Parliament must be gold standard for safety

13 May 2020

Bringing back the House of Commons in physical form within weeks could breach the government’s own rules on workplace safety Prospect union has warned.

The union, which represents staff in parliament was responding to comments from Leader of the House of Commons Jacob Rees-Mogg that the standing orders allowing parliament to operate virtually will not be renewed.

Prospect deputy general secretary Garry Graham said:

“This announcement from the Leader of the House is extremely worrying for all those working in parliament who have as much right as anyone to be kept safe during this pandemic.

“The Leader of the House has said that parliament should “set an example” to the country, however the example it would be setting by adopting this approach would be to undermine the government’s first rule that those who can work from home should continue to do so.

“Having more MPs on site would mean hundreds more staff who are currently working safely from home would be needed in parliament, there has so far been no risk assessment factoring in increasing numbers of MPs and staff.

“Before any final decisions are made, these new risk assessments must be widely available to MPs and staff and questions must be answered on issues such as how social distancing will work given the lack of control over the movements of MPs and provision of PPE.

“If this is going to go ahead, then parliament must set the gold standard for safety in the workplace and that is unions will be working for.”