Care Workers vs COVID-19 petition

Dear UNISON members, your family and friends

Below is a UNISON Care Workers petition with four simple demands I hope you can support and share widely.

1. Protect Our Health – Priority testing for care workers to limit the spread of disease to vulnerable patients and service users. Guarantee all essential training and personal protection equipment (PPE) to all frontline workers (e.g. goggles, masks, hand sanitisers, thermometers) in line with Public Health England guidance.

2. Protect Our Pay – Full normal pay for all those required by government guidance to self-isolate or who become ill because of COVID-19, in order to prevent unnecessary spread of infection. This includes all staff on zero-hour contracts, bank/relief contracts or multiple contracts.

3. Protect Our Employment – Ensure no-one is dismissed or laid-off for staying at home to care for themselves or their family. Absence due to COVID-19 should be excluded from absence management triggers.

4. Protect Our Families – Carers leave on full-pay for workers caring for a dependent who has COVID-19 or for whom childcare is unavailable.

Click on this UNISON link to add your name to the petition

Best wishes

John Burgess, Branch Secretary, Barnet UNISON.

COVID-19 Update: Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) Training.

It is really important that all staff have training as to how to put on PPE and to take it off.

This is a training video produced by Public Health England as to how to put on and take off your PPE. It is less than 7 minutes long. Watching it and following the guidance will keep you and the people you are caring for safe.

Please watch COVID-19: Donning and doffing of Personal Protective Equipment in Health and Social Care Settings


If you have not had training please speak to your manager. If you do not get training please contact Barnet UNISON 0208 359 2088 or email us at

What happens if I take a break e.g. to have a drink of tea or water or go to the toilet?

You need to remove and dispose of your PPE safely, including the face mask. When you start work again you need to put on your fresh PPE for when you are carrying out personal care. You must not continue to use the same mask, apron or gloves.

Helen writes to Dave Prentis UNISON General Secretary about PPE for care workers

Helen Davies, Barnet UNISON Branch Chair and UNISON NEC rep for London sent the email below to Dave Prentis UNISON General Secretary on Tuesday 14 April 2020. 

“Dear Gill, Christina and Dave,
First, I hope you are well.
As you can see below many of our care workers are reporting alarming conditions about PPE where they work. The social care workforce is in an even weaker place than our colleagues in health as they have the worst terms and conditions and the intense fragmentation through privatisation has bedevilled even those who are trying to do the right thing. We are taking up the issues with the Council and the employers but they simply point to PHE guidance which they say they are following. Our national union is best placed to challenge the nonsense of the guidance.
The key question which I think UNISON needs to address urgently is PHE guidance, which is at best flimsy. It is difficult to work your way round their website and the guidance is caveated so many times over that it is wide open to interpretation. This is handy for settings which are seeking to ration PPE. My members tell me this is happening and has happened leading to outbreaks and deaths which are COVID related. In other words they were preventable.
PHE continues to perpetuate a myth, which I think only they believe in, that unless you have the symptoms of CV19 you cannot transmit it. This flies in the face of the experience of our care workers working in care homes. UNISON needs to come out and highlight the lunacy which then employers use to deny PPE. UNISON also needs to be quite strong telling care workers it’s ok to refuse to work in a setting which is unsafe until and unless they are given the proper protection – that UNISON will defend them in court.
If it’s not possible to catch CV19 from someone who is a-symptomatic why are we advocating social distancing? How have so many bus drivers died? Why are people who never go out of their setting contracting the virus and dying? Why would public messaging (nationally and repeated by our council below) suggest “anyone can transmit it” but then deny PPE to those delivering personal care because neither service user nor worker are displaying CV19 symptoms?
The RCN has come out strongly defending its members and we should do the same. I think we have to be clear on our national website and with emails and text messages that the union is advocating you refuse to work and we will defend you if you are not being provided with the right equipment which we are saying needs to be mask and eye protection, gloves and gown on EVERY occasion you provide personal care to ANYONE.
Because our care workers are working without PPE and because they believe they have to we now have hundreds of vulnerable people succumbing to CV19 and careworkers trailing the disease home to their loved ones who may be equally vulnerable,

Barnet UNISON will publish the response to our members as soon as it arrives

Coronavirus (Covid 19) – Update

Due to the ongoing Coronavirus Covid-19 situation all staff at the Barnet UNISON Branch office are working from home in line with the Government’s instruction.

If you are a member seeking advice or support from UNISON the quickest way to receive a response is to email us at, if at all possible. You can leave a message speaking slowly and clearly please include your name and telephone number on 020 8359 2088. We will respond as soon as we can.

Alternatively you can contact UNISON Direct online only

To Join UNISON click the following link

BREAKING NEWS: updated guidance from Public Health on COVID-19: infection prevention and control

BREAKING NEWS: updated guidance from Public Health on COVID-19: infection prevention and control

For full details click on link here

Main changes to previous guidance

The main changes are:

  • enhanced PPE recommendations for a wide range of health and social care contexts
  • inclusion of individual and organisational risk assessment at local level to inform PPE use
  • recommendation of single sessional (extended) use of some PPE items
  • re-usable PPE can be used. Advice on suitable decontamination arrangements should be obtained from the manufacturer, supplier or local infection control
  • guidance for when case status is unknown and SARS-CoV-2 is circulating at high levels
  • recommendation on patient use of facemasks

(Source: )


Below are links to various groups of staff and the PPE required.


1. COVID-19 personal protective equipment (PPE) Updated 2 April 2020


2. Additional considerations, in addition to standard infection prevention and control precautions, where there is sustained transmission of COVID-19, taking into account individual risk assessment for this new and emerging pathogen, NHS and independent sector


3. Recommended PPE for primary, outpatient and community care by setting, NHS and independent sector


4. Recommended PPE for healthcare workers by secondary care inpatient clinical setting, NHS and independent sector

Barnet UNISON seek Hazard Payment for frontline workers

TESCOs announced a few days ago that they are giving frontline staff a 10% bonus to recognise their invaluable effort to help feed the nation.

The majority of key workers being asked to go into work and face the risks of contracting COVID 19 are often the lowest paid workers such as:

  • Care workers
  • Cleaners
  • Street Scene workers, Bin workers, street cleansing, drivers etc.
  • School Support staff

In recognition of the risks they are taking every day whilst having to cope with the stress and anxiety of trying to cope at home with all the restrictions COVID 19 is bringing into their lives, Barnet UNISON has taken the following action:

Barnet UNISON have formally requested Barnet Council to adopt a similar bonus payment for key workers for the duration of this crisis.

The Council are considering our request.

Watch this space…………..


Barnet UNISON statement:

Please let the branch know what is going on with your employer by emailing

You can keep up to date with Barnet UNISON here on our

Website here




FAQs Barnet educational settings 22 March 2020

Frequently Asked Questions for Barnet educational settings that are continuing to be open for children of key workers – from Barnet Public Health Team 22 March 2020

What are the Standard Operating Procedures for working with children who may have been exposed to the virus as their parents work with people who have COVID-19 infection?

  • People exposed to the virus, children or adults, should not be attending schools. Significant exposure to the virus that warrant action, if you do not have symptoms, is defined as living in a household with someone who has COVID-19 symptoms of high fever (37.8 degrees or higher) and/or persistent cough. These people should self-isolate at home for 14 days;
  • Parents who work with people with COVID-19 symptoms (e.g. medical and nursing staff or social care workers) wear Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), that protects them from being exposed to the virus;
  • PPE stock for the NHS and care homes were replenished last week. PPE delivery is continuing into this week too.
  • Therefore, parents who work with COVID-19 suspected people, are unlikely to be exposed to the virus, unprotected;
  • If, however, any parents or staff develop high temperature (37.8 or higher) and/or persistent cough, they must self-isolate at home for 7 days immediately and their children, as members of their household, because they may have been exposed to the virus at that point, will need to be isolated for 14 days. If, during this period, those who did not initially have symptoms now start showing symptoms, they must self-isolate for 7 days, from a day when fist symptom occurred;
  • It is recommended to schools to communicate these messages to all parents who classify as key workers and, every morning, school staff may ask the following questions:
    • Do you or your child or any member of your household have a high temperature (37.8 degrees or higher) and/or a persistent cough? If the answer is yes, they should not be allowed to leave their child at the school.


  1. What systems should be put in place to keep the staff safe?

For children and staff who remain at schools, social distancing measures and general hygiene measures should be applied at all times:

  • Washing hands more often – with soap and water for at least 20 seconds or use a hand sanitiser, if washing basin is not available, when you get home or into work/school, when you blow your nose, sneeze or cough, eat or handle food;
  • Avoid touching eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands;
  • Avoid close contact with people who have symptoms;
  • Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in a bin and wash your hands;
  • All staff and children coming to school should avoid all non-essential public transport travel, whenever possible and, outside school hours, should minimise social interactions, as per the national guidelines;
  • In school, keep windows opened, keep a distance of 2m between children and staff, avoid contact sport, no ball games, use of books or keyboards;
  • Activities that can continue is a walk in a playground (but not using equipment that cannot be cleaned after each child) or watching educational programmes or movies;
  • Due to a reduced number of children in school, keeping open only a part of the school would make it easier to maintain regular cleaning;
  • PPE (Personal Protective Equipment) is not recommended for frontline staff who do not work with children and adults with COVID-19 symptoms.


  1. What is the current advice for staff with underlying health conditions?
  • The main objective of COVID-19 response is to protect our staff and vulnerable residents. To do this, we are recommending that people with underlying health conditions (as defined by Public Health England) must stay at home.This includes all frontline staff underlying health conditions;
  • We understand that, for some frontline staff, this is a particularly difficult decision as it may stop them from continuing in their current role. However, we do strongly advise you to follow the PHE and Barnet Council’s guidelines, in all circumstances. This is because these groups of staff, however healthy they are now, are at increased risk of catching the virus and having more severe illness with potentially serious outcomes;
  • It is unlikely that staff would not be aware or have undetected underlying conditions from the list specified in PHE guidelines. However, if staff are worried that this may be the case, they should contact their GP to confirm.


  1. What to do if someone develops symptoms of coronavirus (COVID-19) on site?
  • If anyone becomes unwell with a new, continuous cough or a high temperature in an education setting they should be sent home and advised to follow the staying at home guidance;
  • If a child is awaiting collection, they should be moved, if possible and if appropriate, to a room where they can be isolated behind a closed door. Settings should be mindful of individual children’s needs – for example it would not be appropriate for younger children to be alone without adult supervision. Ideally, a window should be opened for ventilation. If it is not possible to isolate them, move them to an area which is at least 2 metres away from other people;
  • If they need to go to the bathroom while waiting to be collected, they should use a separate bathroom if possible. The bathroom should be cleaned and disinfected using standard cleaning products before being used by anyone else;
  • If they need clinical advice, they (or their teacher, parent or guardian) should go online to NHS 111 (or call 111 if they don’t have internet access). In an emergency, call 999 if they are seriously ill or injured or their life is at risk. Do not visit the GP, pharmacy, urgent care centre or a hospital;
  • If a member of staff has helped someone who was taken unwell with a new, continuous cough or a high temperature, they do not need to go home unless they develop symptoms themselves. They should wash their hands thoroughly for 20 seconds after any contact with someone who is unwell.


  1. If someone on site developed COVID-19 symptoms, how do we ensure that the area is cleaned properly?

Public Health England has issued guidance for cleaning public areas for non-healthcare settings if they had a case of suspected COVID-19 infection.

The key things that must be followed are highlighted below. However, please read the full guidance carefully here. <<(>>

  • Cleaning an area with normal household disinfectant after someone with suspected coronavirus (COVID-19) has left will reduce the risk of passing the infection on to other people;
  • If an area can be kept closed and secure for 72 hours, wait until this time has passed before cleaning. The level of contamination from the virus that might be living on surfaces will have reduced;
  • Wherever possible, wear disposable or washing-up gloves and aprons for cleaning. These should be double-bagged, then stored securely for 72 hours then thrown away in the regular rubbish after cleaning is finished;
  • Use a disposable cloth, first clean hard surfaces with warm soapy water. Then disinfect these surfaces with the cleaning products you normally use. Pay particular attention to frequently touched areas and surfaces, such as bathrooms, grab-rails in corridors and stairwells and door handles;
  • If an area has been heavily contaminated, such as with visible bodily fluids, from a person with coronavirus (COVID-19), consider using protection for the eyes, mouth and nose, as well as wearing gloves and an apron;
  • Follow the waste disposal procedure as outlined in the guidance, contaminated waste bags should be stored for 72 hours before being put out for collection;
  • Wash hands regularly with soap and water for 20 seconds, and after removing gloves, aprons and other protection used while cleaning.

Barnet Public Health Team – 22 March 2020


Barnet UNISON statement:

Please let the branch know if you are being told something different at your school by sending an email to

You can keep up to date with Barnet UNISON here on our

Website here



BREAKING NEWS: Covid-19 – information for Barnet schools on pay/HR matters and Easter holiday provision

Please note the guidance below has been sent out to all Barnet Schools by Barnet Council on Friday 20 March 2020.

*** Highlights in have been added by UNISON


Pay and HR matters

Schools will clearly receive advice from their own HR provider, but the council (and Cambridge Education) are taking the following approach.

Staff who are required to isolate in accordance with Public Health England guidance will continue to receive their full pay.  This includes people who have shown Coronavirus symptoms (self-isolate at home for seven days), or live with someone who has symptoms (self-isolate at home for fourteen days), or have underlying health issues or who are pregnant.

Staff will also continue to receive their full pay if they need to care for children at home due to school closures, although, where possible, they are expected to work and be available to carry out other duties if required.

All such staff should work from home if they can.  They should identify themselves to their line managers immediately and agree arrangements for home-working.

Sick Pay

Staff who are not working (including home-working) due to sickness, whether they are self-isolating or not, will receive sick pay in accordance with the terms of their contract of employment.  This means that the period of sickness will count towards the calculation of sick pay entitlement (i.e. thus impact the number of weeks of sick pay available to them).  However, if they have Coronavirus symptoms, it will not trigger procedures in respect of staff having more than a certain number of days off sick or frequent sickness.


HR procedures

Headteachers should continue with any redundancies/restructures/TUPE transfers/ disciplinary hearings etc if necessary, but headteachers should consider the appropriateness of such activities if their school is closed or partially closed or if affected staff are either sick or self-isolating.


Easter opening

The government’s advice for parents says: Where possible, we would encourage childcare providers, schools and colleges to continue to look after critical workers’ children and vulnerable children throughout the Easter holidays.

Whether schools do that will be a matter for each school, taking account of staff availability, who volunteers, and the number of key workers who might need such provision over the holiday period.   Headteachers will no doubt find ways of managing their staffing resources flexibly and may wish to consider letting teaching staff and term-time only support staff who work during the Easter holiday have time off in lieu at a later date.

If you do plan to open during the Easter holiday, and require school meals, you will need to make arrangements with your school meals provider.

You may already have an arrangement with an outside provider to deliver services during Easter. Clearly this can continue and include vulnerable children and the children of key workers if necessary. We will be working with the voluntary sector to see what they can provide over the Easter period that your pupils may be able to access. We will keep a list of those schools, providers and voluntary organisations who are operating over the Easter period and will let you know what provision is available locally for your pupils if they require it.

Clearly faith schools will want to incorporate arrangements in relation to religious festivals into their planning.

Ian Harrison

Education and Skills Director

20 March 2020


Barnet UNISON statement:

Please let the branch know if you are being told something different at your school by sending an email to


You can keep up to date with Barnet UNISON here on our

Website here



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