Full and detailed HR advice for managers about the workforce related implications of the Covid-19 pandemic can be found attached to this page. You will need to sign in to the secure area to access this information.
The policy elements outlined are applicable to all employees within the council, excluding those directly employed by a school. These will be effective from Friday 20 March 2020 and will remain in place until the council deems it necessary to cease or alter such arrangements as the situation evolves.
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.
Staying at Home Protocol
We now have guidance about what managers must do when an employee is sent home and is not able to undertake their duties, or can only undertake partial duties.
Please stay in touch with those you manage to make sure that they are supported from a health and wellbeing perspective.
What we expect from our line managers
- Line managers must record any employee who is sent home and is not able to undertake their duties or can only undertake partial duties on the ‘employees sent home’ template, attached to this page. The line manager must send their completed file to their respective Head of Service.
- Line managers are expected to obtain a personal email address and / or telephone number for which the employee can be contacted on during normal working hours. These details will be retained on the employee’s personal file.
- Line managers should ensure the employee knows how to contact their line manager, providing them with an up to date email address and telephone number.
- Line managers are expected to remain in weekly contact at an agreed time with the employee – either via email or telephone.
- Line managers should ensure that they reinforce that employees are expected to be continually available for work during their normal working hours for the period and may be contacted to attend work at different times or undertake alternative duties at short notice, being flexible to assist in the delivery of the authority’s priority services. If you ask an employee to recommence their duties or alternative duties, they will receive normal contractual pay regardless of the duties undertaken up to their normal contracted hours. Managers should refer to HR for advice if the duties are at a higher grade.
- Should an employee become unwell during this period, Line managers are expected to maintain daily updates from the employee about any new or continuing absence and the reason for it, recording the absence as appropriate.
- Employee wellbeing is important. Line managers should signpost employees to further guidance on your wellbeing can be found on our wellbeing pages.
Undertaking childcare responsibilities
We know that the government decision to close schools will provide a challenge for many employees. Line managers must 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 support for our employees. Please see the HR advice for managers attached to this page for further details.
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. Please see the HR advice for managers attached to this page for further details.
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
These colleagues will be contacted by the NHS to provide further guidance. Upon receipt, colleagues should raise and discuss the guidance with their line manager.
These colleagues are strongly advised to stay at home at all times and avoid any face-to-face contact for a period of at least 12 weeks from the day you receive their letter. Please note that this period of time could change.
Colleagues within this category should be recorded as ‘self-isolation’ (see HR advice to managers) and not be expected to work from a base location.
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 (in other words, 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
- 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
Line Managers must work with these employees to arrange alternative working arrangements where possible, with focus on enabling the colleague to work from home where possible. Further guidance is being prepared for colleagues who work in frontline roles. Further guidance for supporting extremely vulnerable and vulnerable employees is attached to this page.
Recording a self-isolation period
If an employee is required to self-isolate, they can get an isolation note to send to their line manager as proof they need to stay off work. Employees do not need a letter from their GP.
As part of this discussion, line managers should establish the following:
- the reason for self-isolation
- the current work location
- whether the employee is fit and able to work from home
- the start and end period of self-isolation
- confirmation that the normal hours planned to be worked for the defined period will be submitted via usual processes
- a daily contact approach between the line manager and the employee including confirmed contact details and any support the colleague may require during the self-isolation period (for example, support in obtaining medication supplies)
The line manager should then escalate the requirement for self-isolation to their respective Head of Service to discuss the case in full.
A Self-Isolation absence code is now available for direct recording in SAP. Please see the HR advice for managers attached to this page for further details.
If an employee is fit and able to work from home during the self-isolation period, the employee should record their hours via the normal processes. If an employee is fit to work but unable to work from home due to the nature of their role, line managers should work with employees to ensure the normal hours the employee was due to work in the defined period are input through normal processes.
Line managers must be in contact with any self-isolating employee on a daily basis to support their wellbeing and ensure they are able to perform their duties. This contact will be by phone unless there is a clear reason why text or email should be used.
We have a vital role to play during this outbreak in delivering public service and community leadership. During the coronavirus outbreak, colleagues are expected to flexible to ensure we maintain our essential public services.
Employees required to self-isolate will receive normal pay for the self-isolation period. Normal pay means the employee will receive the pay that was scheduled and authorised to be paid at the point of self-isolation.
If an employee becomes unwell during the self-isolation period the employee will remain recorded as in self-isolation until a confirmed diagnosis is made by a medical practitioner.
Recording sickness absence as a result of coronavirus
We have released a new sickness reason type named ‘COV-19’ in SAP.
Employees who are off work due to a confirmed case or suspected case due to the symptoms displayed and are unfit to work, should record sickness under a new sickness reason of COV-19. Please see the HR advice for managers attached to this page for further details.
Further guidance on recording sickness absence is available.
If you have any questions in relation to this guidance please contact Time Team, HR services tel: 01629 535119 or ext: 35119 and select option 1 or email: email@example.com.
Workforce supply and demand guidance
To ensure that critical services can be met during the coronavirus pandemic, managers may need additional staffing or to redeploy current employees within their departments to temporarily work in a different role or location to support these critical services.
We’ve compiled some guidance to support managers in this. It includes details of the different options available should you need extra resources:
- re-engagement of former employees
- fast-track recruitment for emergency roles
- agency recruitment
- redeployment of existing employees
Read the full guidance in the related documents below.
In the coming days we will also be advising Heads of Service how they will be able to raise requests via a central internal resourcing hub where resourcing shortfalls occur in departments, having exhausted the internal resources available within departments.