff on sick leave due to Covid and around 180 staff currently self -isolating. Around  half is owing to symptoms, either themselves or household members and around half because of clinical vulnerability, again either relating to themselves or a member of their household. This will be the key figure as we start to move away from total home working.

Ref testing through Cafcass Portal. 

This has commenced and Cafcass has made one referral. Three staff have used the Government portal. If there are any staff experiencing difficulties, please speak to HR.

Staff Survey:

Cafcass referred to the response to the survey of staff with child care, this was reported in briefing to all staff on Friday last week. HR highlighted that staff may need to think about availability of school places for children. Fewer staff had responded. 80% had advised that the change is a challenge but can be sustained. Managers are to work with the remaining 20% to identify what support can be put in place.

Also starting today is a wider survey within Cafcass to look at the detail of how working at home is working out and to look at the impact of this changed way of working.

Napo is also conducting a survey of the homeworking experience and we encourage you to follow the link below to share your experience CLICK THIS LINK

Remote Working Remains:

Cafcass’ position remains that attendance at court in person and physical visits to family are not expected. This will change and we are assured that we will be consulted. Terry Johnson the National Health & Safety adviser has done some work on risk assessments which are not yet issued and the need for PPE is to be considered. Any requests to attend court hearings  in person should  be referred to SMs for passing up.

Napo advised that in some areas, service users have been known to attend hearings in person without invitation. Also that staff have been asked to attend hearings with courts seeking to make local arrangements but with no arrangements about security and  sanitation in court buildings.

There is a link to the Family President’s guidance to local courts on the intranet. Management advised that we do not anticipate any hearings taking place until these processes are completed. Hybrid hearings are being looked at by the President and have taken place in some areas. If we hear of parties being vulnerable, we would not want them put in a difficult positions, but if it is a case of making court space for a smaller number of people then priority should be given to the parents of children, who may be disadvantaged by remote attendance. Many will be especially vulnerable due to their socio-economic position. We were reassured that all plans to return to previous working practices would be discussed with Napo.

Employment Procedures. 

Most meetings continue to take place. If any member or their representative has concerns we need to liaise with HR. 

Annual Leave:

Napo advised that although there is provision to carry leave over and we support staff taking some leave, in some areas the balance is tipped with staff feeling pressured to book and take some leave.  Napo supports members taking breaks to maintain wellbeing although it is not yet possible to take a break form work and go away from home.  HR advised that the new carry over arrangements only relate to statutory 20 days and this was brought in for people who could not take leave because they were required to work during the emergency. Some Napo members had been told there could be no leave taken in August. Management confirmed this is not Cafcass’ position. Management will reiterate Cafcass’ position to SMs at local management meetings.

Reminder: Women in Napo (WiN) meeting this Wednesday. Subject: Emotional Labour .

A quick reminder about our WiN meeting this Wednesday afternoon 20th May 2-4pm. We are lucky to have as our speaker Doctor Chalen Westaby, from Sheffield Hallam University who will be speaking about her research on Emotional Labour. Given the current crisis and the way in which it impacts women workers it will be good to hear your views, particularly given the emotional labour your work involves.

You can join the meeting via Zoom at:

Meeting ID: 876 1263 1652  Password: 998127

If you need to dial in use:     
+44 131 460 1196 United Kingdom or +44 203 051 2874 United Kingdom or  +44 203 481 5237 United Kingdom  +44 203 481 5240 United Kingdom

Meeting ID: 876 1263 1652   Password: 998127