CCCU UCU Branch members re Omicrom Variant

Dear Member

You will not have missed the Governments recent announcement regarding the introduction of ‘plan’ B. As such Christchurch University has put in place a revised and amended risk assessment process based of these recommendations, however.

On Tuesday 14th December UCU HQ published further guidance and called ‘…for all teaching to move online immediately …’ To this effect your union has requested that HR implement ‘working from home’ until at least until the beginning of the new year in order to reduce colleagues’ exposure to this highly contagious new Covid variant. Unfortunately, HR has not agreed to this. Following this your unions advice is as follows.

First and foremost, where an individual feels at risk, to have a discussion with their line manager as to alternative modes of working. Where this is unproductive and where the individual member continues to feel in serious and imminent danger that member will be able to rely on the Employment Rights Act 1996, In particular Section 44, the ‘serious and Imminent danger’ provision.

S.44 Health and Safety case

(1)   An employee has the right not to be subjected to any detriment by any act, or any deliberate failure to act, by his employer done on the ground that

(d) in circumstances of danger which the employee reasonably believed to be serious and imminent and which he could not reasonably have been expected to avert, he left (or proposed to leave) or (while the danger persisted) refused to return to his place of work or any dangerous part of his place of work, or

(e) in circumstances of danger which the employee reasonably believed to be serious and imminent, he took (or proposed to take) appropriate steps to protect himself or other persons from the danger.

There is no doubt that exposure to the Covid virus is a serious danger to the employee and people they come into contact with, and that where F2F teaching is reasonably believed to be seriously and imminently dangerous, an appropriate step might be to teach online.

If any members have difficulty with line management regarding these guidelines be assured that when you are trying to follow UCU policy on Covid related issues you will have the full support of your union.  If you encounter problems please contact the branch health and safety Rep Chris Biela.

UCU Branch Exec