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in the development of better social, employment and
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COVID-19 EU PolicyWatch

Database of national-level responses

Eurofound's COVID-19 EU PolicyWatch collates information on the responses of government and social partners to the crisis, as well as gathering examples of company practices aimed at mitigating the social and economic impacts.

Factsheet for case GB-2020-14/1130 – measures in United Kingdom

COVID-19 coronavirus guidance for unions

TUC (2020) Covid-19 Coronavirus Guidance for Unions

Country United Kingdom , applies nationwide
Time period Open ended, started on 03 April 2020
Type Other initiatives or policies
Category Protection of workers, adaptation of workplace
– Well-being of workers
Author Claire Evans (Warwick University) and Eurofound
Case created 15 September 2020 (updated 04 October 2020)

Background information

In response to the pandemic and the concomitant changes to working life, the TUC has published a series of guides for member trade unions and their representatives. These have focused on how to keep workplaces and workers safe, the social security system and sick pay, as well as guidance on how to negotiate with employers and organise workplaces. These guides have been updated over the course of the pandemic.

Content of measure

Essentially, this guide for unions pointed out that trade unions must challenge employers and government over inadequate sick pay offers, failure to provide personal protective equipment (PPE) and testing, and the urgent need to safeguard jobs in disrupted industries. The TUC also urged that in the immediate and longer-term, it is important that the effect of any pandemic does not disproportionately hit the most vulnerable, such as the low paid, those without permanent employment or sick pay schemes and those with dependents.

The guide covers home working, self-isolation, sickness absence and sick pay schemes, occupational health and safety i.e. workplace hygiene, personal protective equipment (PPE), personal hygiene, what employers must do; planning and organising in the workplace; and specific guidance for those on zero-hours contracts.

Use of measure

This is a guide for trade unions and workplace representatives, produced by the Trades Union Congress. It is publicly and openly available on its website. Thus, evaluation data as to numbers accessing and implementation of measures is not available.

Target groups

Workers Businesses Citizens
Applies to all workers Does not apply to businesses Does not apply to citizens

Actors and funding

Actors Funding
Trade unions
Trade union

Social partners

Social partners' role in designing the measure and form of involvement:

Trade unions Employers' organisations
Role Agreed (outcome) incl. social partner initiative No involvement
Form Any other form of consultation, institutionalised (as stable working groups or committees) or informal Not applicable

Social partners' role in the implementation, monitoring and assessment phase:

  • Only trade unions
  • Main level of involvement: Company level


This is a measure initiated and implemented by the Trades Union Congress; it is thus a union measure, designed by that body. Implementation would occur at workplace level by union representatives drawn from numerous unions. Thus, the TUC would not actually be directly involved in implementation or monitoring (although it may conduct survey research into responses at a later date).

Such involvement by the TUC was not requested or demanded; it was a voluntary initiative designed to assist workers and union representatives within workplaces.

Views and reactions

As the measure is designed to uphold existing law and ensure health and safety, it can be assumed that there is broad support.



Eurofound (2020), COVID-19 coronavirus guidance for unions, case GB-2020-14/1130 (measures in United Kingdom), COVID-19 EU PolicyWatch, Dublin,

Disclaimer: This information has not been subject to the full Eurofound evaluation, editorial and publication process. All information is preliminary and subject to change.