Re: Introduction of Mandatory Face Coverings in Royal Mail Group (Royal Mail and Parcelforce) From Tuesday 30 November 2021:
Following the emergence of the Omicron Covid-19 variant in the UK, alongside current high daily infection rates which reached 50,000 in a day on 26 November, the Government have confirmed new temporary and precautionary coronavirus measures which include ‘Mandatory Masks’ in certain settings, new self-isolation rules and international travel restrictions from today.
Discussions with Royal Mail Group on the subject of Covid-19 protection for the workforce and the re-introduction of ‘Mandatory’ face masks/coverings have been subject to discussion over the weekend and yesterday after the Union was informed of the company’s intention to change their current policy from ‘Strongly Recommended’ to ‘Mandatory’ face masks for all staff in all Royal Mail Units (Royal Mail and Parcelforce) in England from today Tuesday 30 November with RMG requesting CWU support. ‘Mandatory’ face masks have remained in place in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.
Royal Mail Group stated that as a result of;
- New UK Government Face Covering Regulations introduced as of today,
- The current Coronavirus/Covid-19 high transmissions and infection rate,
- Thousands of temporary, casual and agency workers taken on by the company to support Christmas peak workload,
- The emerging new Covid-19 ‘Omicron 1.1.529’ variant with growing case numbers across the UK,
It has been concluded by the Royal Mail Group Executive that these are factors are combining to increase the risk of workforce infections, if adequate controls are not in place and maintained and Royal Mail Group therefore intend to re-introduce ‘Mandatory Face Masks/Coverings’. See attached copy of the Message from Dr Shaun Davis RMG Director Compliance & Sustainability – “Face Coverings Mandatory With Immediate Effect” 29.11.21
Wearing a face covering can help workers stay safe by reducing the risk of infection. This is even more important in situations, with a combination of the Covid-19 virus and the imminent flu season plus where the workforce meet new people, such as Christmas temporary workers over the Christmas peak in crowded workplaces, where social distancing is difficult. The key benefits of face masks/face coverings in the workplace is to prevent the spread of the viral infection and defend the workforce from being pandemic victims of what is an airborne illness, protecting both the wearer and the surrounding people – giving risk reduction from droplet transmission during exhalation.
The introduction of mandatory face coverings in all indoor workplaces enhances existing preventative, risk control measures to protect the workforce from Coronavirus/Covid-19. This forms part of the RMG Coronavirus Risk Assessment, which is required under health and safety legislation.
CWU/HQ is supporting the initiative having considered the current and worsening Coronavirus/Covid-19 situation across the UK along with expert scientific and medical advice and recommendations.
Mandating of face coverings is a view shared by regulatory bodies such as the Health and Safety Executive, Department of Health and Social Care and many local authorities.
The principles of our previously agreed Joint Statements and Joint Communications including the ‘three-step compliance process’ (copy attached) remain in place, covering off the important issue of the company’s approach to an agreed compliance process and the exceptions process as well as CWU involvement at all levels.
It is fully agreed that the re-introduction ‘Mandatory Masks/Face Coverings’ is one important component Covid-Safe measure but is not an end in itself and does not replace other preventative, risk control measures. It must be seen as one of the steps to safer working and a ‘Covid-19 Secure Workplace’ at this time.
CWU/HQ is therefore supporting this change subject to regular ongoing monitoring and reviews and other important Covid-Secure control preventative measures being maintained and complied with such as increased hygiene, hand washing, sanitization, cleaning and ventilation.
Mandatory face covering in all Royal Mail Group indoor workplaces from today.
Face coverings become mandatory from today in all indoor Royal Mail Group settings (including offices, customer service points, shared vans and workplace restaurants e.g. only remove face coverings when seated and eating/drinking). The new Mandatory Face Masks rule covers all parts of Royal Mail Group e.g. RM, PFWW, RMSS, RM Fleet, RM Engineering, RMP&FS, RMCE etc). The wearing of face masks/coverings whilst outdoors is not mandatory.
Reducing the Risk of Covid-19 Coronavirus Transmission in the Workplace
RMG and the CWU recognise that the introduction of the mandatory use of face coverings in indoor settings is part of a package of government led control measures to reduce the risk of Coronavirus transmission.
Prevention is key
Please take the opportunity to check the standards in your unit:
- Washing hands – regularly, for 40-60 seconds each time.
- Face coverings – mandatory (unless exempt) and should be well fitted. Scientific and medical evidence shows that face coverings help stop the virus spreading, and this is a sensible precautionary measure at this time.
- Cleaning vehicles – should take place at the start and end of duties.
- Ventilation – increased ventilation reduces the concentration of the virus in the air and reduces the risk from airborne transmission. It is important to get as much fresh air into buildings as possible. Avoid stuffy, crowded rooms with no ventilation/fresh air.
- Shared vans – ensure that windows are lowered to allow the cab to be ventilated and facemasks are to being worn.
Provision and Supply of Masks, Gloves, Sanitizer and Wipes
Masks, Gloves and Sanitizer per person is not unreasonably limited and supplies to be sufficient to enable them to be provided/changed frequently. For assistance in ordering supplies go to: Uniform@royalmail.com or Sam Dixon National Uniform Manager Email: email@example.com Tel: 07553365925. Hand sanitiser and wipes are available via the Additional Supplies Register (ASR) app. Assistance is available through Email: ASR_Support@royalmail.com
RMG have updated their Ventilation and Air Conditioning Covid-19 Guidance document with further detail on what constitutes ‘well ventilated’ and ‘poorly ventilated’ spaces or areas. For further information is on the P&FS Guidance SharePoint webpages. PiCs should ensure the Unit Ventilation Risk Assessment is completed.
Self-Isolation and Testing
It is important that members self-isolate when advised to do so, appropriate to the rules for the country (England, Scotland, Wales or Northern Ireland). Anyone who thinks they have symptoms of coronavirus should self-isolate, book a PCR test and not come to work until they have either received a negative test or completed self-isolation.
Workplace Outbreaks/Case Clusters
Where units experience a cluster of cases, managers should utilise the materials in the ‘confirmed case managers pack’ and the RMG process for monitoring local infection rates (copy attached), engaging and working with CWU Reps to reduce the risk of further transmissions. RMG stresses the importance of engaging with local IR and Safety Reps to consider the re-introduction measures to avoid the spread in the workplace.
Covid Secure Workplace Risk Assessment V8.
To ensure workplaces remain ‘Covid-Secure’ environments, PiCs should check that they have reviewed and updated the Unit/office risk assessment to version 8.0. There is now one risk assessment which applies to all sites. (copy attached). For further information PiCs/Managers should contact Joanna Hosking RMG SHE Systems, Standards & Reporting Manager Mobile: 07841 492960 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Workplace Intense Cleaning Following Cases of Covid-19 Positive Tests
Following the diagnosis of positive cases in Royal Mail Group workplaces, intense virucidal, antimicrobial cleaning will take place of both the workplace and vehicles. Cleaning requests should be made via the RMP&FS Help Desk.
Lateral Flow Device (LFD) Test Kits are available centrally to any Units or individuals wishing to undertake home self-testing which Royal Mail, Parcelforce and the CWU strongly support and encourage. The Test Kits can be ordered and will be delivered to the Workplace for distribution to those wanting to participate. Regular testing aids the speedy detection of those infected but without symptoms, so allowing them to self-isolate and reduce the risk of causing an outbreak in the Workplace. The CWU Health, Safety & Environment Department is keen to get a workplace weekly testing implemented in as many Units as possible. For those Units wishing to participate and request test kits PiCs/Managers should contact Carole Pearce RMG Senior Operations Solutions Manager: Tel: 07860847584 Email: Carole.email@example.com
CWU Representatives Involvement
RMG, CWU and Unite/CMA encourage everyone to fully support this policy. CWU Representatives will be fully engaged and involved at all times with their input taken into account with ‘Covid-Secure’ risk controls measures a priority. Managers and CWU representatives will work together to ensure that this policy is deployed in a supportive manner, providing encouragement, assistance and help. CWU ASRs will be fully involved, consulted and available to advise and support unit managers with any queries about the Covid-Secure controls and compliance with them.
New Self-Isolation Rules – Omicron Variant
Any individual identified as a close contact of the suspected Covid-19 Omicron variant case, must self-isolate for 10 days, regardless of vaccination status.
RMG and CWU agree to promote the use of Microsoft Teams for meetings as a way of working that alleviates congestion in offices and transmission risks. This is not mandatory at this stage and will be subject to ongoing review.
Managers Further Information/Support
For further information, help and support managers can either call RMG Coronavirus Support 0345 604 2787 or contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
First Class Support
RMG First Class Support is free and confidential for employees including direct access to counselling services. Call 0345 266 5060, visit www.rmgfirstclasssupport.co.uk or download the ‘Lifeworks’ app. New users of the website/app can ‘sign up’ using a unique invitation code, which is RMG- and then your payroll number, e.g. RMG-12345678.
On the Royal Mail Group ‘Health and Wellbeing Intranet Webpages’, the RMG ‘Feeling First Class – Mental Health page’ includes stress guidance, support and training as well as signposting to internal and external mental health support services. For further information Managers can contact Dan Clark RMG Health & Wellbeing Manager Tel: 07718098179 Email: email@example.com
RMG HQ and CWU HQ will review the current temporary arrangements in line with the latest update from the UK Government in three weeks’ time. The review may result in a continuation of the above arrangements. Restrictions will be removed at the earliest opportunity once assessed as safe to do so and taking account of government guidance.
- Message from Dr Shaun Davis RMG Director Compliance & Sustainability – “Face Coverings Mandatory With Immediate Effect” 29.11.21
- Process for monitoring Covid infection rates at local level based on confirmed cases.
- PPE 3-Step Compliance Process
- Coronavirus Risk Assessment V8
- Mandatory Face Coverings Poster
- Vehicle Touch Points Cleaning Poster
- Handwashing Poster 1
- Handwashing Poster 2
- COVID-19 Ventilation Assessment Guidance
- Ventilation and Air Conditioning Systems – COVID-19 Guidance
Dave Joyce – National Health, Safety & Environment Officer
Davie Robertson – Assistant Secretary Processing, Logistics, Parcelforce, International, Quadrant
Assistant Secretary Outdoor