This is a very difficult time for staff who work with the public. FSU Head of Industrial Relations and Campaigns, Gareth Murphy, outlines what staff working in customer facing roles should expect from their employers.
Many bank workers, retail workers and of course our emergency front line health care workers continue to keep this country going, in incredibly difficult circumstances. They do not have the same options of home working that many other workers have.
We are all extremely grateful to these staff for continuing under such difficult circumstances. The Financial Services Unions will continue to seek the best protection from employers and the Government for these staff.
All this guidance might seem obvious but if your employer is falling short on their health and safety obligations then talk them immediately and request their support.
If you have any concerns, you can also call us on our freephone advice centre at 1800 819 191 (ROI) or 0800 358 0071 from Northern Ireland.
The following are vital for front line staff:
- Hand soap for regular washing
- Access to warm water
- Cleaning agents for counters and desks, keyboards, handles and all touchpoints
- Gloves and face masks if appropriate
- Information posters clearly displayed outside and inside of locations.
- Closed bins are the best option for staff to dispose of tissues safely and should be provided.
- Staff should also be given regular breaks to wash hands even if this means customers are slightly inconvenienced.
- If necessary, where staff numbers are limited, this includes closing locations for short periods.
Staff should, where possible, work from behind the glass screen and encourage strict social distancing of 2 metres, as per HSE’s guidance, for any queues that form in the branch or retail outlet. If necessary, place strips of masking tape on the ground 2 metres apart where customers must stand when queuing. And, if necessary, to help with social distancing, customers should be staggered into branch locations. Talk to your branch manager or person in charge about the safest way to manage this.
Not all customer appointments need to be face-to-face. Non-critical meetings can be deferred. Proactively manage your diary to minimise customers coming into the branch with the support of your line manager. Ideally, only customers that really need to be in the location should be. Talk to your line manager about a company notification to customers, and in poster form, about potentially reduced customer transactions to only the necessary at this critical time.
Print off the public health notices and place them around the workplace. But also place them facing out of the location in a clear and visible way. Every customer visiting the branch should be recorded, in a GDPR compliant manner, to help public authorities track potential spread of cases in the community and to help early identification, isolation and treatment of you, your colleagues and the public if necessary.
So, to summarise:
- Make sure you have plenty of cleaning products and take regular time to clean your own hands and handles, keyboards etc.
- Enforce social distancing, where possible, in the location using masking tape on the floor, strong management and limiting the number of customers in the location at any time.
- Publicise clearly health guidance and posters and request clearer notification from employer encouraging only essential visits to the branch.
- Minimise customer footfall to only crucial engagements via appropriate signage and postponement of meetings.
- To help public authorities with potential community identification of COVID-19 spreading take a note of all visitors to the branch.
For customers, please think about front line staff and the risks they are taking before you enter. Is your transaction necessary? Do not go into a bank branch or retail outlet if it can be avoided. If you must, then obey social distancing and public health guidance about coughing and hand sanitation.
Employers should also immediately introduce and communicate protocols should a member of staff have to self-isolate for minimising the risk to colleagues and to help authorities with identifying potential community spread of the virus and of course, keep up to date with health authorities guidance.
For up to date information from the authorities check out the below and links and if you have questions or concerns freephone us at 1800 819 191 (ROI) or 0800 358 0071 from Northern Ireland.
HSE (ROI) – https://www2.hse.ie/coronavirus/
Public Health Agency – (NI) https://www.publichealth.hscni.net/news/covid-19-coronavirus
Department of Health (ROI) – https://www.gov.ie/en/campaigns/c36c85-covid-19-coronavirus/
WHO – https://www.who.int/emergencies/diseases/novel-coronavirus-2019
UK Dept of Health and Social Care https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/guidance-to-employers-and-businesses-about-covid-19
Make sure you’re part of a union. If you work in banking, finance or tech, join FSU today. Go to www.fsunion.org/join.