East Lothian Council Employee Briefing Note 02/06 – Coronavirus (Covid 19) – 6.4.20

Coronavirus Advice – general information

Managers should ensure that this briefing is shared as widely as possible with all your direct reports particularly those based within the community and those working from home. Please note for employees who have access to myHR, all employee briefings can be viewed by clicking the link to Inform.

If an employee doesn’t currently have access to myHR but would like to be added to receive their payslip electronically, plus be able to access key communication documents, then employees should send their e-mail address to the HR Payroll System Team mailbox hrpayrollsystem@eastlothian.gov.uk giving a personal email address then they will be added to the system and will be sent details explaining how to access myHR.

Home visits/Travel to Work

All employees should ensure that they carry their Council ID with them at all times when at work. If you are stopped by the Police while acting on Council business, the ID card can identify you as a critical worker and having a legitimate business need to travel as well as reassuring Council service users that you are a legitimate Council employee.

Annual leave

The Working Time (Coronavirus) (Amendment) Regulations 2020 (SI 2020/365) has introduced a temporary new law to deal with coronavirus disruption. Employees and workers can carry over up to 4 weeks’ paid holiday over a 2-year period, if they cannot take holiday due to the coronavirus outbreak.

For example, this could be because:

  • they’re self-isolating or are too sick to take holiday before the end of their leave year
  • they’ve had to continue working and could not take paid holiday

The measure is to protect workers from losing their holiday entitlement and to provide employers with flexibility and staff to deal with the consequences of the coronavirus outbreak.

The changes mean employees can carry up to four weeks of unused leave into the next two leave years “where it is not reasonably practicable for a worker to take some, or all, of the holiday to which they are entitled due to the coronavirus”.

More detailed management guidance will follow in due course.

Pre-booked holidays

If an employee no longer wishes to take annual leave off which they’d previously booked, for example because their holiday has been cancelled, any such change to pre-booked leave must be agreed in advance.

The Council may still require an employee to take the time off or indeed may decide that it requires to have key workers available and cancel pre-booked leave. The latter would be done in extenuating circumstances and the employee would be given twice as much notice as the pre-booked leave.

Support available, for you, from our Occupational Health Providers

Our Occupational Health and Employee Assistance provider, PAM, are committed to providing ongoing support during this COVID 19 outbreak and have introduced a new service for OH Employee Support.

It’s a self-referral service for employees. You can call the Glasgow Office on 0141 428 3900 and provide your details – name, date of birth, telephone number and employer. You will be asked brief details of the nature of the reason for your call and an appointment time will be offered for an OH Adviser to call you back.

The adviser will discuss your health related queries and provide support and signposting. PAM can provide you with advice on issues such as working from home, work station set up, physical issues, emotional support and COVID 19 health advice. Your manager will be provided with very brief information that you have made contact for support and will be told whether there is any further input recommended from your manager.

Any managers who want advice or recommendations to support their employees with work related concerns or fitness for work queries are encouraged to make a management referral. OH are still operating via a telephone model and are still there to support you and your teams. Please remember to ensure that employee’s telephone numbers are up to date on OHIO should a referral be required.

You can find more advice on PAM assessment on East Lothian Council’s intranet.

Physiotherapy for staff – provision update

Our OH Physiotherapy service has suspended all face-to-face consultations until further notice.

They are however offering remote consultations either by telephone or preferably using video calling platforms such as Skype.

Your Manager can arrange a consultation on your behalf by contacting info@midlothianphysiotherapy.co.uk .  You will need to provide a telephone number for your manager to pass on and the team at Midlothian Physiotherapy will call you back to arrange a suitable means of contact and a time. 

Shielding

Shielding is a measure to protect people, including children, who are extremely vulnerable to severe illness from COVID-19 because of certain underlying health conditions. Its aim is to minimise interaction between these individuals and others as per the https://www.nhsinform.scot/illnesses-and-conditions/infections-and-poisoning/coronavirus-covid-19/coronavirus-covid-19-shielding.

If you have received a Shielding letter from NHS Scotland, you are strongly advised to shield yourself to reduce your chance of getting COVID-19

Those who are extremely vulnerable should:

  • not leave their homes
  • minimise all non-essential contact with other members of their household

Find out more about shielding

We know that stopping these activities will be difficult. You should try to identify ways of staying in touch with others and participating in your normal activities from your home. However, you must not participate in alternative activities if they involve any contact with other people.

This advice will be in place for at least 12 weeks from when you received the letter.

This is to protect those who are at very high risk of severe illness from coronavirus (COVID-19) from coming into contact with the virus.

Shielding is for an individual’s personal protection, it’s their choice to decide whether to follow these measures.

The Council would advise however that any employee who is covered by these arrangements should not come to work under any circumstances, if they can work from home they should continue to do so. If you live in the house with someone that is covered by the shielding arrangements, you should speak to your line manager and follow the advice on the NHS Inform link above.

Be fraud aware in challenging times

Across the UK we are beginning to see evidence that fraudsters are increasingly targeting the public and organisations with emails, texts, telephone calls and WhatsApp messages offering advice and treatment for the coronavirus.

Criminals are targeting people looking to buy medical supplies online, sending emails offering fake medical support and scamming people who may be vulnerable or increasingly isolated at home. These frauds try to lure you in with offers that look too good to be true, such as high return investments and ‘healthcare opportunities’, or make appeals for you to support bogus charities or those who are ill. Further information on COVID19 scams can be found here

Reports from the public have already included online shopping scams where people have ordered protective face masks, hand sanitiser, and other products, which have never arrived and a number of cases have been identified where fake testing kits have been offered for sale. If you see anything fraudulent in your local community please contact tradingstandards@eastlothian.gov.uk. If you are offered work products for sale and are concerned that they may be fraudulent contact the procurement team at procurement@eastlothian.gov.uk.

Criminals are also using Government branding to try to trick people, including reports of using HMRC branding to make spurious offers of financial support through unsolicited emails, phone calls and text messages.

Huge increases in the number of people working remotely mean that significantly more people will be vulnerable to computer service fraud where criminals will try and convince you to provide access to your computer or divulge your logon details and passwords. It is also anticipated that there will be a surge in phishing scams or calls claiming to be from government departments offering grants, tax rebates, or compensation. Do not divulge your log in details or passwords to anyone and report any potential phishing on your East Lothian Council equipment to spamemail@eastlothian.gov.uk.

All staff are urged to stay safe, and follow this approach:

  • Stop: Taking a moment to stop and think before parting with money or information could keep you safe.
  • Challenge: Could it be fake? It’s ok to reject, refuse or ignore any requests. Only criminals will try to rush or panic you.
  • Protect: For Personal fraud contact your bank immediately if you think you’ve fallen for a scam and report it to Police Scotland through 101. For fraud against the council contact your line manager or email internalaudit@eastlothian.gov.uk 

Fire safety advice for those working in Council Buildings

A number of the council’s building are either closed or operating with a much reduced number of employees in the building. Employees operating in Council premises over this time should be extra vigilant with regard to fire safety and arrangement in operation in the workplace.

Updated information will be available on the Intranet shortly, which you should familiarise yourself with if you are working in a Council building or are the nominated key holder.

Tips and support for staying positive

It can be challenging to stay positive with so much uncertainty and change going on.  Below are some ideas and tips. 

Useful tips

Daily reminders on simple actions we can take:

Toolkit of resources:

Learnpro online learning:

Being at home (either if you are well and in isolation, or working), is a good opportunity to do online learning.  You may want to refresh or update your knowledge and skills, for example, in the Personal Development or Essentials section. Or perhaps you never quite got round to finishing the mandatory modules.    There are many modules available. Have a look, and we will be adding to these over the coming weeks.  Next week we will have a new module available on Personal Resilience During Uncertainty.

LearnPro can be accessed when working from home – either from a council device – or from your personal device. The link to LearnPro is:- http://eastlothiancouncil.learnprouk.com/

Log in with email address you have used on your LearnPro account (usually this is your council email address). 

If you request a password reset on-line, the new password will be sent to that email account – however if you cannot access your work email and need a password reset then email  e-learning@eastlothian.gov.uk

If you prefer to use a personal or Edubuzz email address on you LearnPro account you can make the change under your “Profile” after logging in.

There are seven mandatory modules that we should all complete. They can be found in the “Mandatory for All” Category. If you have a current pass there will be a green circle alongside the module. If you do not, there will be a red circle. The modules are:-

Public Protection – Everyone’s Responsibility

  • Equality and Diversity Awareness
  • Freedom of Information
  • General Data Protection Regulation
  • Health and Safety
  • Information Security
  • PREVENT (Counter Terrorism)

Some tips for homeworkers to improve the performance of your connection

Home Wi-Fi connections

When using laptops from home, you might find that sometimes things are running more slowly than normal. We have found improvements can be made by looking at what devices are connected to your home Wi-Fi, and what services they are using. By limiting streaming media (Netflix, iPlayer, YouTube, Spotify etc.) on your home devices this will allow for a better connection back to the ELC network.

Use of streaming media when remote working

A large number of ELC staff are now working remotely on Council laptops, mostly from their own homes. While working from home, we would ask that staff minimise the use they make of video content such as YouTube, online radio stations or similar services on their council device, unless these are business critical. These types of services put a higher strain on the ELC internet connection than just normal email, internet and shared folder access. To ensure we have the best quality connection and access speeds for all staff minimising streaming media content use is very important.

Changes to PVG

Disclosure Scotland is suspending all fees for key workers and volunteers who are being drafted to help Scotland fight against coronavirus. This is a temporary measure which will be in place for an initial period of six weeks, before being reviewed and extended further, if needed.

In addition, Disclosure Scotland has already put a number of temporary measures in place to ensure the country can be properly resourced to tackle COVID-19, including only processing applications for workers deemed critical to the fight.  As it stands the list of prioritised roles remains:

  • Healthcare
  • Pharmaceutical
  • Childcare
  • Social Work
  • Social Care
  • Prisons and Justice

As the situation develops and evolves, the list of prioritised sectors may change as Disclosure Scotland identifies other sectors with roles critical to supporting the Scottish Government at this time.

The Disclosure Scotland Team have recently published information for managers on other changes to the PVG process including a new electronic processes for the checks and faster turnaround time. If you require a PVG form or have any PVG queries please email the Disclosure Team at disclosurescotland@eastlothian.gov.uk.  

General Employment Advice

For further advice employees can contact hr@eastlothian.gov.uk or on 01620 827868, option 5 and option1, leave a message and we will get back to you.

Health and safety advice can be obtained by emailing healthandsafety@eastlothian.gov.uk or by calling 01620 827812

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