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Staff FAQs

Staff FAQs

Annual Leave FAQs

1. Why has this guidance just been issued now?

CoSLA and the 5 main unions have been discussing how staff should be using  Annual Leave during the COVID pandemic.   Agreement on the  guidance was reached on 1st May 2020 and issued to all Local Authorities. Whilst the guidance  cannot cover every circumstance, it will help all Councils to ensure consistency and fairness in matters related to Annual Leave during these unsettled times. A copy of the guidance can be found on the staff information pages at https://www.clacks.gov.uk/coronavirus/staffinformation/

2. Do I have to take annual Leave?

All staff should be planning to take 'some' of their allocated annual leave whether working or not.

It is essential for everyone's health and well being, particularly those who are working, that they take time away from work commitments whether that's in their usual work place or at home. Additionally, Services are required to plan out available staff resources in the weeks and months ahead and they will need to ensure that all staff are able to take time off.

Staff currently on Special Leave should also be planning to take some time in the coming weeks. Restrictions may well be lifted or relaxed as time moves on and as staff start re-entering work places it is important that they are as fit and healthy as possible and that not every staff member is trying to take Annual Leave  at the same time. We would ask all line managers and staff members to discuss their current plans for taking some time off and to agree when that will be. It is important that all parties are considerate and reasonable in their approach to this process. 

3. If I have already had annual leave approved can this be cancelled or moved to later in the year?

This should be discussed with your line manager in the first instance, this should include making your manager aware of your reasons for wanting to cancel and when you intend to take leave at a later date. Everyone is being asked to plan 'some' leave and it is fully understood that where  holidays have been cancelled, travel and events are restricted and there will be less of a need for staff to use their leave as they would have done prior to the COVID 19 outbreak. We would simply ask all staff to plan some time off during the coming months so that managers can be assured that staff are rested and in good health, that they will have the resources to run their Service when it is needed and that when restrictions are relaxed not everyone is trying to take large amounts of annual leave at the same time. If managers are asked to approve several requests for the same time off it is likely to lead to some staff members being disappointed when it is refused and we must ensure consistency of approach and fairness when it comes to approving or refusing requests for time off.

4. What if I take annual leave,  go on holiday and am required to quaratine after I return? 

If a member of staff is returning from one of the countries not on the Scottish Government’s exempt list they will be required to self-isolate for a period of 14 calendar days on return to Scotland.  There is no exemption to this for key workers and this includes single status, chief officers, trades and Teaching staff.  Self-isolation means the person remains at home and does not leave except for essential medical treatment – food and other essential supplies must be delivered by others to the house without contact.

Where employees can work from home, it is expected that they will do this during the period of self-isolation.  Where this is not possible, managers should discuss with employees whether this time should be

  1. taken as annual leave, flexi or TOIL (This option does not apply to teachers or music Instructors as there is no facility, nationally, to agree additional annual leave beyond 11 August 2020 )
  2. taken as unpaid leave.
  3. worked back at an agreed future date

Special paid leave cannot be granted to cover this period.

5. I took time off in April as the Council had indicated that pre booked leave during this time would remain unless there was a work requirement for me to cancel, now that guidance has changed can I have the time back?

We are trying to be as fair as possible to everyone in the circumstances and the new guidance only took effect from the 1st of May. As it is so early in the current leave year the majority of staff will still have adequate holidays available to take a break later in the year. In very exceptional circumstances where several weeks of annual leave have already been taken and circumstances outwith a member of staff's control has resulted in them not getting the benefits of that time off as planned (such as a booked holiday that was cancelled) we will consider returning a proportion of leave taken to help ensure that the staff member has adequate time available for a break later in the year. Any such request will be dealt with on a case by case basis by the Senior Leadership Group and staff members should discuss this with their line managers who will seek guidance from HR Business Partners. Managers should keep in mind the amount of leave already used by staff members when having discussions around future planned leave. We would ask that all parties deal with this in a reasonable and consistent manner.

6. If I am currently off work sick do I need to take annual leave?

Staff members who are unfit for work are not required to take that time as annual leave and should be under no pressure to do so. Line Managers should discuss the matter of annual leave with members of staff who are not currently at work and, where possible, include any future plans along with the rest of their teams.  Any staff member can of course request to book time off later in the year if they so wish. The circumstances will require individual consideration and managers should deal with these requests as fairly and consistently as possible, especially where staff are off long term and where there is no confirmed date of return to work. Managers should consider the reasons for a staff member's absence while having these discussions. Staff should always be supported back into the workplace and may not be ready to consider additional time away from their workplace if they are coming back from an already lengthy absence.  Managers can look to have a discussion on Annual Leave at a more suitable time depending on the individual’s circumstances. Managers and employees may wish to refer to the Council’s Maximising Attendance procedures and guidance documents.

7. Term Time - Will I be allowed time off outside of our normal Term Time Calendar?

As you would expect Term Time employees will be required for work once pupils return to school and, on the whole, will not be required to work during the school non working days. Staff who volunteer to work in the Hubs during School non working days will be paid for these hours. We understand that this is not a 'business as usual' circumstance and that term time staff may also face cancellations of planned holidays or having to reschedule special events. There are systems in place for both teachers and single status staff to request unpaid leave to take account of specific staff needs or special events and managers are asked to be as reasonable and considerate as possible for dealing with any staff requests for additional time off while at the same time ensuring there is adequate staff resources available in our schools.

8. Will the guidance on Annual Leave change again?

'It might' is the only answer we can give at the moment. Like everything related to the Covid 19 pandemic circumstances are changing rapidly and we are doing the best we can while taking account of national guidance and advice from government. We will amend our processes only if the need arises or where we are required to do so. We can only give you the assurance that we will be as fair as we can possibly be to all of our employees and that we will do our best to meet your needs as well as the needs of the Council.

9.  Can I book annual leave from April 2021 to allow me to move my cancelled holiday.

Staff may request holidays further than the current leave year but should not make any bookings until their leave request has been agreed by their line manager. Managers will need to ensure that all staff are treated fairly when agreeing time off. It is especially difficult when there are fewer team members able to cover work and we would ask managers to discuss planned leave with all of their team members and approve leave wherever they can. Staff should keep in mind that they will need approval for any time off no matter the leave year and managers should do what they can to approve leave requests as quickly as possible.

10. Why does this guidance not apply to Teachers?

At this time Teachers are required to utilise their leave as normal.

On a final note the management team would like to state the following:

We recognise all of the efforts that our staff continue to make whether that is working in their usual place of work, working remotely or even staying at home to prevent harm to others. We understand the difficulties at this time and pressures and anxiety that many of our staff are facing. We would once again like to thank everyone for all that they are doing and for their understanding in this turbulent time. Senior managers and elected members could not be prouder of the effort that is being made every single day and that is a testament to our staff who are doing everything that they can to ensure the people of Clackmannanshire receive essential public services. We hope that staff can take some time away from work and enjoy a well earned break.

General Coronavirus FAQs

1. What do I do if I have symptoms?

If you’ve developed a new continuous cough, a fever/high temperature or loss of or change in sense of smell or taste (anosmia), you should contact the NHS to book a test, stay at home for 10 days from the day your symptoms started and contact your line manager. This applies to any employee whether they are working in the office, at home or on special leave. Only phone your GP or 111 if your symptoms are severe. If you have any concerns, please go to NHS Inform website for the most up-to-date information and advice. Co

2. I have been in close contact with someone who has started showing symptoms of Coronavirus. Should I self-isolate?

You should self isolate at home if you have been closer than 2m for more than 15 minutes until the person has been tested.  If the test for the person comes back negative you can stop isolating, but if it is positive you will need to continue to isolate for 14 days.
Only phone your GP or 111 if you develop symptoms which are severe. If you have any concerns, please go to NHS Inform website for the most up-to-date information and advice. Unless you have developed one or more of these specific symptoms you should carry on as normal.

3. I have been told to self-isolate but the nature of my job means that I cannot work from home. Will I be granted special leave?

Any employee who is required to self isolate or refrain from work because of underlying health conditions will be granted paid special leave.

You can find guidance on what self isolation will mean here https://www.nhsinform.scot/illnesses-and-conditions/infections-and-poisoning/coronavirus-covid-19#self-isolation-advice-for-people-without-symptoms.

In situations where an employee is displaying symptoms of a suspected case of coronavirus the employee will be placed on sick leave (normal absence management procedures apply) until their symptoms resolve and they return to work.

If an employee suspects they may have the COVID-19 they should follow the above NHS and Scottish Government advice and contact their line manager by phone. They should not attempt to access the workplace for 10 days.

It is important that staff members keep in contact with their line manager and report any changes in their situation.

4. I have an underlying health condition. What should I do?

If you have an underlying condition which requires the flu vaccination, you were shielding or are over 70 you should have made your manager aware of this.  The Health & Safety team are working through carrying out risk assessments for all people who have been identified.  You should not attend work until this assessment has been completed, although you can work from home if your role allows this.

5. I work in an Educational and Early Years settings. What advice should I follow?

Health Protection Scotland have published advice for non-healthcare settings and Scottish Government published advice on reopening. This information should be followed by schools, early learning and childcare settings within Clackmannanshire Council.

6. I am an essential worker. Can I get tested for Coronavirus?

If you are displaying symptoms you should contact your manager and ask them to request a test via Emergency Planning.  If you are having to self-isolate because a family member is displaying symptoms you should also contact your manager as a matter of priority. There are facilities for testing but this is limited and this is being prioritised for certain key workers across Forth Valley. 

7. What happens if someone becomes unwell in a council building?

Staff should inform a member of staff or responsible person if they become unwell at work.

If someone becomes unwell at one of our council buildings and they believe they may be at risk of Coronavirus (e.g. through contact with a confirmed case), you should take the following actions:

  • The individual should phone their GP or NHS 24 (phone 111) immediately for advice. You can do this on their behalf if this is easier. They should not attend their GP practice or A&E in person. If they are so unwell that they require an ambulance, phone 999 and let the call handler know you are concerned about Coronavirus.
  • Find somewhere safe for the unwell person to sit which is at least 2 metres away from other people. If possible, find a room or area where they can be isolated behind a closed door, such as a staff office or meeting room. If possible, open a window for ventilation.
  • Direct, physical contact with the person should be avoided wherever possible. The individual should avoid touching people, surfaces and objects and be advised to cover their mouth and nose with a disposable tissue when they cough or sneeze, and then put the tissue in the bin. If no bin is available, put the tissue in a bag or pocket for disposing in a bin later.
  • You should report the incident by phoning 01259 452225 or 01259 452199 (both available 24/7) as soon as possible.

Further information

If are looking for further advice can contact a free NHS helpline:

NHS helpline

0800 028 2816

8. Are nurseries legally required to notify the Care Inspectorate of any suspected cases of coronavirus?

Yes. You can find more information about the guidance from the Care Inspectorate website

9. How can I look after my mental health during this outbreak?

You can find some helpful information on the Mental Health Foundation website and you can also contact our employee assistance provider PAM Assist.

10. My fit note is due to expire but my workplace is closed to the public. Can my sick leave be closed off and put onto special leave, as I am now able to work?

You should, in the first instance speak with your line manager. Depending on your individual circumstances, nature of and duration of your absence, you may be asked to attend/have a telephone referral with Occupational Health for further guidance. If it is then agreed that you are able to return to work then your manager will need to update the HR system (iTrent).

If your normal workplace is closed you may, if applicable, be asked to work at an alternative location. If not you will be recorded as either homeworking (if your post allows and you have appropriate equipment) or Special leave (paid).

11. What is the situation with casual workers who have to self isolate?

Where a staff member has been offered and accepted to undertake a period of work, in line with the Council's policy, for an agreed period and is subsequently having to self isolate then they should be paid for that period that had been agreed to.

Timesheets should be emailed to payroll@clacks.gov.uk. Payroll are not able to accept paper timesheets at this time.

12. I fall into one of the risk categories, can I choose to come into my workplace or sign a disclaimer?

No, you must follow the Government guidance. If your job allows, you have the appropriate equipment and your manager agrees, you can make arrangements to work at home.

13. I am 65, should I be going home?

No, unless you have an underlying condition, as identified on the GOV.UK site you should still come to work.

14. I have an employee who is able to be at work and they are refusing to work in another building, what should I do?

They are employed by the council and as such can be moved locations. Normally notice would be given but we would be asking those still working to assist as much as possible. For individual circumstances, discuss with your HR Business Partner.

Advice recently sent to Managers advised that it may be going forward that staff will be asked to work on responsibilities out with their normal duties to help the council meet its statutory priorities. This would be in line with their skill set.

15. I live with someone who is vulnerable or has a health condition, which puts them at greater risk of contracting flu. Should I be self-isolating?

No, you will still be expected to come to work unless someone in your household is displaying symptoms, in which case you should follow Government guidelines. You may wish to discus with your manager, if your job allows, whether you could work from home.

16. If an employee has advised that they or their household has to self-isolate because someone has symptoms of the virus, can they visit public places?

No, they are then going against the Government advice. There is a difference between the requirements of self-isolation and self-distancing.

Refer to Stay at Home: Guidance for Households with possible Coronovirus infection on the GOV.UK website for further info.

17. My wife is pregnant and has been told to self-isolate, however she isn’t displaying symptoms of the virus. Should I self isolate too?

No, you will still be expected to come to work unless someone in your household is displaying symptoms, in which case you should follow Government advice regarding self-isolation.

18. Is it safe to touch door handles in my workplace?

Areas that you need to touch such as door handles are being cleaned with a disinfectant on a daily basis which stays active for 80 hours. Staff should ensure they are hand washing or using hand sanitiser regularly.

19. My normal location has been closed and I am being asked to work in other Council Buildings, will I get paid overtime for this?

Over the last days/weeks our staff have shown how flexible they are supporting the Council in ensuring essential services can be maintained. Where you are being asked to report to another building rather than your normal site this will allow you to work your normal  hours. If you are being asked to work beyond the hours you would normally be employed to do this will be paid at the appropriate rate.