Key Messages

> Stay at home

Only designated key skeleton staff should attend work. If you are not contacted to attend work you should stay at home.

> Work from home

If you are not required to attend work you should continue to work at home wherever possible. If you are not able to work from home and are not required to attend work then you should stay at home and await further instruction.

> Follow Government advice

Keep up to date with the advice and guidance from Public Health Wales and UK Government

Looking after your wellbeing when working on the front line

During this Coronavirus outbreak we have needed you, our key workers, to continue to carry out your very important roles along with dealing with the personal challenges posed by the outbreak.

All of this can take a toll on your health and wellbeing. This is an uncertain time for us all, but have you stopped to ask yourself how you are doing?

Whatever you do as a key worker, you’re playing a hugely important role right now, supporting so many others to go about their lives in safety. But it might feel tricky to take care of your own wellbeing at the moment.

Here are some tips to help you take care of yourself.

Frequently Asked Questions

Please familiarise yourself with this information and advice. We will continue to notify you of updates or changes to this information as the situation develops.

Contents

Pay

If I am sick will I get paid?

You should continue to follow normal sickness procedures and inform your line manager if you experience symptoms or are diagnosed with the Coronavirus. Sickness absences will continue to be recorded on the Ceri system with a sickness reason of either ‘COVID19 Confirmed’ or ‘COVID19 Symptoms’, depending on whether you have been tested or not. This will be treated as normal sickness absence and normal sickness absence scheme payments will apply.

If I am self-isolating, shielding or in the high risk category how will I get paid?

You should inform your line manager if you, or someone in your household, are advised to self-isolate, are shielding or are in the high risk category. Your manager will record this on the Ceri system as ‘Other Leave’ with the relevant leave reason of. During other leave you will be entitled to receive your normal pay.

What happens if I am unable to work from home?

If you are unable to work from home and are not attending the workplace then your line manager will record this on the Ceri system as ‘Other Leave’ with the reason of ‘Unable to work from home’. During other leave you will be entitled to receive your normal pay.

As part of the Authority’s Business Continuity Planning we may ask you to work from an alternative location or take on a temporary redeployment into a critical frontline service.

I am a relief employee who completes timesheets for the hours worked, will I receive any pay?

You will receive your pay at the end of March for the hours you worked in February as normal. If you have not been offered any further work beyond Monday 23 March we will be asking your manager to determine whether you would have continued working were it not for the Coronavirus situation. If the response is yes you will be paid a weekly amount based on your average salary for the 12 weeks previous to Monday 23 March.

Absence

COVID-19 Testing

How do I know if I require a Covid-19 test?

Liaise with your Line Manager who will complete a pro forma and forward to the Hywel Dda Health Board Testing Team. You MUST self-isolate (stay at home) for 7 days if you have symptoms.  If a Household Member has symptoms but you are well, you should self-isolate for 14 days.

The Testing Team will phone you and triage you against the criteria. Please note, this will be from a withheld number.

For further information relating to self-isolating, please visit:   https://phw.nhs.wales/topics/latest-information-on-novel-coronavirus-covid-19/stay-at-home-if-you-think-you-have-coronavirus-self-isolation/

Where will I be tested?

You will be booked in and directed to your nearest test centre.

Will the rest of my household need to be tested?

Members of your household will only need testing if they have symptoms. If members of your household have symptoms and you are having to self-isolate we will test your household members to enable timely return to work for key workers.

How will I be tested?

One throat swab will be taken.  Once tested, you MUST self-isolate until the test results are known.

How long does it take for the test result to be available?

It usually takes between three to four days for a test result to be processed. Please do not contact anyone for your results within the first four days after testing, Hywel Dda Health Board will contact you once they have your results.

How will I know my test result?

A member of the Hywel Dda Health Board Covid-19 Team will phone you with your test result. This will be from a withheld number, so please expect this call.  Individuals MUST inform their Line Managers of the test result who will thereafter share the result (anonymously) with Chief Officers of the Authority and will record appropriately on the Ceri system.

What should I do if I haven’t heard about my test result?

Contact CLOadmin@ceredigion.gov.uk or telephone 01545 572004 if you have not been contacted after five days from the day your swab was taken.

When can I return to work?

You can return to work on day 8 following the onset of illness if you no longer have symptoms, are feeling better for 48 hours, or have had a negative test result; or day 15 following onset of symptoms of a Household Member.  However, your Line Manager will have contacted you prior to your return to work to ensure that you are well enough to do so.

What happens if I or a member of my household tests positive?

If you or a member of your household tests positive, then you must adhere to the self-isolation guidelines.  If you live alone and you have symptoms of coronavirus illness (COVID-19), however mild, stay at home for 7 days from when your symptoms started. After 7 days, if you do not have a high temperature, you do not need to continue to self-isolate. If you still have a high temperature, keep self-isolating until your temperature returns to normal. You do not need to self-isolate if you just have a cough after 7 days, as a cough can last for several weeks after the infection has gone.

If you live with others and you are the first in the household to have symptoms of coronavirus, then you must stay at home for 7 days, but all other household members who remain well must stay at home and not leave the house for 14 days. The 14-day period starts from the day when the first person in the house became ill. For anyone else in the household who starts displaying symptoms, they need to stay at home for 7 days from when the symptoms appeared, regardless of what day they are on in the original 14 day isolation period.

You or your household member will also be contacted by the Contact Tracing Team who will telephone you so that the Council can gain information relating to individuals who have, or may have, contracted the coronavirus so that we can trace other contacts in order to stop the spread of the disease. You will be asked a few questions relating to yourself, but also who you have been in contact with over the last two weeks.

This information may be shared with Public Health Wales depending on your circumstances.

Sickness and Other Absence

What happens should I become ill with Coronavirus?

If you develop symptoms at any time you should self-isolate, follow the Public Health Wales Advice and keep your line manager updated on how you are feeling.

Your time off work will be treated in the same way as any other sickness absence and you must follow normal sickness procedures.

If I am sick how will my absence be recorded?

You should continue to follow normal sickness procedures and inform your line manager if you experience symptoms or are diagnosed with the Coronavirus. Sickness absences will continue to be recorded on the Ceri system with a sickness reason of either ‘COVID19 Confirmed’ or ‘COVID19 Symptoms’, depending on whether you have been tested or not. This will be treated as normal sickness absence and normal sickness absence scheme payments will apply.

If I am sick with the Coronavirus will this be counted as a trigger under the sickness absence policy?

No, this will not be counted as a trigger within the policy.

If I am self-isolating, shielding or in the high risk category, how will my absence be recorded?

You should inform your line manager if you, or someone in your household, are advised to self-isolate, are shielding or are in the high risk category. Your manager will record this on the Ceri system as ‘Other Leave’ with the relevant leave reason of. During other leave you will be entitled to receive your normal pay.

What happens if I am unable to work from home?

If you are unable to work from home and are not attending the workplace then your line manager will record this on the Ceri system as ‘Other Leave’ with the reason of ‘Unable to work from home’. During other leave you will be entitled to receive your normal pay.

As part of the Authority’s Business Continuity Planning we may ask you to work from an alternative location or take on a temporary redeployment into a critical frontline service.

Annual Leave

I have booked annual leave during this period, can I still take this?

Generally yes, although some staff may be asked to cancel leave to ensure that we are able to cover critical frontline services.

If you do not work in a critical frontline service you should continue to take any annual leave as normal, regardless of whether you can work from home or not.

Can I book annual leave during this period?

Yes, you should continue to book annual leave as normal. It is expected that wherever possible staff will use all of their annual leave entitlement to support their wellbeing during this challenging time.

Can my annual leave request be refused?

Yes, annual leave requests can be refused if it would result in the team being short staffed and which may put the service at risk.

During this situation this will be especially true for workers in critical frontline roles, however every effort will be made to accommodate such a request where possible.

Can I cancel my annual leave?

No, you should not cancel annual leave unless you have been asked to do so and agreed this with your line manager.

Can I take more annual leave to cover childcare needs?

Normal annual leave booking arrangements apply and all requests should be discussed and approved by your line manager. If it is not operationally feasible then your leave request may not be approved. If you work in a critical frontline role you may be entitled to the childcare provision being offered.

What happens if I need time off work for childcare or caring responsibilities?

You should continue to follow the government’s advice and keep your family at home wherever possible. The more we reduce contact, the better we can fight the spread of the virus.

We appreciate that some of you will need to be flexible in how you work due to childcare and other caring responsibilities. You should discuss childcare and caring responsibilities with your line manager and they will work with you to determine how best you can meet your contractual hours.

If you do require additional leave for childcare or caring responsibilities please discuss this with your line manager.

Remember that if you are a frontline critical worker and you meet the criteria you may be eligible for the Childcare Provision Service being run in Ceredigion.

How many days can I carry forward?

If you are unable to use all of your annual leave entitlement before the end of August 2020 a temporary increase has been agreed to the maximum entitlement which can be carried into the next leave year.

This will be increased from the usual 37 hours (5 full time days) to 74 hours (10 full time days). This amount will be pro rata for part time staff and there will be no requirement to formally request a carry forward up to this amount.

Can I carry forward more than 10 days?

If in exceptional circumstances it is clear that you will have in excess of 10 days (74 hours) at the end of August 2020 you will be able to apply to increase your maximum entitlement carry over.

You should discuss this with your line manager in the first instance and you will need to show that you have made every effort to take leave during the period up to 31 August 2020. If your line manager is in agreement they will then need to submit an application form on your behalf. This application form will be available from 1st June and must be submitted by 30th June 2020. Applications will be considered by a Corporate Director to ensure fairness and consistency.

Flexi

How do I record flexi if I am working from home?

You should continue to record your hours on your flexi sheet throughout this period, the normal flexi scheme bandwidth of 7.30am to 7.00pm will be suspended. This means that you can record any hours of work.

We expect the vast majority of staff in non-critical roles to record normal working hours, however we appreciate that some of you will need to be flexible in how you work due to childcare and other caring responsibilities. Your line manager will work with you to determine how best you can meet your contractual hours.

Can I take a flexi day?

Yes, providing that you have sufficient hours in credit you can take up to two flexi days in any one 8-week period.

You cannot take a flexi day if it takes you more than 8 hours in deficit (pro rata for part time staff).

I have built up a lot of flexi credit during the initial COVID-19 lockdown period, what happens to it?

We appreciate and are very grateful that many staff have worked long hours dealing with emergency situations and procedures during the initial phase of the COVID-19 lockdown.

We have asked line managers to identify their staff who currently have a high number of credit hours and work with them to reduce their hours over the current and next 8-week flexi period. This may include asking staff to work less than normal hours over a number of weeks or the possibility of taking an additional two days above the normal maximum of two days in any one flexi period.

This situation may continue for some time and in order to ensure your health and wellbeing it is important that you take regular breaks away from work. This will help your health and wellbeing and support us in maintaining long term resilience.

Frontline Workers

I have a household member who is in the ‘shield’ category, surely the only way to keep them safe is for me to stay at home as well, but I am a key worker?

People with clinical conditions which put them at even higher risk of severe illness from COVID-19 will have been contacted directly by the NHS and told to remain in their homes and await individual contact about how their conditions will be managed in order to keep themselves and others safe. A further list has been developed by the Government of health conditions that categorise employees who are at increased risk of severe illness from COVID-19 who are being asked to be particularly stringent in following social distancing measures. Employees in both these groups will not be expected to attend the workplace. All options for working at home should be considered, as well as for those employees who live with and / or have caring responsibilities for people in the two groups.

Please refer them to the Government advice that is available on this matter.

How do I access a Council building?

From Monday, 23 March 2020 all Council buildings will be closed to the public.  The following main office buildings will remain open to designated skeleton staff from 8.30am to 5.30pm only:

  • Penmorfa, Aberaeron
  • Canolfan Rheidol, Aberystwyth

There will be only one entry point for staff within these locations:

  • Canolfan Rheidol: side door with Salto entry
  • Penmorfa: rear door at the top of Penmorfa (next to police station)

If you are required to attend these buildings please ensure that you follow social distancing measures.

Other operational locations such as Penrhos Depot, Glanyrafon Depots and CILC Felinfach will remain open.

These along with all other measures are being introduced to protect the health and wellbeing of all our workforce.

Personal Protective Equipment

I am a health/social care worker, what personal protective equipment (PPE) do I need if I am providing care and support for a vulnerable adult?

Public Health Wales (PHW) recommends the following PPE ensemble for health/ social care workers:

  • Fluid repellent facemask
  • Apron
  • Gloves
  • Eye protection if there is a risk of splashing

How do I put on and remove (donning and doffing) disposable gloves and aprons?

All residential and domiciliary care staff have access to disposable gloves and aprons to use when providing personal care.

This equipment should be used alongside strict hand washing routines.

Please click on images below for appropriate donning and doffing.

Who should be given face masks and eye protection?

This equipment is only for health/ social care workers and other employees identified as high risk from providing direct care or ‘hands on’ support to vulnerable adults in the residential homes and in the community.

I have been provided with facemasks, how do I use, remove and dispose of these?

Disposable Fluid Resistant Face masks (FRFM) are provided to staff social care staff and other employees identified as high risk from providing direct care or ‘hands on’ support to people/ children displaying the symptoms of high fever and new persistent cough and suspected or confirmed as having Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19).

The facemasks should be secured above the ears and at the nape of the neck.

These can be worn for up to 8 hours, but need to be disposed of after each use, between each service user for which they are required to be worn.

Removal is by undoing or pulling apart the ties at the back being careful not to touch the front of the mask with clean, dry hands.

Dispose of the used mask in a sealed bag or pedal bin depending on whether you a residential home or out in the community.

I have been provided with eye protection (goggles or visor), how do I keep it clean so that it can be re-used?

Eye protection is generally reusable unless you’re told otherwise, where this is the case you will receive your own set.

Whether you are using a visor type device or goggles with arms over the ears or an elastic head strap, on leaving the room where you’ve been using them, remove your gloves then remove your goggles/ visor holding onto the ear strap. Wipe the eye areas over with a fresh biocidal wipe.

Dispose of wipe in a sealed bag/ pedal bin depending on whether you are in a residential home or out in the community.

Redeployment

Can I reclaim redeployment travelling expenses?

If you have been temporarily redeployed to a location which means that you need to travel further than your normal home to work commute you may be entitled to relocation travelling expenses.  If your commute distance is greater than 6 miles difference, one way, between your normal  work location and new work location then you can claim mileage for every mile in excess of 6 miles. For example, if your normal commute to work is a 10 mile one-way commute and your temporary new work location is a 25 mile one way commute then you can claim relocation expenses on 9 miles each way (25 miles minus 10 miles is 15 miles, minus the first 6 miles equals 9 miles). All relocation expenses must be claimed through Ceri Self Service using the Relocation Expenses Claim option. Your claim should be on your usual post and please include “COVID-19” alongside the details of your journey.

Will I be redeployed?

You have been asked to complete a questionnaire on Ceri self-service that asks some important questions including which critical jobs you can assist with if required. Please ensure this information is kept up to date as it indicates your ability to be redeployed.

In addition to using the information you have provided in the questionnaire we are also actively working with Senior Officers to identify who can help.

We would remind you at this time that you may be asked to transfer to duties to support the Council’s essential services. We urge you to be as flexible as possible to help us to support our communities and the most vulnerable at this time.

This may include the following:

  • a temporary change of role
  • undertaking additional training to be able to carry out a temporary role
  • working from an alternative location
  • altering working hours or patterns

If you are required to be redeployed you will be contacted by the Human Resources team in order to discuss options and arrangements.

Will I receive training to do my temporary new role?

Officers within the People and Organisation Service will be coordinating this work alongside Service Managers, Learning and Development and Health and Safety. We will make sure that we upskill you with the training you need quickly and ensure you are confident in your new temporary role. We appreciate that we are asking a lot and will do all we can to support you during these unprecedented times.

Will the training be face to face?

There may be some ‘buddying’ with staff that currently do the job. Other training will be provided in very small groups, ensuring we comply with the social distancing advice. We hope that most of the training you will need will be provided online.

Will there be child care facilities available to staff?

Childcare facilities within Ceredigion opened on Monday 23 March to care for the children of frontline emergency and care staff. This service will only be available to families where either both parents are frontline workers or if a single parent is a frontline worker.

Registration for each week will open on the Monday of the week prior and will close on the Wednesday at 5pm.

Further information on this service is available on the Ceredigion County Council website.

Contracts

I am currently on probation. How will the COVID-19 lockdown affect this?

This will depend on your individual circumstances, including the date you started your new job and what work you have been doing since the lockdown.

If there is a need to make any change to your probation period your line manager will have a discussion with you.

It may be that due to a change in your (or your line manager’s) working practices, your probation will be extended by either three or six months. Your line manager will discuss this with you and explain the reasons why this is happening.