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Coronavirus information for employees

Information for employees on working from home and what to do if you have a health condition.


Skills and redeployment survey

Given the current coronavirus challenges the coming months will mean a change to our service demands and employee attendance levels. Therefore, we will need to identify any critical areas that are likely to have a shortage of employees as the pandemic develops. We will need employees to be flexible in terms of their working hours where possible to ensure that essential services can be maintained and we need to make the best use of resources to support our communities and prioritise critical services. 

As part of this it may be necessary for staff to temporarily work in a different role or at a different location. Therefore it is important that we understand the skills and availability from existing employees who we may need to redeploy to another role or may be willing to work additional hours to enable priority services to continue.

All employees need to complete the skills and redeployment survey. A paper copy of the survey is available at the bottom of the page for colleagues who are not able to complete the survey online. 

Self-isolation

Please make sure you are following the latest advice on self-isolation.

Working from home

We support the Government advice on people working from home where they are able to do so.

If your role enables you to work from home then please talk to your line manager about doing so and they will make the decision based on business need. These discussions should take place as soon as possible.

Please bear in mind that, as the situation changes, the arrangements put in place might need to change. In order to keep delivering our vital services we may need to be flexible as the outbreak progresses.

By working from home we can help reduce the risk of infection for those who need to be in the workplace.

Skype can be used to help you work from home. There are a number of Skype user guides available to help with using Skype.

Staff who cannot work from home

Following the government’s announcement yesterday we are providing guidance on what you need to do if your manager asks you to stay at home and agrees that you are not able to do your job from home.

Many of our colleagues who are key workers and cannot work from home will be in their normal workplaces and many more will be doing their jobs at home. This guidance applies only to those people whose manager has sent them home and has stated that you cannot perform your role at the moment.

If this applies to you:

  • Please make sure your line manager has either your personal email address or phone number so they can contact you during normal working hours. These details will be retained on your personal file.
  • Keep in touch weekly with your line manager - either by email or telephone.
  • You are expected to be continually available for work during your normal working hours and may be contacted to attend work at different times or undertake alternative duties at short notice. If you are asked to start your duties or alternative duties, you will receive normal contractual pay regardless of the duties undertaken up to your normal contracted hours.
  • If your contact details or next of kin details change then tell your line manager.
  • Keep looking at our guidance on this website, and for government advice on gov.uk and NHS.uk.
  • If you are not well during this period then tell your line manager. Please make sure that you do look after yourself – there’s lots of information to help you elsewhere on our wellbeing pages.

Undertaking childcare responsibilities

We know that the government decision to close school will provide a challenge for many employees. Line Managers will work with employees to consider flexible working arrangements, including working from home, adapting working patterns to care for children or dependants or taking time off to enable further support. Please speak with your Line Manager to discuss this further.

Interim changes to the flexi time scheme

To enable colleagues to respond by working more flexibly, there will be changes to our flexi time scheme which will remain in place until we deem it necessary to cease or alter such arrangements as the situation evolves.

This change is to allow us to continue to deliver and support its priority services and to enable colleagues to balance personal and work commitments during this challenging time.

The following will apply from Friday 20 March 2020:

  • The flexi bandwidth will apply from Monday to Sunday from 6am to 10pm.
  • Enhancements will not be paid for hours worked between 6am and 7am and for hours worked between 7pm and 10pm.
  • Records should be maintained manually using the flexi sheet recording form attached to this page, which allows you to enter hours within the new bandwidth. If you need any support in completing the timesheet please speak to your manager.
  • Your current flexi carry forward, whether this be a debit or credit, should be added onto the manual recording form in the ‘Debit B/F’ and ‘Credit B/F’ section.
  • You should complete this from the start date of your current flexi period, therefore any days up to now in your current period should be entered into the manual recording form retrospectively even though these may have already been entered onto Workplace.

There is no expectation that colleagues should work beyond contracted hours unless there is a specific need and this is agreed in advance with your line manager.

Further advice on these interim changes can be found in the frequently asked questions attached to this page.

Protective shielding

Guidance on shielding and protecting people defined on medical grounds as extremely vulnerable from COVID-19 has now been published.

People falling into this extremely vulnerable group include:

  • solid organ transplant recipients
  • people with specific cancers:
    • people with cancer who are undergoing active chemotherapy or radical radiotherapy for lung cancer
    • 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 which 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 6 months, or who are still taking immunosuppression drugs
  • people with severe respiratory conditions including all cystic fibrosis, severe asthma and severe COPD.
  • people with rare diseases and inborn errors of metabolism that significantly increase the risk of infections (such as SCID, homozygous sickle cell)
  • people on immunosuppression therapies sufficient to significantly increase risk of infection
  • women who are pregnant with significant heart disease, congenital or acquired

If any of the above apply to you then you are strongly advised to stay at home at all times and are not be expected to work from a base location. Please speak with your Line Manager to discuss this further.

Social distancing

Guidance on social distancing for everyone in the UK has been published and this applies to everyone, including children.

This also advises that employees who are at increased risk of severe illness from coronavirus (COVID-19) to be particularly stringent in following social distancing measures.

This group includes those who are:

  • aged 70 or older (regardless of medical conditions)
  • under 70 with an underlying health condition listed below (ie anyone instructed to get a flu jab as an adult each year on medical grounds):
    • chronic (long-term) 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), a learning disability or cerebral palsy
    • diabetes
    • problems with your spleen – for example, sickle cell disease or if you have had your spleen removed
    • a weakened immune system as the result of conditions such as HIV and AIDS, or medicines such as steroid tablets or chemotherapy
    • being seriously overweight (a body mass index (BMI) of 40 or above)
  • those who are pregnant

If any of the above apply to you then please discuss and agree alternative ways of working with your line manager.

Stop unnecessary travel

Consider very carefully whether you need to carry out face to face meetings that require you to travel across the county and beyond. Where possible conduct those meetings by Skype or telephone to avoid direct contact.

Your wellbeing

These are challenging times for all of us and it is by working together and looking after each other as a community that we will come through this. Looking after your wellbeing is important: talk to your line manager about any concerns and use our wellbeing advice. The employee counselling service can help you if you are concerned about your mental health.

Cleaning workplaces

Colleagues from public health, property services, and health, safety and wellbeing have developed a preventative cleaning schedule. The schedule will focus on cleaning potential high risk transmission points with greater frequency and this will mean that lower risk transmission points will not be cleaned as regularly. This preventative cleaning schedules are now in place where County Property employees undertake cleaning. These cleaning schedules are under regular review. If you are aware of high touch areas within your workplace which aren’t being cleaned please raise this with your line manager so they can discuss this directly with Property Division cleaning supervisors.

At County Hall, soap dispensers and paper towels are being checked throughout the day and refilled as necessary. If in your work location you are aware of soap, towels (if provided) are running out, or hand driers are not working you should raise this with your manager in the first instance so suitable arrangements can be made.

Due to the enhanced cleaning schedules being undertaken it is not possible to repeatedly clean desks and equipment in hot desk areas between uses by different staff throughout the day. Staff should therefore ensure they follow the good hygiene advice and ensure they wash hands regularly (as a minimum before and after using these areas and before eating) and avoid touching their faces. If staff wish to they can carry and utilise their own wipes to wipe down the desk and equipment before use.

If you're in a building which isn't cleaned by County Property employees, you should ensure whoever undertakes your cleaning is focussing on cleaning high risk transmission points on a regular basis (at least daily). You'll need to ensure you identify these with whoever carries out the cleaning so they are relevant to your establishment. This should include, but is not limited to, hard surfaces shared by a number of people, door handles and push plates, locks, keypad entry systems, other regular touch areas such as light switches and lift buttons, handrails, toilet flushes, taps and soap dispensers. You should also ensure all soap dispensers are filled daily.

Bins should continue to be emptied daily.

Updated cleaning guidance has been developed for Children’s residential care settings

Cleaning agents, if they have germicidal properties, should be effective for undertaking cleaning, but if you're unsure you should check the manufacturer information. You should ensure you're using all cleaning products safely and in accordance with departmental COSHH guidance. If you need any further guidance, please speak to a colleague from our health and safety team.

There have been a number of questions regarding cleaning workplaces where an employee who has been in work is now showing symptoms of COVID-19. The government are providing up to date guidance on this issue which should be followed.

Training courses

All non-essential training courses (i.e. anything that is not safety critical), learning conferences and other learning events organised by the Council will be cancelled until further notice.

The Council will review how we may continue to deliver learning interventions without compromising the health, safety and wellbeing of attendees, for example by converting courses to e-learning and Skype sessions where appropriate.

Visiting individuals in their homes

Social, community and residential care employees should ascertain if a person is in self-isolation and if they are asymptomatic or symptomatic prior to their visit.

If the client is self -isolating and a visit is deemed necessary, then a full risk assessment should be undertaken with managers and infection control specialist to decide the best course of action.

In cases where clients are symptomatic and employees are concerned for their own health because they have underlying health conditions (as per Government definition), social distancing should apply. We are asking for employees to discuss concerns with Line Managers in these cases.

If during a telephone consultation with a patient or their representative to assess their suitability for a domiciliary visit, it is thought that COVID-19 is possible (based on the PHE criteria for a possible case), then a face-to-face assessment must be avoided. Please speak with your line manager in this instance.