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Covid-19 Information

covid-19 information

The NUJ is aware of the concern caused by the coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic and 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 advice 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.

Please note that while the NUJ continues to carry out and maintain its vital work in supporting our members, both the union offices and some partner organisations are operating a remote working system where possible in light of the coronavirus outbreak. This may delay response times, so please bear with us, we will endeavour to reply as quickly as possible. Please avoid posting any documents to NUJ offices for the time being and correspond by email or telephone.

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.

NUJ launches News Recovery Plan

The NUJ has launched a News Recovery Plan for the UK and Ireland to sustain the press and media through the Covid-19 crisis and reinvigorate the industry into a reimagined future.

The present crisis has shown just how vital it is to have a news media providing accurate information, how desperate people are for trustworthy content and how essential it is that the government and authorities are held to account.

Download the full report - From Health Crisis to Good News: a recovery plan for the news industry by the NUJ. Read the NUJ press release launching the report

The NUJ in Ireland has also published a call for a recovery plan for local and national media - access From Health Crisis to Good News - A recovery plan for the news industry in Ireland.

Sign the recovery plan petition

IFJ launches global platform for quality journalism - Fears are growing that global press freedom is under its most serious threat yet because of the impact of the coronavirus crisis. In response, the IFJ has launched a series of global proposals in response to the coronavirus crisis - access the IFJ's global platform for quality journalism.

Government plans and guidance

The UK government’s roadmap for how and when the UK will adjust its response to the COVID-19 crisis - Our plan to rebuild: The UK government’s COVID-19 recovery strategy (11 May)

UK government guidance to help employers, employees and the self-employed understand how to work safely during the coronavirus pandemic - Working safely during coronavirus (11 May)

UK government guidance for employers to help them get their businesses back up and running and workplaces operating safely - Back to work guidance (11 May)

UK government guidance for safer travel and transport operations during the next phase of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic - Travel guidance (12 May)

Ireland's Roadmap for reopening society and business (1 May)

Ireland's response to COVID-19 - Department of Health information

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.

Covid-19 has raised some interesting and often unique ethical dilemmas for journalists reporting a global emergency and pandemic, says Professor Chris Frost, chair of the NUJ's ethics council. Reporting the pandemic ethically - Ethical Journalism Network.

NUJ code of conduct - the NUJ's code has set out the main principles of UK and Irish journalism since 1936. The code is part of the rules of our union. All journalists joining the NUJ have to sign up and agree they will strive to adhere to its professional principles. We encourage people to read and support the code of conduct and we ask members to promote it in the media industry.

Media reporting

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.

London policing 

Met Police guidance - photography advice - this information has been made clear to London police officers and PCSOs through briefings and internal communications. This advice is available to all officers and provides a summary of the Met’s guidance on photography in public places.

Police Scotland

Police Scotland have adopted the NPCC media guidance, and Fiona Hyslop MSP, on behalf of the Scottish government, has told the NUJ: "We expect our public authorities to allow journalists reporting on the current crisis to have the freedom of movement they require to do their important work. I have asked my officials to ensure that this is communicated to Police Scotland and the chief constable has highlighted that they will take a proportionate response."

Problems encountered when reporting

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

The NUJ will continue to argue 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 when their coverage is clearly in the public interest. Contact: campaigns@nuj.org.uk

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 in March, the union published a series of policy proposals - NUJ recommendations for industry & society in response to the coronavirus.

The NUJ has launched a News Recovery Plan for the UK and Ireland to sustain the press and media through the Covid-19 crisis and reinvigorate the industry into a reimagined future. Access the full report - From Health Crisis to Good News: a recovery plan for the news industry by the NUJ (16 April)

IFJ launches global proposals in response to covid crisis - IFJ survey shows depth of crisis for media and demands urgent action to save jobs, protect independent media and fund quality journalism. (30 April)

The NUJ has launched a Forgotten Freelances campaign.

Irish government must address Iconic newspapers' behaviour - one of Ireland's largest newspaper groups has laid off journalists, made editorial staff compulsory redundant and temporarily shut newspapers. (30 April)

The NUJ’s equality councils have flagged up concerns that disabled people are among those who have been disproportionately affected by the Covid-19 crisis. NUJ equality committees flag up impact of Covid-19 on disabled workers (16 April)

NUJ seeks clarity for Jewish News and Jewish Chronicle journalists - union reacts to announcements on closures, redundancies and potential merger. (15 April). NUJ members were devastated to learn the Jewish Chronicle would be put into liquidation - Jewish Chronicle NUJ chapel statement (17 April)

Reach plc has announced the plan to put one-fifth of its workforce on furlough and cut pay by 10 per cent for the remaining staff - NUJ responds to Reach plc crisis proposals (6 April).

JPIMedia has announced it will furlough about 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 which requires 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 who speak to journalists - NUJ defends coronavirus whistle-blowers & journalistic sources (31 March).

The union has called on Iconic Newspapers Ltd to withdraw the threat of lay-offs across Ireland and demanded that Celtic Media Group reviews its decision to do the same - 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, seen 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, which 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).

Updates on financial support

UK legal briefings 

Thompsons Solicitors has published a series of legal briefings on employer and employees' responsibilities in the wake of the coronavirus -

These documents are available to members only.

Lord John Hendy QC, has warns that millions of workers risk destitution due to gaps in the Job Retention Scheme - access the legal briefing on the Institute of Employment Rights website.

The coronavirus: rights to leave the workplace and strikes - an exploration of workers' rights (and lack thereof) to leave work due to the threat of coronavirus and a trade union's right to provide information. Written by Stuart Brittenden, barrister, Old Square Chambers, on the Institute of Employment Rights' website.

UK freelances

HW Fisher (the accountancy firm which provides the NUJ's free tax helpline) is 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.

NUJ briefing -- Statutory Sick Pay, Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme, Employment and Support Allowance, Universal Credit and Self-employment Income Support Scheme, Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme, Scottish Self-Employed Hardship Fund, Welsh Economic Resilience Fund. (May 1) 

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

Claim a grant through the coronavirus self-employment income support scheme via the UK government website.

Find out how HMRC works out total income and trading profits for the self-employment income support scheme via the UK government's website.

Self-employment Income Support Scheme FAQs via the UK government website.

The NUJ has launched a Forgotten Freelances campaign.

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 support measures for the self-employed and read the NUJ's reaction.

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

UK employees

UK government guidance - check if your employer can use the coronavirus job retention scheme - find out if you’re eligible, and how much your employer can claim if they put you on temporary leave ("furlough") because of coronavirus (COVID-19).

UK apprenticeships

With all the current turmoil in the workplaces apprenticeships might be under threat and these briefing look into the options available for sustaining apprenticeships and where union bargaining and negotiating functions have a role to play in preserving them.
What union reps need to know - helping apprentices.
What apprentices themselves need to know.

UK business

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

UK government guidance - claim for your employees' wages through the coronavirus job retention scheme - find out if you’re eligible and how much you can claim to cover wages for employees on temporary leave ("furlough") due to coronavirus (COVID-19).

Ireland

The Irish government's department of employment affairs and social protection has created a range of measures to provide income support for 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 and visit the dedicated section of the gov.ie website for more information.

The Irish government has 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.

Northern Ireland

MLA urges Stormont action to help local media through crisis - The Stormont executive needs to take urgent action to preserve local and regional media in Northern Ireland in the face of immense commercial pressure from the coronavirus lockdown, the SDLP has said.

Wales

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

Support for Business in Wales, the Business Wales website: the Welsh and UK governments have announced a range of measures to assist businesses and workers across Wales, including information on business rate relief, grants, support for the self-employed, access to finance and support for employees.

Scotland

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

Health and safety guidance

TUC briefing on how to manage the mass return to work at the end or easing of lockdown: Preparing for the return to work outside the home.

Your health, your safety - if you are an employee (full or part-time, temporary or permanent), this information, jointly published by HSE and the TUC, explains what your rights are, what you should expect from your employer, what responsibilities you have and where to go for help. It also applies to you if you are a young person doing work experience, an apprentice, mobile worker or homeworker, or a migrant worker (even if you are working in the UK without permission) - see a brief guide for workers.

Union safety reps - recognised safety reps have legally enforceable rights in the workplace, including the right to take an active part in risk assessments and to information about safety matters such as hygiene. These rights still apply. What rights do safety reps have? TUC WorkSmart briefing.

Health and Safety Executive - employer's responsibilities - under the law employers are responsible for health and safety management. This HSE guidance provides a broad outline of how the law applies to employers.

Health and Safety Executive - protecting home workers - an employer has the same health and safety responsibilities for home workers as for any other workers - this covers equipment needs and stress/mental health.

Health and Safety Executive - working from home guidance - working safely with display screen equipment: an overview.

What if I am victimised for questioning safety? TUC WorkSmart briefing.
You have some legal protection from victimisation. Any employees or workers who are victimised for taking up a health and safety issue at work, whether they do so on their own account or as recognised safety representatives, are protected under the Public Interest Disclosure Act 1998 (PIDA).

The TUC's hazards magazine has health and safety resources available online.

Mental health

This is a guide to working well from home because of the coronavirus, produced by Leapers, an organisation that supports the mental health of freelances and the self-employed. It includes "Ask 'How are you?'" and "Remember, it's not forever."

Resources for supporting your mental health while working from home - this includes self-care tips and links to a range of resources. MHRA website mental health resources.

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.

Pregnant workers

Pregnant and worried about coronavirus? Government guidance classifies pregnant women as part of the "vulnerable people" group who should observe social distancing measures. Access the TUC guide on what this means for pregnant women at work.

Covid-19 – rights and benefits during pregnancy and maternity leave.

TUC information

Learning@Home - the TUC's unionlearn team has launched a new campaign that includes access to online training resources and tips on how best to undertake learning at home.

Preparing for the return to work outside the home: a trade union approach. The TUC has published a report (April 2020) setting out what the government must do now to ensure a safe transition from lockdown, looking at how to safely return to work outside the home, the enforcement measures needed to protect workers, and how best to protect workers’ livelihoods.

The TUC is calling for an emergency boost to universal credit to help people through the coronavirus crisis. Access their latest report Fixing the safety net: Next steps in the economic response to coronavirus (6 April).  

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE), the CBI and TUC have issued an unprecedented joint call for employers to ensure safe working conditions. If companies remain open they must take practical steps to minimise the threat of workers being exposed to the virus wherever possible – including enabling social distancing. If employers do not comply with the latest Public Health England guidance, they face being hit with enforcement notices and potential closure - Employers staying open must guarantee safe working conditions including social distancing - say HSE, CBI and TUC in joint statement (3 April).

The TUC has issued a report (3 April) whivh includes 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 help you effectively negotiate with employers so they take the necessary steps to best protect the health and safety of their workers.

Useful links

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

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 - has 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 plans and delivers specialist national services which co-ordinate, strengthen and support activities to protect 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 - The statutory body dealing with adjudication officer cases and industrial relations matters:
https://www.workplacerelations.ie/en/

UNESCO - UNESCO is the UN agency with a specific mandate to promote free flow of ideas by word and image. It has created a resources centre about the coronavirus.

Domestic violence helplines and guidance
  • 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

The physical workplace can be a place of safety for those experiencing domestic abuse. Now, with stringent social distancing measures in place, that option may be gone. In only the first weekend of UK lockdown, visits to the national abuse website increased by 150 per cent. Domestic abuse has always been an issue for union reps to engage with and in the current crisis the TUC has published new guidance on what reps can do to ensure women and their children stay safe during this time. If you or anyone you know may have been affected by domestic abuse, the guidance contains information on how you can seek help. 

Benefits Advice 

Access information from Citizens Advice.

NUJ events

We have received several queries from chapels and branches about the forthcoming NUJ delegate meeting, which is scheduled to take place in Southport on 24-26 April 2020. The event has been postponed. The NUJ will keep you informed of any changes 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 will update you when we have more news.

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 coloured 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 and 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.

We believe that every worker should join a union, that a union should be there for you, and that you should be active, support it and organise in whatever way you can – in good times and the bad times. These are certainly challenging times.

So if you know colleagues, friends and neighbours who are not in a union please give them some smart advice – urge them to join a union today.

Apply to join the NUJ online.

If you don't work in the media - use the TUC tool to find the best union for you.