Lambeth Council staff update from UNISON on Covid-19 issues

The latest for staff at Lambeth Council from UNISON

Vulnerable workers

Lambeth Council has issued its latest advice on PPE and business continuity.

We have written to management challenging one section and to ask for them to send out clarification.

    1. Long term health conditions and working from home

I have a long-term health condition or am in a vulnerable group but I can’t work from home, what should I do?

    • You should talk to your manager about how you can follow social distancing guidance. 


What has been written here is confusing. People with underlying health conditions or in vulnerable categories (e.g. the over 70s) should not be coming into work at all. If they have duties that they cannot do at home then those work streams will have to be reallocated. If you are a worker or who should be not be coming to work and is coming under pressure to do so, contact your UNISON rep immediately and we will take this up for you.

HR have confirmed that people in this situation will be assigned to other duties for the duration of this lock down.

Children at home

If you have children at home and you are struggling to do your duties and look after your children then managers are expected to give maximum flexibility. It is not possible to work whilst looking after small children, or if you are expected to help with your child’s schooling. Some staff may need to change their working hours or have a reduced workload, others may have very little they are able to do. This will depend on your personal circumstances.

If you are struggling to carry out your role due to childcare, then please contact your UNISON rep, to make representations on your behalf.


Do you need a special chair?

The Council should be providing you with any equipment you need to work from home, this might also include an ergonomic chair for back support. If you need your chair then contact your manager and ask for it to be sent (also where it can be found in the building). You cannot be expected to do a full days work if you are in discomfort or pain.


Essential workers

A lot of people have contacted us asking if they are essential workers. The government’s definition is very broad and essential workers are not the same as key workers as traditionally defined. Ultimately it is the Council’s decision who is an essential worker. There are still essential functions that need to run to look after vulnerable residents and therefore some people are still required to attend a workplace/leave the house to work.

UNISON’s position is that our members work with very vulnerable people and their services are now more essential than ever. However they need to work in a safe way and risk assessments need to be done on any building or work that is required. This crisis has highlighted the importance of our work, work essential to our communities that is not given the respect or pay it deserves. This work cannot stop but we must work to ensure everyone’s safety.

The WHO advice is that two meter social distancing around people with no symptoms should be sufficient, plus regular washing of hands. If you have to speak to residents maintain your distance. If you are doing a viewing or cleaning an area then you do not have to be in the same room as someone else. If you have a specific issue with your work, let us know. We hope to update you on protective equipment this week.

If you need to arrange a school or nursery placement whilst you’re at work and are having problems accessing one, let us know and we will help you. 

We will be organising online meetings for all essential services teams in the next few weeks – please try to “attend” and let us know issues you need us to raise. 

Anything else please send it our way!

Remember to go for your daily exercise and take regular breaks from your computer screen. We will be sending out advice to staying healthy at home later in the week. 

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