The past year has been one of significant change in the way we all work and, from the outset of the Covid-19 pandemic in March 2020, the SCTS Branch of PCS has worked to ensure that members receive the appropriate assistance, support and advice that they need at this difficult time. PCS branch representatives recognise that each member’s circumstances are different, and every concern and query received is treated as a matter of priority with a view to obtaining a successful resolution. In addition, PCS continues to consult and work with SCTS, even now, to ensure that policies and guidance impacted by Covid-19 are appropriate and conform to the Agreed Civil Service Union and Scottish Government, protocols. An overview of the work being undertaken is relayed below.
The PCS Branch of SCTS continues to be resolutely aligned with the Scottish Government position that all staff who can work from home, should be working from home. This position was enshrined in law in Scotland between January and April 2021.
With the resumption of business in the workplace and opening courts for this to take place, back in June 2020, PCS worked to ensure that footfall within SCTS buildings was kept to an absolute minimum. This is still the case, with public counters remaining closed and Jurors, currently, no longer having to attend court houses, whether in the High Court or Sheriff Court.
Prior to around 40 or more SCTS buildings reopening for business in June 2020, PCS was given advance sight of the Health and Safety checklists applicable to each SCTS building, to review and no building was opened, until it was safe to do so. In the event of an individual displaying or reporting symptoms of Covid-19 in an SCTS building, the responsible manager on sight must complete a Dynamic Risk Assessment (DRA) to outline the incident and explain what actions were taken. Every DRA is reviewed by PCS. To date over 600 have been reviewed. Individuals are not only staff, but can be Solicitors, Police, witnesses, Jurors; basically anyone attending our buildings. PCS ensure incidents are appropriately dealt with, in terms of the SCTS Covid Incident Response Guidance, which PCS were consulted on.
Throughout the Covid-19 pandemic, PCS with SCTS developed a local return to workplace agreement. This agreement has evolved to meet the changing national guidance and restrictions that have been seen over the course of the pandemic. The Scottish Government has maintained that home working is the default position. PCS has made every effort to maximise the potential for home working throughout SCTS.
PCS has sought to maintain the safety of all vulnerable groups during the pandemic, including those with childcare and general caring responsibilities. PCS has worked to ensure necessary provisions are in all relevant policies
Throughout the pandemic PCS Branch reps have continued to provide support, advice and assistance to members, who have been impacted by Covid-19 and who have particular queries in relation to their own circumstances. All this on top of the business as usual work, that we undertake, in relation to personal cases, negotiating with Management on terms and conditions of employment and ensuring changes in the way we do things, are safe for all.
Brian J Carroll, PCS SCTS Branch Secretary