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FAQ’s Fife Council

 

1. Should I attend my workplace?

Following the Government’s announcement that only essential travel is now allowed, you should only be attending if you are undertaking essential work.  If you are not currently undertaking essential work you should stay at home and work from home if you can.  If you are in an essential job and you can work from you home you should do so.

If, however you or a household member have symptoms of coronavirus (COVID-19), you have an underlying medical condition, are aged over 70 or are pregnant you should refer to the advice below.

 

2. How do I know if my job is ‘essential’?

Your job is essential if it is deemed to be service or business critical.  If you are unsure of whether this applies to you speak to your manager.

 

3. My job isn’t essential, but I can’t work from home.  What should I do?

Initially you might be asked to do some project work, planning or online learning.  People have asked if they will get paid if they can’t come to work because they’re not classed as essential, but it’s not possible for them to work from home.  We know that you’re willing and able to work if we identify an essential role for you and you will continue to receive your normal pay until that time.

 

4. What are they symptoms of coronavirus (COVID-19)?

The symptoms are a new continuous cough or a high temperature.  You should check www.nhsinform.scot/coronavirusfor symptoms.

 

5. I think I have symptoms of coronavirus (COVID-19), what should I do?

You should check your symptoms at www.nhsinform.scot/coronavirus.

You must stay at home for 7 days, even if your job is essential.  If you are currently doing a non-essential job you will be at home anyway.

Work from home if you can.  You may be able to do some project work, planning or online learning if you can’t do your usual work.  If you can’t work from home you will be placed on special paid leave.

Your absence must be recorded by you or your manager as Public Health Advice – Special Leave or Working from Home.

 

6. A member of my household has symptoms of coronavirus (COVID-19), what should I do?

You should check your symptoms at www.nhsinform.scot/coronavirus.

You must stay at home for 14 days, even if your job is essential.  If you are currently doing a non-essential job you will be at home anyway.

Work from home if you can.  You may be able to do some project work, planning or online learning if you can’t do your usual work.  If you can’t work from home you will be placed on special paid leave.

Your absence must be recorded by you or your manager as Public Health Advice – Special Leave or Working from Home.  If you need further information about how to do this click here

 

7. I am too ill to work – what should I do?

If you are too ill to work you will be on sick leave.  The sickline has now been suspended so you should call your line manager.  Both you and your line manager can record the sickness in AboutMe or AboutMyTeam.  Further advice about how to do this is here.

 

8. I am off sick with coronavirus (COVID-19) and under current terms and conditions am not entitled to sick pay, I am worried I will not be paid while I am off.

If you have either exhausted your sick pay or don’t have enough service you will receive full pay during your sickness absence if the reason for your absence is coronavirus (COVID-19).

 

9. Am I at higher risk of severe illness from coronavirus (COVID-19)?

People who are at higher risk of severe illness from coronavirus (COVID-19) are those who are:

  • aged 70 or older
  • under 70 with an underlying health condition (check www.nhsinform.scot./coronavirusfor information about which conditions this applies to)
  • pregnant

If you fall into these categories you should not come to work.

Work from home if you can.  You may be able to do some project work, planning or online learning if you can’t do your usual work.  If you can’t work from home you will be placed on special paid leave.

Your absence must be recorded by you or your manager as Public Health Advice – Special Leave or Working from Home.  If you need further information about how to do this click here

 

10. My condition isn’t specifically listed on the NHS website, however my GP has confirmed I am high risk and should stay at home.  My job is essential what should I do?

If your GP has confirmed you are high risk you should be staying at home and you won’t be able to come into work like you normally do, please let your manager know as soon as possible. If you can do any work from home you should so and if not the special leave provisions will apply.

 

11. I’ve been told that if I am on paid special leave because me or a member of my family have symptoms or coronavirus (COVID-19) or because I am in the high risk category that I will be required to designate some of this time as annual, leave flexi or TOIL – is that correct?

We are aware that there appears to be some confusion around how annual leave will be taken during this unprecedented period. The Fair Work Statement by the Scottish Government and the Scottish Trade Union Congress issued on 26th March indicates that no worker should be financially penalised by their employer for following medical advice. Advice to date regarding leave has been that all employees will continue to receive full pay regardless of whether they are working at home or unable to do so because of a serious medical condition. We will revise the advice on annual leave in light of the Fair Work Statement and will issue an update in due course.

 

12. I am in an essential job, but have an underlying medical condition, am over 70 or am pregnant.  I feel well and want to come to work – can I?

We appreciate that you are dedicated and you want to help. However, by being in the workplace you’re not only putting yourself at risk – if you contract the virus you may need more medical intervention and will therefore put more pressure on intensive care units. It isn’t responsible of us as an employer to let you come to work at this time.  As the situation develops advice may change and we will review this position.

 

13. A member of my household is at high risk of severe illness from COVID-19, I do an essential role, but should I continue to come to work?

The current advice on www.nhsinform.scot/coronavirusis states that if a person in the household is following shielding measures (those who are most at risk), the rest of the household do not need to follow these measures.

If, however an employee is the sole carer of somebody who has been advised by the NHS to take shielding measures you may not be able to come to work as you normally do.  See question 16.

 

14. I have childcare issues now that the schools are off, what should I do?

If you can, we would ask that you share responsibility for care with a partner or other adults in your household.  We do however recognise that relying on grandparents to provide care is not appropriate in these circumstances.  There are options to help you ensure you can cover your childcare responsibilities.  Those are:

Working from home

If you can do your job from home and your job is not essential you will be working from home anyway.

While homeworking is not normally a substitute for childcare or care of other dependents, we all recognise the unprecedented situation the current pandemic and associated school closures has created.  We all need to be flexible and work in different.  Further advice and tips about balancing care with working from home will be available soon.

Varying work pattern

If your job is essential and you can’t work from home, may not be able to work your normal hours because of childcare requirements.  If so you  should speak to your manager about whether you can temporarily vary your work pattern.  For example, could you work evenings instead of daytime or split your working day?  There wouldn’t be any enhanced payments, but it would help you manage your commitments.

Other options

If you can’t work from home and you can’t vary your working pattern to accommodate your childcare commitments you may need to take time off work.   Usually this would be taken as time off for dependents or parental leave, both of which are unpaid.  As these are exceptional circumstances, the current position is outlined below, but will kept under review.

We would expect you to make all attempts to avoid or limit this, for example having a partner or other adult in the household share the responsibility.  We do however recognise that relying on grandparents to provide care is not appropriate in these circumstances.

If you require to take time off to care for children or other dependents this time will be made up three elements.  For each week you are off:
– 4 days (pro rata) will be paid special leave
– 0.5 days (pro rata) will be deducted from your normal annual leave allowance
–  0.5 days (pro rata) will be paid back through flexi-time, TOIL or unpaid leave
Flexi-time and TOIL deficits will be able to be paid back over an extended period of time which should be agreed with your manager.

These provisions also apply for employees who are the sole carer of vulnerable people falling into the Government’s highest risk category.  Further advice about this will follow.

 

15. Do I meet the definition of a ‘key worker’ able to access childcare through the Children Activity Hubs?

The Council’s Children Activity Centres are critical to ensure people that the Government refers to as keyworkers have access to childcare, if they have no alternative at home, so that they are available to work in the fight against Coronavirus and keep the country running.

The employees defined as keyworkers for this purpose are not the same as the employees that we, as a council, define as ‘essential’ or ‘business-critical’ as part of our own operations.  It is a much more limited group in line with Government and public health instructions around how many children can be accommodated in these centres.

Priority for spaces was initially given to Category 1 critical keyworkers. Within the council this will typically be frontline Social Care staff (such as care staff in residential care homes, day care services or care at home services) or Education staff providing childcare through the Activity Centres. There may be some availability for Category 2 key staff- that is care workers that don’t fall within the Category 1 criteria.

It’s essential that the number of children and staff in these centres is kept to a minimum, to support our effort to reduce the spread of coronavirus. Children of keyworkers should therefore only attend if no suitable alternative is available.

If you think you meet the definition of a keyworker and you have no alternative childcare arrangements available to you, you should visit here for further information.

 

16. I have caring responsibilities which mean I can’t come to work, what should I do?

If you are the sole carer of somebody who has been advised by the NHS to take shielding measures you may not be able to come to work as you normally do.  You have the same options available as those with childcare responsibilities – refer to question 14.

 

 17. I am a casual worker and not able to work because I am at higher risk of severe illness from coronavirus (COVID-19), I am self-isolating because me or a member of my household is symptomatic or I have childcare/caring requirements – will I be paid for the work I have been scheduled for?

Yes, you will be paid for the time you were already scheduled to work.

 

18. How do I record that I am working from home, or am on special leave because of childcare issues or because I am in a non-essential job?

We are working through how all of these scenarios should be captured on aboutMe and have previously issued guidance about what to do you if you are staying at home because of self-isolation or because you are at higher risk.

We’ll issue more advice about this, meantime keep a note of why you are away from work – your pay won’t be affected.  If you are normally on flexi-time you will be credited your full working day.

 

19. Should I clock in and out?

As the flexi-time scheme has currently been suspended, you will have your standard working day credited and no need to clock in and out (although we expect you to work  as closely to your normal working hours as possible).

We previously advised that you should record your standard working day on Clockwise, but understand that this is causing some issues with the amount of keying in and approvals. We are looking at how we can manage this in the easiest way and will update you soon.

 

20. I am working from home, but need to come into the office (e.g. to pick up equipment or paperwork) – can I do this?

To save lives Fife Council is applying the Public Health Advice about social distancing and focusing on essential travel only.  Any visit to the workplace for someone who can and is working at home must be for a business critical reason.  The visit must be approved in advance by the Head of Service or Service Manager and be time limited.

21. Do I need to provide evidence of my underlying medical condition?

You can obtain a self-isolation note from www.nhsinform.scot/coronavirus, however this is not required.  It is likely your manager will already be aware of your condition.  GPs and the NHS are under enormous pressure and you must not add to this by asking them to provide evidence of your condition.

Posted: 30th March 2020

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