This guidance is for public libraries in Scotland. It comes into effect from 15 July 2020 and applies until further notice. Guidance will be reviewed on a regular basis in line with the regular three weekly review of lockdown requirements.
A PDF version of this guidance is attached (see supporting files section).
We are keen to build confidence and create the right environment for supporting safer work as we continue to live with COVID-19. We have worked with organisations and trade unions from across the public libraries sector to ensure that this guidance is evidence-based, fair and ethical, clear and realistic. As each workplace is different it is for individual businesses to work with trade union or workforce representatives to determine how best to apply this guidance in their circumstances.
This is provided as guidance only and does not amount to legal advice. Public library services may wish to seek their own advice to ensure compliance with all legal requirements.
Safer workplace planning in public libraries must align with wider local authority planning based on local priorities. This is also the case for contracted arm’s length external organisations (ALEOs), as the statutory responsibility for libraries remains with the local authority. This will ensure consistency of mitigation measures across the library service and other local authority services.
Public libraries in Scotland range in size and are often situated within different work environments, including office working, museums and archives, and schools. Host or co-located organisations need to be involved in the library recovery planning to ensure plans are aligned and integrated. There are a number of strands of work currently underway looking at guidance for safer workplaces. This document is designed to be relevant for organisations who provide and people who work in public libraries.
This guide is underpinned by a spirit of collaborative working between organisations and their workforce. Throughout, the term trade union or workforce representatives is used in that context, recognising that public library services have a legal responsibility to maintain workplace health and safety and must consult with the health and safety representative selected by a recognised trade union or, if there is not one, a representative chosen by workers. Public library services cannot decide who the workforce representative will be.
This document is one of a set of documents about how to work safely in different types of workplace. It emphasises in particular the importance of undertaking a robust and ongoing risk-based assessment with full input from workforce representatives, and to keep all risk mitigation measures under regular review so that public libraries continue to feel, and be, safe. Each public library service will need to translate this into the specific actions they need to take using this document as a guide.
Publication of this guidance does not signal an immediate change in Scotland’s lockdown policy. At the current time public libraries should remain closed to the public until 15 July. To judge whether and when restrictions can be changed we will consider a range of evidence on the progress of the pandemic in Scotland using the principles set out in Coronavirus (COVID-19): framework for decision making and our long established commitment to fair work. As Scotland continues to ease lockdown restrictions, organisations including the Institute of Directors (IoD), SCDI, STUC, COSLA and SCVO have signed a fair work statement underlining the collaborative approach needed between employers, unions and workers to ensure workplaces can operate safely.
The remainder of this guidance sets out our minimum expectations across five key areas public libraries will need to consider as part of their planning for a restart and ongoing production while minimising the transmission of the virus:
- assessing risk - involving the workforce in a risk-based approach to a safer workplace
- workforce planning - supporting those who should come to work, and those who should not
- operational guide and checklist - changing the workplace environment to protect your workforce
- deliveries, distribution and visitors - protecting your workforce and those who come on-site
- training and compliance
The regulator for health and safety at work is the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) who will utilise the powers under the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 to ensure people at work or possibly enforcement of this legislation is undertaken by Environmental Health and Trading Standards local authority staff in agreement with Police Scotland.
The guidance has been published now to give employers and employees the time they need to plan and prepare.