Absenteeism may have also increased during this period as the virus has spread, inevitably leaving some council services overstretched with some of the less “critical“ functions being suspended. Local Government has, like the NHS, responded to the challenge by working flexibly to ensure that vital local services are maintained.
Some Local Government employees will be performing roles which are new to them. Grounds Maintenance teams being redeployed into waste management; administration colleagues being redeployed in to community liaison; HR colleagues being redeployed in to community wellbeing. Importantly, however, we have seen little evidence of inappropriate redeployment.
This indicates that Local Government has recognised that Health and Safety Legislation has not been suspended and failure to follow some basic rules could have serious implication.
Some issues to consider when redeploying colleagues include:-
- Skill sets of the redeployed staff against the skill set requirements of the redeployed role
- Availability of training to ensure redeployed staff in unfamiliar surroundings are equipped appropriately; i.e. safe handling of people, adult safe guarding, infection control and safe administration of medication
- Availability of referral points to monitor and support inexperienced staff
- Risks assessments, given the inexperienced nature of redeployed staff. Will administration staff be redeployed to a role involving more manual work?
There are certain areas where redeployed staff will be required to engage with high-risk or vulnerable people. Special care must be taken in these areas as there are risks not common to more operational services which require specialist treatment. Whilst Local Government staff will have background checks performed, there may be reason to review these before allowing a redeployment to a position engaging with the vulnerable.
Similarly, specialist equipment may be needed to perform certain roles. Where engaging with the vulnerable or high risk, public Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) is likely to be a requirement. This availability of PPE has become high profile as the pandemic has escalated. It is essential that redeployed staff are offered the same protection as they could expect if performing any other task. Employers are expected to take all practicable steps to ensure the safety of their staff. Whilst it could be argued that “needs must” at the moment, we would strongly advise against that approach as both employee and those they are trying to help may be at greater risk.
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For more information please contact your Gallagher representative, call 0800 6123 641