Guidance for non-staff attending Wirral Council offices
It remains as important as ever that we do not become complacent or stop doing the things that prevent COVID-19 from spreading. It is vital that everyone attending a Wirral Council building continues to follow the guidance.
Where members of the public visit council premises to access services, COVID-secure principles and risk assessments will remain in place. This is to protect staff and members of the public.
- don’t attend if you or anyone in your household tests positive for COVID-19, has been notified by NHS Track and Trace that they must self-isolate or are showing any COVID symptoms
- take a lateral flow COVID test before attending
- remember ‘Hands, Face, Space and Fresh Air’
- use the hand sanitiser and wipes that will be provided
- wash your hands regularly
- maintain 2 metres social distancing where possible
- wear a mask in communal areas or while entering and moving around the building
- do not share any pens, other objects or food and drink
- do not exceed the stated maximum room occupancy
- if you would prefer to attend a meeting virtually, speak to the meeting organiser in advance
- if you show symptoms or test positive for COVID within 10 days of attending a Wirral Council building, please report it to the meeting organiser
Guidance for staff - protecting yourself and your colleagues
The COVID-19 vaccine is being successfully rolled out, but it remains as important as ever that we do not become complacent or stop doing the things that prevent the virus from spreading.
Whether you are working in a council office, a frontline worker or based outside, it is vital that you continue to follow the guidance.
We must continue to protect each other. As a line manager you have a responsibility and a legal obligation to promote health and safety in the workplace and a COVID-secure working environment.
- make sure you are aware of the risk assessments for your service and share them with staff
- regularly review and update risk assessments, ask staff for feedback about what is and isn’t working
- carry out individual risk assessments for anyone in your team that has been shielding or is in a high-risk category
- ensure staff continue to follow guidance about hands, face, space and fresh air at all times
- encourage staff to get tested twice a week
- ensure all your team have completed the ‘Keeping Safe At Work 2021’ course on WeLearn
- take action if you observe any staff not following COVID-19 safe guidelines
- encourage staff to confidentially report any concerns about COVID-19 measures or behaviour to email@example.com
- ensure staff wear PPE for their role, if required, and that there is a supply in place
- continue to encourage staff to work at home where possible
- avoid face to face meetings if possible
- understand what you need to do if a member of staff displays symptoms or tests positive
- ensure you are aware of the wider COVID-19 symptoms and advise staff to stay at home and get a test if they experience any symptoms
- keep up to date with who is a ‘contact’ and understand how to avoid becoming a contact
More information and updates can be found on the intranet. Please cascade information to staff who do not have access.
How will you ensure implementation of a safe, COVID-19 secure workplace?
All workspaces which are due to open have been risk assessed and have an agreed protocol. This protocol will be communicated to you when booking a space to attend a Wirral council building. The agreed protocol for each building will follow COVID-19 good practice i.e social distancing measures/thorough cleaning of workstations. All protocols will be regularly reviewed to ensure they remain up to date. Staff are required to wear a face mask when moving around the building (unless exempt). We will look to have a supply of face masks at reception for a council building which re-opens.
What processes are in place for risk assessments, PPE, clean down measures and social distancing?
Any workstation available for staff to attend will have been risk assessed. The risk assessment carried out will ensure regular cleaning of buildings, workstations and replenished cleaning/hand washing supplies are available. Hand sanitiser is available and all desks are cleaned by our cleaning staff at the end of every day. Its good practice to ensure when leaving your booked desk, it is cleaned.
How have the above processes and protocols been agreed?
All council buildings which are open to staff and public have undertaken a risk assessment. Any concerns identified during these assessments have been addressed and will regularly stay under review. If you note any concerns when in a location this should be reported to the Building Lead in the first instance. Details regarding building leads can be found in Appendix One.
Where do I go for support or help?
We have a variety of support methods available for staff. These include:
- Sarah Moran, Strategic Recovery Programme Manager: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Our staff forum group are meeting regularly to review any feedback and to ensure all staff have a voice and input into any proposals going forward. We would encourage all feedback to be sent to email@example.com and feedback will be collated and shared with this group.
- Our Employee Assistance Line can further provide support alongside a range of other topics which may be of use: Tel: 0800 030 5182
When will we be asked return and how?
From Wednesday 22 September, space will be available so that you can hold meetings or collaborate with colleagues. Rooms can be booked by completing an intranet form (available since 15 September).
From Wednesday 29 September, you will then be able to book a desk in Cheshire Lines Building. You can book a desk for up to two days a week using a new desk booking app that has been developed by our IT team. This app will be available in the left-hand menu of Microsoft Teams from 22 September.
All risk of COVID-19 transmission must be considered and mitigated prior to any meetings taken place.
Do I need to book a space each day?
Yes. There will be an online booking system. You can book a desk for up to two days a week using a new desk booking app that has been developed by our IT team. This app will be available in the left-hand menu of Microsoft Teams from 22 September.
What are the expectations while I am in the workplace?
Whilst we welcome staff to use workspace for collaboration our primary focus is to keep all staff safe and well. We therefore would suggest only visiting a building where there is a need to do so and, in order to allow others the opportunity to book space you should only reserve space for the time you need.
We want all staff to have the choice to book space, but this needs to be balanced with keeping the workplace COVID-19 secure. Please bear in mind we are still operating at a lower capacity to allow for social distancing.
Which work buildings and locations will be available?
At present staff can book a desk at Cheshire Lines Building.
Collaboration space is also available at Cheshire Lines Building and at the Floral Pavilion.
Desks and collaboration space can all be booked via the online system.
Is parking available at Cheshire Lines Building?
There is a car park available at the Cheshire Lines Building which has allocated spaces for council use. Car parking spaces are not bookable and operate on a first come, first serve basis. Pay and Display public car parks operate within walking distance of the Cheshire Lines Building.
I want to hold a team meeting – are my staff required to attend?
Yes, it is reasonable to ask staff to attend team meetings at office buildings if they have appropriate notice of meetings. Consideration should be given to the length of the meeting and requirement for travel – we don’t want to waste time, particularly for people out of borough.
Can Teams be utilised? That is, some staff join from home whilst others are physically together in an office building?
Facilitation of a team meeting where some staff are physically together in a meeting room and some staff are joining virtually via Microsoft Teams can be difficult to manage.
In addition, we don’t want to create a division amongst staff – those who go in and those who don’t or wont. However, where this is the only option, taking account of personal circumstances or working arrangements then this can be considered and agreed with the line manager.
What is the position in relation to mileage claims?
The position on mileage claims remains the same with the slight amendment to accommodate those who may not work from home. Please refer to the ‘Car Allowance Policy and Procedure’ on the intranet.
What is the role of my manager in my return to the workplace?
Your line manager will support your return and be your main point of contact for any initial queries. This remains the case regardless of whether the manager is working from a council building or not. All line managers will have access to managers toolkit which will provide lots of useful information and resources on returning to the workplace. There will also be frequent sessions that managers can attend to keep them up to date and staff engagement sessions will also take place to keep everyone informed.
Staff who have were classed as clinically extremely vulnerable should have a one-to-one conversation with their line manager, along with HR if appropriate to determine if an individual risk assessment is necessary.
What are my responsibilities in returning to the workplace?
Prior to returning to work we ask all staff to complete the following e-learning modules via self-serve:
- Returning to work safely.
- Keeping Safe at Work
We are therefore proposing the following guiding principles for staff to follow when returning:
- a staff member should not attend council premises if they have any symptoms of COVID-19, or have been notified by NHS Track and Trace that they must self-isolate
- staff are to adhere to COVID-19 information as displayed on building signage, that is, infection prevention control regarding handwashing
- it is expected that face coverings are worn when entering and moving around a building
- attendees may choose to wear face coverings for the duration of the meeting. This is a personal choice
- the stated occupancy capacity of the meeting room must not be exceeded. This information will be provided to the meeting organiser and displayed on the door and in the meeting room
- the meeting room must be well ventilated at all times. Information relating to this will be provided in the room
- hand sanitiser is available in all buildings
- social distancing must be maintained at all times
- signing in sheets and pens should not be used. The Chair of the meeting should record the names of the attendees at the meeting through the booking process
- to further mitigate any risk of virus transmission during meetings there should be no sharing of pens, any other objects, food or drinks
- each attendee should use the sanitising wipes provided to ensure the space being used is clean at the start and at the end of the meeting. Facility Management staff will provide routine cleaning of all meeting spaces
- About 1 in 3 people with COVID-19 do not have symptoms but can still infect others. Even if you’re vaccinated, there’s still a chance you can pass COVID-19 on, so you should keep getting tested regularly
- the council continues to request that staff working regularly in council workplaces takes a Lateral Flow Test twice weekly to check if you have the virus. If people test positive and self-isolate, it helps stop the virus spreading. Anyone attending on a less frequent basis, for example for a meeting, are requested to take a test prior to attending work premises
- those who visit our premises - where members of the public visit council premises to access services, COVID-19-secure principles will remain in operation on the basis of risk assessment. This is to protect staff and members of the public. Premises we visit as part of our statutory duties - where staff are required to attend third party premises to carry out their duties dynamic risk assessments will continue to be put in place to ensure the health, safety and welfare of those employees
These guidelines will be updated and regularly reviewed in line with any future Government guidance and in light of local COVID-19 data.
What if I have some personal issues that will impact on my return to the workplace?
A range of support is available for any staff who find themselves in this situation. You should speak to your line manager in the first instance who can determine appropriate arrangements or adjustments to support you.
Do I have a choice about returning to work and working from home?
We are keen to offer employees a degree of personal choice about where they work if the business need continues to be met. Whilst hybrid working will be encouraged, it is not the intention of the council to impose homeworking on employees. It is acknowledged that not all employees can work at home. Some employees may not have an appropriate home environment and others may prefer not to for personal reasons.
There are also some jobs that cannot be done at home as effectively and some employees including new members of staff, trainees or apprentices benefit from working alongside colleagues. Employees who can’t or don’t wish to work from home (which would include concerns over costs) can choose to come into an office.
All employees who regularly work from home are required to complete the Working Safely at Home Self-Assessment checklist (on self-serve) and Working Safely at Home e-learning (on WeLearn).
The council retains a duty of care for the health and safety all staff working at home. We therefore require assurance from staff that they are working safely, with the right equipment and working environment and are aware of their obligations. Staff who do not complete the checklist or training will be required to return to an office or workplace location.
Has there been any change to annual leave arrangements?
There are no changes to the annual leave arrangements in place but please bear in mind for 2022/23 you will be able to carry over a maximum of 8 days, so it is important that you take breaks regularly over the remainder of the year to avoid requesting leave in the final weeks of the leave year, which can cause operational issues. Please speak to your manager if there’s any reason why you might not be able to book some annual leave over the coming weeks and months.
What is the sickness absence policy in relation to COVID-19?
All absences due to COVID-19 vaccination, COVID-19 symptoms and testing positive for COVID-19 will not be taken into account for trigger purposes.
Keeping in Touch/Return to Work e-forms should be completed for all COVID-19 related absence.
If an employee is self-isolating and are not able to work from home, this absence should be recorded as an “Other absence” under category “Self-Isolation” on Self Serve.
What is the sickness absence policy in relation to Long COVID-19?
Absences due to Long COVID-19 will be treated the same way as other long-term absences. Advice will be sought from Occupational Health services to advise on the employees condition and where appropriate on any reasonable adjustments required in the workplace to determine the best way to support recovery.
Track and Trace, Self Isolation, Vaccination
How does track and trace work in terms of vaccination and isolation?
Track and Trace is set up to ping people who have been in close contact with someone who has tested positive for COVID-19 and have not been double vaccinated. Track and Trace will advise the period of isolation.
Do I have to isolate if track and trace alert me to being a close contact of someone who has tested positive?
The rules on self-isolation changed on 16th August 2021. If you have been double vaccinated and have been in close contact with someone who has tested positive for COVID-19, you no longer have to self-isolate, however, if you have not been double vaccinated then a period of self-isolation is required.
Do I have to isolate if I have been double vaccinated?
The rules on self-isolation changed on 16 August 2021. If you have been double vaccinated and have been in close contact with someone who has tested positive for COVID-19, you no longer have to self-isolate
Do I have to inform my manager of my vaccination status?
There is no requirement for you to provide this information to your manager. However, this information is useful in terms of the guidance around self-isolation and coming into contact with someone who has tested positive for COVID-19.
My manager has asked to see my track and trace notification? Why is this?
There is no longer a requirement to self-isolate if you have been double vaccinated. Track and Trace is set up to notify those people who have not been double vaccinated and have been in close contact with someone who has tested positive for COVID-19. As an organisation we are therefore asking staff who advise that they need to self-isolate to send us the track and trace notification they receive. This also shows the period of isolation required.
I have not been double vaccinated and need to self-isolate, will I still be paid?
Yes. If you are able to work from home then we would expect work activity to continue. If you normally do not work from home then your manager will speak to you about potential work activity from home.
Am I required to get a vaccination?
As an organisation we are not making it compulsory for staff to get vaccinated. However we would encourage staff to have the vaccination as this protects you and others.
Do I need to take a test before coming to work?
We are advising staff who will be regularly booking to attend a building to undertake two lateral flow tests per week and should these come back positive or they are contacted by test and trace they should refrain coming into the office. You are encouraged to use the NHS test and trace app to check in to any locations and if you experience any symptoms a number of testing sites are available across the borough. Our Director of Public Health, Julie Webster, frequently provides a blog which we encourage you to read and keep up to date.