Carers Motion

GUCU Resolution – Support for Carers During Lockdown. Passed at GUCU branch meeting 13 Jan 2021

This Branch Notes:

That all Schools and Colleges closed on January 5th due to the rising numbers of Covid cases,

That staff with children will once again be expected to look after children full-time and home school them,

That this situation places an extraordinary burden on carers who are usually women,

That extra burdens are also placed on staff who are looking after vulnerable people during lockdown,

That carers cannot be expected to work their full workload while caring for dependents and/or home schooling,

That the hours that carers worked in the spring lockdown 2020 were not sustainable and cannot be repeated. Such working conditions have very serious health and safety consequences as well as further entrenching sex discrimination in the workplace. 

This Branch Further Notes:

That the Furlough Scheme has been extended until April 2021 and has been extended to include those who cannot work (even from home) as a result of caring responsibilities due to Covid, such as caring for children due to school closures, or caring for a vulnerable person in a household,

That the Furlough Scheme now enables employees who are carers to request part-time furlough (ie to be furloughed for a fraction of ones job and continue to carry out duties for the remaining duties),

That although schools can accept university staff as ‘critical workers’ (and in those cases where there are two carers, only if both are university workers), they are not obliged to do so and many will not be able to do so because of the pressures faced by the school,

A growing number of universities are producing institutional policy that supports carers during the pandemic, including a commitment to furloughing staff who are carers on both full-time and part-time basis on full pay. Kings College London and University College London have both adopted this policy, as has Oxford University. If other members of the University of London can access the Furlough Scheme, then so can Goldsmiths.

This Branch Resolves:

To refuse such unfair treatment of members who are carers, and to strive collectively to ensure that Goldsmiths fully supports staff who are carers by accessing the furlough scheme and by other means such as special paid leaves of absence, and the employment of AL and GTT staff to cover the work of furloughed or partially furloughed staff carers,

To view a refusal by Goldsmiths to make use of the Furlough Scheme for staff carers as having a disproportionate impact on women which amounts to indirect sex discrimination (where an employer applies a general rule (such as not using the Furlough Scheme) that puts women more than men at a disadvantage,

To view the non-adoption of an institution-wide policy on furloughing for carers as evidence of indirect discrimination,

In the absence of a statement to all staff outlining a policy for furloughing staff carers, to contact Athena Swan (with whom Goldsmiths holds a gender equality award) expressing our concerns about the treatment of women staff and our view of a refusal of furlough to amount to indirect discrimination.

This Branch Demands:

That Goldsmiths adopt a policy, like other University of London institutions, that enables and grants carers furlough requests on full pay,

That this an institution-wide policy is put into place by January 20th, which provides central funds to make up those 20% (plus NI) of salary costs not covered by the Furlough Scheme,

That Senior Management then approve budgets from departments to employ AL and GTT staff to cover staff carers on furlough.