Advice for Council staff

It is understandable you have a lot of questions at this time as a result of COVID 19.  We have created this page to answer as many of them as we can .

If your question is not covered in the FAQ list below then please contact the Employee Relations Advice Line on 01546 605113 option 2 or by email on HRemployeerelationsenquiries@argyll-bute.gov.uk

This is a constantly changing situation and we will be updating this frequently and adding more questions.  Please check back regularly.

Message to staff from Pippa Milne, Chief Executive -  Thanks, and look after yourself

REDEPLOYMENT AND VOLUNTEERING OPPORTUNITIES

The Coronavirus pandemic means we’re all having to work together in new, innovative ways to deliver services to our communities. These changes have had a huge knock on effect on individual council departments, resulting in additional pressure on some areas of service.

A number of you are employed in non-critical posts (if you are unsure if your post is non-critical please check with your manager), whilst many of you are currently unable to carry out your normal work because of the emergency arrangements that are in place. If you are in one of these two categories, we are appealing to you to let us know of any qualifications and/or experience you have that could help us fill vacant critical posts during these very challenging times.

A Redeployment/Recruitment Hub has been set up to help teams deal with pressures on staff. If you have skills and/or qualifications that you think would be useful, and are willing to sign up, please let us know by completing the form that is now on the Council website.

FAQs on volunteering

LOCKDOWN

"What should I do now that the country is in effect in lockdown?"

Please read guidance document below entitled new social distancing/lockdown guidance. 

You should contact your line manager and establish if you are working in a front line service, key worker or if you are an essential staff member. Those of you who are working in our critical frontline services, please attend work as normal, keeping in close contact with your manager to make sure you are clear about any changes to normal working arrangements. Pay close and careful attention to social distancing and health and safety measures to keep yourselves safe. If you have any concerns or worries, please contact your manager or supervisor directly. If they cannot answer immediately, they will escalate to senior management for an answer as quickly as possible.  Please note that the council is awaiting more guidance from the government on categories of workers.

If you are able to work from home please organise do so.

If you are unable to work from home then please contact your line manager or supervisor with your personal contact details and remain available for work.

During this time we may ask you to carry out tasks that are not part of your normal daily work. These will be in line with your skills and abilities and we will ensure that you receive appropriate training.

Further information on Social Distancing/ Lockdown

SELF ISOLATION

"I have symptoms that suggest I have COVID 19 (continuous cough or fever/high temperature) what should I do?"

Review the guidance from NHS.  Call the Absence Line (01546 605113 option 1) and report absent citing COVID 19 as the reason.  You should also contact your line manager to advise them. 

This absence will not be recorded against your sickness allowance and you will be entitled to normal pay. . 

Do not return to work for seven days.  Call back when you are fit enough to return to work (even if you may then not be able to work due to school or office closure).

"I have been in contact with someone who is now displaying COVID 19 symptoms (continuous cough or fever/high temperature)?"

Review the guidance from NHS.  You should call the Absence Line (01546 605513 option 1) and explain that you have been in contact with someone who has symptoms.  You should let your line manager know and explore with them if you are able to work from home during this period.

This absence will be recorded as self isolation, it will not be recorded against your sickness allowance and you will be entitled to normal pay. 

Do not return to work for 14 days.

Call back if you develop symptoms and your status will be changed to absence as per above.

Call back when your self isolation is complete (even if you may then not be able to work due to school or office closure).

Do I need a medical certificate for self isolation or COVID 19?

No

SOCIAL DISTANCING

"I am; over 70/ have a long term health condition/ am pregnant/ have an underlying health condition/ should I be at work?" 

You should review the guidance on social distancing on the .gov website  and any advice you have been given from your doctor in coming to your decision.

You should discuss with your line manager the options that are contained within the Social Distancing document below.

If none of these possibilities are options you will be paid normal pay at this time although this situation is subject to regular review.

Please call the absence line (01546 605513 option 1) and explain that you are social distancing, the reason why and whether you are working from home.

"I live with someone who is elderly, pregnant, has an underlying health conditon should I be at work?"

You should review the guidance on social distancing on the .gov website and any advice you have been given from your doctor in coming to your decision.

You should discuss with your line manager the options to continue working that are contained within the Social Distancing advice document below.

If it is not possible for you to continue working in some capacity you will be paid normal pay at this time although this situation is subject to regular review.

Please call the absence line (01546 605513 option 1) and explain that you are social distancing, the reason why and whether you are able to work in some capacity.

"I do not have any of the health conditions that are mentioned in the .gov guidance regarding social distancing or live with anyone that does but can I work from home?"

Working from home is being promoted by the government to help support and limit social contact.  Whilst working from home is an option we need to consider this alongside delivering our services.  Employees therefore, need to speak to their manager about options, which will include reference to the nature of the service, work needing done at any particular time and equipment available to determine the best approach.  As the situation evolves, it may be that you will be required to support service delivery in a different way.  You should discuss this with your line manager and with their agreement then you may work from home.  However, the council is currently reviewing its contingency plans and it may require you to return to work if there is not enough band with or space on the VPN for all employees to work from home.  Priority will be given to individuals who are working on critical activities.  Therefore this agreement may be reviewed at any time.

SCHOOL CLOSURES

"I am currently employed in a school that has been closed what should I do?"

You should speak to your line manager in the first instance. Where at all possible you will be offered work to undertake from elsewhere during the period of school closure this could involve

  • Participating in work from home or another location

  • Completing online learning or development

  • Alternative duties or redeployment to another role in which your skills and experience can support the council

  • Teaching staff providing Remote Learning for our children and young people as directed by your Head Teacher

In the event that we are unable to offer you meaningful work and your line manager has satisfied themselves that this is the case you should remain available for work (unless on leave) and you will receive full pay for the duration of the period of closure.

You do not need to call the absence line as your line manager will complete a return each day to show who is at work.

If you, or someone you live with, become ill during this period you should contact the absence line as normal to notify them you are now in self-isolation

My child’s school or nursery has closed, I have no one available to look after them?

If you find yourself in this situation you should contact your line manager to discuss the potential options available in terms of your working arrangements. Your line manager will be as flexible as possible to allow you to carry out some work and options available for consideration could include but are not limited to:

  • Home working where possible

  • Working alternative hours, when it is suitable for you to do so

  • Undertaking alternative duties/ online training where possible.

If you are able to work some hours but not your full hours during this time you will receive full pay. If you are unable to work at all during this time and your line manager is satisfied that all alternative options have been exhausted you will receive full pay. You should keep in regular contact with your line manager during the period and update them immediately if you are able do some work.

You do not need to call the absence line as your line manager will complete a return each day to show who is at work.

If you, or someone you live, with become ill during this period you should contact the absence line to notify them that you are now in self-isolation.

WORKING FROM HOME - ADMINISTRATIVE ARRANGEMENTS

"Will we need to carry out display screen self-assessments when we work from home?”

Continue with temporary measures and staff should remember good practice e.g.  good posture, taking breaks etc. . For more information go to the Health and safety SharePoint on the Hub.

RECRUITMENT

"Is recruitment on hold?"

HR are still able to advertise jobs and schedule interviews at the moment.  Before going ahead with interviews we would encourage you to think about whether it is essential at this time or whether these could be held when the situation is clearer.

"I have offered someone work with a start date – should I honour this?"

Yes, if you have verbally offered someone a post with a start date then you should honour this and continue with processing their contract. You should have a conversation with them regards what they are able to work during this period as per questions above.

"I have offered someone work with no start date – what should I do?"

You should consider whether you still need to recruit to this post at this time. If it is not essential delay making arrangements until the situation is clearer.

"I have interviews scheduled should I continue with these?"

If the post is not essential then you should delay your interviews until the situation is clearer.  If the post is essential then you should continue with your recruitment process but consider whether interviews could be held over the phone.

TRIAL PERIODS

"I was on a redeployment trial but I am prevented from completing this due to my circumstances.  What will happen?"

Your trial period will reconvene when you are in a position to do so.

ANNUAL LEAVE ARRANGEMENTS

"What happens to my leave if I am unable to work due to self isolation, social distancing, school closure or office shutdown for more than one month?"

Staff who are at home and not working and are being paid will have the proportion of leave accrued during this period deducted from their annual leave entitlement. Any leave booked in this period will be included in this.

Please see the table below for what you can expect to have deducted during this period if you are full time.  For part time employees this will be multiplied by their proportion of a full time post (for example a 17.5 hour post the days holiday will be multiplied by 0.5).:

No of completed months not at work

Leave entitlement of 32 days (20 annual, and 12 public holidays)

Leave entitlement of 37 days (25 annual, and 12 public holidays)

Leave entitlement of 40 days (28 annual, and 12 public holidays)

1

3

3

3

2

5

6

7

3

8

9

10

4

11

12

13

All public holidays and term time allocated holidays that occur over the period of being paid for not working at home will be deemed to have been taken over that period.

"I am term time what happens to my leave if I am unable to work due to self isolation, social distancing, school closure or office shutdown?"

All public holidays and term time allocated holidays that occur over the period of shutdown or not being able to work for self-isolation, social distancing or childcare reasons will be deemed to have been taken over that period.

"The public holidays that are coming up. What are the arrangements?"

As per normal arrangements if you are required to work on the upcoming public holidays your manager will discuss this with you and normal arrangements for payment for working on a public holiday will apply.  If you are not required to work these will be deducted from your leave balance as per normal arrangements.  This will also be the case if you are unable to work due to self isolation, social distancing, school closure or office shutdown.

MEETINGS

"Should I still be having face to face meetings whilst I am at work?"

Where there is benefit in the meeting going ahead, this should be done by skype where possible. If a meeting is non-essential, then the meeting should be cancelled. You may wish to discuss the importance of a meeting going ahead with your manager.

MATERNITY LEAVE

"I am due to go on maternity leave – do I have to go off earlier?"

No you don’t need amend the arrangements you had planned.

"I am due back from maternity leave – what do I do?"

You do not need to amend the arrangements you had planned.  Complete your forms as planned and return them to your line manager.  If your line manager is not at work try to find an alternative manager to discuss with.  Please send forms to attendanceenquiries@argyll-bute.gov.uk.

TRAINING

"How do I access online learning?"

The Council’s online learning website is called LEON. This can be accessed via the Hub, Argyll and Bute Council’s website by searching for LEON or via the following link.

https://tracking.brightwave.co.uk/LNT/ArgyllAndBute/Login.aspx?ts=636621479996003541

This website can be accessed from any devise with connection to the internet. If you have any issues with your user name and password you can contact the training centre on trainingcentre@argyll-bute.gov.uk or 01546 605513 option 3.

"Is all training cancelled?"

Face to face training will not be delivered at the present time.  Where possible we have found alternative training delivery solutions eg online delivery.  You will be advised whether any training that you have scheduled over the next few weeks is cancelled or is being delivered online.  If it is cancelled it will be rescheduled for a later date.  If it is being delivered online you will need access to your pc / laptop and Skype video. 

SICKNESS ABSENCE

"I can’t get to my Drs to get a fit note?"

A fit note can be obtained when the surgeries are able to deal with these requests again.   

CONTRACTUAL ARRANGEMENTS

"I am a casual member of staff but I can no longer work due to self isolation, social distancing, school closure or office shutdown will I be paid?"

You will be paid till the end of your assignment e.g. if your manager had asked you to work until the end of the week, end of term etc you will be paid until the end of that date.  You should speak to your manager if you have any queries about this.

"My contract is ending at end of March.  Will I be kept on?"

You should speak to your manager about whether your contract will be extended.

EMOTIONAL SUPPORT AND FINANCIAL ADVICE

We are all facing pressures due to the ever changing demands that are being placed upon us during the corona virus pandemic. 

Pressures can affect people’s health and wellbeing in many different ways and it is important to be able to access the resources available in order for you to be supported at this difficult time. 

Argyll and Bute Council has teamed up with Health Assured who are an independent, external organisation who provide the Employee Counselling Service. 

Health Assured can help you manage your emotional health providing support, guidance and information on dealing with anxiety, depression and stress.  Your physical health including any conditions relating to this and life support which provides guidance and help relating to any financial or legal worries you or your immediate family may have.

Health Assured have fully trained counsellors available 24 hours a day, seven days a week.  If the service is accessed via the online link below, under the ‘contact us’ heading there is the option to use live chat where you can chat to the advisor without speaking in person.

This service is available to all employees, their spouses or partners and their dependents aged 16-24 if they are in full time education. You do not need to be at work to access this employee benefit.

You can access the service directly or by telephoning 0800 030 5182 or by downloading the app via Apple Store or Play Store for Android devices.   Speak to your line manger to get a username and password. 

It takes two minutes to download the app on to your smart device and it’s there for when you need it.

 

https://www.argyll-bute.gov.uk/coronavirus/thanks-and-look-after-yourself