COVID-19 - Corporate update
- Meeting of Senedd Commission Audit and Risk Assurance Committee, Friday, 12 February 2021 10.00 (Item 3.)
- View the background to item 3.
3.1 Dave Tosh provided the Committee with an update on the arrangements in place on the estate. Due to the tier 4 restrictions, Senedd business was completely virtual and would remain so until any restrictions were lifted. The restrictions had significantly reduced the risk on the estate as attendance was below 15%, with the threshold set at 30%. Those in attendance, including those supporting Senedd business on Tuesdays and Wednesdays were bound by social distancing rules which were working well.
3.2 The Return to the Estate programme group were continuing to prepare for a number of scenarios based on the easing of restrictions, especially given early success of the vaccination programme. Their focus was on monitoring the regulations to ensure that the organisation was as prepared as possible to reopen. This group would provide weekly updates to the Leadership Team and would continue to consult with other legislatures.
3.3 Committee members questioned whether the success of the vaccination programme would result in staff returning to the estate sooner. In response, Dave confirmed that this was unlikely due to the age profile of building users, the majority of which were unlikely to receive the vaccination until later in the year. He also stressed that rules around social distancing and the wearing of face masks were likely to remain for some time, as well as only needing to attend the workplace if it was essential.
3.4 The Estates and Facilities Team has identified pilot areas for specific alterations to be made in order to test what a return to the estate could look like, with both a physical and virtual presence, as well as meeting and break out spaces. These pilots would be evaluated and adjusted before being rolled out to other areas.
3.5 When questioned on the importance of monitoring staff wellbeing, Dave assured the Committee that the challenges around domestic responsibilities and home schooling for a number of employees were being actively monitored by line managers and that the welfare and wellbeing of staff was a priority for all. The extended Christmas shutdown had provided an opportunity for the vast majority of staff to take a break, as well as reducing the accumulated annual leave figure. He believed that, whilst the sustained lockdown was putting pressure on many, the Commission’s policies and the flexibility of teams to work differently meant this was being well managed. He also advised that there was mutual understanding of the pressures through regular discussions with the Commission and the Chairs’ Forum.
3.6 Arwyn Jones also informed the Committee that the planning for the start of the Sixth Senedd was underway to allow for predominantly virtual delivery of proceedings. This included the official opening ceremony which could be a mixture of onsite and virtual activities depending on the restrictions in place at the time. Commission staff were engaged in discussions with the various stakeholders.
3.7 The Committee welcomed this comprehensive update, the planning involved to ensure the safety and wellbeing of those who were working on the estate.