Dear Barnet UNISON Members
UNISON HQ have sent an email to all of our members working in Schools.
This is an extract from the email sent on 28 May 2020.
“However, many staff will still be expected to go in and we have all been inundated with requests by members asking for advice on whether they can refuse to go in on 1 June. Following discussion with NEU, other unions and our legal team the email to members includes a model letter for members who have serious concerns about their health and safety and face the prospect of being forced into the workplace under unsafe conditions from 1 June. We have asked members to specify these concerns in their letter by highlighting where the school is not meeting the joint unions risk assessment checklist. They can also include scenarios where they have not been consulted on risk assessment.”
Here is the link to UNISON email message below.
If you have serious concerns about health and safety in your workplace then please use the EMAIL Template below to send to your School and remember to copy in Barnet UNISON at firstname.lastname@example.org
re: Health and Safety
I am writing to inform you that, in order to protect myself and/or other persons from danger, I will not be attending [name of school/college] to work there at present. I will continue to be available to work from home.
Since the government announced its decision to extend the opening of schools, the impact that has in terms of the health and safety of pupils, staff and the community has been widely discussed. The mere fact of an increase in the number of pupils and staff attending school poses an increased risk.
UNISON and the other TUC education unions have outlined a set of tests to be met nationally and locally before it could be deemed safe for schools to open more widely. These tests have been set with a view to safely increasing pupil numbers. UNISON does not believe these tests have been met in full. In particular the new test, track and trace system has only just been introduced and it is too early to know if this is effective. Independent scientific advice concurs with UNISON’s view that wider opening on 1 June is not safe.
I believe that not attending work in the current circumstances is an appropriate step for me to take for the following reasons:
1. The dangers that are preventing me from attending work are the risk of contracting coronavirus and or spreading coronavirus to others.
2. The person(s)I am seeking to protect are myself, my family, our pupils, their families, my colleagues, their families and members of the public.
3. I believe that this danger is serious because coronavirus infection is potentially fatal and has already resulted in more than 37,000 deaths in the UK and there are additional circumstances in my situation because: –
- I meet the government’s definition of clinically extremely vulnerable.
- I live with someone who meets the government’s definition of clinically extremely vulnerable.
- I am clinically vulnerable and proposed measures will not be sufficient to reduce the risk of my exposure to Covid19 to an acceptable level.
- I live with someone who is clinically vulnerable and proposed measures will not be sufficient to reduce the risk of my exposure to Covid19 to an acceptable level.
- I am Black (referred to by government as BAME) and it is well documented that the risk to me if I contract Covid19 is more serious. Measures proposed will not be sufficient to reduce the risk of my exposure to Covid19 to an acceptable level.
- I live with someone who is Black (referred to by government as BAME) and it is well documented that the risk to that person if they contract Covid19 is more serious. Measures proposed will not be sufficient to reduce the risk of my exposure to Covid19 to an acceptable level.
4. I believe that, if I were to attend work, the danger would be imminent because
- I don’t believe that your plans for 1 June comply in full with the joint union checklist – available here for primary schools and here for special schools. [delete checklist as appropriate]
- In particular, the following measures have not been implemented or adequately implemented:
[add here the specific elements where the school has not complied with the checklist and what your specific concerns are]
In addition: –
- My journey to work involves using public transport, where I would be in very close proximity to many other people, some of whom may be infected and or carrying the virus.
- My risk of exposure to Covid19 cannot be reduced to an acceptable level.
5. I will be happy to return to the workplace when confirmed that it is safe to do so, for example if the following measures have been put into place:
- The joint unions’ tests have been met nationally and locally.
- The joint union checklist (linked to above) has been complied with in full and all measures put in place.
In the meantime, I am of course willing to carry out any of my duties, or other alternative duties at my current grade, that can reasonably be undertaken from my home.
Cc Barnet UNISON email@example.com