Know your workplace rights in cold weather
12 Dec 2017

As the snow and ice hits PCS members across the UK you should ensure you know your rights about working in low temperatures.

PCS has guidance on workplace temperatures with health and safety regulations stating that the temperature of all workplaces inside buildings shall be reasonable, with a recommended minimum of 16°C or 13°C if employees are doing physical work.

Your employer must provide enough thermometers for you to measure the temperature. If you are required to work outside, then winter clothing is classed as personal protective equipment (PPE) and should be provided wherever there is a risk.

However, guidance produced by the Health and Safety Executive makes it clear that, even at 16° the workplace temperature may still not be 'reasonable'. Thermal comfort is dependent on more than just temperature: air movement and humidity are also important factors. In draughty conditions, people feel colder than they would at the same temperature with no significant draught.

Similarly, people can tolerate higher temperatures in a room with good air movement than in a still and humid atmosphere.

Preventing or alleviating the worst effects

When temperatures are uncomfortably low, managers should be looking to alleviate the worst effects:

  • by allowing breaks for people to get hot drinks, or to permit them to warm up
  • by providing additional heating
  • by allowing anyone with particular health concerns to leave the workplace, either to go home or to move to another workplace which does have a reasonable temperature
  • by relaxing dress code requirements where appropriate.

It may also be possible to relax hours of attendance/flexible working hours rules, where opening hours for public access are not a critical issue, to allow people to start work earlier in the day, take longer lunch breaks and/or finish earlier.

Home working might be a possibility in certain cases – though home temperatures may be no more acceptable than those in the workplace

The laws on temperature can be found in the legal summary of the Workplace (Health, Safety and Welfare) Regulations 1992.

If you cannot negotiate a suitable solution, contact your PCS branch, regional centre or headquarters officers as appropriate.

PCS members demand a pay rise at last
A group of PCS members and reps gather outside of the Bolton site to show support for the pay campaign.

Members can opt to vote by post, email or phone (all members involved in the ballot will receive a ballot by post). More info here.
If you have not received a ballot paper in the post or received details of how to vote online to your personal email address by 20 October you should request a replacement ballot paper before 30 October by emailing balloting@pcs.org.uk

PCS pay campaign 2017

Here's a link to a Facebook live event this Wednesday evening (11.10.2017) at 7pm: https://www.facebook.com/PcsUnion/ 
This event will be hosted by journalist Rachel Shabi, PCS leader Mark Serwotka will be live, answering your questions.
Please log into this event, have your say.

October 2017:
Green report and environmental info downloadable here.

September 2017:
Theresa May urged to halt Universal Credit roll-out (BBC news).

August 2017:
Click HERE to download a pdf copy of Yasmin Qureshi MP's letter to Damian Hinds, the Minister Of State for Employment, dated August 3rd 2017, regarding her objection to the closure of Farnworth Jobcentre.

July 2017:
Farnworth Job Centre closure planned.

May 2017:
Your Branch reps represented you at PCS Conference (using their own annual leave to attend).
Click here to download the initial Conference motions for PCS DWP Group and National conferences.
Click here to download the Record of Decisions from PCS National Conference.

April 2017:


As a result of concerns raised by our members regarding the e-mails and discussions that have taken place with line managers about working patterns over the next two weeks. Branch officials have contacted PCS HQ this morning to seek clarification of the message that is being banded about, which would appear to contradict the Employee Deal. As a direct result of ours and other branches raising this issue PCS have spoken to DWP Management and have issued the following Members Bulletin. PLEASE DOWNLOAD THIS PCS ADVICE CIRCULAR.

'Employee Deal' (Pay / Flexible Working Hours / Employee Deal updates) - Some questions answered here.
Also Click here for further advice in challenging unagreed working patterns.

26th January 2017 - Office Closure Proposals Announcement

Some known sites affected in the local area:
ATHERTON JOBCENTRE (all staff to transfer to Leigh), FARNWORTH JOBCENTRE (all staff to transfer to Bolton),

At 10am this morning after months of secrecy, DWP announced their plans for a largescale office closures programme across all parts of the department. While the vast majority of DWP offices will remain open, National PCS has made clear to the department that we oppose closures that either disadvantage our members or worsen the service the department delivers to the public. The GEC has made clear that we will resist, and campaign against, any unnecessary closures. The proposals that DWP is announcing today are:

By March 2018 (Some of these have already been announced)

  • 78 out of 714 Jobcentres to close with work and staff transferring to the nearest jobcentres
  • A further 80 Jobcentres to be co-located with local authority premises
  • 30 Back of House Operational closures. This is out of 150 back of house Operations sites that currently exist now, (eg CMG, sites, pensions centres, benefit processing sites and contact centres.
  • Corporate centre hubs to be limited to six, with two current corporate centres sites closing.

Transitional Sites
A further 40 Back of House Operational sites have been labelled transitional sites which means their future is only secure for the next three years, or five years for six of the 40 sites.

Job Centres
Some of the jobcentre closures and co-locations involve the work and the staff moving to sites that are nearby and easy to get to, and a small number have no staff permanently based on the site. PCS does not expect these to be particularly contentious.

However there are 18 jobcentre closures that are outside the ministerial commitment (i.e. 2 to 3 miles distance or 20 minutes by public transport from the old site to the new site.) These are likely to cause serious difficulties for our customers who will have to face longer journeys to visit their jobcentre.

There are also some parts of the country that have been disproportionally affected by these jobcentre announcements.

Scotland 77 retentions, 15 closures, 4 co-locations
Wales 55 retentions, 3 closures, 4 co-locations
Central England 94 retentions, 6 closures, 14 co-locations, in addition to the 21 co-locations already live
London and Home Counties 77 retentions, 24 closures, 6 co-locations
North East 88 retentions, 10 closures, five co-locations
North West 73 retentions, 14 closures, 9 co-locations
Southern 94 retentions, 3 closures, 12 co-locations

Operational Back of House

Pensions Directorate
No March 2018 closures. 4 transitional sites. Cwmbran to re-locate to Cardiff.

Retain 6 CSACs (Hastings to move to new premises post 2018). Operational staff in Longbenton to move to Tyne View Park. 10 transitional sites.
2 closures with no nearby sites (Cumnock and Bishop Auckland). 7 closures relocating to reasonably nearby sites.

35 retentions, plus 47 retentions of small sites with under c.20 staff. 15 transitional sites
8 closures to ‘reasonably’ nearby sites, including Wembley relocating to Watford
4 closures with no nearby sites (Poole, Barrow, Llanelli, Nottingham Annesley)

Universal Credit
24 retentions. Dundee to merge with HMRC Dundee circa 2021.

Fraud and Compliance
5 retentions. Staff located in jobcentres will remain much as they are now but may be impacted by jobcentre closures and co-locations.

2 NINO retentions. 2 NINO closures to reasonably nearby sites. 1 closure to reasonably nearby site yet to be acquisitioned (Glasgow).
Staff in other sites to be brigaded into new hub locations

Debt Management
8 retentions. 2 transitional sites. 2 closures to reasonably nearby sites. Withdrawing from Longbenton

Corporate Centre
The Corporate Centre (CC) is to be centralised into 6 hubs - Quarry House Leeds, Sheffield, Peel Park Blackpool, Caxton House London, Longbenton Newcastle, and Manchester (site yet to be acquired).

This means that the Corporate Centre will no longer have a presence in Birmingham Five Ways, Birchwood Warrington, Preston Holborn House, and Durham House. Of these it is proposed that Birchwood Warrington and Preston Holborn House will close by March 2018.

Staff in the Corporate Centre will be badged as either core corporate, corporate delivery or business partners. All staff badged as core corporate will be expected to work the majority of their time out of one of the above hubs from March 2018. This will inevitable cause serious difficulties for many members who are not currently located within travelling distance of any of the above hubs.

Sites with no announcements

There are 18 sites where DWP is unable to make an announcement as commercial negotiations have not yet concluded.

Proposals not final decisions
DWP has repeatedly stressed that what has being announced today are a set of proposals and that no final decisions have been made. They have assured PCS that, while their proposals fit in with their strategic objectives, they will listen to the feedback from staff in the sites that are proposed to close and that they will take account of the consultation with the unions that begins today.

There are 9 sites where it is clear there will be significant issues for members whose site is proposed to close by March 2018. These are Poole BSD, Barrow BSD, Annesley BSD, Llanelli BSD, Wembley BSD, Bishop Auckland CMG, Cumnock BSD, Holborn House CC and Birchwood CC. It is harder at this stage to gauge the impact on members of other proposed closures where at first sight the importing office is reasonably close to the exporting office. However this does not take into account where staff live which could be some distance from the importing office. Despite only receiving notification late on Wednesday of these announcements, a GEC member was present at all of these 9 sites to support members today.

In some of these sites DWP recognise that redeployment is likely to be more difficult, though they will try to redeploy all staff where possible. However DWP has also acknowledged that there may be sites where exits are required, and potentially redundancies. PCS has pressed the department for a guarantee of no compulsory redundancies, but the department is not willing to give such a guarantee, however the department is committed to taking all practical and reasonable steps to avoid compulsory redundancies.

PCS Position
PCS is opposed to office closures unless they pose no issues for our members and no issues for our customers. Unfortunately many of these proposals will cause serious difficulties for many members and will impact seriously on customer service. In these case we will oppose the closures and campaign to keep the sites open. PCS will provide full support to all members in dealing with these announcements. National PCS  will, where necessary, work to maximise redeployment options for members and will oppose any moves to make staff redundant. The GEC will be considering all options in response to these announcements.

20 December 2016
DWP Employee Deal - Click here for further advice in challenging unagreed working patterns.

The Public & Commercial Services Union (PCS) is one of the largest and
most influential Trade Unions in the UK, with around 270,000 members.

The DWP Bolton & Bury Branch of PCS has over 600 members, based at Bolton Benefit Centre and 4 local JobCentres (and this figure is rising in the face of the staffing cuts, AA redundancies, the victimisation of members and reps by our particularly bad managers and the Government's attacks on DWP staff pay and conditions).

The Bolton Benefit Centre was the very first in the country to take claims for the controversial Universal Credit, which replaces the conventional DWP benefits and is currently the cause of much concern for the staff on the Bolton site and for the Tory Government.

Bolton DWP has a bad reputation within DWP as 'a problem office' and to have an entirely different management style to the majority of the rest of DWP. Members (and Reps) on this site need protection from this bizarre and harsh management style and Trade Union membership is key in defending job security. Issues such as 'Must Improve' performance markings being given to members who have not deserved them are regular tasks for our reps to deal with and we have a pretty good success rate in overturning them because management do not seem to be able to read or follow DWP procedures properly.

PCS is a democratic organisation, run by our members, for our members. We campaign for fair pay and conditions, decent pensions for all and equality in the workplace and beyond. If you're not a member of PCS, there's never been a better time to join the union.