BREATHE – The ISU Survival Guide

Breaks ~  If you need a break, take one !
Report ~  If your health is suffering, complete H & S forms
Extend ~  Not if your health won’t bear it
Ask ~  Don’t be proud, ask for help
Take care ~   If you’re too ill, don’t come to work
Human ~  You’re only human, you can only do your best
Enough ~  Know when you have had enough

If you are denied a break, speak to a rep.


When the Maximum Deployment Model was introduced at Heathrow in August 2016, a commitment was given by John Austin DD to ensuring staff working on the PCP had breaks. This commitment was supported by the then COO Philip Duffy. The breaks were to ensure that nobody worked more than 2 hours continuously on the PCP and were later called “brain breaks”.

With MDM now being at the discretion of the TDM, there remains an assurance from the Nick Jariwalla DD that you can have a break after 2 hours on the PCP but also that if you need a break, ask for one. His email of 14 June 2017 makes this very clear:

As we have said since John sent out his first note on the subject, nothing about MDM changes the fact that if you need to step away to use the bathroom, get a drink or just clear your head – do it. If you can let the Floor Managers know – that’s better. It will prevent them having to look for you or put calls out.

Outside of that, the position remains the same as John Austin set out in the attached global and as Phil Duffy (then Border Force Chief Operating Officer) communicated to Union colleagues when MDM was first introduced:

  • Where a colleague is continuously sat on the PCP processing passengers for two hours, they may take some time away from the control.
  • Any time taken away from the control in this way is known as a “Control break” and it will normally last 15 minutes.
  • A “Control break” is still work time……

The new COO Emma Moore has also made it clear that she supports regular breaks for front line staff – besides preserving employees’ health these are to ensure Border Security and concentration are not compromised. Wellbeing is a key focus now and breaks form part of the response to look after operational staff on duty.

If you do not get a break, or are denied a break, please tell me – Caroline Wise – or your local rep.


If your health is being negatively impacted by your working conditions, or a specific incident at work, then report it.

There are a variety of tools to do this and it is very important to make formal records of how work is impacting on you. If there is no record, there is no evidence.

The Home Office on line accident and incident form is appropriate if you have been impacted in any way by your work– it is not just for a physical accident but covers the mental impact as well.

If you are verbally abused at work, report it.

Complete the on- line form and ensure you are given time to do this. Reporting and recording are priorities – so tell us if managers are preventing from you doing this.

This is the link – copy and paste into Horizon to bring up the form – it can only be completed at work –

If you experiencing stress at work, complete a Stress Risk Assessment with your manager and explore what are the stressors and what measures can be taken to cope with the daily stress at work.

Remember the Personal Impact Self Assessment form we devised at Heathrow– fill in the ISU PISA form if you are working at Heathrow. These are short forms designed to record the impact on you of your shift and we have been able to use these to evidence the effect of the working conditions on your health and wellbeing and how long you actually worked without a break.  Remember we led the way at Heathrow with our Stress Survey last summer, and we continue to lead in the area of wellbeing.


Don’t EXTEND if your health won’t support it. If you are tired, can you ensure you will not make a mistake and compromise Border Security? If you can’t, then don’t extend.

When asked to extend, if you are tired learn to say I am tired, I cannot guarantee I wont make a mistake. There should be a focus on staff welfare as well as business needs, so speak up about how you are feeling.

If you are put under pressure or made to stay after this, then let us know. These are not actions of a supportive employer or an employer who puts staff wellbeing first.

Remember though that the manager asking you to extend may not know how many days you have been working or how you are feeling so recognise that but do tell them how you are feeling and if your health simply cannot support another extension.


Don’t be afraid to ASK for help – we are here, as our mental health first aiders, managers, colleagues and EAP- the Employee Assistance Programme. Don’t suffer alone.

The contact details for EAP are 0800 917 7395 and it is a 24 hour 7 day service. Alternatively their website is You can arrange 6 counselling sessions for you as well as other support.