By now, the vast majority of you will be working at home. Lots of the important work can be done online (and I think a big shout out to our IT members, we know it’s been full on for you as hundreds of us work from home for the first time!) so make sure that you are not coming into the office unnecessarily. If you are asked/instructed to come into an office, check with your manager if it’s really needed, and let us know. You shouldn’t be coming in for the sake of it, but some of the essential work can only be done from a Council building.
If you aren’t used to working from home, it can be quite isolating. There are some good ideas on Essentials to help, but do make sure you keep in touch with colleagues, and that you also take regular breaks – don’t let your home become just your office. It’s easy to feel there’s ‘no escape’ from work and the people wanting help (and another shout out to our members in Contact Camden, we know you’re getting inundated with calls, mostly about CV19) so look at options that can help your wellbeing.
Self-Isolating, Showing Symptoms, Caring
Because of how CV19 can spread, it’s really important you follow the advice if you have an underlying condition, have any symptoms or are a carer or have children at home. Again, Essentials has been really clear on what to do in all of these circumstances, including how to enter information on Oracle (which is important you do so that up to date numbers of who can/can’t do the essential roles are available).
You won’t lose money if you are self-isolating or advised to stay at home due to your symptoms, and in both cases may be able to work from home. If you cannot and are sick due to CV19, this will not trigger any action or loss of pay. If you have caring responsibilities or children at home because of the school closures, speak to your manager – you may be able to work different hours or a similar arrangement. If you are having difficulty working this out then get in touch with your rep or email firstname.lastname@example.org
Helping with Essential Services
Some members have already been asked to help with important services to support vulnerable families and older residents by doing things like making up food parcels. Lots of this kind of thing is going to be needed over the next few weeks and more, so you will be asked to do different work to your everyday roles, in particular if you have a job where working from home is limited.
For these roles, guidelines about doing the work safely are being (and in some cases have already been) drawn up so that there is as little risk as possible to you. Some of these services will involve PPE, and you should get information about how to use that correctly. Again, you will not lose any pay. If you are worried about what you are being asked to do – eg if you have any of the listed underlying health conditions but are still being asked to travel rather than work from home, contact your local rep or email email@example.com
If you are in the ‘shielding needed’ group and have been written to, then let your manager know – again, it is important that you are recorded as such so that Camden knows who is able to help out in different ways.
PPE, Health and Safety
Whilst you are doing all of this, it’s important you are as safe as possible. Some of the roles you already do, or will be asked to do require PPE. Check this with your manager, and if you are unsure contact us. There is a national shortage of things like hand sanitiser and wipes, Camden has centralised their supplies and is distributing them to specific services – social workers for when visits can’t be avoided, caretakers and others doing similar roles where hand washing is more difficult to access – so let us know if you haven’t got what’s needed.
I hope that this is helpful information, you can also find more on the national UNISON website, but if you have any queries, please email us.
And don’t forget to show your support for our NHS workers tonight!
Telephone: 020 7974 1633