CWU Coronavirus Covid-19 – My rights at work

During these extraordinary times, and the rapid change in response to Covid 19, our support to our members is paramount.  Regardless of the company you work for the CWU are here to help and monitor the terms under which you work.  You are the invisible group of key workers keeping the backbone of communication and financial support in this country running.  You are ensuring people are connected to the outside world in their homes as well as providing financial support.    We are trying to keep you up to date with the evolving situation so we can provide some solid advice for each employer you work for.   No worker should be penalised for following the government advice.

If you wish to contact the CWU, we are still working as normal.  Your first contact should be with your local branch.  Your local Branch is: 24024 NORTHERN IRELAND TELECOMS BRANCH

Please log onto to find your branches contact details.

We have also set up a dedicated email address for you to email with your concerns. This is This will be checked on a daily basis and will make every effort to respond as soon as we are able.

The situation changes daily, however, the NHS information should help you and your families keep up to date.

Covid-19 is having an unprecedented effect on working life.   Many of you have been identified as key workers and aren’t able to work at home, therefore have genuine health and safety concerns.  The CWU want to ensure that your attendance at work is only to perform critical duties.  The health and safety of our members is paramount.  We are therefore working with your employers and challenging them on a number of fronts. We will be in touch very soon to provide more detail for the specific employer you work for.  In the meantime please email our dedicated email address above if you feel your concerns are not being listened to.

Below are some key points :

  • If you have to be at work – you shouldn’t be hot-desking and employers should ensure the required two metre rule for social distancing. Employers should sanitise all work areas and provide the appropriate health and safety equipment to employees including hand washing facilities or hand sanitiser.
  • If you are able to work at home you are entitled to ask your employer for the right equipment to be able to do this.  
  • The Government has categorised two types of vulnerable people:
  • The Government advice to vulnerable people is to be particularly stringent in following social distancing.  You should work from home if you can. If you are a key worker you should only be carrying out critical work and in a way that follows the Government guidelines on social distancing.  The CWU are negotiating with your employer for you to stay at home on full pay.
  • If you have been identified as extremely vulnerable – and have received a letter from the NHS regarding shielding you should not be at work for the next twelve weeks.  See a list of these people here.  You can however work at home, but this must be in isolation. Anybody in this category of ‘at risk’ workers who are unable to work from home should be receiving full pay, nobody should be financially worse off for trying to save their own or other people’s lives.
  • If you live with someone who is shielding and don’t want to put them at further risk by coming into work, you should talk to your employer but also seek help from your CWU branch.
  • If you are a pregnant employee, you should not be made to go into work even if you are a ‘key worker’. The government has categorised pregnant women as belonging to a ‘vulnerable group of workers  for COVID-19 and has advised pregnant women to avoid going outside where possible. The CWU believe you should have a right to stay at home for health & safety reasons if you are pregnant.

More generally for all workers the TUC has called for a number of measures that the government should put in place to ensure workers in the UK are not disadvantaged.  The CWU also have a dedicated webpage that provides you with the up-to-date information on your rights at work. The two links are below:

Yours sincerely

Andy Kerr

Deputy General Secretary

Some other useful websites are below: