Coronavirus: Frequently Asked Questions for staff

Introduction

COVID-19 is an illness that can affect your lungs and airways. It's caused by a virus called coronavirus.

Up to date advice and information regarding COVID-19 and what you should do, can be found on:

Last updated - 31 August

What's new...

The latest version of the FAQs have been updated to reflect:

Coronavirus - Frequently Asked Questions

Recording COVID-19 and symptoms
What are the symptoms of COVID-19?

The symptoms of COVID-19 in adults can include:

  • a high temperature or shivering (chills) - a high temperature means you feel hot to touch on your chest or back (you do not need to measure your temperature)
  • a new, continuous cough - this means coughing a lot for more than an hour, or 3 or more coughing episodes in 24 hours
  • a loss or change to your sense of smell or taste
  • shortness of breath
  • feeling tired or exhausted
  • an aching body
  • a headache
  • a sore throat
  • a blocked or runny nose
  • loss of appetite
  • diarrhea
  • feeling or being sick.

The symptoms are very similar to symptoms of other illnesses, such as colds and flu. If you have any of the above symptoms and a high temperature it is advisable to avoid contact with others until you no longer have a temperature.

What do I do if I am too ill to attend work due to COVID-19 or another respiratory infection?

If you are too unwell to attend work for any reason, including as a result of any of the symptoms of a respiratory infection or COVID-19, you should record your absence following the attendance at work policy and procedure.

If you have symptoms or have been tested and confirmed as having COVID-19 and you are too ill to work your absence will be deducted from your sick pay entitlement and be counted towards any attendance level warnings. The provisions of the attendance at work policy and procedure will now apply in full to all absences due to illness that start from Friday 1 July 2022 onwards, regardless of whether the symptoms are linked to COVID-19 or not.

What do I do if I have symptoms of a respiratory infection, including COVID-19, but I feel well enough to attend work?

If you have the symptoms of COVID-19 or any other respiratory infection but feel well enough to attend work, you should work from home where possible. It is advisable for you to avoid close contact with others, particularly until you no longer have a high temperature, if applicable.

If you are unable to work from home you can attend work as normal, making sure that you follow all of the safe systems of work to avoid spreading the illness. Discuss with your manager before attending work to identify whether it is possible to provide you with work to complete from home. You must comply with all relevant risk assessments for your service area.

I still have access to COVID-19 tests, I have tested positive but feel well enough to attend work, what should I do?

If you test positive for COVID-19 you should not attend the workplace until you receive 2 negative tests and a minimum of 5 days has passed.

If possible, you should work from home until you are able to return to work. In these circumstances you no longer need to report your positive COVID-19 test to the iTrent team, although it is still advisable for you to notify your manager so they can track cases within your team and make any appropriate adjustments to any of the risks assessments in place.

If you do not have access to agile equipment to work from home and would usually attend a workplace, you should contact your manager who may request appropriate evidence of the positive test result from you. If no alternative work can be found for you to complete at home, your manager should report your absence from work by emailing itrent.ss@eastriding.gov.uk.

In schools, if you test positive for COVID-19 but are well enough to work, the absence should be reported to the school business manager to record on iTrent under the 'Another Absence' category.

Our sickness scheme allows an employee on National Joing Council (NJC) and Burgundy Book terms and conditions who is prevented from attending work because of contact with infectious disease to be entitled to receive normal pay. When an employee is prevented from attending work because they test positive for COVID-19 but are otherwise well enough to attend work, these provisions will apply.

If you have symptoms or have been tested and confirmed as having COVID-19 and you are too ill to work, your absence will be deducted from your sick pay entitlement and count towards any attendance level warnings.

What if my work involves CQC regulated activities?

The government have announced that symptomatic testing for COVID will continue in CQC regulated activities, but that regular testing of people without any of the symptoms of respiratory infection (asymptomatic) will be paused. For more information and the latest guidance visit the GOV.UK - infection prevention in adult social care page.

There are some circumstances in which asymptomatic testing may still be necessary, such as rapid response testing or in the event of an outbreak. You should be able to request tests to keep at home in the event you need to do tests after developing symptoms.

In instances when asymptomatic testing is still required, if you test positive for COVID-19 you should not attend work and should remain at home for a minimum of 5 days until you have received 2 negative tests or up to 14 days following the initial positive result.

If you have symptoms of a respiratory infection and feel well enough to work and you do not have a temperature, you do not need to test and can continue working.

If you have symptoms of a respiratory infection, including COVID-19, and a high temperature you should remain at home and take 2 COVID-19 tests, 48 hours apart. If you test negative on both and are well enough you can return to work.

If you have symptoms of respiratory infection, including a high temperature and test positive for COVID-19 you should remain at home until you receive 2 negative tests and a minimum of 5 days has passed or up to 14 days following the initial positive result.

All absences due to sickness should be recorded using iTrent, your manager will be able to record it using Manager Self Service, in the same way as for any other absence citing the reason for sickness absence as 'COVID-19'.

If you test positive for COVID-19 but would otherwise be well enough to attend work, your manager should report your absence from work by emailing itrent.ss@eastriding.gov.uk.

An employee who is prevented from attending work because of contact with infectious disease is entitled to receive normal pay. When an employee is prevented from attending work because they have symptoms or test positive for COVID-19 but are otherwise well enough to attend work, these provisions will apply.

If you have symptoms or have been tested and confirmed as having COVID-19 and you are too ill to work, your absence will be deducted from your sick pay entitlement and count towards any attendance level warnings.

Do I need to self-isolate if I am a close contact of someone who has the main symptoms of COVID-19?

No, the government have advised that there is no longer a legal requirement to self-isolate or take daily lateral flow tests following contact with someone who has tested positive or has symptoms of COVID-19. This includes individuals who have not completed the course of vaccinations.

If you have been in close contact of someone who has COVID-19, We advise you to follow the latest guidance on the GOV.UK - respiratory infection including COVID-19 page.

If you work in a CQC registered setting there may be an extra locally held policy regarding isolation following contact with someone with COVID-19 symptoms.

How do I record an absence due to COVID-19 related symptoms?

All absences due to sickness should be recorded by using iTrent, your manager will be able to record it using Manager Self Service in the same way as for any other absence citing the reason for sickness absence as 'COVID-19'.

In schools the sickness absence should be reported in the usual way to the school business manager and recorded as 'COVID-19'.

If you test positive for COVID-19 and are well enough to continue working from home, the previous recording processes and categories will no longer apply. The iTrent team no longer need to be notified in these circumstances.

If you do not have access to agile equipment to work from home and would usually attend a workplace, you should contact your manager who may request appropriate evidence of the positive test result. If no alternative work can be found for you to complete at home, your manager should report your absence from work by emailing itrent.ss@eastriding.gov.uk.

In schools all absences should be reported to the business school manager to record on iTrent.

If you are unwell and unable to attend work, this will be recorded as a sickness absence under the 'COVID-19' absence reason. If you feel well enough to attend work but have a positive COVID-19 test your absence will be record under the 'Other Absence' category.

Testing and vaccines
Do I still need to take regular lateral flow tests?

No, if you do not have access to free lateral flow tests you will not be expected to purchase them. If you have access to a previous supply or choose to purchase lateral flow tests you may be asked to provide the test as evidence to your manager if you test positive and are unable to attend work as a result.

The exception to this will be if your role requires you to complete CQC regulated activities relating to personal care of vulnerable individuals, such as work in CQC regulated care homes. You may still have access to free testing. Testing will be arranged locally by your manager and you will be expected to take tests in line with the local policies held and the GOV.UK - infection prevention in adult social care government guidance.

I work in a CQC registered care home or undertake frontline health and social work, do I need a COVID-19 vaccination?

No, although it is recommended that if you are required to attend a CQC regulated care home you will have received a full course of vaccinations to protect the vulnerable clients you are caring for.

The government has announced that vaccinations will no longer be a legal requirement to undertake work in a care home setting with effect from 15 March 2022.

We would still encourage anyone working in a frontline health and social care role to consider having the vaccination, more information is available from the NHS vaccines page and our COVID-19 vaccinations page.

Absence reporting and sick leave
How will my sickness absence due to symptoms of COVID-19 be addressed?

The provisions of the attendance at work policy and procedure will apply to all absences from Friday 1 July 2022, including if you are too unwell to attend work due to symptoms associated with COVID-19 or other respiratory infections. This includes but is not limited to absence reporting, obtaining fit notes, entitlements to sick pay and attendance level warnings.

My absence due to COVID-19 started before Friday 1 July 2022, will it be considered for attendance level warnings?

No, the provisions of the previous guidance will be applied, and the absence will not be included for the purpose of attendance level warnings. The new process begins from Friday 1 July.

Caring responsibilities
What happens if I need time off for caring responsibilities due to COVID-19?

The government guidance no longer distinguishes COVID-19 symptoms from symptoms of other respiratory illness. If you're caring for someone who is unwell and are unable to attend work as a result, the existing support in place to support you while you care for a dependent who is unwell will apply.

The council is fully supportive of employees with caring responsibilities, including childcare responsibilities, when their dependent is unwell and will consider flexible working arrangements including:

  • working from home
  • adapting working patterns to care for children or dependents
  • taking time off, whether this is special leave, annual leave or flexible working.

If you have concerns, please speak to your line manager.

Working arrangements
Can I work from a council building?

Following the launch of blended working arrangements on 28 March 2022, a phased return to the office has begun. Managers will now have completed team protocols with you to note the ways your team will operate. This will include how often you need to attend the office.

There are still safe systems of work in place to reduce the risk of infection in the workplace, these include maintaining social distancing, ensuring there is appropriate ventilation, and use of hand sanitise and hand washing to limit the spread of infection.

This includes making sure you are aware of the COVID-secure requirements of your office or job, maintaining social distancing where possible and the safe wearing and removal of personal protective equipment (PPE), if your role requires it.

Services, through managers, will undertake regular reviews of working practices via risk assessments to make sure we continue to meet guidance on safe ways of working while delivering services which meet our residents' expectations and our business needs. Managers will have access to support from safety services if they require guidance for completing an individual risk assessment for their team.

The process for working in the office and a number of frequently asked questions, including advice on remote working and our position on face coverings, are available in our working in the office section.

If you work in a CQC regulated care home or with clinically vulnerable individuals there may be locally held policies on testing procedures, including any recommended testing intervals.

Annual leave
Can I carry forward annual leave from 2021/22?

If you are a National Joint Council (NJC) employee, you can carry forward 5 days (pro rata) into the new leave year in the normal way in line with the annual leave guidelines in our staff policies area.

The extra 10 day carry forward agreed last year (on top of the normal 5 days) is no longer available. This was a one-off arrangement in 2020/21 as a result of COVID-19.

However, if you did carry forward up to 10 extra days and have not taken these they must be taken by 31 March 2023.

Please refer to the 'Check my holiday balance' on iTrent Employee Self Service for more information.

Can I get paid for my carry forward leave instead of taking the time off?

No, you must take your leave. It is important that you take this time to support your wellbeing.

I've got 2 jobs at the council. Can I transfer my carry forward from one job to the other?

No, each job is treated separately for the purposes of annual leave.

Driving and mileage
As I am now a blended worker, do I still need to deduct home to work mileage from my mileage claims?

We recognise that the cost of living crisis is having a substantial impact on the financial wellbeing of our employees. While we cannot increase the HMRC mileage rates, the temporary variation to the mileage policy which was put in place during the height of the pandemic will be extended to support staff with the increased costs of travel while we assess the impact blended working has on travelling for work as part of a review of the mileage policy.

This is a temporary extension to the variation of the mileage policy that was originally implemented in response to COVID-19, and will continue to be kept under review.

Any employee who is working from home will not be required to deduct their home to work mileage from any mileage claim where they are travelling to another site to undertake their duties. In this instance all miles travelled for business purposes will be paid. This is not applicable for journeys to the employee's normal place of work, where home to work mileage should still be deducted.

All employees should aim to minimise their mileage claims and plan accordingly. It is the manager's responsibility to monitor mileage claims and ensure that mileage is planned to minimise the cost to the council. On days that employees do work from home, and are required to travel for work purposes, home to the East Riding boundary mileage will not be payable.

For example, if you are only working from home you won't need to deduct any home to work mileage if you travel for work purposes, however you can only claim from the East Riding boundary. If you are partially working from your normal workplace and partially working from home, you need to deduct home to work mileage on days you go into your normal workplace.

This also applies to school employees where the council policy has been adopted by the school governing body.

I am in receipt of the business car user allowance/lease car scheme. As I am now working from home and not undertaking any journeys for work, I am unlikely to complete the number of business miles necessary to qualify for the allowance next year. Will this be taken into consideration when my allowance is reviewed?

We will formally discount the period from 1 April 2020 to 31 March 2022 for the purposes of calculating the 3 yearly average mileage for existing business car users and lease car users.

This will discount the two financial years when there were government restrictions on travel related to COVID-19. However, from 1 April 2022 future years mileage will be included in the calculation for business user allowance and the lease car scheme.

Am I able to access the staff parking permit scheme? Is there more information available?

The eligibility criteria for staff parking permits have been removed. We have created a staff parking permits page for the scheme which contains all the information including how to purchase a monthly or flexible parking permit.

.

Share your views

Whether you like this new page or there's something not quite right - please let us know!