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Headline
Update to COVID-19 safe systems of work
Date
Mon, 27 Jun 2022
Description

In line with the Government's 'Living with COVID-19' guidelines, the council's COVID-19 FAQs have been updated to reflect how we will continue to work safely with COVID-19. Below is a summary of the key changes, but full details are available to view in the COVID-19 FAQ section of the Intranet: https://insight.eastriding.gov.uk/emergency-information/emergency-faqs/

Changes to the way we report COVID-19 infections 

The Government and NHS guidelines now advise people to treat symptoms of COVID-19 in a similar way to other respiratory infections, such as colds and flu. Please visit the NHS website for details of the current symptoms of COVID-19 and respiratory infections: https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/coronavirus-covid-19/symptoms/ 

All sickness absences that start on or after Friday, 1 July 2022, will be recorded by your manager using iTrent. Managers will be able to select COVID-19 from the drop-down list of absence reasons: https://itrentlive.eastriding.gov.uk/tlive_web/wrd/run/etadm001gf.open 

From 1 July 2022, sickness absences related to COVID-19 will no longer be discounted for consideration of attendance level warnings. If you are too unwell to attend work, all sickness absences will be managed in line with the Attendance at Work policy.

If your absence started on or before Thursday, 30 June 2022, staff cases should be reported and recorded via e-mail to the iTrent team: itrent.ss@eastriding.gov.uk. For sickness absences starting on or before 30 June 2022 as result of confirmed cases of COVID-19, the absence will not be considered for attendance level warnings, in line with the previous guidance.  

Managers no longer need to report COVID-19 infections by completing the tracker form to allow tracing of infections in the workplace. 

What should staff do if they test positive for COVID-19 but feel well enough to attend work?

If you still have access to testing or are required to test regularly for your role and you test positive for COVID-19 but otherwise feel well enough to attend work, you should inform your line manager for awareness and business planning purposes. The guidance remains that you should stay at home, if possible, for a minimum of five days and until you have two consecutive negative tests. We will continue to encourage staff to work from home if they have COVID-19 and are well enough to work. You no longer need to record cases of COVID-19 by contacting the iTrent team if you are able to work from home and are well enough to do so.

If you do not usually work from home, 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 via e-mail to: itrent.ss@eastriding.gov.uk 

In schools, all absences, for both positive test results and sickness absence should be reported to the School Business manager to record on iTrent. Your absence will not be recorded as sickness if you feel well enough to attend work, but are not able to work from home.

If you have symptoms of COVID-19 but do not have access to tests you should work from home if possible. 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.  

Other key changes to the COVID-19 guidance include: 

  • The lifting of current room occupancy restrictions in office spaces and communal areas - by continuing to follow public health and government guidance to reduce infection. 
  • In order to assist with the current cost of living crisis, the temporary changes that were put in place during the pandemic to the council's mileage policy will continue for the time being. 

Please refer to the updated Coronavirus: Frequently Asked Questions for staff on the intranet for more information on all of the above. 

Safe systems of work - Living with COVID-19 

In line with government guidance, we are now managing COVID-19 through service-based risk assessments and taking appropriate action. For those who are more vulnerable to severe illness due to COVID-19, managers should complete individual risk assessments.  

Individual risk assessment document available here: https://downloads.eastriding.org.uk/intranet/safety-at-work/safe-systems/safe-systems-staff-assessments/safe-systems-individual-assessment-high-risk-employees.docx 

This approach will allow us to maintain a safe environment for all staff in which to work and thrive. 

This applies to all settings and is reliant on all staff maintaining good habits around ventilation, good hygiene and respecting personal space

For more information on the current government guidance visit: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/living-safely-with-respiratory-infections-including-covid-19 

For the latest government guidance for those previously considered clinically highly vulnerable visit: Guidance for people previously considered clinically extremely vulnerable from COVID-19 - GOV.UK (www.gov.uk) 

As a reminder, public health has provided the following advice which everyone, from staff to visitors, should continue to do to reduce the risk of catching and spreading COVID-19: 

Ventilation 
 
We need to let fresh air into workspaces as poorly ventilated spaces can allow the amount of respiratory virus to build up in the air. This increases the risk of spreading respiratory infections, particularly if infected persons are present. 
 
Staff should ensure that, weather permitting, windows and doors are kept open, and on colder days they can be opened for a few minutes. 

Good hygiene  
 
The basics of good hygiene go a long way towards protecting staff from respiratory infections which include COVID-19. 
 
Coughing and sneezing increases the number of particles released by a person, and it also increases the distance they travel and how long they stay in the air. It is therefore important that people cover their nose and mouth when coughing and sneezing. If a disposable tissue is used, it should be put in a bin and the individual should immediately wash or sanitise their hands. 
 
Moreover, frequent hand washing (with soap and water) or hand sanitiser when out and about, is the most effective way of limiting the transmission of viruses, as hands touch many surfaces throughout the day. 
 
Cleaning of surroundings will limit the spread of viruses, and the council is actively promoting a clear desk policy. Any staff using booked desks in the Neighbourhood Hubs should clean the work surface prior to commencing use. The normal cleaning regime operated by accommodation services will still be undertaken. 

Staff should be mindful of the concerns of others, particularly around their personal space and anyone with COVID-19 symptoms, or feeling unwell, should stay at home. Lastly, although the wearing of face coverings is not mandatory, it is recommended good practice in communal spaces or busy or enclosed areas. 
 
Remember, individual risk assessments should still be completed by managers if concerns are raised by individuals in relation to their health, to ensure effective measures are in place. 

 

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