The union has been dealing with queries from our KN members in relation to concerns arising from the current COVID 19 crisis. As you may be aware and following the recent government restrictions KN is categorised as an essential service provider. This means that you, our members, are providing a service that is critical and essential during this unprecedented outbreak. This is acknowledged by C.W.U. HQ and by business and families throughout this country that are depending on a telecommunications service. Thank you all for that.
It is important then that we properly balance the need to maintain a functioning business, that is providing an important level of service to the public, with adequate health and safety measures to protect members against the potential risk of this exposure to the public.
This is unprecedented territory for us, but we will, as a union, do our utmost to protect and support members throughout this difficult period. A key objective for the CWU is the wellbeing and safety of our members.
It is important that members understand the symptoms of the COVID – 19 a newrespiratory illness. They include:
- A cough
- Shortness of breath
- Breathing difficulties
- Fever (high temperature)
The Health Executive Authority (H.S.E.) advise the following preventative measures:
- Social/Physical distancing (2m)
- Regular hand washing
- Good cough etiquette (cough into tissue or elbow)
The company issued a memo to staff who are in contact with customers in their working day. I have attached the guidelines for your information. [See attachment below]
It is widely recognised that members of the public understand and are complying with social/physical distancing. (Note: advice suggests that a person would need to be more than 15 mins in face to face contact with an infected person for the virus to pass on). That is not to say that there are elements of work that make it difficult to meet the required distance from work colleagues. The C.W.U. recommends that in these situations work is arranged or carried out to meet the required distances. Where a customer or member of the general public enters an argument (social distancing, property etc.) with a member/s that member should initially attempt to explain the reason behind the work that he/she is carrying out. If the customer continues to argue we are advising our member to make the area safe and contact his line manager in order to proceed to his/her next work task.
Stores – Protective equipment
CWU has expressed concern at the availability of hand sanitisers/gloves etc. The C.W.U. recognise that there is a worldwide demand for these essential items. KN has assured the union that they have ordered and are receiving regular deliveries of this equipment. Where a member needs this equipment, they in the first instance contact their line manager and they will arrange a delivery of the required equipment.
In fairness anywhere we have raised a problem, in this area, with KN Management they have acted on it immediately. Any issues with this process should be raised with your local C.W.U. rep and it will be taken up with the company on your behalf.
The H.S.E. guidelines recommend hand washing as the best way to prevent the virus and we would encourage members to wash their hands as much as possible during the day.
Sick Leave/Self Isolation
The company have circulated their position in relation to sick leave, self-isolation etc which are outlined as below:
If you are sick:
If you are sick, then normal sick leave provisions apply**
You should provide either a self-certificate (for up to 3 calendar days, medical certificate thereafter) or a medical/ sick certificate to their line manager.
If you choose to self-isolate on a voluntary or precautionary measure, e.g, a member of your household falls into a high- risk category, you should work from home (WFH) if applicable and subject to managers approval.
If you cannot work from home due to the nature of your role then you can use any accrued approved annual leave or unpaid leave.
Planned Annual Leave:
If you are going on annual leave, most countries have now closed their boarders, however have a conversation with your line manager in advance of your leave to advise 1) where you are going 2) how long for 3) expected return date. Please discuss with HR any concerns you may have in relation to travel arrangements.
Confirmed case of COVID-19:
If you test positive for Covid-19. Given the unique circumstances of this epidemic, anyone who tests positive for Covid-19 will be paid 10 days sick pay, inclusive of any Social Welfare payment that may be due. In addition, any absence relating to the virus will not affect an employee’s attendance record. This payment is exclusive to the Covid-19 epidemic and may be amended as the situation unfolds over the coming days and week.
The recent Government announcements has caused confusion for our members. The C.W.U. would like to point out that the company are deemed an essential service therefore the Employer Refund Scheme or COVID 19 Pandemic Unemployment payment do not apply. We would also like to point out that there are very strict Revenue guidelines associated with the payments. The commitment of the CWU is to protect, to the greatest degree possible the earning potential of our members in order that they may look after themselves and their families. The best way of achieving this is ensuring the business continues to function.
As a union we can only join in with the general societal calls that people behave in a sensible and responsible manner and follow the guidelines issued through the H.S.E. and Government.
I would ask that all members to forward any queries to their Branch Secretary (Alan Dempsey -email@example.com) who will deal with it or seek assistance for HQ. As you know the situation changes on a daily if not hourly basis rest assured your union has your health and safety as a key priority during these difficult times. We will continue to monitor the situation and will update you on any changes as required. Keep Safe.
Change Bulletin – COVID19 & Customer Facing Roles
Publication Type: Circular