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Covid-19 Information

covid-19 information

The NUJ is aware of the concern caused by the coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic. We want to ensure that our members have the most up to date information possible.

As an employer we are monitoring the situation to protect our staff and visitors to the NUJ offices. Our officials advise chapel representatives to consult employers to ensure that each company has made appropriate arrangements at workplace level.

All events are being kept under review and we are being guided by the official advise provided by governments and statutory agencies in the UK and Ireland.

NUJ contacts

If you are a union member and need to contact NUJ staff, log in to the website to access phone numbers of the union's full-time officials. The union's offices are now closed.

Help NUJ members in need

NUJ Extra - the union's hardship fund will help those affected by the coronavirus when it can. Please donate to NUJ Extra today.

Updates on financial support

UK police guidance -

Following talks between the NUJ and the National Police Chiefs Council, the council has sent media guidance to all police forces in England, Wales and Northern Ireland. The guidance and NUJ statement are available online: Journalists covering the crisis should carry a press card.

The NUJ wants staff as well as freelance media workers, including photographers and reporters, to be able to continue to provide the public with timely and accurate information - about events, about the latest health advice, to help promote and coordinate volunteering efforts, to bring the community together and to combat the proliferation of fake news.

The NUJ will continue to make the case that public interest reporting about the coronavirus is essential and how to organise this work should be decided by journalists themselves and media organisations.

Journalists should recognise this is a global public health emergency, where movement can risk lives, and all media workers, especially freelances, should carefully consider their own health and the health of others.

UKPCA press cards should remain as the official accreditation and shown as evidence of purpose - journalists and news gatherers should have freedom of movement and be able to travel while they are carrying out essential public interest reporting.

The union can make representations to the relevant public authorities on behalf of members who are inhibited from work, whose work is clearly in the public interest. Email: campaigns@nuj.org.uk

UK freelance -

HW Fisher (who provide the NUJ's free tax helpline) are taking calls from NUJ members needing advice on the UK coronavirus schemes for freelances, either on the usual helpline number 02078747846 or directly to Barry Kernon on 07734584739.

Read the NUJ guide on how to claim a grant under the UK self-employment income support scheme.

The union has compiled a guide to the UK government's new schemes to help people during the Covid-19 pandemic and how to access other benefits - statutory sick pay, coronavirus job retention scheme, employment and support allowance (ESA) and universal credit.

The NUJ's freelance office has updated its briefing for the UK parliamentary treasury select committee on COVID-19 assistance for freelances.

Access the UK government's information on the support measures for the self-employed and read the NUJ reaction.

Read the NUJ freelance office guide to the support and assistance available.

UK employee support -

Thompsons Solicitors have published a briefing on employer and employees responsibilities in the wake of the coronavirus (version 2)- this document is available to members only and includes information on the UK government's job retention scheme. 

Thompsons Solicitors earlier legal briefing on employer and employees responsibilities (version 1) in the wake of Coronavirus - this document is only available to NUJ members and will need to log in to the website to access and download the document.  

UK business -

The UK government has set out a package of measures to support businesses. Some NUJ
members work via companies and employ others this is union information relating to the job retention scheme, statutory sick pay, coronavirus business interruption loan scheme, tax and VAT.

Ireland -

The Irish government's department of employment affairs and social protection have created a range of measures to provide income support to people affected by COVID-19.

The virus has prompted a review of payments and emergency payments are now open to self employed workers. Freelance workers who have had to cease work as a result of the coronavirus should apply. Download the application form. Visit the dedicated section of the gov.ie website for more information.

The Irish government have announced that the self-employed who have lost work due to the economic downturn associated with COVID-19 can apply for the COVID-19 pandemic unemployment payment. More information is available via the government's website.

Where employees in the Republic of Ireland have been temporarily laid off they can apply for the Covid-19 pandemic unemployment payment.

Freelances in the Republic of Ireland who have been diagnosed with COVID-19 or who have been medically certified to self-isolate as a result of COVID-19 should apply for the COVID-19 enhanced illness benefit. More details are available on the government's website.

SOLAS eCollege courses are being temporarily made available free of charge to Irish members as an additional support to those affected by Covid-19 containment measures. Your local NUJ branch has the full details.

Wales -

Welsh government has launched a £500 million economic resilience fund.

Scotland -

Access the joint statement by the Scottish government and Scottish Trades Union Congress (STUC) on fair work expectations - Coronavirus (COVID-19): fair work statement Scotland.

In Scotland the union has been urging the Scottish parliament to consider the freedom of information implications in the coronavirus (Scotland) bill.

Northern Ireland -

Workers living in Northern Ireland who are employed and have paid their taxes in the Irish Republic are currently not entitled to claim benefits in the South and so are not able to claim the state provisions currently available. The NUJ has been lobbying to ensure these provisions are expanded to include cross-border workers. The Irish Times has reported the problem - cross-border workers denied Covid-19 emergency benefit.

Media guidance

IFJ safety advisory for media professionals

How journalists can deal with trauma while reporting on COVID-19 - when journalists cover crises, tragedies, and disasters, and interview people affected by them, they face a complicated task: to not cause additional harm to the victims, while at the same time taking care of their own mental health. Access the trauma guidance published by the The Global Investigative Journalism Network.

Useful links

ACAS - Coronavirus: advice for employers and employees. This advice is being reviewed daily. ACAS are monitoring government updates and when legal changes happen, they will update this web page.

Pregnant and worried about coronavirus? Covid-19 – rights and benefits during pregnancy and maternity leave.

GOV.UK - This is the government's website for services and information. https://www.gov.uk/government/topical-events/coronavirus-covid-19-uk-government-response

NHS website - The National Health Service website. Find information and advice on health conditions, symptoms, healthy living, medicines and how to get help.
https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/coronavirus-covid-19/

NHS 111 website - Use this website to check if you have coronavirus symptoms.  https://111.nhs.uk/covid-19/

Northern Ireland Labour Relations Agency - They have published information online about the coronavirus including advice for employers and employees, and the impact of the virus on their services.
https://www.lra.org.uk/coronavirus-advice-employers-and-employees

Health Protection Scotland - HPS plan and deliver specialist national services which co-ordinate, strengthen and support activities aimed at protecting the people of Scotland from infectious and environmental hazards. HPS is part of NHS National Services Scotland.
https://www.hps.scot.nhs.uk/a-to-z-of-topics/wuhan-novel-coronavirus

Ireland GOV.IE - This is the Irish government's website for services and information.
https://www.gov.ie/en/publication/99104a-covid-19-coronavirus

Workplace Relations Commission Ireland - This is the statutory body dealing with Adjudication Officer cases and industrial relations matters.
https://www.workplacerelations.ie/en/

Every mind matters - anxiety is something everyone experiences at times, and feeling anxious is a perfectly natural reaction to some situations. But sometimes feelings of anxiety can be constant, overwhelming or out of proportion to the situation and this can affect your daily life. The good news is there are plenty of things you can try to help cope with anxiety.

Domestic Violence UK helplines -

  • National Domestic Violence Helpline (24/7) - 0808 2000 247
  • The Men’s Advice Line (for male domestic abuse survivors) - 0808 801 0327
  • The Mix (free information and support for under 25s in the UK) - 0808 808 4994
  • National LGBT+ Domestic Abuse Helpline - 0800 999 5428
  • Samaritans (24/7) - 116 123

Benefits Advice (select the appropriate jurisdiction e.g. England) - https://www.citizensadvice.org.uk/

TUC information -

The TUC have issued a report (3 April) including the current government advice to businesses and further recommendations for action. TUC report: Protecting workers' safety in the coronavirus pandemic.

Following consultation with trade unions, the chancellor announced a new job retention scheme on Friday 20 March. On Monday 23 March, the TUC published a new report setting out what government must do next to protect family incomes. Download the TUC's full report - Protecting workers’ jobs and livelihoods.

Before the lockdown, the TUC issued guidance for trade union reps, designed to give you an understanding of the workplace issues in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic, and to provide support in being effective at negotiating with employers so they take the necessary steps to best protect the health and safety of the workforce.

NUJ campaigns -

NUJ representatives have participated in regular discussions with UK government ministers, employers and civil servants during the coronavirus crisis. After the first meeting, the union published a series of policy proposals - NUJ recommendations for industry & society in response to the coronavirus.

JPIMedia has announced it will furlough around 65 of its journalists and cut pay - At JPIMedia the NUJ's priorities are the wellbeing & financial security of members (3 April)

The NUJ in Ireland has strongly criticised the procedure adopted by the minister for finance and public expenditure requiring journalists to submit written questions at a restricted press conference - Coronavirus crisis no justification for restricting media questions, says NUJ (3 April)

The NUJ has called on the government to ditch its inquiry into whether to decriminalise non-payment of the TV licence - Government must drop TV licence inquiry and support the BBC’s public service broadcasting (2 April)

The union has condemned the threats made to UK key workers over speaking to journalists - NUJ defends coronavirus whistle-blowers & journalistic sources (31 March)

The union has called on Iconic Newspapers Ltd to withdraw the threat of lays off across Ireland and demanded that Celtic Media Group review its decision to lay off staff - NUJ urges companies to halt Irish newspaper lay offs (24 March)

The NUJ reacted immediately to Newsquest's announcement of a series of cuts affecting staff - Newsquest journalism cuts are devastating for UK's local news provision (24 March)

The NUJ in Ireland has called for a crisis forum involving government, the BAI, trade unions and media industry representatives to examine how the media, as a vital service can be protected during the crisis - NUJ seeks crisis forum on Corona threat to media jobs in Ireland (21 March)

The Federation of Entertainment Unions represents more than 100,000 people working in the entertainment and creative industries has called for an income guarantee for freelance and self-employed workers for the duration of the COVID-19 outbreak - FEU calls for an income guarantee to protect workers in the arts and media (20 March)

The NUJ lobbied the UK government to secure key worker status for journalists - 'Don’t lockdown journalists' NUJ and news providers tell UK government (19 March)

The union called on employers to follow UK government advice to facilitate home working - NUJ urges media owners to follow government advice on Covid-19 (17 March)

The NUJ called on the UK chancellor to provide more protection for freelances - NUJ calls for financial protection for freelances during Covid-19 pandemic (17 March)

NUJ events

We have received several queries from chapels and branches in relation to the forthcoming NUJ delegate meeting, which is scheduled to take place in Southport on 24-26 April 2020.
 
We are keeping the event under review and will be guided by the advice of the relevant health authorities and statutory agencies in the UK and Ireland. Our priority always will be the health and welfare of staff, delegates and members. We will also be consulting with the host venue and hotels, who have a duty of care to their employees.
 
For now, we are working on the assumption that DM will proceed as planned and advise that delegates should not change arrangements. The NUJ will of course keep you informed of any change in relation to DM.
 
Chapels and branches should consider cancelling events and/or make maximum use of technology to allow remote participation.  

The NUJ will review plans for committee meetings daily.

The NUJ is suspending reps’ training until the end of May. We will update you when the situation changes. The union is exploring online options and we’ll update you when we have more news. This is also the case with the NUJ's professional development courses and the Federation of Entertainment Union (FEU) professional development workshops.

Simple hygiene and health tips -

Do

  • Wash your hands properly and often.
  • Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or your sleeve when you cough and sneeze.
  • Put used tissues into a bin and wash your hands.
  • Avoid close contact with people who are not well.
  • Check travel advice -

UK travel advice - https://www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice

Irish travel advice -  https://dfa.ie/travel/travel-advice/coronavirus

  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces.
  • Stay at home if you are sick to help stop the spread of whatever infection you may have.

Do not

  • Touch your eyes, nose or mouth if your hands are not clean.
  • Share objects that touch your mouth – for example, bottles, cups.

Wash your hands -

  • After coughing or sneezing.
  • Before and after eating.
  • Before and after preparing food
  • If you are in contact with a sick person, especially those with fever or respiratory symptoms (cough, shortness of breath, difficulty breathing).
  • After being on public transport or in a crowd (especially an indoor crowd).
  • If you have handled animals or animal waste.
  • Before having a cigarette or vaping.
  • If your hands are dirty
  • After using the toilet.

Keep your hands in good condition, moisturise them often. Any basic product that is not perfumed or colored is OK.

Do not wear gloves instead of washing your hands. The virus gets on them in the same way it gets on your hands. Also, your hands can get contaminated when you take them off.

Read a step-by-step guide on how to properly wash your hands and avoid infection.