Managers are reminded that all leave must be reported by staff and recorded against the relevant category. This is particularly important at this time, so that ESR and Health Roster are accurate and up to date, to allow information regarding absences to be used effectively to help maintain our services as effectively as possible. Click here to access the guidance
Quarantine Arrangements (updated 28th July)
It is clear that quarantine requirements are going to be continually changing over the coming weeks/months as the global Covid-19 situation continues to evolve. It is important we continue to follow the government advice to keep ourselves and our patients safe. Staff should refer to the following website for the latest guidance regarding travel to all destinations: https://www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice.
The Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) continues to advise against non-essential international travel, except to countries and territories that it has exempted from its ‘all but essential’ international travel advice. These countries have been assessed as no longer presenting an unacceptably high risk to British people travelling abroad. However, the global coronavirus pandemic is ongoing. No travel is risk-free, and disruption is still possible. The list of exempt countries is outlined here: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/coronavirus-covid-19-countries-and-territories-exempt-from-advice-against-all-but-essential-international-travel
The requirement to quarantine for 14 days on return is still in place for a variety of destinations and individuals will need to take the quarantine requirements into account when requesting leave. The above links provide further detail on where quarantine applies. The Home Office has advised that there are some exemptions to the 14 day quarantine, which includes registered health or care professionals travelling to the UK for work. Please note that this is for individuals who are coming to the UK to commence employment and not those who choose to leave the country for personal reasons (e.g. holidays) and are returning. It is therefore not a general exemption for NHS Workers. This interpretation of the requirement is being consistently applied across the wider NHS, although we are aware that there are cases where returning individuals have been issued exemptions by the UK Border Force. Returning NHS employees are still required to quarantine even if they have been provided with an exemption.
The situation now is that employees booking travel overseas from this point forward will be going abroad fully aware of the quarantine requirements on re-entering the UK and the potential that these could change at short notice. Accordingly, overseas travel should not be booked before an employee has agreed the duration of the leave required with their manager to ensure that they can comply with the potential quarantine measures on their return to the UK.
Options to consider for how the 14 day quarantine period could be treated can include:
- annual leave
- unpaid leave
- work from home
- making up some or all of the 14 days’ leave over a period of time through working additional hours/shifts over their normal contracted hours.
In situations where quarantine is applied whilst travel is already in progress, managers should review the above options with individuals and agree the most appropriate solution. Managers should take a broad view of what work could be undertaken from home which adds value to the service. This could include mandatory training, personal development, appraisal preparation, reviewing procedures and/or SPAs for Consultants.
Social Distancing, Self-Isolation, Household Isolation and Shielding
- The latest advice regarding self-isolation, household isolation and social distancing is available in the Health Advice section of these guidance pages.
- Where managers have agreed that individuals are working from home to facilitate social distancing, they are regarded as being at work and no absence should be recorded.
- Individuals who cannot attend work due to self-isolation or household isolation or shielding, but are otherwise fit to work, should be recorded as absent. Click here to read guidance on this. They will receive full pay for the period of isolation. Full pay is interpreted as what the individual would have otherwise earned if they were not in isolation, which would include any pay enhancements. Individuals are available to work from home during this period and managers will agree with the employee what work can be undertaken. This equally applies to employees who are symptomatic but well enough to work from home. The period of isolation will not be classified as sickness and will not count against any entitlement to Occupational Sick Pay.
- If staff are not personally required to isolate but are concerned that work in a healthcare setting could put vulnerable members of their family or household at risk, managers should handle this situation sensitively. Managers should explore any concerns the member of staff may have about presenting for work and give careful consideration to options that could allow the member of staff to work from home, or in other healthcare settings that would allow them to use their skills/experience. Managers should take advice from HR on a case by case basis.
- If an individual is unfit to work due to confirmed or suspected COVID-19, they should be absent from work and not working. This should be recorded as Sickness Absence on ESR / Health Roster.
- The normal processes for notification and contact during absence should apply.
- Individuals who are off sick due to COVID-19, for the duration of the pandemic they will be paid sick pay as though they are working.
- Sickness absence related to COVID-19 will not count towards sickness absence triggers.
(Updated - 28 May 2020)
- During the current situation, it is important that staff health and wellbeing remains a priority in order to ensure we continue to provide safe and effective care to our patients. If operational demands allow, staff are generally better taking their leave while they can, in terms of their own health and wellbeing, resilience, and ability to provide the most effective service when they return to work.
- For staff who cancelled leave before 31 March 2020 due to the current situation, then the carryover of more than the normal 5 days annual leave is allowed in these exceptional circumstances.
- We recognise that many staff have been flexible regarding their annual leave and not taken leave when the service needed you the most during the pandemic. The Trust is extremely grateful for everyone’s flexibility and commitment. Fortunately the number of COVID patients within the hospital is currently steadily decreasing and given these decreasing operational pressures it is important for staff to take the opportunity to take their annual leave to rest and maintain their own health and wellbeing to continue being able to deliver the best care for our patients. We therefore encourage all staff to plan how they intend to take their leave throughout the year and agree this with their manager. This applies equally to all staff regardless of whether they are shielding, working remotely, or in the workplace.
- In accordance with the Trust's Annual Leave guidance, staff and line managers have a responsibility to ensure that annual leave is planned in advance and ideally should be taken at regular intervals throughout the year, as long as service constraints don’t prevent this. Where service constraints prevent leave from being taken, this should be subject to a risk assessment between the manager and employee to consider health, safety and wellbeing. Line managers are responsible for undertaking regular (no less than quarterly) reviews of annual leave requested, approved and taken for each employee to avoid the accumulation of un-taken annual leave.
- As the peak in COVID-19 cases has not been as high as was originally predicted it is not planned to launch a selling annual leave scheme. We are mindful the pandemic is far from over and this will be reviewed if the need arises.
- Prior to the pandemic, some staff committed to purchasing additional leave for the 2020/21 leave year. Due to the exceptional circumstances of this year, we will be offering these staff the opportunity to cancel this request and receive a full refund for deductions to date. This will be a defined period of time, in which staff will be able to request to cancel all of their additional bought leave. All staff that this applies to will be contacted via email by the end of May with further details.
- In the current circumstances, there may be more requests from staff for special leave. The Unplanned Leave & Authorised Absence Procedure details the way that special leave is categorised and how it is authorised.
- The usual considerations (e.g. use of annual leave, working different shifts, use of time-in lieu) should all be taken into account before special leave is authorised.
- The government has confirmed that schools will remain open for the children of key workers. Further information is provided in the Childcare section which can be accessed via this link.
Additional resource to support the emergency
To support the mobilisation of staff who can assist in the pandemic, the 20 per cent requirement for off-the-job training for NHS and social care staff on apprenticeships is temporarily suspended until further notice. Apprentices will not be disadvantaged in doing so on their qualifications. Further guidance about this, and the impact on learning and qualifications, will be provided to apprentices and their managers as soon as we have it.
Returning to work from Family Leave (Maternity, Adoption, Shared Parental Leave)
- Staff can work up to ten keeping in touch (KIT) days while on maternity or adoption leave, without bringing their maternity/adoption leave to an end. Staff on shared parental leave can work up to 20 shared parental leave in touch (SPLiT) days without ending their shared parental leave.
- Local provisions have been agreed for staff who wish to work additional shifts to support services during the pandemic. The individual will continue to be paid SMP and also receive pay for the work done at the amount which would normally be paid. This will apply for the period of the pandemic only.
- Should employees wish to end their maternity, adoption or shared parental leave early to assist in the pandemic, they will be offered paid leave in lieu at some future point.
Reprioritising Existing Work
- The requirement for staff to demonstrate or show that they meet the requirements for pay progression arrangements is paused.
- Supporting professional activities (SPAs) for consultants and SAS doctors - it will be vital that some SPAs continue, especially where they assist with COVID-19 work. However, there may be scope for some SPA time to be reprioritised - this should be considered at CSU level.