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In light of the current situation and the most recent government advice due to the Covid 19 outbreak, we have had to adapt our processes and UNISONdirect will be unable to process calls for members wishing to use our Legal Assistance scheme.

We have been working with our lawyers Thompsons to find the best solution to ensure our members can continue to get the legal support they need in relation to non-employment law assistance. Issues related to your work and employment law assistance should in the first instance, as before, continue to be directed to your branch.

For all other legal queries:

  • seeking personal injury advice following a work or non-work accident/injury suffered by members,
  • or a non-work related accident suffered by their families;
  • if our members want criminal law advice or to access our initial free legal advice scheme;
  • or if they want legal help with wills and conveyancing

Please call our new dedicated UNISON number 0808 252 2783. When you call please have your UNISON membership number to hand.

Apr 9, 2020

The latest circular from NJC can be seen below or you can download the original pdf here.

Please continue to visit the LGA's Coronavirus: information for councils webpage for all up to date advice.

Public Health England is continuing to publish guidance for non-clinical settings.

The government has issued updated guidance on PPE.

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.

Our circular dated 27 March referred to the increasing challenge of ensuring the safety of refuse (and other) crews whose roles usually require them to share a confined space in the cabs of refuse wagons. Whilst there are many examples of good practice by employers who have put in place measures to ensure social distancing is maintained, we are aware of other critical situations where urgent action is needed and where risk assessments must be undertaken so that social distancing rules are followed and maintained in all council vehicles whilst always ensuring that the relevant health & safety requirements are adhered to.

We understand the practical challenges that this issue is throwing up but as an urgent priority, if not already happening, employers should be undertaking risk assessments and taking appropriate action.

We are clear that social distancing in enclosed work environments is a key element of the national effort to reduce the spread of COVID-19 and, as many local government workers cannot work from home, employers have a responsibility to ensure that social distancing rules are adhered to. Where this is not possible it is likely that risk assessments may demonstrate that some employees, particularly those who are vulnerable, will need to remain at home or, where agreeable, be redeployed elsewhere. Managers will also need to make every effort to understand how the family circumstances of employees may involve other vulnerable people and be flexible in their approach.

The Association for Public Service Excellence (APSE) has produced updated guidance with practical suggestions of how the issue of social distancing can be addressed.

The Waste Industry Safety & Health Forum (WISH) has issued updated guidance.

Finally, we remind you again of the Department for Education's guidance for schools and other educational settings.

Similar challenges are arising in other workplace settings that include, but are not limited to, catering, cleaning, highways maintenance, pupil transport, first aid and administration of medication in schools and Craftworker roles such as gas engineers, plumbers and electricians who may need to carry out work in private or commercial premises.

Employers must make every effort to ensure social distancing measures are observed and that where a need is identified through risk assessments, appropriate PPE, including masks, gloves, eyewear and sanitiser and cleaning materials that can be stored, cleaned and disposed of safely, are provided. Where appropriate, washing and changing facilities should be provided.

We do of course understand the ongoing difficulties with supply and demand and the LGA and the unions are continuing to lobby government for urgent provision of PPE. However, in the absence of such, we expect employers to ensure that employees are not being placed at risk of harm and we expect local parties to work together to resolve issues that arise.

Apr 7, 2020

These FAQs are for school support staff in England. They cover:

  • Operational issues
  • Pay
  • Easter and weekend working
  • Health and safety
  • Home working

All the latest Covid-19 information for school support staff is available on the UNISON website. Please check back regularly as this page will be kept updated.

Download the full F&Q here


Apr 7, 2020

UNISON is putting pressure on your employer and the government to produce much better arrangements for care workers. In order to do this, we need to know what you are experiencing on the ground. This will help us to spot trends and get ahead of issues before they become unmanageable.

If you become aware of a workplace problem in a social care setting, related to the coronavirus outbreak, email us with a short summary here:

Answers to frequently asked questions from care workers - about personal protective equipment, staff shortages, testing and more - can be found on UNISON website:

Apr 6, 2020

Use our online form to tell UNISON about your PPE (personal protective equipment) concerns at work. We want to collect stories from as many workers as possible so that we can make sure the prime minister and other senior politicians hear what you have to say. You are in the front line – your views are the only ones that matter in this.

UNISON general secretary Dave Prentis has written to Boris Johnson demanding he takes action to ensure all hospitals, care homes, police forces and council services have the sanitiser, gowns, masks and gloves needed to keep staff safe.

While supplies of PPE have clearly got through to parts of the UK’s public services, UNISON is concerned there are still many workers who have little or no PPE at all.

Demanding an urgent call with the Prime Minister, Dave Prentis says in the letter: “Public service workers are particularly affected as they seek to keep the country running, ensure our loved ones are cared for and our communities are clean and safe. 

“As you have repeatedly said, the value of public service workers has never been clearer. UNISON is demanding you provide them with protection, as they seek to protect us all.

“Public service employees are still in their workplaces because they need and want to be. But their selfless acts must not place them at risk. 

“Too many feel like they've been forgotten – their safety a mere afterthought, despite the critical work they continue to do.

“Many promises have been made by your government, but promises don’t protect people. Every public service worker without adequate PPE is a potential spreader of this deadly virus, or even a future patient.

“Every public service worker who catches the virus is another vital cog removed from the machinery of a society already struggling to cope.

“UNISON will continue to work with you to tackle this unprecedented crisis and ensure public service employees can continue to work safely. 

“But we can only do this if all public service workers can be assured they’re not putting themselves, their family members or those they care for and support at risk through a lack of necessary protective equipment.”

Apr 2, 2020

In these difficult times, UNISON There for You is supporting those members whose lives have been seriously affected by the Covid-19 pandemic and who, as a result, do not have the immediate funds to cover essential expenditure.

Eligibility criteria

There for You can make emergency grant payments of up to £200 where there is unforeseen hardship.  For example, you/your household may have suffered a sudden loss of income or increase in expenditure.  It could be that you’ve made an application for benefits through the Department of Work and Pensions and are awaiting their decision.   Whatever your situation, we will try to help where we can. 

As an example, help could be needed in one or more of the following areas:

  • Childcare/carer costs
  • Prescription costs
  • Travel/parking costs – e.g. essential workers, those with caring responsibilities/urgent medical appointments
  • Other health related expenditure
  • Food and/or fuel costs
  • Work-related expenditure

Completing the form and other paperwork

Please complete the application form and return by email to: 

You should include copy of latest bank statement for you and, if applicable, your partner.  

If you have any queries concerning these guidelines, the form or, require help and assistance on any matter, please email or call 020 7121 5620.  Leave a message, (including reference to ‘Emergency Grant’) your phone number and someone will be in touch as quickly as possible.

If your needs are more wide-ranging for example debt issues, rent arrears, we ask that you complete our general application form for Financial Assistance instead. 


If a hardship payment is agreed, a payment will be made into your bank account. 


During this difficult period, all communication will be either via email (please check your junk folder), text message or telephone call.


Mar 31, 2020

UNISON's latest newsletter regarding Coronavirus is attached.

Please note that UNISONdirect is currently closed until further notice. Queries can still be sent using UNISON’s online enquiries form, but response times will unfortunately take longer. For all legal enquiries following an accident or injury suffered by yourself or your family, or if you need criminal law advice, access to our free initial legal advice scheme or help with wills or conveyancing, please call the dedicated legal helpline on 0808 2522783. You can also update personal details online using myUNISON.

Be sure to keep an eye on UNISON’s coronavirus webpage which is updated regularly. 

Mar 26, 2020

Private contractors

Many of our members who work for private contractors deliver public services and will be impacted by the most recent government announcements on ‘lockdown’ rules. They will be restricted in different ways depending on where they work, who they work for and what decisions private contractors are making for their employees.

UNISON will be contacting employers where we have a national relationship to establish procedures each company is adopting and we will send details as soon as we have a response from each of the companies listed below. The situation is extremely fast moving and we are doing all we can to engage with private contractor employers in the days and weeks ahead as issues arise.

For clarity the list of national employers that we engage with from the private contractors unit is: Capita, Compass (including Chartwells), Four Seasons (including Huntercombe), ISS, Kier, Liberata, Sodexo, Caterlink, CHP, OCS, Serco and Veolia.


Job Retention Scheme

We have been receiving a number of queries relating to the Job Retention Scheme.  The Chancellor announced some details relating to the Job Retention Scheme on Friday 20 March 2020 – but we do not have the substance of the legislation at this time.

At this point we are only able to advise that we will issue guidance once the specifics of the legislation are laid before Parliament.

UNISON negotiators will be in a position to support members and consult with employers on the scheme and its application once more detail is available.

Mar 24, 2020
On Monday, NJC trade unions agreed a further joint circular with the employers’ side. The three key points are laid out below: 


Critical workers

Local government staff are likely to be critical to the delivery of the COVID-19 response no matter what their formal role. In schools this includes teaching assistants and other support staff.

When employers categorise workers as critical workers, they should consider the pressure this will have on those working in schools, and use their discretion to determine which employees are reasonably needed to deliver the COVID-19 response.

The government’s information on who might be a critical worker can be found here.

People with health conditions – and people who live with them or care for them

People with health conditions that put them at higher risk of contracting Covid-19 should not be expected to attend the workplace. Employees who live with or care for people at higher risk should also not be expected to attend the workplace. All options for working at home should be considered. Employers will have no option other than to accept that some employees will be staying at home on full pay for the duration of this emergency as they are not able to work from home.

Taking on different roles

If you are asked to take on different roles, volunteers should be sought first and relevant training and risk assessments must be undertaken. Volunteers should not be sought from employees who live with or care for people in vulnerable groups.

If you have no experience supervising large groups of children as part of your usual role you should not be required to do so now without adequate support being provided.

If you agree to take on a different role or working pattern you should continue to be paid at your usual contracted rate and suffer no loss. When taking on roles paid at a higher rate than your usual contracted rate, you should receive the higher rate of pay for the duration of the assignment / redeployment.

Mar 24, 2020

The TUC has launched a new online campaign calling on government to bring in emergency time-limited measures to make sure parents don't lose jobs and pay when their children's school or nursery has to close.

We encourage all of you to sign up to support this campaign:

Mar 20, 2020
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