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Unite Legal Services: Weekly coronavirus COVID-19 latest news round-up – 21 June 2021

red rectangle on cream background with black text  CORONAVIRUS COVID-19

At Unite Legal Services, we’ve collated the latest news and information regarding employment matters and workers’ rights in relation to coronavirus COVID-19 developments.

14 June 2021

Dozens of Loganair jobs saved across Scottish Airports thanks to innovative training courses

Unite Scotland has welcomed the news that up to 35 cabin crew jobs at risk of redundancy across Scottish airports have now been saved thanks to innovative training courses supported by the Scottish government.

The COVID-19 pandemic has caused widespread disruption within the aviation industry with thousands of workers placed on furlough and thousands directly at risk of being made redundant. Last July, Unite launched a campaign to ‘Save Scotland’s Airports’ following a Fraser of Allander report conducted on behalf of Unite, which estimated 2,330 direct and indirect job losses in civil aviation with an overall economic loss of around £140 million to the Scottish economy after accounting for knock-on effects.

15 June 2021

Mask wearing and reduced capacity on buses must be enforced and extended for public safety

Unite called on the government to ensure that the rules on mask wearing and reduced capacity on public transport are properly enforced and that the measures continue beyond July 19.

Unite made its case directly to the government that with COVID-19 rates increasing it is essential that the existing rules are properly enforced. Bus drivers from across the UK are reporting increasing non-compliance with the existing rules. Ensuring masks are properly worn and capacity limits are adhered to is essential to protect passengers and drivers alike.

Unite welcomes decision to temporarily close The Ivy Edinburgh after COVID outbreak

Unite welcomed the decision by The Ivy on the Square restaurant, based in Edinburgh, to close following a COVID-19 outbreak among staff.

It was widely reported that several members of staff tested positive for COVID-19 and members of staff were self-isolating. Restaurant workers from the Glasgow restaurant were reportedly drafted in to cover the absences. Unite can now reveal that 26 members of staff have now tested positive.

Following pressure from Unite, a decision has been taken to temporarily close the restaurant for a deep clean and to protect staff. Unite has also stated that The Ivy must pay in full those workers forced to self-isolate and those unable to work due to the closure rather than having to take annual leave.

16 June 2021

80 per cent of finance sector workers want more flexibility but better communication from employers

In the first large scale homeworking survey of thousands of staff in the finance sector, Unite found that over 80 per cent of respondents would like to continue to work from home once restrictions end for at least part of the week. Nearly 70 per cent of those would like to spend between 60 to 100 per cent of their time working remotely in the future.

Unite said that staff want to see more flexibility by their employers and for homeworking to continue once the health restrictions ease.

Proposals for compulsory vaccination of care home staff condemned by Unite

‘Encouragement, not compulsion’ for health and social care staff when it comes to vaccination against COVID-19 is the best approach, Unite the union has said.

Unite was commenting on reports that the government is to announce that care staff are expected to be given 16 weeks to have the jab - or face being redeployed away from frontline care or losing their jobs.

Unite has already submitted its response to the Department of Health and Social Care consultation on making vaccination a condition of deployment in older adult care homes.

In the submission, the union said: “Unite believes all COVID-19 vaccination and COVID-19 testing regimes in the UK should be voluntary and not mandatory. Compulsion is a very bad way to achieve a high level response, will lead to increased resistance, a worsening staffing crisis and is embroiled with issues such as equalities, human rights, privacy, and ethical breaches.

“Social care workers are some of the most exploited and vulnerable in the economy, with many working on precarious contracts such as through agencies or zero hours arrangements that mean many have no access to basic workplace health protects such as sick pay or sufficient PPE.”

17 June 2021

Government suppression of adequate COVID sick pay rules ‘reckless’, with fatal consequences

Unite has branded revelations that the government deliberately suppressed information on how workers could be temporarily furloughed when forced to self-isolate due to COVID-19 as “reckless”.

The leaked emails show that a little-known part of the coronavirus job retention scheme (CJRS) allows employers to temporarily furlough workers if they are required to self-isolate as a result of developing COVID-19 or if they come into close contact with someone with the virus.

However, Treasury officials refused to publicise this option in official guidance as they believed it would lead to workers being furloughed “who did not need to be”.

Get more support

For more information on how we are fighting to protect the health and safety, and economic stability of our members during the coronavirus COVID-19 crisis, please visit the Unite the Union advice hub.

If you are in need of further advice on an employment law query during the crisis, you can visit the Unite Legal Services coronavirus COVID-19 page, or call Unite’s dedicated coronavirus COVID-19 Legal Advice Line on 0333 202 6557.

COVID-19 personal injury claims

Unite has set up a specialist legal team to advise and represent members who have suffered injury as a result of COVID-19

If you have suffered injury from developing COVID-19, or have tragically lost a family member to the condition, then please call Unite’s COVID-19 PI team on 020 8799 4023.