Last week, the Rail Industry Coronavirus Forum (RICF) updated the Emergency Working Principles which have been guiding the rail industry through the coronavirus crisis as guidance on the wearing of face-covering has also been updated and issued.
Updated emergency working principles
The protection of rail workers’ health and safety remains the guiding objective, with the guidance document stating: “Our top priority during this unprecedented period will be to protect and safeguard our workers and their families.”
Various activities which had effectively been paused during the lockdown period are now re-starting, including discipline, grievance and absence procedures. Please note that it has been agreed that absence due to covid related matters will not be included in absence management. The document states: “All sickness absence related to Coronavirus will be excluded from sickness absence monitoring procedures.”
The updated principles document covers changes of duties, right to sick pay whilst shielding and a whole raft of measures to protect rail workers and keeping services moving. It also confirms that the Network Rail Putting Passengers First project will recommence.
The wearing of face coverings on public transport has been mandatory in England since the 15 June, in Scotland since 22 June and in Wales since 27 July – including both passengers and staff.
The key message in the guidance for rail workers is: “All employees, contractors and tenants should – as far as is practicable – wear face coverings when they are at work in public areas of stations and on trains.” That includes when travelling to and from work.
The Office for Road and Rail (ORR) has supplemented this advice with the following: “To promote a consistent approach, whilst at work and when travelling to/from work, employees should normally use face coverings/masks or visors made available to them by their employer. The use of separately purchased or homemade face coverings, masks or visors by employees may be used if assessed as suitable by their employer.”
RICF meetings are expected to continue into September.