Unions back scheme to ensure healthy working environments
A coalition of safety campaigners, trade unions and public health experts are battling to make workplaces safe from Covid infections.
As increasing numbers of people move back from home working, they have launched a new Covid-19 Safety Pledge to protect workers.
The pledge, aimed at workplaces in both voluntary, public and private sectors, asks employers to sign up to three key commitments: protect workers and customers from Covid-19, risk assess their premises and practices to safeguard against infection and specifically ask any workers who test positive for Covid to stay at home while infectious and to provide the support necessary for them to do so.
Employers who sign up for the scheme will be presented as a covid safe workplace, with their name displayed on the pledge website (covidpledge.co.uk) in addition to being able to display the pledge sign within their premises.
The move has been backed by the Scottish Trades Union Congress (STUC) in addition to Covid support groups such as Covid Families for Justice and Clinically Vulnerable Families. The Independent Sage group of public health experts is also backing the pledge.
The STUC warned that employers in Scotland should not roll back on health and safety and support for staff. Supermarket giant Sainsbury recently introduced a policy that allows staff to attend work if infected with covid and punishes them for covid related absence.
STUC General Secretary Roz Foyer said:“It’s vitally important that the legacy of Covid-19 isn’t a rollback on workers’ safety or rights. The Covid-19 Safety Pledge allows employers to stand by their workers, ensuring the highest levels of protection against infection are taken, in addition to supporting staff and consumer wellbeing whilst on their premises.
“For people across Scotland – especially those who are clinically vulnerable - this Pledge can act as a clear indicator of responsibility and support for employers wanting to do right by their staff, customers and service users.
“We are also calling on the Scottish Government to support the pledge. Our joint Covid-19 Fair Work Statement should be updated for the new circumstances but also to continue to commit to the fair treatment of workers and the control of the virus.”
Professor Stephen Reicher of Independent Sage said: “We hope every employer will support our Covid Safety Pledge. It obviously makes good public health sense to ensure that the shops and restaurants and offices we use are properly ventilated and that no one is working while infected. But it also makes sound economic sense to give the public confidence that they can use these spaces in safety."
Lara Wong from the Clinically Vulnerable Families group added: “Vulnerable people have effectively been excluded from shops, restaurants and other public spaces over two years now due to a lack of safety protections. We welcome this pledge, which we see as an essential first step to restore our confidence and our freedoms.”