Unions make safe return-to-work agreement with Scottish government

Unions have agreed  minimum safety steps which should be followed by every employer across the Scottish government sector when considering reopening workplaces or recalling staff to them.

Some of the key principles agreed by the FDA, PCS, POA, Prospect include that:

  • Health and safety of staff and anyone else who attends these workplaces is the primary concern
  • Full consultation must take place with unions before any workplaces are reopened or staff recalled
  • Risk assessments and equality impact assessments must be carried and be subject to full consultation with unions
  • Agreement must be reached with unions on recovery measures in the event of any Covid-19 related instances following a return to work and should be based on the arrangements detailed in the main protocol document.

The principles represent the minimum standards the unions are seeking to apply to ensure it is safe for staff to return to work. They build on the protocols agreed in March to protect staff across the Scottish Government Sector during the Covid-19 crisis. The core principle of the agreement is that no worker in the Scottish civil service and related non-departmental public bodies will face any detriment due to the Covid-19 crisis.

A set of high level principles and model collective agreement have been agreed with unions to apply where an employer intends to furlough staff under the CJRS these include:

  • Plans to furlough staff must be the subject of full consultation with unions and preferably be subject to a collective agreement
  • Staff who are furloughed must receive 100% of pay and pensions contributions through a top up by the employer
  • Staff who are furloughed cannot be compelled to take annual leave while at home
  • Union reps who are furloughed can continue to perform union duties.

The agreement has been sent to all chief executives in the Scottish sector, including non-departmental public bodies and other non-civil service areas.

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