Government’s latest Covid announcement - no change to employers Health and Safety obligations

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It is entirely understandable that our members have raised questions about their safety in the workplace following this week’s ‘Living with Covid’ announcement by the Prime Minister. Since then, engagement has taken place with senior Probation management to explore the implications of the Government’s change in direction. This has attracted widespread criticism from independent commentators who have questioned the timing, and lack of scientific data to justify the lifting of the rules around self-isolation for individuals who have tested positive for Covid.

Napo’s position and that of our sister unions in Probation is very clear. We have reminded the employer that any guidance going out to staff which could impact on their health and safety must be done in conjunction with the trade unions. We have also said that this must also reflect existing health and safety legislation and agreed guidance, therefore the current protocols around the use of  General and Locational risk assessments must continue,  until Version 14 of the PPE/Safe Working Practices for Probation is amended.

Staff and Managers should ensure that Safe Working Practices are adhered to, until there are any changes. The employer must ensure there is also adequate ventilation of premises and that existing social distancing measures are maintained for Unpaid Work activity and Programmes. Neither should any staff be made to feel uncomfortable if they chose to wear masks when attending at a workplace.

Probation staff in Prisons

We are very conscious of the fact that some of our members based within HM Prisons have encountered difficulties over many months in relation to the wearing of  face coverings in their workplace and we want to avoid a repetition. We have again urged senior management to liaise with their counterparts in HMPS to make it clear to Prison Governors that Probation staff (and especially vulnerable staff) who wish to use a FFP2 face covering to be allowed to do so.

Further consideration is being given to other issues raised by Napo such as the future availability of LFT kits for staff who wish to continue testing as a further mitigation against the risk of Covid. As you would expect we are also insisting that urgent attention is given to the employers duty of care to those individuals who are Clinically or Extremely Clinically vulnerable.

We will issue more news to members at the earliest opportunity once it becomes available.