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Please find attached a new NJC circular on COVID-19 as we continue to leave lockdown. The circular has taken much longer to come out than we would have liked, but UNISON has been pushing the employers to take a more progressive approach to supporting employees during this period rather than sticking closely to government advice.

We were particularly keen to support CEV/CV staff and produce guidance on the treatment of employees who have got ‘long COVID’.  This has proved difficult because the employers have stuck to the line that long COVID is a new illness, which is still being researched and so at this time it should be treated in line with other long term illnesses.  UNISON has made it clear that for us the wording in the current circular is initial advice which we will revisit as more becomes known about this illness.

Isolation should not count as sickness absence

We have been made aware that some employers have mis-categorised self-isolation due to contact with someone with COVID. To be clear – the NJC Green Book contains the following clause:

“An employee who is prevented from attending work because of contact with infectious disease shall be entitled to receive normal pay. The period of absence on this account shall not be reckoned against the employee’s entitlements under this scheme.

This means that if members are employed under Green Book terms and conditions and are required to self-isolate they will continue to receive their normal pay. In addition, this period should not be recorded as sickness absence and should not therefore be counted against their sickness absence entitlement or used as part of any other procedure i.e. capability etc.

Finally, a general reminder that UNISON issues stronger COVID-19 guidance which branches can use to negotiate more favourable arrangements with employers.

With best wishes

Jon Richards
National Secretary
Local Government, Police and Justice Section

Read the guidance for UNISON local government workers
Read the guidance for education staff
Read the trade union side guidance