The coronavirus (COVID-19) situation is developing quickly and information will be updated with the latest guidance. Useful informationis available from the government and the NHS:
- Latest information about the government response to coronavirus
- Latest NHS information about protecting yourself, managing symptoms and preventing the spread of coronavirus
Guidance for employees with underlying health conditions
Last updated on 15 April 2021.
The government has issued updated guidance for employees with underlying health conditions that have an impact on work.
Clinically vulnerable employees
If you are over 60 or clinically vulnerable, you could be at higher risk of severe illness from coronavirus:
- you should be especially careful to follow the rules and minimise your contacts with others
- you should continue to wash your hands carefully and more often than usual
- you should maintain thorough cleaning of frequently touched areas in your home and workspace
Clinically vulnerable people are those who are:
- aged 70 or over (regardless of medical conditions)
- under 70 with an underlying health condition listed below (that is, anyone instructed to get a flu jab each year on medical grounds):
- chronic (long-term) mild to moderate respiratory diseases, such as asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), emphysema or bronchitis
- chronic heart disease, such as heart failure
- chronic kidney disease
- chronic liver disease, such as hepatitis
- chronic neurological conditions, such as Parkinson’s disease, motor neurone disease, multiple sclerosis (MS) or cerebral palsy
- a weakened immune system as the result of certain conditions or medicines they are taking (such as steroid tablets)
- being seriously overweight (a body mass index of 40 or above)
What does this mean for work if I am clinically vulnerable?
Clinically vulnerable employees can continue to attend work as long as the appropriate measures are in place to make sure they can do so safely.
What do Line Managers need to do if staff are clinically vulnerable?
If you are a line manager of staff who fall into the clinical vulnerable category you must ensure that you have individual and generic risk assessments in place. You may consider asking staff to undertake modified duties, change location or work at home if they are able to do so.
People who are clinically extremely vulnerable
There is a further group of people who are defined, also on medical grounds, as clinically extremely vulnerable to coronavirus. This includes, people with specific serious health conditions.
Definition of clinically extremely vulnerable groups
People who are defined as clinically extremely vulnerable are at very high risk of severe illness from coronavirus. There are two ways you may be identified as clinically extremely vulnerable:
- solid organ transplant recipients
- people with cancer who are undergoing active chemotherapy
- people with lung cancer who are undergoing radical radiotherapy
- people with cancers of the blood or bone marrow such as leukaemia, lymphoma or myeloma who are at any stage of treatment
- people having immunotherapy or other continuing antibody treatments for cancer
- people having other targeted cancer treatments that can affect the immune system, such as protein kinase inhibitors or PARP inhibitors
- people who have had bone marrow or stem cell transplants in the last six months or who are still taking immunosuppression drugs
- those with severe respiratory conditions including all cystic fibrosis, severe asthma and severe chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)
- those with rare diseases that significantly increase the risk of infections (such as severe combined immunodeficiency (SCID), homozygous sickle cell disease)
- those on immunosuppression therapies sufficient to significantly increase risk of infection
- adults with Down’s syndrome
- adults on dialysis or with chronic kidney disease (stage 5)
- women who are pregnant with significant heart disease, congenital or acquired
- other people who have also been classed as clinically extremely vulnerable, based on clinical judgement and an assessment of their needs. GPs and hospital clinicians have been provided with guidance to support these decisions.
What about work if I am clinically extremely vulnerable?
If you are clinically extremely vulnerable you can go to work as long as your workplace is COVID-secure, but you should carry on working from home wherever possible.
What do Line Managers need to do if staff are clinically extremely vulnerable?
Employees who fall into the clinical extremely vulnerable category should receive a letter from Government to advise them of that. They have been asked to upload that onto self serve.
Once this is done, as line manager you can authorise their absence on self serve.
Employees should then be advised to work from home or if they are not able to do so, stay at home on full pay.
Staff Roadshow - your questions answered
On 15 September 2020, 471 employees attended the first virtual staff roadshow and this generated lots of feedback. Questions that we weren't able to answer during the session due to time constraints are summarised below, with contact details if you would like further clarification:
Last updated 15 April 2021
What is the position on working from home?
All staff who are able to work at home should now do so until further notice.
Government advice on this is as follows:
You should continue to work from home where you can.
If you cannot work from home you should continue to travel to your workplace. This includes, but is not limited to, people who work in:
- critical national infrastructure
- childcare or education
- essential public services
- essential retail, such as supermarkets and pharmacies
You do not need to be classed as a critical worker to go to work if you cannot work from home.
Employers and employees should discuss their working arrangements, and employers should take every possible step to facilitate their employees working from home, including providing suitable IT and equipment to enable remote working. Where people cannot work from home, employers should take steps to make their workplaces COVID-19 secure and help employees avoid busy times and routes on public transport. Extra consideration should be given to those people at higher risk.
The council had already set out our position that we have asked to staff to work at home. There are a number of reasons for this:
- Your health and safety, and that of your families is paramount. It is important that we continue to stay at home as much as possible.
- Homeworking does bring some challenges, particularly for people currently juggling childcare and other caring responsibilities. However, feedback from the recent workforce surveys and discussions across engagement sessions and team meetings was really positive and indicates that it is mostly working well. We have really good technology available and we have taken steps to ensure people have the right equipment to work safely at home. We will continue to check in with you regularly to see if there is anything additional we can do to support.
- Social distancing requirements have a significant impact on our office space, and we can no longer operate hot-desking arrangements. This means that at the moment, we couldn’t bring all office-based staff back to work safely and we need more time to review how we will plan and manage the additional requirements for offices such as increased cleaning etc.
- We were already looking at our accommodation needs and trying to reduce the number of council office buildings that staff work from. We are now rethinking some of that based on new ways of working. It may be that where we were already planning to move out of a building, we will now not go back to it at all.
My job can be undertaken at home but don’t feel able to do so safely or for other reasons. What should I do?
We acknowledge that not everyone can work at home and everybody’s circumstances are different of course.
We are keen to provide employees with some choice about where they work as far as possible, as long as that meets the business need and so we are not imposing homeworking on staff who don’t want to or can’t for other reasons.
If staff don’t feel able to work at home safely they should speak to their manager in the first instance.
We have made Cheshire Lines Building the main Covid safe location to accommodate Council staff who need to work from an office.
Can the council still require people to come into the office?
Yes. Not all jobs or services can be delivered from home as effectively. The council may therefore deem it necessary for some work to be done from offices.
However, we will not take any unnecessary risks and there will be a clear case for why this is necessary and risk assessments and individual risk assessments must be in place.
Attendance many be limited and, for example organised on a rota basis if appropriate. Government COVID secure guidelines will be followed at all times.
Will all staff return to their usual place of work?
Not necessarily. As stated above, we will need to make significant changes to workplaces. We have designated Cheshire Lines as the main office environment that we will develop into a ‘model’ hub. Staff who are normally based there have removed their personal and work items so that we could re-organise office layout and desks for whoever needs to occupy them.
What is the position for community based and front-line other services?
Many of our services have continued to operate throughout the year. Government guidance is that people should continue to work as long as it safe to do so.
Service managers must ensure that all service and individual risk assessments should be in place and, where appropriate, PPE is provided.
Managers should keep all job related activities under review and make any changes to what services are delivered and how they are delivered as required to maintain health and safety of staff.
My job involves home client visits – is this still ok?
Yes. As set out above risk assessments and individual risk assessments should be in place and kept under review.
When will services that are currently closed re-open?
Some council services are now re-opening in line with the government roadmap from March to June. Details of these have been published separately.
We are not in a position to re-open all services as we continue to provide covid response services and utilise some of our buildings and assets for the vaccination programme. We can only open buildings that are covid secure and we also need to follow specific sector advice and guidance for services operating from building as appropriate.
My service is currently closed or not operating at full capacity. What are the arrangements for me?
There are number of services that are currently closed or not operating at full capacity. This includes Libraries, Leisure and the Floral.
Whilst some staff may continue carrying out their usual duties, we will need to redeploy staff into other areas to support our response to the pandemic.
The council has a crucial role to play in safeguarding some of the most vulnerable people in society and all staff will play a vital part in this.
We won’t ask staff to do work they are not able to do. We will ensure that training is provided and risk assessments undertaken. Where staff have underlying health issues we will try to redeploy them to work that is appropriate for their personal circumstances.
Many staff from closed services have already volunteered to support COVID response and other services throughout, and have used this as an opportunity to learn new skills.
Can we attend work related meetings?
Gatherings for work purposes are only allowed where they are reasonably necessary. If meetings take place in the workplace, workplaces should be set up to meet the COVID-19-secure guidelines. Meals to socialise with work colleagues are not permitted.
The Government advice in relation to meetings is as follows:
Objective: To reduce transmission due to face-to-face meetings and maintain social distancing in meetings.
Steps that will usually be needed:
- Using remote working tools to avoid in-person meetings.
- Ensuring participants should physically attend meetings only where reasonably necessary. Participants should maintain social distancing (2m, or 1m+ with risk mitigation where 2m is not viable).
- Avoiding transmission during meetings, for example avoiding sharing pens, documents and other objects.
- Providing hand sanitiser in meeting rooms.
- Holding meetings outdoors whenever possible or in rooms where there is good ventilation through open doors, windows and vents, mechanical ventilation (such as air conditioning) or a combination of both.
- Airing rooms between meetings, opening all the doors and windows as fully as possible to maximise the ventilation in the room.
- For areas where regular meetings take place, using floor signage to help people maintain social distancing.
Can staff claim expenses for working from home?
As the council does not make a payment for homeworking, an employee may be able to claim tax relief directly from HMRC. Employees may be able to claim tax relief for any household expenses incurred as a result of working from home, provided the expenses are solely work related.
From 6 April 2020, employees can claim tax relief on a flat rate of £6 per week (or £26 per month for monthly paid employees), without having to justify that figure.
There are, however, certain tests that need to be met by the employee before HMRC will approve a claim.
If staff need particular equipment or office supplies to support them in working safely from home they should speak to their managers in the first instance who should consider all requests reasonably and ensure staff have what they need for working from home.
For more information about accessing equipment to support staff working from home, please refer to guidance on using DSE equipment.
COVID-19 and health related questions
What should I do about work if I am clinically extremely vulnerable?
From 1 April 2021 Clinically extremely vulnerable individuals are advised to work from home where possible but can still attend work if they cannot work from home.
Line Managers should consider whether clinically extremely vulnerable individuals can take on an alternative role or change their working patterns temporarily to avoid travelling during busy periods.
If you are unsure whether you are classed as Clinically Extremely Vulnerable, further information is available on the NHS website
If you're considered clinically extremely vulnerable, you should have had a letter from the NHS.
Speak to your GP or hospital care team for advice if:
- you have not been contacted and think you should have been
- you have been contacted but you're not sure why you're considered clinically extremely vulnerable
What do Line Managers need to do if staff are clinically extremely vulnerable?
Line Managers are required to undertake an individual risk assessment.
I live with someone with is clinically extremely vulnerable. Should I still go to work?
Yes. People who live with clinically extremely vulnerable people can still attend work if they cannot work from home.
Please speak to your line manager if you have any concerns about this.
I have developed COVID-19 symptoms what should I do?
If you have symptoms of COVID-19 however mild, you must self-isolate for at least 10 days, the 10 days must start from day zero – this is date of onset of symptoms. The symptoms of COVID-19 are a new continuous cough, a high temperature or a loss/change of taste or smell. You should also arrange to have a test to see if you have COVID-19. You can book a test at wirral.gov.uk/testing or by calling 119.
Keep self-isolating if you have any of these symptoms after 10 days:
- a high temperature or feeling hot and shivery
- a runny nose or sneezing
- feeling or being sick
Only stop self-isolating when these symptoms have gone.
If you have diarrhoea or you’re being sick, stay at home until 48 hours after they've stopped.
You can stop self-isolating after 10 days if you are well or you only have a cough or loss of sense of smell or taste, as these symptoms can last for several weeks after the infection has gone.
If you live with others, all other household members (or those in your support bubble) need to stay at home and not leave the house for 10 days. The 10-day period starts from the day when the first person in the household became ill or if they do not have symptoms, from the day their test was taken.
As a contact, you should only get a test if you develop symptoms. You cannot return to work on the basis of a negative test within the 10 days (This is because there is up to a 10-day incubation period for Coronavirus symptoms to develop).
If anyone else in the household or support bubble starts displaying symptoms, they need to stay at home for at least 10 days from when their symptoms appear, regardless of what day they are on in their original 10-day isolation period.
If you test positive for COVID-19, you will receive a request by text, email or phone to log into the NHS Test and Trace service website and provide information about recent close contacts.
I have tested positive for COVID-19 but have no symptoms what should I do?
If you are not experiencing symptoms but have tested positive for COVID-19, self-isolate for at least 10 days, the 10 days must start from day zero – in the absence of any symptoms, this is the date of test. If you develop symptoms during this isolation period, restart your 10-day isolation from the day you developed symptoms.
If you live with others, all other household members (or those in your support bubble) need to stay at home and not leave the house for 10 days. The 10-day period starts from the day the first person’s test was taken.
Contacts should only get a test if they develop symptoms. You cannot return to work on the basis of a negative test within the 10 days (This is because there is up to a 10-day incubation period for Coronavirus symptoms to develop).
If anyone else in the household starts displaying symptoms, they need to stay at home for at least 10 days from when their symptoms appear, regardless of what day they are on in their original 10-day isolation period.
If you test positive for COVID-19, you will receive a request by text, email or phone to log into the NHS Test and Trace service website and provide information about recent close contacts.
I am a line manager and one of my team who is not homeworking has contacted me to confirm they have COVID-19 symptoms. What should I do?
You should advise the person to self-isolate as per the above guidance and arrange for a test online at wirral.gov.uk/testing or by calling 119. Please ask them to contact you with an outcome of the test as soon as possible and check that contact details for the individual are up to date.
If the person tests positive for COVID-19 and has been working in proximity to other colleagues, there are some questions that you should ask them:
- when did they start feeling unwell?
- when were they last in work?
- which location were they working from, and where else have they been as part of their work?
- who were they working with and when?
You should make a note of this information using the COVID-19 case reporting form available on the Wirral COVID-19 Outbreak Hub on the council intranet. Send this to email@example.com as well as your Head of Service and HR Business Partner as soon as possible.
As above, the employee should also be contacted by NHS test and trace services.
If an employee is contacted by NHS Test and Trace and instructed to self-isolate, their absence should not be recorded as sickness absence.
Employees who can work from home should do so. Employee who cannot work at home must stay at home on full pay for the duration of the self-isolation period.
As employees are ‘well’ at this stage they should stay on normal full pay for the duration of the self-isolation period until such time as they are confirmed to have contracted the virus, at which point they transfer to sickness absence leave.
One of my colleagues has tested positive for COVID-19. What do I need to do?
If you have had close, recent contact with the person then you may be contacted by the NHS test and Trace service or the local public health team and advised to self-isolate.
- Look out for a text, email or phone call from NHS Test and Trace: you will be alerted by the NHS test and trace service if you have been in close contact with someone who has tested positive for coronavirus. The alert will come by text, email or phone call. You should then log on to the NHS test and trace website, which is normally the easiest way for you and the service to communicate with each other – but if not, a trained call handler will talk you through what you must do. Under-18s will get a phone call and a parent or guardian will be asked to give permission for the call to continue
- Self-isolate: you will be told to begin self-isolation for 10 days from your last contact with the person who has tested positive. It’s really important to do this even if you don’t feel unwell because, if you have been infected, you could become infectious to others at any point up to 10 days. If you do not have symptoms, your household doesn’t need to self-isolate with you, but they must take extra care to follow the guidance on social distancing and handwashing and avoid contact with you at home
- If you develop symptoms, get tested: If you do not develop symptoms of COVID-19, you do not need to get tested. If you develop symptoms of COVID-19, other members of your household must self-isolate immediately at home for 10 days. You must book a test at wirral.gov.uk/test or by calling 119. If your test is positive, you must continue to stay at home for at least 10 days from when your symptoms started. If your test is negative, you must still complete your 10-day self-isolation period because the virus may not be detectable yet - this is crucial to avoid unknowingly spreading the virus.
Whether or not you are contacted by NHS Test and Trace teams depends on whether your name is given as a contact by the person who has been tested positive.
For this reason the council's COVID-19 Hub team will also seek some information from your colleague (see point two above) so that we can make an assessment and also take appropriate advice about whether you and other colleagues need to be advised to self-isolate or access testing.
It is important to remember that if you have observed social distancing at work and have had limited or no contact with the colleague who has tested positive for COVID-19, then you may not need to self-isolate.
I am a line manager and one of my team members has tested positive for COVID-19. Do we need to make arrangement for the workplace to be cleaned?
Yes. If a case of COVID-19 is confirmed among the workforce, public areas that a symptomatic individual has passed through and all surfaces that the symptomatic person has come into contact with must be cleaned and disinfected, with appropriate use of PPE by cleaning staff, as per national guidance for cleaning non healthcare settings.
If you need advice or support on any of the above, you can contact the council's COVID-19 Hub by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org using the case reporting form available at Wirral COVID-19 Outbreak Hub on the council intranet.
If I am contacted by a contract tracer to inform me that a person I have been in contact with has tested positive for Covid 19. What should I do, and will I still get paid?
- self-isolate for 10 days from the day you were last in contact with the person – as it can take up to 10 days for symptoms to appear
- do not leave your home for any reason – if you need food or medicine, order it online or by phone, or ask friends and family to drop it off at your home
- do not have visitors in your home, including friends and family – except for essential care
- try to avoid contact with anyone you live with as much as possible
- people you live with do not need to self-isolate if you do not have symptoms
- people in your support bubble do not need to self-isolate if you do not have symptoms
- inform your line manager and send the text/email you have received from the contact tracer
- continue to work from home if possible
- remain at home even if you are unable to work from home
- you should only get a test if you develop symptoms.
- if you have a test and it’s negative, you must still self-isolate for 10-days from the last day they were in contact with a positive case. You cannot return to work on the basis of a negative test within the 10 days (This is because there is up to a 10-day incubation period for Coronavirus symptoms to develop).
You will receive full pay during this period.
I have been contacted by a contract tracer to inform me that a person I have been in contact with has tested positive for Covid 19, do I have to self-isolate if I do not have any symptoms?
Yes, it is a punishable offence not to comply with an official instruction to self-isolate, with fines starting at £1,000 and rising to £10,000 for repeat offenders or serious breaches.
The law applies to people who have tested positive for coronavirus, or who have been told by NHS Test and Trace to self-isolate because they have been in close contact with someone with the virus.
And if someone tests positive, it is illegal to knowingly give false information about their close contacts to NHS Test and Trace.
I live alone and I have symptoms of coronavirus illness, what should I do?
If you live alone and you have symptoms of coronavirus (COVID-19), i.e. a fever and/or a new continuous cough or/and a loss of, or change in, normal sense of taste or smell (anosmia) stay at home for 10 days, the 10 days must start from day zero – this is date of onset of symptoms. You should also arrange to have a test to see if you have COVID-19. You can book a test at wirral.gov.uk/testing or by calling 119.
For further advice refer to www.nhs.uk/conditions/coronavirus-covid-19/
I live with others and me or one of them has symptoms, what should I do?
If you have symptoms, you should stay away from other people you live with as much as possible.
If you can:
- stay on your own in one room as much as possible and keep the door closed
- avoid using shared spaces (such as the kitchen) at the same time as other people – eat your meals in your room
- use a separate bathroom - otherwise, use the bathroom after everyone else and clean it each time you use it, for example, by wiping the surfaces you've touched
To reduce the spread of infection in your home:
- wash your hands with soap and water often, for at least 20 seconds
- use hand sanitiser gel if soap and water are not available
- cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or your sleeve (not your hands) when you cough or sneeze
- put used tissues in the bin immediately and wash your hands afterwards
- clean objects and surfaces you touch often (such as door handles, kettles and phones) using your regular cleaning products
- consider wearing a face covering when in shared spaces
- keep windows open in the room you're staying in and shared spaces as much as possible
- do not share towels, including hand towels and tea towels
I have an underlying medical condition, should I go to work?
Government advice is that from 1 August, clinically extremely vulnerable individuals can return to their workplace providing COVID-secure guidelines are in place but should work from home wherever possible.
If extremely clinically vulnerable individuals cannot work from home, they should be offered the option of the safest available on-site roles, enabling them to maintain social distancing guidelines (2m, or 1m with risk mitigation where 2m is not viable).
It may be appropriate for clinically extremely vulnerable individuals to take up an alternative role or adjusted working patterns temporarily.
The council has provided guidance for managers to under risk assessment and also individual risk assessments for all staff returning to work who have an underlying medical condition.
If you have previously been shielding you will have received a letter from Julie Webster, Director of Public Health advising that you take special care during this time and be extra cautious when making decisions to socialise avoiding crowds and avoiding going to places that are not COVID-19 secure.
Should I do anything to prepare my family in light of COVID-19?
Public Health England suggests that some of the ways in which you could prepare include:
- talk to your neighbours and family and exchange phone numbers of household contacts
- consider and plan for those in your home who are considered vulnerable
- create a contact list with phone numbers of neighbours, schools, employer, chemist, NHS 111
- set up online shopping accounts if possible
If QR Code posters are being displayed in council buildings, do staff also need to scan in?
Mangers should already have their own systems for recording which staff are in buildings during working hours.
However, staff are encouraged to scan in on the QR code if they are willing and able to do so. This will ensure they can be picked up by NHS test and trace arrangement in the event that there are any cases or contacts linked to that location.
This information is used by NHS for track and trace purposes only and not for any other reason.
Pay and Allowances
Will I get paid as normal if my service is closed and I am unable to work at home?
Yes. We are doing our best to ensure than no member of staff is worse off. The current position is that you will be paid in full until further notice if you cannot work.
Our expectation is that as we continue to pay staff, that they are available to support our response to provide critical services which our residents depend on.
I normally work weekends or nights and attract enhancements – will I be paid as normal if my service is closed?
We have maintained average pay for the periods that services have been closed. As services return to work over the coming weeks, we will revert to normal pay arrangements as far as possible based on hours worked.
I am a casual or sessional worker – what will happen with my pay?
As services return to work over the coming weeks, we will revert to normal pay arrangements as far as possible based on hours worked.
I work different hours each week depending on service demands etc., how will my pay be calculated?
As services return to work over the coming weeks, we will revert to normal pay arrangements as far as possible based on hours worked.
I am due to do work some Keeping in Touch days prior to returning to work. What is the position?
If your job is suitable for homeworking you should continue to do the KIT days as planned. Please speak with your manager to arrange this. It may be possible do some e-learning or catch up on policy changes. You could also try to plan your days to join team meetings and catch up with colleagues. You should submit your claim for payments via your manager in accordance with the normal process.
If your job is not suitable for homeworking, please submit your claim for payment for the days that you were due to work to your manager in accordance with the normal process. The council would not want to financially disadvantage you at this time if you had anticipated payment for doing this work. However, as you have not worked them, the KIT days should be ‘banked’ and where possible, we would ask that you undertake the work at a later date.
Is the council paying allowances for homeworkers?
We do have not have any plans to introduce an allowance at this stage. We are keen to provide employees with some choice about where they work as far as possible, as long as that meets the business need and so we are not imposing homeworking on staff who don’t want to or can’t for other reasons.
We are sure many employees will weigh up the costs of commuting, parking, petrol against the costs of homeworking as well as the non-financial considerations.
Everyone’s circumstances will be different of course. However, if any employees are concerned about the financial cost of continued homeworking over the coming months, they can ask to work from Cheshire Lines Building.
Can I carry forward more than 5 days of annual leave?
Yes, all employees can automatically carry up to 12 days into 2021/2022.
The council also agreed that staff who were working on covid response could carry a further 5 days (17 in total) into 2021/22.
You will also be able to carry forward 8 days into 2022/2023.
I had annual leave booked for a holiday that I can now not go on, can I cancel my leave?
You should discuss with your manager as this depends on a number of factors such as maintaining our ability to cover critical services. If possible, you should take your leave as usual. This is important for wellbeing and mental health. However, it is recognised that you may feel that postponing leave would be more beneficial to you and this will be considered. You might also be asked to cancel or reschedule leave to ensure we can cover critical services. Flexibility both ways will be important.
I am working from home but am self-isolating, can I cancel my leave?
You should discuss with your manager as this depends on a number of factors such as maintaining our ability to cover critical services. If possible, you should take your leave as usual. This is important for wellbeing and mental health and it is also important that all staff do not take their annual leave at the same time during a condensed period once social distancing measures have been lifted. This would impact on service delivery and on residents. Therefore, whilst we will be flexible as possible in allowing leave to be changed or cancelled, we would appeal to you to do the right thing and use your leave allowance as you usually would.
If you become ill during the self-isolation period then you should cancel the leave from the day you became ill and advise your manager that you are sick so that this can be recorded as sick leave as per the usual process.
What happens to my annual leave if I go on holiday and have to undergo a period of post travel self-isolation when I return?
The National Employers association has issued guidance to employers with options to consider in relation to employees who are quarantining and unable to work at home including:
- take additional paid annual leave (from their usual leave allowance)
- take unpaid annual leave
- take special leave (paid / unpaid)
- make up the 10 days’ leave over a period of time, so they do not incur a drop in pay
The current situation is that employees booking holidays will be going abroad in full knowledge of the requirement to self-isolate. In view of this, the Council’s position is you will normally be expected to use additional annual leave to cover the period of self-isolation when you return.
However, if you have been working from home throughout this crisis or you are able to work from home upon your return without any impact on service delivery, the council may agree that you do not need to take any additional annual leave and can work at home upon return from holiday.
The council will consider the circumstances of employees who are ‘unwittingly’ caught up in quarantine issue if the guidance for a particular country changes whilst they are on holiday and may consider the provision of special leave for part of the quarantine period if the employee can’t work at home. However, employees should be aware of the risks of travelling abroad, the possibility that guidance may change at very short notice and the impact that might have on work.
Please seek advice from HR.
The NJC guidance acknowledges that there is no ‘one-size-fits-all’ answer to this issue so for those employees who cannot work from home during quarantine, so depending on the circumstances employers should consider using a combination of some or all of the different types of leave options shown above and give sympathetic consideration to certain circumstances which could include:
- an employee who has extenuating circumstances such as a family funeral (or wedding) abroad
- pre-booked holidays that cannot be cancelled without incurring financial cost (ie. insurers will not reimburse cost) that were arranged before quarantine could have been envisaged
- pre-booked holidays that the tour operator has not cancelled but has instead rescheduled on fixed dates which, if cancelled by the customer, would be at financial cost to them
Flexi-leave and TOIL queries
What is the policy relating to flexi-time during COVID-19?
The flexi scheme has not changed.
Employees should not be working more than their contracted hours where possible unless the needs of the service require that they work additional hours.
Any significant changes to normal working hours should be agreed with line managers prior to hours being worked. If this applies employees should record the additional time above their contractual hours via their flexi-time recording sheet (FLEX1), and their line manager will review.
Can I still take flexi-leave?
As set out above we are encouraging staff to work their contracted hours where possible. If the service needs are such that additional hours are accrued, these should be logged using the flexi-time recording sheet and request to take the flexi-leave should be requested in the usual way through self-serve. Managers will review and authorise requests in line with service requirements.
How do I record my hours at present?
Hours should be recorded as in normal circumstances. The council intranet provides guidance on filling out your flexi-time sheet. It is accepted that some people will be logging on and off at irregular times and outside of core hours. If this is the case employees should include the full number of hours worked that day and do not need to record all breaks or interruptions.
As in normal circumstances employees should look to fulfil their normal contractual hours were possible by working flexibly and doing what they can in these very difficult circumstances.
What if I work over my contracted hours per week?
If this occurs due to service requirements, please liaise with your line manager. Your line manager can determine the appropriate action whether that be, to take the time as flexi-leave, take the time back at a later date or having time off in lieu. It is important that managers and employees speak to each other about how arrangements are managed so both parties are clear.
What about TOIL (time off in lieu)?
Employees who are applicable for the flexi-leave scheme should utilise this first. However, certain circumstances may mean the employee works beyond their contractual hours i.e. at weekends and therefore warrants time off in lieu during another day within the week. As per the process on flexi-leave any approval of TOIL should be discussed and sought by your line manager to ensure no service impact and clarity between both parties.
My child has been sent home from school to self-isolate as there has been a case in the school. What do I regarding childcare?
Your usual childcare arrangements should apply as far as possible.
The following guidance has been issued by Government regarding childcare;
Local restrictions prohibit people in affected areas from meeting other households. However, people looking after children under 14 or vulnerable adults are exempt. The new exemption allows people to look after children from other households, grandparents, for example, to look after their grandchildren.
The council will continue to be as flexible as possible to support working parents. Please speak to your manager if you have specific issues.
My child has been sent home as they are displaying Covid symptoms, can I still attend work?
You must self-isolate immediately, if you can work from home continue to do so but if you cannot then remain at home. You will receive full pay. If your child tests negative, you can then attend work. If your child test is positive, then you must isolate for the full 10 days. During the isolation period you can continue to work from home if possible. If you develop Covid symptoms, then you will need to get a test.