Breaking News: Covid Plus Joint Trade Union proposals

Dear Barnet UNISON members

The following Joint Trade Union proposals were sent to Barnet Council on Wednesday 4 November 2020.

We will update members as soon as we have a response.

UNISON National issue this statement on schools which you can view here

 

Joint Trade Union statement

COVID Plus. Front line workers

For the purposes of this proposal frontline means workers who cannot work from home.

  1. All staff who are deemed clinically vulnerable or extremely clinically vulnerable to stay at home for lockdown on full pay.
  2. All frontline staff to receive a monthly COVID payment for the duration of the Pandemic in recognition of the important role they playing in the provision of frontline services and the simple fact frontline workers can’t work from home and have to bear the costs of travel and navigate the risks of travel on public transport.
  3. All frontline workers to have weekly COVID tests.
  4. All frontline workers to receive full pay if they have to isolate or are unable to work due to COVID.
  5. All frontline workers to have unlimited access to counselling services during this pandemic in recognition of the mental stress working with COVID brings to this workforce.
  6. If staff have to work from home due to fact their children are sent home from their school due to COVID then they should remain on full pay.
  7. All COVID related absences whilst recorded should not be used for sickness absence recording.
  8. Any staff having to make emergency visits abroad to visit a dying relative or attend a funeral should receive full pay during the quarantine period.

COVID Plus for home workers.

  1. All staff who are deemed clinically vulnerable or extremely clinically vulnerable to stay at home for lockdown on full pay.
  2. All workers to have unlimited access to counselling services during this pandemic in recognition of the mental stress working with COVID brings to this workforce.

 

  1. If staff have to work from home due to fact their children are sent home from their school due to COVID then they should remain on full pay and it should be recognised that the worker has a reduced capacity to carry out their work duties.
  2. All COVID related absences whilst recorded should not be used for sickness absence recording.
  3. Any staff having to make emergency visits abroad to visit a dying relative or attend a funeral should receive full pay during the quarantine period.
  4. To recognise the damaging effect working from home has on both physical activity levels and mental health. Also to recognise that the normal practice of leaving home to travel to and from work also of travelling between venues for meetings are now lost to the home worker leading to a more compressed working routine with little opportunity to leave the home. Therefore give a one hour paid daily break to home working staff in addition to their lunch break to enable them to have down time from their computer screens and so that they can physically leave their home for a walk or partake in some form of exercise.
  5. Protocol for structuring virtual meetings to enable time away from the screen e.g. starting meetings at quarter past the hour implying that there should be a 15min break before the meeting starts.
  6. Supervision to incorporate questions relating to mental health wellbeing and physical health as well as checking on the home set up (it should not be assumed home set up is constantly the same).
  7. For a designated person to randomly contact 10 workers per week to find out from them their experience with respect to supervision, welfare checks etc.
  8. Staff with children at home should be given a designated amount of time to dedicate to their child’s learning and leisure.
  9. Key workers working from home who have a clinically or extremely clinically vulnerable child should be allowed to continue working from home if schools are closed but only open to key worker’s children.

Stay safe

Best wishes

John Burgess

Branch Secretary

Barnet UNISON.

Pay Rise for Some – NOT for others? Must be The Barnet Group

UNISON been informed that if you are a Barnet Homes Contracted member of staff that you should receive the 2.75% nationally agreed pay rise in your October pay – this will be backdated to April 2020.

If you are a TBG Flex Contracted member of staff working in Barnet Homes – the pay rise your Barnet Homes colleagues receive as part of their Nationally agreed Pay and Terms and Conditions, will be brought to the TBG Flex Board for hopeful approval the next time it sits – IF AGREED by the Board you will receive the 2.75% increase, which should be back dated to April – As yet UNISON has not been notified as to when the TBG Flex Board will meet to make this decision.

If you are a TBG Flex member of staff working for Your Choice Barnet – The Barnet Group have informed UNISON that you will NOT receive any Pay Rise.

If you are a Your Choice Barnet contracted member of Staff – The Barnet Group have informed UNISON that you will NOT receive any Pay Rise.

If you are a Your Choice Care [ex Fremantle] contracted member of staff – The Barnet Group have informed UNISON that you will NOT receive any Pay Rise.

UNISON is waiting for The Barnet Group to advise UNISON on whether staff in Your Choice Care will receive the London Living Wage as a minimum.

This highlights the shocking discrepancies in Pay and Terms and Conditions in the Barnet Group – WE ALL ultimately work for the London Borough of Barnet – WE SHOULD ALL be on Nationally Agreed Pay and Terms and Conditions with access to the Local Government Pension Scheme and a standard 36hr week.

Please, please, talk to your colleagues about the Pay inequality in The Barnet Group and get them to join Barnet UNISON –

HELP US HELP YOU TO FIGHT FOR EQUAL PAY AND TERMS AND CONDITIONS IN THE BARNET GROUP!!!!!

 

When is a Council Worker not a Council Worker?

When is a Council Worker not a Council Worker?

The Barnet Group is a Local Authority Trading Company [LATC] fully owned and funded by the London Borough of Barnet to provide Housing and Care Services on behalf of Barnet Council to Barnet Residents.

Barnet Homes Contracted staff [pre 2016] – Have nationally agreed Terms and Conditions and access to the Local Government Pension Scheme.

Your Choice Barnet [YCB] Contracted staff – were forcibly opted out of nationally agreed pay which included a 9% cut to their wages.

YCC – Your Choice Care – consists of staff [many of them originally LBB employees] TUPE into the Barnet Group are not even paid the London Living Wage.

TBG FLEX –  an employment company within the Barnet Group – Was initiated in 2016 to drive down T&Cs for new starters working for Barnet Homes and Your Choice Barnet.

It has been a success!!!

FAT CAT PROFITS

TBG Flex employees have:

No access to the Local Government Pension Scheme. [But do have access to a much inferior pension scheme….Thanks!]

Work longer hours that their colleagues in Barnet Homes or LBB.

Are paid less than colleagues in Barnet Homes or LBB.

Have less Annual Leave than colleagues in Barnet Homes or LBB.

Have no continuation of service should they wish to work for another Local Authority.

YCB workers and TBG Flex contracted workers in YCB or YCC have the added bonus that they do not even get the cost of living yearly increase which TBG Flex contracted staff receive in Barnet Homes.

So when is a Council Worker not a Council worker?

When they work in the Barnet Group in YCB or YCC or have a TBG Flex Contract 

THAT’S WHEN!

Help us to stamp out the inequality in the Barnet Group 

Join us in campaigning for all Barnet Group staff to have access to the Local Government Pension Scheme, have the same pay and grading, sick pay, annual Leave and Terms and Conditions as our colleagues in Barnet Homes.

JOIN UNISON

HAVE YOUR VOICE HEARD!!!!

“IMPORTANT Update: Guidance and template letter for vulnerable employees (England)”

28 May 2020.

Please read the latest guidance provided by UNISON

This guidance covers:

1 Clinically extremely vulnerable employees (people at high risk)

2 Clinically vulnerable employees (people at moderate risk)

3 Employees living with / caring for the vulnerable or extremely vulnerable

4 Black employees

5 Older employees (over 60)

6 Employees who have childcare responsibilities

7 Employees who are feeling anxious about returning to work

8 Template letter to head teacher

Click on the link to read the guidance

https://www.unison.org.uk/content/uploads/2020/05/Guidance-and-template-letter-for-vulnerable-employees.pdf

If you need any help with this advice please contact the branch office at contactus@barnetunison.org.uk

 

 

 

Breaking News: Barnet UNISON ending Lockdown survey results

 

We asked our members (most of whom are working from home) one question.

“Do you feel that it is safe for you to go back to work?”

94% of our School UNISON members felt it was not safe.

85% of our Capita UNISON members felt it was not safe.

79% of our Barnet Council UNISON members felt it was not safe.

79% of our Barnet Homes members felt it was not safe

 

 

Barnet Group – temporary-changes-to-workplace-policies-and-procedures

Barnet Group -COVID-19 – temporary-changes-to-workplace-policies-and-procedures

 

As coronavirus (also known as COVID-19) continues to spread, we recognise that our organisation needs to adapt its ways of working.

We want to help reduce the spread of coronavirus and safeguard the welfare of our staff during the coronavirus outbreak, while continuing our operations as normally as possible.

This policy explains what temporary changes we are making to our usual policies and procedures on sickness absence, flexible working, travel, and annual leave during the global health crisis.

Sickness absence

Sickness absence reporting

What is our normal policy?

Under our normal sickness absence policy, if you fall ill and cannot attend work, you would be required to:

  • notify your line manager before you are due to start work, or as soon as possible if that is not practical; and
  • provide medical evidence (typically, a fit note from your doctor) for sickness of more than seven calendar days’ absence.

What is changing temporarily?

During the coronavirus situation, it is vital that you do not attend work if you fall ill and experience any common coronavirus symptoms. These are:

  • a fever;
  • a dry cough; and
  • shortness of breath.

You should still notify your line manager of your absence before you are due to start work, or as soon as possible if that is not practical.

However, we recognise that you may be legitimately absent without having written medical evidence (typically, a fit note from your doctor). If you are given medical advice to self-isolate, we will not ask you to provide written medical evidence after seven calendar days’ absence.

This is because public health advice is that, if you show symptoms, you should avoid going to your doctor or a hospital to prevent infection from spreading. You may have been given medical advice via telephone from NHS 111 to self-isolate.

You will still be expected to:

  • explain to your line manager what medical advice you have been given and from whom; and
  • keep in regular contact with your line manager.

Given the coronavirus situation, you must make sure that your contact details are up-to-date on iTrent and your line manager has a telephone number and email address where they can reach you if you are in self-isolation.

Acceptable levels of absence

What is our normal policy?

Under our sickness absence policy, the formal procedures for managing sickness absence may be triggered as a result of:

  • 10 or more working days of sickness absence during a rolling 12 month period;
  • 4 or more episodes of sickness absence during a rolling 12 month period;
  • a single absence of 15 or more working days (long-term sickness absence);
  • any sickness that gives cause for concern or where early intervention might help.

in the previous 12 months.

What is changing temporarily?

If you are given medical advice to self-isolate (for example from NHS 111), or we ask you to self-isolate, we will not take this absence into account when determining whether or not we are taking formal action under our  sickness absence management procedure.

Sick pay

What is our normal policy?

You would normally receive, if eligible, statutory sick pay (SSP) where:

  • you have a period of sickness absence from work of at least four calendar days in a row; or
  • during sickness absence you are normally entitled, in any 12-month period to receive sick pay as defined in your contract which would reduce to half pay or no pay

What is changing temporarily?

You will be paid full pay if:

  • we have asked you to stay away from the workplace and self-isolate; or
  • you are self-isolating in response to medical advice from NHS 111, your doctor, or a local health protection team.

 

 

 

Flexible working

Requests for flexible working

What is our normal policy?

Under our flexible working policy, you can normally agree informally with your line manager to one-off or short-term changes to your working patterns or periods of homeworking.

However, if you wish to change your working patterns or work from home for an extended period, we normally ask you to make a formal request for flexible working and follow the procedure set out in our policy on employees requesting flexible working.

What is changing temporarily?

As long as the organisation’s operational needs continue to be met, you will be able to:

  • adapt your working patterns, for example to allow you to travel on public transport at less crowded times; or
  • work from home if your role allows for this,

for an extended period without having to follow our formal procedure. You can agree informally with your line manager to these changes.

You should speak to your line manager if you wish to take advantage of either of these options, or any other flexible working options that may help you at this time. However, the decision as to whether or not to agree to your request for flexible working remains with your line manager.

Once agreed, the temporary flexible working arrangement will continue until further notice. If circumstances change, your manager will discuss with you any adaptations to, or the withdrawal of, the flexible working arrangement, with the final decision remaining with your manager.

Requirement to work remotely

What is our normal policy?

Except by prior agreement with us, we do not normally require you to work remotely for an extended period.

There is normally no expectation that:

  • if you use a laptop, you always take it home with you after work each day.

What is changing temporarily?

Given the current global health situation, you may be asked to work remotely at short notice. This could be the case if our workplace closes unexpectedly as a precaution or public health measures, such as an area-wide lockdown, are introduced.

This could mean working from home, although you may have the option to work remotely from one of our other work sites if it remains open.

If it is not possible for you to work from home, you should discuss your options with your line manager.

You should ensure that, where possible, you take your laptop home with you after work each day.

You should contact the IT department if you have any queries about the remote-working system.

Travel

Non-work-related travel

What is our normal policy?

We do not normally have any rules around staff travelling outside work.

What is changing temporarily?

If you have been in a restricted area since the beginning of March 2020, you must inform your line manager immediately.

If you plan to travel to a restricted area in your own time, for example on a holiday or for family reasons, you must inform your line manager before you depart of where you are going.

You must not come to work on your return. Even if you have no symptoms, we will ask you to self-isolate for 14 days after your return from the restricted area.

On your return from a restricted area, your first step should be to visit the 111.nhs.uk website, where you can get further medical advice via telephone. You should do this even if you do not have any symptoms.

If possible, you should avoid going to your doctor or a hospital to prevent infection from spreading.

Annual leave

Changing your holiday plans

What is our normal policy?

Once you have booked annual leave, we normally allow you to cancel or change annual leave only in limited circumstances. These circumstances include where:

  • your personal circumstances warrant it and the cancellation or change does not inconvenience the organisation; or
  • you fall ill shortly before or during annual leave.

 

 

What is changing temporarily?

During the coronavirus situation, you may change your mind about travelling, or be unable to travel to your planned destination, and may wish to cancel or change annual leave that you have already booked.

If you would like to cancel or change planned leave, please speak to your line manager. We may allow you to change or cancel booked holiday, taking into account the coronavirus situation. However, this will continue to be a decision for your line manager, depending on the circumstances.

For example, if we have arranged cover for you, or arranged shift patterns on the basis that you will be on leave, we may require you to take the leave as booked.

Unused annual leave

What is our normal policy?

Our organisation’s holiday year runs from 1 April to 31 March.

Normally, we require you to take your holiday entitlement in the relevant holiday year and we allow you to carry over no more than[five days’ annual leave into the following leave year.

What is changing temporarily?

We recognise that you may be unable to take your remaining annual leave before the end of the leave year. For example, you could have an increased workload because of the coronavirus situation, or you may have cancelled or changed planned annual leave.

We are suspending our usual rule that / you can carry over no more than five days’ annual leave into the following leave year

While you should endeavour to take your holiday entitlement in the relevant holiday year, you should speak to your line manager if you think that you will be unable to do so.

As long as your line manager agrees, the annual leave can be taken later. The timing is a matter for discussion between you and your line manager.

 

 

 

Barnet UNISON report Policy and Resources Committee 6th January 2020.

Barnet UNISON report

Policy and Resources Committee

 6th January 2020.

 

SUMMARY

With respect to the decision made at the last P&R Committee, Council officers have, at best, not complied with the request and at worst have misled the Committee.

RECOMMENDATION

The Officers are required to investigate the actual costs associated with implementing the London Living Wage for the ex-Fremantle workers.

BACKGROUND

Over the past decade one thing Barnet UNISON is in agreement with Barnet Council is that the London Living Wage is the lowest rate of pay for its staff and those working on outsourced contracts.

Within the Barnet Group the minimum rate of pay for staff in Barnet Homes, TBG Flex (The Barnet Group Flex) and Your Choice Barnet is the London Living Wage – including posts which become vacant within the ex-Fremantle homes.

After a settling in period for the TUPE Fremantle staff Barnet UNISON raised in discussions with the employer the issue of paying these staff the London Living Wage as the lowest level of pay. We believe these staff should be treated no differently to other staff working for Barnet Council or on its outsourced contracts.

Barnet UNISON notes the decision regarding a discussion about implementing the London Living Wage for Fremantle TUPE transferred staff to Your Choice Barnet at the Policy and Resources Committee 3rd October 2019 is recorded in the draft minutes as:

“Following discussion on the London Living Wage for Fremantle staff who had been TUPE transferred to Your Choice Barnet the Chairman agreed to an item on the feasibility being brought back to the next Committee. This would be included in the Business Planning report”

In response to this request from Councillors the Business Planning Report dedicates a mere 2 paragraphs which is listed under “Risks to the MTFS”

  • Fremantle Care workers (London Living Wage): Former Fremantle staff were TUPE transferred to YCB in July 2018 under the agreement that terms and conditions would be protected for 1 year.  Some former Fremantle care workers that have been transferred to the Barnet Group may be being paid less than the London Living Wage (£10.75 per hour (as at Nov 2019)). The Barnet Group policy is to pay all its workers at least the London Living Wage, subject to affordability, and a HR process is now required to review any changes to terms and conditions which will need to be considered.

 

Any decision about changes to terms and conditions will need to be considered in the context of the overall pay and reward strategy for the Barnet Group, employment policies and legislation, the wider social care market and the council’s procurement rules.   It is not yet possible to quantify the level of risk associated as it is too early to form a conclusion about the application of the LLW to TUPE staff. However, officers in the Barnet Group supported by council colleagues where necessary will be working on this over the coming months and can provide further update to the committee in the future.

These two paragraphs responding to the Committee’s request in no way reflects the response Barnet UNISON or the care workers were expecting. We had expected a detailed report detailing the cost implications for implementing the London Living Wage. Instead this response kicks the question into the long grass.

This is absurd as all new vacancies in the ex-Fremantle homes are advertised as paying the London Living Wage as a minimum. These posts are open to existing Fremantle staff to apply for those posts. This means that incrementally at least some of these staff working in these homes will be all be employed on the London Living Wage. This fact is not even listed in the 2 paragraphs written by the officers. This means this risk is already a reality and yet it is not mentioned or evaluated. No turnover rates are mentioned. Is it ironic that a credible option for the ex-Fremantle staff to en masse resign from their posts and then to reapply for posts in the new homes which would have to be offered at the London Living Wage?

The report in no way reflects the request made of the Committee to the officers. A “feasibility” was requested not the “risks”. Furthermore the Councillors are asked to believe that the officers are incapable of quantifying the “level of risk” associated with “the application of the LLW to TUPE staff.”

Barnet UNISON can be of assistance to the officers and councillors in understanding some of the implications by revealing the inaccuracy of the sentence: “Some former Fremantle care workers […] may be being paid less than the London Living Wage”. (Our italics)

TUPE information from Fremantle in May/ June 2019 revealed that just under 300 staff were TUPE transferred. Of these, according to the figures given for the job titles and the rates of pay quoted for those job titles, some two thirds were listed as being paid below the London Living Wage. In total these were 222 staff. The largest group are the care workers which total some 143 workers and are nearly half of the ex-Fremantle workforce.

Care work is a physically demanding role as well as an emotionally demanding role. Yet according to the TUPE transfer information 161 members of staff are aged 55 years and over and of these 40 are aged 66 years and over. By contrast the numbers of staff aged under 40 years are 76.

 

RISK

There is a risk in not paying the London Living Wage as this report demonstrates:

https://www.skillsforcare.org.uk/adult-social-care-workforce-data/Workforce-intelligence/documents/State-of-the-adult-social-care-sector/State-of-Report-2019.pdf

In the Care industry there is a national turnover rate of 38% for those working less than one year in the field (p.13). It shows that those who are paid more are less likely to leave their roles.

“Turnover at regulated services that were rated overall as either ‘outstanding’ or ‘good’, turnover was found to be lower (29.5%) than those rated as ‘requires improvement’ or ‘inadequate’ (32.2%). This trend remained consistent across each Key Line of Enquiry (KLOE) with an average difference of 2.7%. The largest difference in turnover was shown for the ‘Safe’ KLOE which had 3.4% lower turnover at providers rated positively.” (p.118)

Continuity is an important factor in delivering quality care and support to our most vulnerable residents. There are associated costs in constantly recruiting and inducting new members of staff. These can result in reputational and safeguarding costs.

Barnet UNISON strives to work with both the Council and quasi outsourced employers, such as the Barnet Group, in continuing to promote harmonious industrial relations and to provide a high level of service for our customers. This may, potentially, be put in jeopardy if the decision is not to value monetarily the important role that care workers perform.

These factors should be of importance to this Committee and to Councillors in general and should be taken more seriously than the response to the request from Council officer’s shows.

 

Colindale office UNISON H&S Inspection

 

Colindale office UNISON H&S Inspection

Background

Barnet Group to move staff and operations from Barnet House to new office site in Colindale. Move to commence June 2019.

UNISON representatives from the Barnet Group undertook a Health and Safety Inspection of the new site 12/4/19.

 


Housing Options Reception

 

Current arrangements – Barnet House

Client’s visiting Housing Options are initially held on the ground floor.

This means they can be searched away from Housing Options staff, and for security to confirm who has an appointment.

If there is an incident on the 2nd floor, clients can be held downstairs.

There is also space for client’s to wait and call Housing Options if they don’t have an appointment (as Housing Options is appointment only), although in some cases clients use phones on the second floor to contact benefit advisers etc.

UNISON notes that part of current security arrangements mean that when clients initially arrive at the building they can only gain access to the 2nd floor prior to being searched, and that the one member of reception staff on the ground floor is behind protective glass.

Current statistics on Barnet House anti-social, verbal and physical abuse incidents are too low – UNISON is concerned that there is a culture where abuse of staff is tolerated and incidents not recorded.

Proposed arrangements – Colindale

The proposed new reception has entrances straight from the street with clients queuing up and being searched in the reception area.

UNISON has been informed that there will be no barriers by the entrance, however there will be a reception desk with one or two security guards [to be confirmed], and a side room for more extensive searches.

Total security presence on the ground floor Housing Options Reception area has, as yet to be identified.

Concerns:

 

  1. As there is no protective barrier between clients and staff, clients could throw objects or liquids at staff without/before being searched.

  1. A violent client can push past security and gain access to staff without being searched.

  1. Customers in winter will not want to queue outside meaning they will be in the reception and potentially have access to staff without being searched.

  1. If there is an incident that requires security staff to deal with a violent client, there is no provision to stop other clients from entering the building.

  1. No way of stopping the flow of people to the entrance from outside the building whilst an incident is being managed.

  1. Housing Options regularly have violent clients who need to be removed from the building, there will be a safety issue in removing a disruptive client if other clients are queuing at the entrance.

  1. Housing Options clients include a high proportion of very vulnerable people, including children, who can be waiting the majority of the day for temporary accommodation – this will be unmanageable in the small space provided.

  1. Housing Options staff deal with many victims of domestic violence who may be fleeing violent and abusive partners. At the moment the proposed seating arrangements for people waiting for temporary accommodation mean that clients would be visible from the street through the large glass walls. This could potentially put both the victim of abuse and staff and other clients in danger if the perpetrator of the abuse sees them and would be traumatic for the vulnerable client.

  1. If a client doesn’t have an appointment there appears to be no place where they can call Housing Options to be triaged and assessed prior to seeing a member of staff. This needs to be resolved.

  1. General issues of safety in such a small space given that on a busy day Housing Options staff can have up to five or six families waiting to be seen by staff at any time, as well as families waiting for temporary accommodation.

  1. There does not seem to be any thought been given to the ‘maximum’ number of people that can be in the Housing Options Reception area at any one time.

  1. The Housing Options reception will be shared with Officers from Rental Income, Neighbourhood Housing, Antisocial Behaviour Officers and Leasehold Officers as the only secure interview space for staff to meet with customers. This will lead to severe delays in clients being interviewed. Staff may be tempted or feel pressurised into interviewing clients elsewhere in an unsafe environment due to lack of resources.

  1. Barnet Group Health and Safety Officers have not been given the opportunity to complete a joint inspection with UNISON.

  1. As there will be very limited space/privacy, clients visiting the interview area may be put in the position of having to disclose personal information and details which could be overheard by other members of the public, breaching Data Protection guidelines.

  1. There seems to be a lack of toilet facilities for clients in the Reception area and none in the waiting area.

Fire Safety

 

  1. Fire safety – Number of Fire Points. No fire safety documentation has been provided, as yet, in regard to the number of fire call points in each area.

  1. Disabled access – Unison request more details on this, particularly emergency procedures and evacuation protocols.

  1. UNISON is in ongoing dialogue with the Council and facilities in regard to evacuation protocol and PEEPs [see attached Appendix]

 

 

General Building Health and Safety Concerns

  1. No details available/provided of the building Temperature Control system.

  1. Toilets – at least one single gender toilet should be provided – Cubicles seem quite small for those who may need to wash upper bodies before prayer also wash hand basins are very small. Disabled toilets (public) Access? Mobility WCs should have grab aids on both sides of pan – not all users transfer from same side.

  1. Security arrangements for main building – can this be confirmed and Risk Assessments shared.

  1. Currently no provision where other Barnet Homes staff [not Housing Options] will be able to interview visitors. Lease Hold Services currently have visitors who drop off Right to Buy applications and attend RTB interviews and financial interviews. Rental Income Team, Neighbourhood Housing and Antisocial Behaviour Officers will need access to secure interview areas. Operations guidelines for these services need to be identified and fully Risk Assessed before the service is implemented.

  1. Main reception – the entrance doors partially obscured by stairs to 1st floor and a pillar, what security provision has been made to cover the ‘blind spot’?

  1. Roof garden – railings on the roof are low and easily accessible.

  1. Originally staff were advised that teams would have designated areas of work and on plans these were shaded in. UNISON has now been informed that all areas are hot desks. Does this mean that those who work from 10am will never get a desk?

  1. Cycle parking seems to be very limited – not under cover and just the metal hoop types – as the Barnet Group and the Council is encouraging staff to cycle to work more will need to be provided.

  1. Car parking Areas are located some distance from the main building – staff safety in walking to these areas needs to be Risk Assessed and shared.

  1. Car parks – need to be inspected for adequate lighting – it is unclear if any other safety measures will be put in place [such as CCTV] before the building becomes operational.

 

 

Risks

 

As there is no filter system for members of the public on entering the reception area clients will have to disclose personal details to security/reception and be overheard by other members of the public. The Barnet Group may be in held in breach of General Data Protection Regulations should a member of the public/client make a complaint.

Safeguarding of vulnerable clients visiting the Housing Options reception area is a priority – if victims of domestic abuse don’t feel safe to access council services and be seen by an Officer without the possibility of the perpetrator of the abuse seeing them then they won’t do it.

 

There is an overriding detrimental concern for Barnet Group staff Health and Safety putting the Barnet Group in legal jeopardy.

In addition, the Health and Safety of the Public could be put at risk leaving the Barnet Group open to litigation.

Staff in Housing Options have made it clear to UNISON that the proposed reception area is fundamentally unsafe.

As previously identified the recording/reporting of incidents at the Barnet House Reception is poor – This cannot continue at the new site.

UNISON is given to understand that many of these issues have been raised by staff and line-managers across the whole of Housing Options, but as yet the concerns have not been addressed.

If frontline staff are essentially expected to work in a dangerous environment UNISON will be left with no alternative other than to act on members concerns, inevitably leading to a breakdown in Industrial Relations, if the identified risks are not addressed before Housing Options reception becomes operational.

 

Recommendations

 

  1. Meaningful dialogue between UNISON, management and staff in regard to Housing Options reception to resolve the issues identified and the suitability of the Colindale site.

  1. Security provision to be identified and established, (including lines of reporting and training) and fully Risk Assessed before the building becomes operational.

  1. Public access procedures identified and fully Risk Assessed.

  1. Anti-social behaviour policy in regard to prospective clients to be produced and a zero tolerance of abuse towards staff to be implemented.

  1. Risk Assessments for the reception and interview areas, including those for violent and abusive members of the public to be completed.

  1. A further joint UNISON Health and Safety inspection in conjunction with Barnet Group Health and Safety Officers to be arranged to assess risks to staff and the public before the building becomes operational.

  1. UNISON to work in conjunction with Barnet Group Health and Safety Officers to encourage staff and managers to record/report any incidents of physical and verbal abuse. UNISON and Barnet Group H&S to co-operate, investigate cases of concern and produce joint recommendations.

  1. Safeguarding of vulnerable clients to be acknowledged and addressed contacting  the Safeguarding team at the Council about the risk to  vulnerable adults, children and the victims of domestic abuse visiting the Colindale site would be recommended.

  1. General Data Protection Regulation issues to be acknowledged and measures put in place to minimise risk.

  1. UNISON suggests that Housing Options clients use the main council reception when they first arrive, enabling clients to be filtered to the Housing Options reception once it has been confirmed that they are due to be seen by an Officer. This would significantly reduce the flow of people through the main Housing Options front entrance, It would also have the bonus of freeing up space as clients could wait in the main reception for temporary accommodation and the officers from the TA team (soon to be Housing Solutions team) come straight down in the lift to the main reception area . This would be a better solution for clients as there is a Costa Coffee in the foyer for their use while waiting to be seen.

Conclusion

Given the unpredictable nature of Housing Options operations as the tragic incident on the 2nd floor last year demonstrated – UNISON recommends that the concerns of staff, managers and Trade Unions should be fully addressed and the suitability of the proposed Colindale site fully assessed before the Housing Options Reception Area becomes operational.

 

 

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