These FAQs relate to the latest available guidance, as the situation is continuously evolving this guidance might change at short notice.

 

We will endeavor to keep this information as current as possible.

 

This advice is likely to change to ensure it is in accordance with the current Government advice. Any updates will be made as soon as possible.

 

Please choose a relevant topic below for more detail.

  • Coronavirus Symptoms & Self Isolation

    1. What do you do if you or someone you live with has coronavirus symptoms?

    Do not leave home if you or someone you live with has either:

    A high temperature – this means you are hot to the touch on your chest or back (you do not need to measure your temperature)

    A new, continuous cough – this means coughing a lot for more than an hour, or 3 or more episodes in 24 hours (if you usually have a cough, it may be worse than usual )

    Loss or change to your sense of smell or taste

    These are the main symptoms of coronavirus.

    Do not go to places like a GP Surgery, pharmacy or hospital if you think you might have coronavirus. Stay at home.

    Use the 111 online coronavirus service: https://111.nhs.uk/covid-19/ you will be asked about your symptoms and told what to do.

    Staying at home if you have symptoms (self-isolation)

    If your symptoms are mild you will usually be advised to not leave your home for at least 7 days.

    Anyone you live with should not leave your home for 14 days.

    This is called self-isolation

    2. I’m not ‘unwell’ but have symptoms.

    You must stay at home if you have symptoms of coronavirus.

    Let your line manager know as soon as possible that you have symptoms.

    If you have coronavirus symptoms you can apply for a test. Please refer to the Coronavirus (COVID-19) Testing Guidance for Staff.

    As you are feeling ‘well’ at this stage and not reporting as sick you will receive normal full pay for the duration of the self-isolation period.

    During a period of self-isolation, all options for home or remote working are to be explored.

    3. What is self-isolating?

    To protect others, you must stay at home if you or someone you live with has symptoms of coronavirus (COVID-19).

    This is called self-isolation.

    If you think you might have coronavirus, check if you need to self-isolate using the 111 online coronavirus service: www.111.nhs.uk/covid-19/

    4. What if someone is at work and develops coronavirus symptoms?

    If someone becomes unwell in the workplace with coronavirus symptoms, they should:

    •  Tell their employer immediately and go home.

    •  Avoid touching anything.

    •  Cough or sneeze into a tissue and put it in a bin, or if they do not have tissues, cough or sneeze into the crook of their elbow.

    •  Use a separate bathroom from others, if possible.

    Please follow the guidance on self-isolation, see above question ‘How do I self-isolate?’.

    You can get more advice or help at: https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/coronavirus-covid-19/

    Individuals should keep their manager informed.  Individuals should not return to work until they have been clear of all symptoms for a period of not less than 48 hours.

    5. Can I leave my home if I am self-isolating?

    If you or someone you live with has coronavirus symptoms:

    •  Do not leave your home for any reason – if you need food or medicine, order it online or by phone, or ask someone to deliver to your home.

    •  Do not have visitors in your home – including friends and family.

    •  Do any exercise at home – you can use your garden if you have one.

    6. How long do I self-isolate?

    If you have symptoms

    If you have symptoms of coronavirus, self-isolate for 7 days.

    After 7 days:

    •  If you do not have a high temperature, you can stop self-isolating.

    •  If you still have a high temperature, keep self-isolating until your temperature returns to normal.

    You do not need to keep self-isolating if you just have a cough after 7 days. A cough can last for weeks after the infection has gone.

    If someone you live with has symptoms

    If you live with someone who has symptoms, self-isolate for 14 days from the day their symptoms started.

    This is because it can take 14 days for symptoms to appear.

    If more than 1 person at home has symptoms, self-isolate for 14 days from the day the first person started having symptoms.

    •  If you get symptoms while self-isolating – you should self-isolate for 7 days from when your symptoms started, even if it means you’re self-isolating for more than 14 days.

    •  If you do not get symptoms while self-isolating – you can stop self-isolating after 14 days.

    Further guidance is available at: www.nhs.uk/conditions/coronavirus-covid-19/

  • Staff Absence

    1. How do I report that I am sick?

    If you are unwell, with symptoms of coronavirus, you should let your line manager know by 9.00am daily including on a weekend, even if you do not normally work on a weekend, that you are unwell and not able to work.

    Your manager will keep in touch with you during the period of absence.

    2. If I am off sick will I get paid

    The Company’s sick pay scheme will apply for employees.

    3. If someone in my household has coronavirus symptoms and I need to stay at home will I get paid?

    Yes. You should inform your line manager that you are self-isolating. Where possible you should work from home.  If working from home is not possible, you should stay at home. You will receive your normal full pay.

    4. Do I need a fit note (sick note)?

    For coronavirus related absences the Company will not require a Fit-Note to be produced; the current self-certification procedures in place for the first 7 days of absence will be extended for the duration of any coronavirus related illness.

    Employees with symptoms of coronavirus can get an isolation note from NHS 111 online, and those who live with someone that has symptoms can get a note from the NHS website.

    5. I am absent from work due to coronavirus will this be recorded against my sickness absence record?

    No. We are following the national guidance and coronavirus related sickness absence will be disregarded for sickness management purposes and recorded separately for sick pay purposes.

    6. If someone in my household has coronavirus symptoms and I need to stay at home will I get paid?

    Yes. You should inform your line manager that you are self-isolating.

    Where possible you should work from home, if working from home is not possible, you should stay at home. You will receive your normal full pay.

  • Health & Well-Being

    1. I am concerned about my own health and well-being during the coronavirus outbreak what should I do?

    Speak to your line manager about how you are feeling and discuss any concerns you have about your health and well-being.

    3. What is social distancing?

    Current guidance on social distancing measures advises we should all be taking steps to reduce social interaction between people in order to reduce the transmission of coronavirus (COVID-19), you can find information here.  It is intended for use in situations where people are living in their own homes, with or without additional support from friends, family and carers.

    3. My work requires me to work in person with customers or members of the public. What measures should I take?

    Under the Government’s measures people can travel to and from work, but only where the work they do cannot be done from home. Where possible, employees must maintain a 2 metre distance from others, although clearly this is seldom possible in care environments. Outside of work, you should be observing all the Government’s Social Distancing measures to reduce the risk of spreading the virus.

    Continue to follow strict handwashing advise and wash your hands with soap and water often for at least 20 seconds (or use hand sanitiser gel if soap and water is not available).

    4. What is the advice for people at higher risk of getting coronavirus?

    Coronavirus can make anyone seriously ill. But for some people the risk is higher.

    5. Who is at higher risk of coronavirus?

    There are 2 levels of higher risk:

    1. Very high risk (clinically extremely vulnerable)

    People at very high risk from coronavirus include people who:

    •  Have had an organ transplant

    •  Are having chemotherapy or antibody treatment for cancer, including immunotherapy

    •  Are having an intense course of radiotherapy (radical radiotherapy) for lung cancer

    •  Are having targeted cancer treatments that can affect the immune system (such as protein kinase inhibitors or PARP inhibitors)

    •  Have blood or bone marrow cancer (such as leukemia, lymphoma or myeloma)

    •  Have had a bone marrow or stem cell transplant in the past 6 months, or are still taking an immunosuppressant medicine

    •  Have been told by a doctor they you have a severe lung condition (such as cystic fibrosis, severe asthma or severe COPD)

    •  Have a condition that means they have a very high risk of getting infections (such as SCID or sickle cell)

    •  Are taking medicine that makes them much more likely to get infections (such as high doses of steroids)

    •  Were born with a serious heart condition and are pregnant

     

    If you’re at very high risk from coronavirus, you should have received a letter from the NHS.

    What to do if you’re at very high risk:

    If you’re at very high risk from coronavirus, you’re advised to take extra steps to protect yourself.

    This includes not leaving your home for any reason (called shielding). Further information about shielding is available at: www.nhs.uk/conditions/coronavirus-covid-19/

     

    2. High risk (extremely vulnerable)

    People at high risk from coronavirus include people who:

    •  Are 70 or older

    •  Are pregnant

    •  Have a lung condition that’s not severe (such as asthma, COPD, emphysema or bronchitis)

    •  Have heart disease (such as heart failure)

    •  Have diabetes

    •  Have chronic kidney disease

    •  Have liver disease (such as hepatitis)

    •  Have a condition affecting the brain or nerves (such as Parkinson’s disease, motor neurone disease, multiple sclerosis or cerebral palsy)

    •  Have a condition that means they have a high risk of getting infections

    •  Are taking medications that can affect the immune system (such as low doses of steroids)

    •  Are very obese (a BMI of 40 or above)

     

    What to do if you’re at high risk:

    If you’re at high risk from coronavirus, it’s very important you follow the advice about staying at home to avoid getting coronavirus.

    This means you should only leave your home if it’s essential, for example, to get food or medicine.

    Unlike people at very high risk, you will not get a letter from the NHS advising you to stay at home at all times.

  • Pregnancy Advice

    If you’re pregnant and worried about coronavirus, you can get advice about coronavirus and pregnancy from the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists.

    Employees who cannot attend work because they are in a group as identified above, are asked to discuss their situation with their manager, and should work from home where this is possible, or stay at home. Employees will receive full pay for the duration they stay at home or work from home.

    1. I have recently become pregnant and do not want to attend my GP surgery to get a MATB1 (certificate of confinement), can I self- declare my pregnancy?

    Yes, you should notify your manager of your pregnancy in the normal way and advise of your expected date of confinement. This will be accepted as an alternative to the official documentation, although if/when appropriate you may be asked to seek a certificate retrospectively.

    2. I am breastfeeding, should I stay away from work as a precaution?

    Breastfeeding women are not deemed to be in the ‘vulnerable’ group.

    3. What do I do if I live with someone at very high risk of coronavirus (extremely vulnerable)?

    If you live with someone who’s at very high risk from coronavirus (extremely vulnerable), there are things you can do to help protect them.

    It’s very important you follow the advice for everyone on staying at home and away from others (social distancing).

    This includes only leaving your home when it’s essential and washing your hands often.

    The rest of the household do not need to start shielding themselves, but they should do what they can to support the person who is shielding and to carefully follow guidance on social distancing (see below question).

    If you live with someone or is caring for someone identified as being in a vulnerable group speak to your manager to discuss how you can be supported with leave or to stay at home and work from home if possible.  Employees will receive full pay for the duration they stay at home or work from home.

    For further guidance see:

    www.nhs.uk/coronavirus-covid-19/if-you-live-with-someone-at-very-high-risk-from-coronavirus/

    www.gov.uk/government/guidance-on-shielding-and-protecting-extremely-vulnerable-persons-from-covid-19/

    4. What is staying at home and away from others (social distancing)?

    Current government advice is for everyone to stay at home, except in specific situations.

    Stay at home:

    • Only go outside for food, health reasons or work (but only if you cannot work from home)

    • If you go out stay 2 metres (6ft) away from other people at all times

    •  Wash your hands as soon as you get home

     

    Do not meet others, even friends of family. You can spread the virus even if you don’t have symptoms.

    Read more about what you can and cannot do at: www.gov.uk/coronavirus

    5. My work requires me to work in person with clients or members of the public. What measures should I take?

    We are following the Government’s advice in relation to ‘Going to work’. For full guidance see coronavirus advice on GOV.UK

    Under the Government’s measures, people can travel to and from work, but only where the work they do cannot be done from home.

    Where possible, employees must maintain a 2metre distance from others and washing their hands with soap and water often for at least 20 seconds (or using hand sanitiser gel if soap and water is not available).

    Please refer to Coronavirus health and safety guidance on the Hub which provides further information for staff who are working.

  • Working Arrangements

    1. Will I be asked to work in other areas of the Company to maintain critical areas of service delivery?

    As this situation develops, we will need to consider what changes we may need to make to the roles that people carry out to ensure that we continue to deliver vital services. It is therefore increasingly important that we understand the impact on our workforce every day.

    2. I am a Permanent Variable Hours (PVH) employee or have a non-standard working pattern, will I still get paid?

    If you are a PVH employee or are an employee with a non-standard working pattern, who is unable to work due to restrictions relating to the coronavirus, you will be paid based on your average earnings. Your pay will be based on your working time for work that has been cancelled, your working time over the last 13 weeks, or for seasonal staff an average based on the last 12 months. Your line manager will make arrangements with Payroll, please speak to your line manager should you have any questions.

    3. I need time off work to look after someone what should I do?

    Company employees are entitled to time off work (Dependent Care Leave) to help someone who depends on them (a ‘dependent’) in an unexpected event or emergency. This would apply to situations to do with coronavirus. For example, if they have children they need to look after or arrange childcare for because their school has closed, or, to help their child or another dependent if they’re sick or need to go into isolation or hospital.

    Due to the exceptional circumstances of the current situation the Company has made the decision to change the way Dependent Care Leave normally works, to give the maximum support and flexibility for those who need it. This approach will be reviewed on an ongoing basis.

    You may also want to consider using annual leave, flexi or lieu time to support your working arrangements.

    4. How do I prove I am a Key Worker?

    Colleagues can receive a letter to confirm they are a Key Worker. A Key Worker is someone working in a critical service, which cannot be delivered from home. If you need a letter you need to speak to your manager who can provide this.

    5. Can I request annual leave during the Coronavirus pandemic?

    Requests for annual leave will be considered in the normal way. Annual leave and days already booked should be taken, as far as possible. This position will be kept under review.

    6. Could my planned annual leave be cancelled in order to maintain service delivery?

    The Company may need to ask employees to cancel or postpone annual leave if it is necessary to maintain service delivery.  However, appropriate notice will be given, and due regard should be given to individual circumstances that may result from booked leave being cancelled.  It is also vital that employees are able to have a break away from work.  Managers will discuss this with employees if plans need to be changed.

    Where it is not possible to take leave, or an employee has agreed not to take leave to ensure service continuity, leave may be carried forward.

    7. My child's school is closed, what should I do?

    There are a number of options that can be considered:

    • Council employees, in line with the Government’s guidelines, are identified as a ‘Key Worker’ as the work carried out is critical to the COVID-19 response. To support the Council’s critical services; their child(ren) are identified as a priority for education provision. However, in line with Government guidance, if you are able to organise alternative childcare which keeps children away from school, please do so.

    • If the employee is able to work from home whilst caring for your child(ren) as they are old enough not to require constant supervision, and your role is one that can be done from home, this should be discussed with the employee and supported where possible.

    • If the employee can work their hours at different times – for example, they may be able to work in the evening or weekends when there is someone else available to care for child(ren)

    8. My colleague is returning to work from absence related to coronavirus – are there any precautions I need to take?

    An increasing number of colleagues are returning to work from absence related to the coronavirus. It is understandable that some colleagues who have been unwell may feel anxious about their recent illness and their colleagues may be fearful of exposing themselves to perceived infection.  It is important that everyone remembers and adheres to current Public Health England guidance on this issue:

    • Any colleague who suspects they have symptoms of coronavirus must self-isolate at home for 7 days from the beginning of their symptoms and must not return to work until they have recovered and have not had a high temperature for 48 hours.

    • Once colleagues have completed their 7 days of self isolation, they can go back to their normal routine provided they have recovered and not had a high temperature for 48 hours.  This means they will no longer be infectious.

    • Everyone else in the household of the colleague who has been unwell needs to self-isolate for 14 days from the first day that the colleague showed symptoms.

    You do not need to keep self-isolating if you just have a cough. A cough can last for weeks after the infection has gone.

    Any colleague that returns to work from sickness absence should be supported back to work positively as per the attendance management policy.

  • Annual Leave & Coronavirus

    FAQs for managers, employees and workers

    The government has amended the law on holiday entitlement on a temporary basis in response to changes to working arrangements due to the coronavirus. These changes amend the Working Time Regulations, the legislation which governs holiday entitlement.

    1. Who does this change affect?

    The law and the changes affect employees and workers.

    2. What is the government’s latest amendment to the Working Time Regulations?

    The government has introduced a temporary new law allowing employees and workers to carry over up to 4 weeks of their holiday entitlement over a 2 year period if they are prevented from taking their annual leave because of the coronavirus pandemic (pro rata for part time employees).

    3. What is the purpose of the change?

    The measures seek to ensure that staff do not lose out on annual leave entitlement due to the Coronavirus.

    4. I cannot take all of my annual leave due to the Coronavirus. Can I carry over my unused holiday?

    Staff are encouraged to request and take annual leave as normal as this is important for everyone’s physical and mental health and wellbeing.

    However, where this is not possible due to the Coronavirus and this is agreed with your manager, you can now carry over up to 20 days annual leave (pro rata for part time staff) not taken because of Coronavirus.  For example, this could apply if you are:

    •  self-isolating or are too sick due to Coronavirus to take annual leave before the end of your leave year

    •  you have been asked to continue working and could not take annual leave

    5. Is the 20 days carry over on top of the already existing discretionary 5 day carry over, which line managers can authorise?

    No, only a maximum of up to 20 days should be carried over.

    6. I thought I could already carry over 20 days annual leave under the Working Time Regulations?

    Statutory annual leave can be carried over where a worker has been absent from work on long term sickness and they have been unable to take their statutory leave entitlement prior to the end of the leave year.  However, in these circumstances statutory annual leave must be used within a maximum period of 18 months from the end of the relevant leave year, after which it would have expired.

    7. How do I arrange for unused annual leave, due to Coronavirus, to be carried over?

    Staff are encouraged to request and take annual leave as normal, where possible.

    Please discuss with your line manager your individual circumstances and agree how much leave, if any, can be carried over. Once any agreements for carry over are in place they should be recorded as normal.

    8. Can I still request annual leave during the Coronavirus pandemic?

    As above, the Company’s position at present is that annual leave should continue to be requested in the normal way and taken where possible and this should continue.

    Staff are encouraged to take leave, and breaks away from work, where possible, as this is important for everyone’s physical and mental health and wellbeing.

    Staff may also request annual leave to support them with their caring responsibilities.

    9. What about Bank Holidays?

    The maximum number of 20 days leave that can be carried over is inclusive of bank holidays.

    10. What if I have to self-isolate?

    If you are required to self-isolate, staff are asked to discuss their individual circumstances with their manager.

    11. What if my holiday is cancelled due to Coronavirus?

    If you no longer want to take time off that you have previously booked, for example because your holiday has been cancelled, you should discuss this with your line manager as soon as you can.

    You may be able to take your leave at a later date, where agreed with your manager, in line with the new carry over arrangements.  However, bear in mind that it is important to take breaks from work, where possible for your health and wellbeing.

    12. Could my planned annual leave be cancelled in order to maintain service delivery?

    The Company may need to ask staff to cancel or postpone annual leave if it is necessary to maintain vital service delivery.  However, appropriate notice will be given, and due regard should be given to individual circumstances that may result from booked leave being cancelled.

    Where it is not possible to take leave, or a colleague has agreed not to take leave to ensure service continuity, leave may be carried forward.

    13. I am working from home, what should I do about my annual leave requests?

    Requests should be made via your line manager in the normal way.

    Annual leave should continue to be requested and taken in the usual way where possible.

    14. Will this 20 day carry over become a permanent change to annual leave provisions?

    This change has been announced as a temporary measure specifically in response to the Coronavirus. It does not represent a permanent change to the Company’s policy on annual leave.

    15. Can I be paid in lieu of my untaken annual leave instead?

    This has not changed. Payments for untaken annual leave will be only be considered if you are leaving the company’s employment.

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