Please continue to visit the LGA’s Coronavirus: information for councils webpage for all up to date advice. https://www.local.gov.uk/our-support/coronavirus-council-information-and-support
All information contained in this circular is correct at time of publication but all links to external websites should be checked regularly as official advice is likely to be updated as
the situation continues to develop.
All previous NJC circulars providing advice and guidance relating to the pandemic are online.
The Government urged everyone in England, from Monday 13 December, to work at home where possible.
Given the experience of the past twenty-one months, all councils will already have flexible working policies that set out protocols for employees whose roles readily lend themselves to working at home and we would expect those arrangements to now be kicking in again.
Employees should ensure that they are taking steps to look after their wellbeing during their period of working from home.
• maintaining regular contact with their manager and colleagues
• taking regular breaks
• avoiding being ‘always on’ by ensuring that they identify non-working time
• contacting the employee assistance programme if they need support, for example, in relation to heightened feelings of anxiety
• being aware of the things that can cause them poor wellbeing and the activities and resources that can help to address this.
UNISON continues to campaign for additional mitigation measures in schools – more information
can be found here: https://www.unison.org.uk/news/article/2021/12/government-must-act-rightaway-to-prevent-disruption-in-schools-say-unions/
New Covid-19 regulations on face coverings and guidance.
Following the Government’s announcement that they will be introducing ‘Plan B’ in response to concerns about the new COVID variant (Omicron), The Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) informed us of the headlines affecting library services:
Face coverings will be mandatory in many indoor public areas in England – this includes libraries. Regulations come into force on Friday 10th Dec.
People are being advised to work from home if they can. To be effective from Monday 13th Dec.
The government guidance can be found here:
We understand that Libraries Connected are in the process of updating their own guidance note to be cleared with DCMS prior to publication. At the time of going to press, this has not
yet been published but is expected to be uploaded to the Libraries Connected website once available.
While the new restrictions also include introducing mandatory Covid status certification in certain settings (regulations werelaid on Monday 13 December and come into force
at 6am on Wednesday 15 Dec), DCMS say that they do not believe this measure will impact public library services.
DCMS are urging library services to plan the delivery of any services or events with the safety of library users and staff in mind; and in line with robust risk assessments involving staff and unions. UNISON’s position on this is set out below.
2. UNISON’s position:
Face coverings: The announcement that they are mandatory in libraries is to be welcomed. UNISON has emphasised the need with DCMS and Libraries Connected for library posters to be clearly worded on this issue so that library users are in no doubt that face coverings must be worn in library settings.
Home working: Library services should take all possible steps to maximise the number of staff who can work from home – particularly for clinically vulnerable and clinically extremely vulnerable staff. Please refer to the NJC Joint Circular dated 16 July which remains pertinent. The new joint circular, published above will also be helpful.
Ventilation: It is essential that employers review ventilation in libraries as part of a joint risk assessment undertaken with unions.
Events: UNISON believes that events and activities should be temporarily put on hold and that library services should follow the lead of those local authorities where this has been agreed. UNISON recommends branches negotiate at a local level for this to be a position of best practice.
Risk assessments: Obviously robust, joint risk assessments are vital and this new announcement gives reps an opportunity to ensure again that they are reviewed, joint, published and discussions take place on ensuring that the safety of UNISON members and library users is of paramount importance.
UNISON’s position for our members in the library service has been agreed following discussions with a group of lay library reps appointed by the SGE and include the UNISON library rep sitting on the DCMS Libraries Working Group. UNISON has made its position clear with the Library Working Group which includes DCMS, Libraries Connected and various heads of library services