workSMART- TUC reaches out to non-union members via web

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date: August 19 2002

embargo: 00:01 hours August 29 2002

Attention: industrial, personal finance, political

The TUC is to provide help and information on workplace issues for non-union members via a major new website www.worksmart.org.uk which is launched today (Thursday August 29th 2002).

The site launches with the most comprehensive guide to employment rights available on the internet and a similarly comprehensive guide to keeping well at work, dealing with all the health problems of the modern workplace - from RSI and bad backs to stress and bullying - all presented in an easy question and answer format complete with jargon buster. The site also contains the UK’s first ever union finder to help prospective members find the right union to join.

Topics covered by the site at launch include holiday rights, redundancy, stress, RSI, back pain. (Sample questions and answers are included below).

New channels that will be added over coming months will include advice on pensions and other money issues and advice on job hunting and career development. workSMART will also have a campaigning edge - tackling modern workplace issues such as long hours and stress.

TUC General Secretary John Monks said, 'This is a major new initiative by the TUC to reach out to Britain’s new web enabled, but often non-union, workplaces. The best way to show the continuing relevance of unions to every workplace is by providing practical help and a taste of what unions do. There’s no unsubtle hard sell or hidden catches, but our union finder provides an online gateway to union membership. workSMART is here to help today’s working people get the most out of the world of work.'

Notes to Editors:

A preview version of the website www.worksmart.org.uk is now available. Please consider this as under embargo until August 29th.

Sample questions and answers from workSMART

Can my employer make me redundant?

Your employer can declare your job redundant if the requirement for the work you are doing has either ceased or is diminishing.

It does not automatically follow that it is you, who will be declared redundant. It depends on the criteria for selection, which your employer adopts. For example it could be based on length of service, which could mean that an employee with less service than you have is dismissed. Redundancy is one of the five statutory fair reasons for dismissal, but the employer must still ensure that there is a fair procedure leading to dismissal on these grounds.

I sit down a lot at work. How can I avoid back pain or injury?

Some of the most hazardous jobs, from a back care point of view, are those that involve prolonged periods of sitting:

  • Maintain good posture while sitting at work. Try to sit upright as much as possible, with abdominal muscles pulled in for support.
  • Check that both feet are flat on the floor, or on a suitable footrest.
  • Don’t cross your legs - this restricts circulation and puts your spine out of alignment.
  • Keep forearms in a horizontal position, and wrists supported when typing.
  • At your desk, position the phone so that it is on the side that you answer it. Avoid crooking the phone in between your head and neck. If you use the phone a lot, a headset is a good idea.
  • The more you sit the more you need the counterbalance of physical activity outside work, eg a brisk walk at lunch break, swimming after work.

Other rights questions include: What holidays am I entitled to? Can I be forced to work more than 48 hours a week? What periods of rest from work am I entitled to? When is a dismissal unfair? What is a constructive dismissal? What is an automatically unfair dismissal?

Contacts:

Media enquiries: 020 7467 1248 or 07699 744115 (pager) or email media@tuc.org.uk

All TUC press releases can be found at www.tuc.org.uk Register for the TUC's press extranet to access pre-embargo releases and reports from the TUC. Visit www.tuc.org.uk/pressextranet

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