This statement commences with an explanation of the current position at Salford City Council, but it does go on to matters concerning our wider membership.
Our priority is the health and well-being of our members and beyond that, we are working to ensure that our members – through your union – are involved in discussions over serve delivery at this difficult time.
We have now received confirmation from the City Council of the following:
• All Covid19-related absences, whether this be sickness or self-isolation (including caring for a dependant who has coronavirus or is self-isolating) will be recorded, but will be subject to full pay. Sickness absence will be recorded as sickness absence but absence days will not be counted for absence management purposes and for those where there may be a reduction in pay i.e. half or even no pay, full pay will be maintained to ensure that individuals do not risk coming in to work purely to avoid a loss of pay. There is an expectation that where staff who are self-isolating, are well enough to work and have the digital capabilities to work from home they would do so.
• It is appreciated that if staff are off sick for longer than the five days self-certified period, it may not be reasonably possible to get a fit note.
• We have raised the issue of how staff, who cannot work from home, will be supported in case of school or nursery closures. The Council assures us that efforts will be made to ensure that – where alternative childcare is not available – staff will be given paid time during such closures – and in doing so will be guided by NJC Guidance and local discussions with the trade unions.
• The Council plans to update workforce data to support possible workforce planning and deployment of staffing resources should this be necessary and we encourage our members and stewards to assist with this.
• Given the Council’s response in terms of protecting pay and terms and conditions and the need to deliver public services, we are encouraging flexibility to enable the council to continue as far as reasonably practical to function. We believe such determinations will be best made through service-level discussions and would encourage all stewards to ensure that local managers are involving the workforce and their representatives. In our view, decisions should be made as to what critical service delivery looks like, in order to ensure that those required to work are as protected as possible, while those who do not normally deliver critical services are either able to stay away from the workplace, or use transferrable skills to assist with the delivery of critical services. In determining whether employees can be reasonably requested to perform different roles, the Council assures us it will bear in mind personal circumstances, such as disability and ability to get to different locations. Where a person performs a higher-paid role, they will be compensated accordingly. Where a person performs a lower-paid role, they will maintain the level of pay for their substantive post. If members have any concerns about approaches taken, they can of course contact the union.
• The Council has stated that it is prepared to trust that employees will not abuse its position on pay and terms and conditions, but has stated that if any individuals were to seek to abuse the situation in any way they would seek to deal with those individuals as appropriate.
• All Council employees should check MyZone for regular updates.
Beyond this, we have requested the postponement of non-urgent meetings relating to workplace restructures, disciplinaries, grievances etc and for this to be applied consistently.
It has been confirmed that a daily discussion will take place between myself and the Strategic Director of Service Reform – who amongst other things has responsibility for Human Resources.
We are in the process of contacting all other employers with whom we have recognition to try and seek the same level of support over pay for sickness and special/carers leave and for them to involve their workforce in decisions about critical service delivery.
Please could all stewards seek to have these conversations. We will of course lend support from the branch office where we can, but we need you to be putting the meetings in place as it is not practical for us to do this ourselves.
We have also written to the Director of Adult and Children’s Services at the Council to ask for all social care providers to ensure full pay from day one, for absences related to Coronavirus and to provide support for this where necessary.
Further to this, we have written to Paul Dennett, Salford City Mayor to request greater involvement of the trade unions, including through the establishment an urgent meeting with key institutions to lend his support to our call for full pay for those required to be off work and for service level discussions about how we balance the need for critical services with protection for workers, their families and our wider communities.
We will continue to keep you updated as we can.