Your Rights at Work: Forced to take annual leave during the lockdown?

An emerging issue being raised by some of our members across a number of employers is the issue of forced annual leave.

It has come to our attention that staff are being asked to take annual leave during the current lockdown.

Workers have a statutory right to take annual Leave.

For many workers during the current national crisis their home has become their workplace.

It is important for the mental health and well being of all workers that they have time away from their workplace.

During the lockdown workers are unable to go away on holidays

Barnet UNISON position is that unless a worker requests to take annual leave during the lock down the employer should not be using this crisis to force workers to take annual leave.

What does the Government say?

“Workers who have not taken all of their statutory annual leave entitlement due to COVID-19 will now be able to carry it over into the next 2 leave years.”

“There is also an obligation on employers to ensure their workers take their statutory entitlement in any one year – failure to do so could result in a financial penalty.

The regulations will allow up to 4 weeks of unused leave to be carried into the next 2 leave years, easing the requirements on business to ensure that workers take statutory amount of annual leave in any one year.

This will mean staff can continue working in the national effort against the coronavirus without losing out on annual leave entitlement.

The changes will also ensure all employers affected by COVID-19 have the flexibility to allow workers to carry over leave at a time when granting annual leave could leave them short-staffed in some of Britain’s key industries, such as food and healthcare.”

Read more here

Barnet UNISON advice

If you are having any annual leave issues with your employer please contact the union at or 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.

Barnet UNISON COVID19 Update: Support for your Mental Health

Dear Barnet UNISON members,

The lockdown is clearly having an impact on our mental health and wellbeing.

Below is a service called Able Futures who provide some excellent services for staff, some of our Barnet UNISON members are already using and providing some positive feedback.

Able Futures delivers the Access to Work Mental Health Support Service which can give nine months support from a mental health professional at no cost.

If staff are experiencing issues such as anxiety, depression, grief or stress, or are struggling to deal with problems such as debt, disrupted sleep or relationship breakdowns that may be affecting mental health, Able Futures can help you build resilience, tackle issues, feel better and learn new ways to manage your mental health throughout the ups and downs of life.

There’s no waiting list and you can apply online or by calling 0800 321 3137.

Below are some Able Futures resources and information from other agencies.

Able Futures continue to offer a service, adapted to offer all telephone and online support now to avoid contact.

If you are furloughed, you are still entitled to support, as well as any family members that may be eligible.

Signing up is just a few clicks and only takes a few minutes via the Able Futures website:

You may also find excellent resources and advice on the following websites:

Young Minds for the younger people in our communities:

This organisation can offer training and awareness:

Mental Health Foundation, some excellent information:



Barnet UNISON COVID Update: PPE for care workers.

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

Date: 14 April 2020.

The PPE guidance takes you to a table showing the types of PPE you need depending on your workplace.

For staff working in care homes you need to read to look at the fourth column down on the left entitled:

“Community and social care, care home, mental health inpatients and other overnight care facilities e.g. learning disability, hospices, prison healthcare.”

If you look at the guidance it states:

  1. Disposable gloves : Single use


  1. Disposable plastic apron: Single use.


  1. Fluid-resistant (Type IIR) surgical mask: Sessional use.


  1. Eye/face protection: Risk assess sessional use.

What do they mean by eye/face protection?

  1. This may be single or reusable face/eye protection/full face visor or goggles

What do they mean by Single Use?

“4.Single use refers to disposal of PPE or decontamination of reusable items e.g. eye protection or respirator, after each patient and/or following completion of a procedure, task, or session; dispose or decontaminate reusable items after each patient contact as per Standard Infection Control Precautions (SICPs).”

What do they mean by Sessional use?

“5.A single session refers to a period of time where a health care worker is undertaking duties in a specific care setting/exposure environment e.g. on a ward round; providing ongoing care for inpatients. A session ends when the health care worker leaves the care setting/exposure environment. Sessional use should always be risk assessed and considered where there are high rates of hospital cases. PPE should be disposed of after each session or earlier if damaged, soiled, or uncomfortable.”

What do they mean by risk assess?

“8. Risk assessed use refers to utilising PPE when there is an anticipated/likely risk of contamination with splashes, droplets or blood or body fluids.”

For more details click on link to Government web site below

(Source: )


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.

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