COVID-19 T&FS Information

1. I’m vulnerable but not classed as extremely vulnerable, do I still need to go to work and what are my options?

The current Government guidance is, where possible, that you work from home, however for many of our members in BT, EE and Openreach this is not possible and you are required to attend work. You should pay particular attention to the guidance on social distancing and the guidance on cleaning and hygiene.

You should tell your manager and look to find ways to reduce your contact with others, for example working from home or quieter shift patterns.

Your manager will be able to discuss a range of options with you to minimise the risk to your health. Our advice is that if you feel that the conditions in work are not reducing risk as much as is possible then you need to tell your line manager and contact your CWU branch who can assist with any localised problem.

The CWU expects BT/Openreach/EE  to make appropriate adjustments in the workplace to respond to this and the CWU is continuing to closely monitor the current guidance.

The CWU will continue to work with BT to improve any area where more measures are needed.


2. I live with someone who is vulnerable but not classed as extremely vulnerable, do I still need to go into work and what are my options

See answer to question 1. Pay particular attention also to social distancing in your home and the workplace.

(Social distancing document)


3. I live with an extremely vulnerable person, (1.8m who have received a letter from NHS) do I still need to go into work, what are my options?

The CWU continues to push BT to treat the health of our members and their families as a priority, in particular for those who live with someone who has been classed as  extremely vulnerable. We saw some movement just before Easter and believed we had secured an agreement on a change in BT’s approach. This new approach gave staff who lived with someone who was high risk the option to work from home and where this was not possible to be paid a mixture of special leave and annual leave. The implementation of this approach has been mixed and we have made further representations to BT who have said that they will look at a number of options to support their employees. You will need to provide evidence, such as a letter from a GP or Government Shielding Letter, to demonstrate that you have no other alternative but to shield.

Our advice is where a member of your household has been identified as high risk you should discuss your options with your line manager. Your options should look to minimize the risk to you and your family and may include reducing your hours, doing a different role or working from home. If all options are exhausted we would expect BT to grant paid special leave. (Please note whilst on paid special leave you will not accrue annual leave, this means that for every complete 4 consecutive weeks you will have 2 days annual leave deducted from your allowance). If you cannot resolve the matter with your line manager please contact your local Branch for additional support. In the meantime the CWU will continue to push BT to support you over and above the Government guidelines.


4. I think I’m extremely vulnerable but not received a letter from the Government, I can’t get a letter from my doctor as they are too busy, what are my options?

Where your case is exceptional and you believe you are extremely vulnerable but don’t have a Shielding Letter  you may be able to confirm your status as extremely vulnerable with your GP (we understand that GPs may not be in a position to produce a Shielding Letter), you may also be able to demonstrate your vulnerable status using several means including for example OHS referrals, medical history or current medication. We advise you discuss this with your manager and seek support from your local CWU Representative.

Ultimately if you should be classed as extremely vulnerable then we want you to be treated by the employer as such, but this may require further help and intervention by the CWU and BT locally.


5. My partner is pregnant, do I still need to work, what are my options?

Please see answer to question 1.


6. Should people who are supposed to be self isolating be allowed in work?

No absolutely not.

Anyone who is self-isolating either due to having symptoms or as a result of household contact must not come to or be admitted to the workplace under any circumstances.

For further guidance please see BT’s Social distancing guidelines. (Social distancing document & isolation protocols)


7. What are the rules for self isolation if someone in your household shows symptoms? (Confusion around government guidelines of 14 days and BTs 7 days)

The guidance is a little more involved. The Government guidance is;

If you live alone and you have symptoms of coronavirus illness (COVID-19), however mild, stay at home for 7 days from when your symptoms started.

If you live with others and you are the first in the household to have symptoms of coronavirus, then you must stay at home for 7 days, but all other household members who remain well must stay at home and not leave the house for 14 days. The 14-day period starts from the day when the first person in the house became ill.

For anyone else in the household who starts displaying symptoms, they need to stay at home for 7 days from when the symptoms appeared, regardless of what day they are on in the original 14 day isolation period. isolation protocols.


8. What should I do about the lack of PPE,  gloves, masks, hand sanitiser what should I do about going into customer premises?

There are various procedures in place which direct you to carry out your job without entering customer premises.

Should you need to enter a premises then you must seek further guidance, dependant on your role a range of helpdesks  and advice have been set up to help you.  If you have not got details of the relevant helpdesk you should ask your line manager in the first instance.

The CWU’s position is clear – If you do not have the correct PPE to carry out your job safely, your priority is to keep yourself and others around you safe.  You should inform your manager that you cannot safely undertake that task.


9. I’m being classed as a key worker but the work I’m doing is not critical or essential, why am I being told to come into the workplace?

The CWU strongly holds the view that;

As many workers as possible should work from home.

Where not possible Key workers should only be required to attend the workplace to carry out critical work or work that assists the vulnerable

The definition of critical or essential is however not always clear cut, for example the CWU does accept that some sales work could be assisting in maintaining connectivity and similarly for example some engineering work may not directly appear essential however it supports or links to essential work in keeping vulnerable people connected


10. I don’t think that the social distancing policy of 2 metres is being adequately applied in my work area?

The Government has introduced a Nationwide policy of social distancing, which is critical to preventing the spread of Covid 19 and protecting the NHS.

The CWU has taken a very firm line with BT/Openreach/EE on this issue and we expect BT to enforce this. We have established further  practical guidance with BT on this, please see the link below.

Social Distancing document

If you believe this is not happening you need to raise this with your manager and contact your local CWU branch.


11. I don’t think my work area is properly cleaned and/or cleaned often enough?

The CWU’s position is that BT/Openreach/EE should be following the most rigorous and regular cleaning processes in shared spaces and provide hand washing facilities and/or hand sanitiser for every member no matter what the cost.

If you believe this is not happening you need to raise this with your manager and contact your local CWU branch.


12. My children are not in school do I still need to work and will any time off be paid?

BT /Openreach/EE will provide you with proof of key worker status. This means you can send your child to school or nursery but the provision of school/nursery places for key workers varies in the UK with many areas prioritising NHS workers.

In all circumstances we expect BT to be supportive and flexible with your shift pattern and hours of attendance.  Your  CWU Branch Rep will be able to offer assistance in resolving this locally with BT.

Where there are no options available we expect BT to give paid leave. In circumstances where you can get a childcare place as a key worker but choose to stay at home with your children BT will only grant this currently as unpaid leave


13. Is Hot Desking still allowed in workplaces

There should be no hot desking  taking place in BT or EE. The only exception is the 999 centres where this maybe a requirement. Where this is happening extra provision has been put in place to deep clean work areas with greater frequency, and always before it changes user.


14. I normally receive bonus what will happen to it if I am off due to  isolating or if I have contracted  Covid 19 ?

In Consumer sales  to protect earnings , bonus payments have now moved over to personal average payments. Service bonuses are already paid on this basis or on contingency.

If someone is self-isolating for 7 or 14 days then bonus payments and Sunday payments will not be paid in line with normal absence arrangements.

The CWU have requested that bonus and Sunday payments are made to those individuals who have been told by the Government to self -isolate for 12 weeks.

In other CFUs the CWU is working to clarify bonus arrangements.


15. I am worried about travelling on busy public transport, and my timetable has been restricted, what can I do?

If you are experiencing difficulties in travelling into work in the first instance speak to your manager and seek support from your local branch. There are several potential solutions  to travel issues including BT paying  for taxis and changes to your shift patterns to avoid busy times.