Community newsletter – March 2020

Sick pay move welcome, but Government must do more!

Commenting on the announcement that the Government plans to change the rules so people who self-isolate as a result of Coronavirus fears can get statutory sick pay from day one, UNISON General Secretary Dave Prentis said:

“It’s good to see the Government listening and acting to allay people’s fears, but it needs to go much further and quickly.

This move won’t help care staff whose employers are telling them they won’t get paid at all if they go into isolation.

Nor will it provide comfort to workers on zero-hours contracts, or those with multiple jobs bringing in less than the £118 weekly threshold at which sick pay kicks in.

Workers self-isolating shouldn’t have to take a financial hit for doing the right thing. They should be paid in full, with the Government stepping in to help out struggling smaller employers.

Every boss in the land should be following Government advice and paying everyone who thinks they’ve come into contact with Coronavirus and sensibly intends to do the right thing.

People shouldn’t be faced with a choice of making ends meet or following public health advice and helping prevent the spread of the virus. The lives and livelihoods of vulnerable patients and staff must come before profits.”

UK set to inroduce ‘Jack’s Law’ – new legal right to paid parental leave

The Parental Bereavement Leave and Pay Regulations, which will be known as Jack’s Law in memory of Jack Herd whose mother Lucy campaigned tirelessly on the issue, will implement a statutory right to a minimum of 2 weeks leave for all employed parents if they lose a child under the age of 18, or suffer a stillbirth from 24 weeks of pregnancy, irrespective of how long they have worked for their employer.

This is the most generous offer on parental bereavement pay and leave in the world,and is set to take effect from April.

Parents will be able to take the leave as either a single block of 2 weeks, or as 2 separate blocks of one week each taken at different times across the first year after their child’s death. This means they can match their leave to the times they need it most, which could be in the early days or over the first anniversary.

Clare’s Law & requesting domestic violence offender data

Clare Wood, a mother of one, was killed by her ex-boyfriend George Appleton, who unbeknown to her, had a history of violence to women. Her body was discovered in her home in Salford, Greater Manchester, in February 2009 – she had been strangled and set on fire.

He became known as the “Facebook killer” as he prowled the social networking site in search of partners.

In the months before her murder she had repeatedly contacted Greater Manchester Police alleging Appleton had caused criminal damage, harassed her, threatened to kill her and tried to rape her.

Police watchdogs later concluded Miss Wood had been badly let down by “individual and systematic” failures by the force.

Miss Wood, 36, had told her father, Appleton had a criminal record – though only for motoring offences. In fact he had been jailed for three years in 2002 for harassing another woman and for six months a year earlier after breaching a restraining order on another ex-girlfriend.

At the inquest into Miss Wood’s death, Coroner Jennifer Leeming said women in abusive relationships should have the right to know about the violent past of the men they are with. Appleton was found six days later after Clare’s death, hanged in a derelict pub.

The Domestic Violence Disclosure Scheme (DVDS) is often called ‘Clares Law’ after the landmark case that led to it. Clare’s Law gives any member of the public the right to ask the police if their partner may pose a risk to them. Under Clare’s Law, a member of the public can also make enquiries into the partner of a close friend or family member.

If you need to make an application under Clare’s Law – call 101: to talk through the next steps.

Helen’s Law

Ms Helen McCourt, aged 22, disappeared in February 1988 on her way home from her work as an insurance clerk.

Simms, who owned a pub close to her Billinge home, was convicted of Helen’s murder after blood and an earring – identical to one belonging to her – were found in his car boot. Simms has never revealed the location of her remains. He was jailed for life in 1989 and told he would have to serve at least 16 years before he could be considered for parole.

Nearly 600,000 people signed a petition, launched in 2015, calling for the introduction of “Helen’s Law” to block parole for killers who concealed the whereabouts of their victims bodies.

Ms McCourts mother Marie said the impact of her daughter’s death was a “pain in your heart that will never go”.

The Prisoners (Disclosure of Information About Victims) Bill will place a legal duty on the Parole Board to consider the anguish caused by murderers who refuse to disclose the location of a victim’s body when considering release.

The Bill, will also apply to paedophiles who take indecent images of children but refuse to reveal the identity of their victims.

Ahead of the Bill, murderer Ian Simms was released from prison last month despite never revealing where Helen’s remains are.

Changes undermining our NHS services…

Did you know that, from 1 April 2019 the NHS stopped funding a range of treatments it regards as ineffective, possibly harmful and poor value for money? Such as …

  • Snoring surgery (in the absence of sleep apnoea)
  • Dilatation & Curettage (D&C) for heavy menstrual bleeding – the agreed treatment is hysteroscopy and biopsy
  • Knee athroscopy for osteoarthritis – flushing out the joint is no longer recommended
  • Breast reduction
  • Removal of benign skin conditions
  • Grommets for glue ear in children
  • Tonsillectomy for recurrent tonsillitis
  • Haemorrhoid surgery
  • Hysterectomy for heavy menstrual bleeding – women should be offered medical treatment or a progesterone releasing IUS
  • Chalazia removal
  • Arthroscopic shoulder decompression for shoulder pain
  • Carpal tunnel release
  • Dupuytren’s contracture release
  • Ganglion excision
  • Trigger finger release
  • Varicose vein surgery – endothermal ablation and sclerotherapy should be tried first


Dr Mae, Local Life, February 2020

UNISON’s Free Wills Service

Making a will is important but is something we tend to put off for a number of reasons. Making a will need not be complicated as a will enables you to protect the interest of your family, friends and dependents. Many believe that their wishes can be carried out without a will – but this is not the case.

If a person dies without making a will the rules of intestacy will govern who benefits from your estate and this may not have been your intention. Unmarried partners have no right to your inheritance and this can lead to conflict.

UNISON offers a free standard wills service for members and their partners (for a mirror will). We also offer reduced rates for members’ complex wills and wills for other family members. The simplest way to obtain your will is to use the online wills service.

Click here to start the process.

UNISON’s online wills service is very straight forward to use, just compete the online questionnaire. The questionnaire with its online guidance will carefully take you through the process.

In addition, UNISON has negotiated a low-cost wills service for members’ families and a low-cost conveyancing service for members and their families.

If you don’t have access to a computer, phone 08000 857857.

What legal cover do my family and I receive?

As a UNISON member, you receive free legal advice and assistance for:

  • Employment law (accessed via your UNISON branch or regional office)
  • Personal injury – at or away from work, on holiday or on the roads
  • Serious injury at work – including brain injuries and spinal cord injuries
  • Industrial diseases or illness
  • Basic will writing and reduced rates for more complex wills and conveyancing
  • Defending work related criminal allegations
  • Free initial advice on any non-work issue. This service entitles you to receive up to 30 minutes of telephone advice. The scheme does not cover general finance advice

UNISON members’ families are covered for:

  • Personal injury – away from work, on holiday or on the roads
  • Reduced rates for wills and conveyancing

And if you or a loved one think you have been injured as the result of clinical negligence, we can support you with free initial advice from UNISON’s lawyers.


Exclusions and qualifying periods apply.


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