Returning to the workplace and other COVID related concerns

Network Rail agree to address concerns raised by TSSA members

As outlined by the General Secretary in the last News On The Go Bulletin: In recent weeks members have seen a confusing and incorrect approach to returning to the workplace following the changes to COVID restrictions. These concerns have been raised locally, and regionally by our reps and were raised collectively on a National level two weeks ago at the National Policy Council (24/09/2021) and at the National Health Safety and Welfare Council (NHSWC) last Friday (01/10/2021).

Unacceptable Pressure On Members To Return To Workplaces

We have seen an unacceptable level of pressure and messaging put on members, in some areas of the business, to return to the workplace full time. At the NHSWC, Network Rail agreed that, in line with the Rail Industry Recovery Group agreements, we all need to explore new ways of working. 

At National level it has been agreed that those with elements of work that can be carried out remotely, should be able to have a balanced conversation with their line managers. This balanced approach should afford all members the opportunity to explore a more hybrid way of working. This balanced view should also be reflected in messages put out by the company, extolling not only the benefits of returning to the workplace, but also working remotely.

Flexible Working Request Not Correct For Returning To Work Discussions

When discussing returning to the workplace, some members have been told they need to submit Flexible Working Requests in the context of returning to the workplace, this is not the correct process. We raised this at National level with Network Rail and they agreed with our position.

Network Rail HR confirmed that “flexible working requests are for fixed working agreements, i.e. changes to contract conditions, and not the desired approach when discussing differing returns to work.” If members are asked to submit Flexible Working Requests when exploring their return to the workplace, please make your managers aware that this not the correct process and ask them to refer to HR and/or the “Wellbeing and Support Pack for Colleagues Returning to the Workplace”.

COVID Restrictions

Many members have concerns around the changes to the control measures to guard against the spread of COVID. We have made it quite clear that the lifting of Government restrictions relating to COVID do not give any employer a carte blanche to remove all control measures and return blindly to how we worked pre-pandemic. 
Network Rail’s own COVID Work Activity Risk Assessment (WARA) and CP009 do not give the green light for all control measures to be removed.

Yes, the lifting of restrictions does mean that there will be changes, but these changes need to be proportionate and fully assessed. In some areas it may well be that certain controls are reduced, but it equally true to say that in other areas controls should remain unchanged, and in others they may even need to be increased. 

This was agreed and confirmed with Network Rail at the NHSWC. It was also agreed that a Post Implementation Review will be set up for three weeks’ time.

#FlipYourThinking on difficult conversations

TSSA has launched our new resource called #FlipYourThinking which has been developed as part of our industry leading allyship toolkit. The concept behind #FlipYourThinking is to consider difficult conversations from both sides.

The resource and training are designed to help people develop skills to challenge discriminatory language or behaviour and provides advice on how to respond if you are challenged by others. But #FlipYourThinking can be applied to any circumstances that involve conflict or the need to challenge or be challenged.

This resource is best understood and utilised through the accompanied training that TSSA have developed. 

If you are interested in understanding more about how to use this resource or to register for training, visit our dedicated page here.

Flip Your Thinking

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