Central and East Antrim council staff fear ‘sent back’ to offices against NI Covid advice

Council staff fear they are “hurried back” to their offices after all. Storm A union has warned of Covid-19 advice to continue working from home if possible.

Nipsa will write to Central and East Antrim County Council following concerns raised by staff in the local government’s development department.

Some staff feel they are facing pressure from bosses to return to work as part of the council’s phased plans.

According to Northern Ireland guidance Covid-19, workers are advised: “You should continue to work from home as much as you can.”

Employers are encouraged to “start planning” a gradual return to the office, but “take every possible step to make it easier for their employees to work from home.”

Nipsa deputy secretary Alan Law said some staff were concerned about problems such as desks and lack of space in their workplaces during the pandemic.

“I know the staff are concerned about returning to the office and discussions have been made with local representatives to ensure that appropriate arrangements are made.”

Mr. Law encouraged the council to have any plans discussed with union representatives.

“We would be worried if any employer gave an ultimatum to their employees that they should go back to work without thinking that what they are doing can be done at home, and the government’s advice is to work from home.

“We don’t see any reason for staff to return to the office.”

A spokesperson for the council’s human resources team said: “We have a process for each staff member returning to work to discuss return to work arrangements with line managers and to raise any concerns they may have.”

“The council has an agile working policy that is open to all staff.

“The Council continues to review our Covid-19 risk assessments regarding the health, safety and well-being of all staff.”

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