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

Update from Scottish Government about framework to support Gypsy Travellers during COVID-19

We are pleased to inform you that our framework to support Gypsy/Travellers in relation to COVID-19 has been published online. I have attached the link to the published framework below and would be grateful if you would pass it on to your stakeholder lists.

Kind regards,

Robbie

Robbie Lambie
Policy Officer – Private Housing Services
Scottish Government/ Housing and Social Justice Directorate 
5 Atlantic Quay
150 Broomielaw,
Glasgow
G2 8LU
Email: robbie.lambie@gov.scot

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Update for Scottish public authorities from the Office of the Scottish Information Commissioner

6 APRIL 2020

Changes to FOI duties for Scottish Public Authorities:

Last week the Scottish Parliament passed the Coronavirus (Scotland) Act 2020. It makes a number of temporary amendments to the Freedom of Information (Scotland) Act 2002 (FOISA).

The new Act comes into effect on Tuesday 7 April 2020.The key changes it makes are summarised on our website, and we will be publishing detailed guidance shortly.

Please note that:

  • While the maximum timescales within which public authorities must respond to requests for information and review will be extended from 20 to 60 working days, authorities will still be required to respond promptly to requests they receive.
  • The changes apply only to FOISA – they do not apply to requests for environmental information which fall under the Environmental Information (Scotland) Regulations 2004.
  • The changes the Act implements are not retrospective.  

During the time that the temporary amendments apply, it will continue to be important for authorities to keep records of their request handling, and reasons for their FOI decisions. This will be both for the purposes of both statistics collection and in case of reviews and appeals to the Commissioner.

Premises closure extended

The premises of the office of the Scottish Information Commissioner will be closed for a further 4 weeks as a result of the impact of coronavirus Covid-19 – until at least 1 May. We will review the premises closure at the end of April in light of government guidance at that time. 

We currently have a small team working from home responding to urgent enquiries and undertaking essential activities. These staff are working remotely, however, so capacity and access to our usual systems is significantly limited. For detail on changes to our services or to contact us with urgent queries, please see: www.itspublicknowledge.info/contact

Regarding live investigations

The Commissioner’s office currently has around 200 live investigations, though access to our case management system is significantly restricted at present. If your authority has been asked to provide us with information or submissions, but is unable to do so because of the impact of Covid-19, let us know by contacting us at enquiries@itspublicknowledge.info.

Similarly, if the Commissioner has issued a decision requiring your authority to take action, but you are unable to comply because of the impact of Covid-19, please contact us at enquiries@itspublicknowledge.info

We will send a further update once detailed guidance on the changes brought about by the Coronavirus (Scotland) Act 2020 is available on our website. If you have any urgent queries in the meantime, please contact us at enquiries@itspublicknowledge.info.

Scottish Information Commissioner
Kinburn Castle, Doubledykes Road
St Andrews, KY16 9DS
Email: enquiries@itspublicknowledge.info
Web: www.itspublicknowledge.info
Twitter: @FOIScotland

Update on devolved benefits from the Scottish Government

Priority will be to deliver Scottish Child Payment

Social Security Secretary Shirley Anne Somerville has updated Parliament on the impact of coronavirus (COVID-19) on social security services in Scotland.

The majority of Social Security Scotland staff are now working from home to support efforts to slow the spread of Covid-19. The delivery of existing benefits continues with applications being received, processed and payments being made.

On benefits due to be introduced from this year, the Cabinet Secretary advised that, although they were on track to deliver these benefits, plans have had to change as a result of the ongoing pandemic.

The Scottish Government, DWP, local authorities and health and social care practitioners – who are all required to develop and deliver these benefits – are currently focused on the response and recovery from COVID-19. As a result, the introduction of Child Disability Payment and the Scottish Government’s replacement for Personal Independence Payments will be delayed. UK Ministers have agreed that they will continue to deliver disability benefits to Scottish clients over a longer transition period.

Scottish Child Payment, which was due to be introduced from this autumn, will also be delayed. The Scottish Government will focus its resources to deliver this as soon as practicably possible. The aim is to start taking applications by the end of 2020 with payments being made from 2021, subject to sufficient staff being in place.

In her statement, Ms Somerville also outlined the markedly different approach that the Scottish Government plans to take in its delivery of disability benefits. The new decision-making process for this in Scotland will mean no face-to-face assessments and decisions will be informed by the professional judgement of health and social care practitioners – not assessors. The new process will involve the following steps:

  • Social Security Scotland will make decisions using the information provided by applicants and checking this against existing guidance in the first instance
  • where it is not possible to make a decision, applicants will be able to tell Social Security Scotland about the health and social care professionals who already support them. Social Security Scotland will then be able to contact those professionals to collect supporting information
  • when it is the only practical way of collecting the information, a minority of working age clients will be invited to a discussion with a health and social care practitioner. If such a client consultation takes place, it would be arranged to suit the client, and the majority of these consultations are expected to be conducted by phone.

For further detail, please see:

Please share this content with those who you work with who may be impacted by this announcement.

We would encourage everyone to continue claiming all the support that they are entitled to through both Department for Work and Pensions, Social Security Scotland and Local Authorities.

Update from the Standards Commission

Dear Colleagues

Please find attached the latest edition of our Standards Update for your information. We would be grateful if you could arrange for the Update and/or the link provided below to be circulated to your members and any colleagues who might find it of interest. Please also encourage them to follow us on Twitter: @StandardsScot and on Facebook: facebook.com/StandardsCommission/. If you require the Update in an alternative format, please let us know.

Standards Commission Update – March 2020

As you will be aware, the Standards Commission’s workshop for Standards Officers, due to be held on 23 March 2020, was postponed due to the Covid-19 outbreak. We had intended to seek suggestions from you on potential changes to the Model Code of Conduct, in light of the Scottish Government’s ongoing review and forthcoming formal consultation. As we were unable to proceed with the workshop at present, I am attaching a draft revised version of the Model Code, with explanations about the proposed changes included (in blue). If you have any comments or suggestions on this, please send them to us by 30 April 2020 and we will forward them to the Scottish Government to consider before it issues a version of the draft revised Code for formal consultation.

Also attached is a copy of Police Scotland’s Guidance on Serious Organised Crime and Business Exploitation, as mentioned in the Update.

If you have any questions, or if you wish to advise of a change of contact details, please do not hesitate to contact us.

This email has been sent to the Standards Officers and other nominated contacts within:

  • Further Education Colleges
  • National Health Service Boards
  • Individual Public Bodies
  • Regional Transport Partnerships
  • Health and Social Care Integration Joint Boards

Kind regards

Julie Scott

Administrative Assistant

Related documents

New circulars, legislation etc. affecting the NHS in Scotland

EMPLOYMENT

DL(2020)05 Coronavirus (COVID-19): national arrangements for NHS Scotland staff 13/03/2020
DL(2020)04 NHSScotland consultants – distinction awards and discretionary points schemes 19/03/2020
DL(2020)02 Everyone matters: our workforce strategy 04/02/2020
PCS(DD)2020/01 Terms and conditions of service: consultants (Scotland) (2004); specialty doctor (Scotland) (2008); associate specialist (Scotland) (2008); NHS hospital medical and dental staff and doctors and dentists in public health medicine and the community health service (Scotland); leave and pay for new parents; child bereavement leave 12/03/2020
PCS(SDIA)2020/01 Scottish Distant Islands Allowance 04/03/2020
PCS(AFC)2020/01 Pay and conditions for NHS staff covered by the Agenda for Change agreement 04/03/2020

HEALTH & SOCIAL CARE

Community Care (Personal Care and Nursing Care) (Scotland) Amendment Regulations 2020 (SI 2020/83)

Abstract

These Regulations are made under the Community Care and Health (Scotland) Act 2002, which, together with the Community Care (Personal Care and Nursing Care) (Scotland) Regulations 2002, provides that local authorities are not to charge for certain types of social care provided or secured by them. Reg.2 of the 2002 Regulations modifies, for the purpose of charging, the meaning of accommodation provided under the Social Work (Scotland) Act 1968 or the Mental Health (Care and Treatment) (Scotland) Act 2003 s.25. These Regulations amend reg.2 of the 2002 Regulations to increase the thresholds below which certain care is not to be charged for (reg.2). In respect of personal care, personal support and care of a kind mentioned in Sch.1 of the 2002 Act, the first £180 is not to be charged for (up from £177). For these purposes, “personal care” and “personal support” have the same meaning as in the Public Services Reform (Scotland) Act 2010 Sch.12 para.20. In respect of nursing care, the first £81 is not to be charged for (up from £80).

In Force

1 April 2020

Full text

Community Care (Personal Care and Nursing Care) (Scotland) Amendment Regulations 2020  

HUMAN TISSUE

Human Tissue (Authorisation) (Specified Type A Procedures) (Scotland) Regulations 2020 (SSI 2020/80)

Abstract

These Regulations specify medical procedures which may be carried out on a person for the purpose of increasing the likelihood of successful transplantation of a part of the person’s body after the person’s death and which are not for the primary purpose of safeguarding or promoting the physical or mental health of the person, known under the Human Tissue (Scotland) Act 2006 as “pre-death procedures “ (see s.16A, inserted by the Human Tissue (Authorisation) (Scotland) Act 2019 s.23). These Regulations specify the “Type A procedures”. Type A procedures are those pre-death procedures which Ministers consider are appropriate to be carried out in accordance with s.16E of the Act without the need for further conditions or restrictions on their performance, such as only in specified circumstances or following further authorisation. A pre-death procedure may only be carried out on a person if it has been specified as either a Type A procedure or Type B procedure (see s.16D of the Act). 

In Force

In accordance with reg.1 

Full text

Human Tissue (Authorisation) (Specified Type A Procedures) (Scotland) Regulations 2020  

MENTAL HEALTH

DL(2020)03 Notifications to the Mental Welfare Commission for Scotland: review of arrangements for investigating deaths where persons were subject to orders for mental health care and treatment (deaths in detention reviews); homicide reviews 21/02/2020

NHS

DL(2020)05 Coronavirus (COVID-19): national arrangements for NHS Scotland staff 13/03/2020
PCS(SDIA)2020/01 Scottish Distant Islands Allowance 04/03/2020
DL(2020)01 Healthcare associated infection (HAI): guidance for staff screening during healthcare associated infection incidents and outbreaks 31/01/2020
PCA(D)(2020)06 COVID-19 guidance: NHS general dental services 17/03/2020
PCA(M)(2020)04 Suspension of online booking systems 13/03/2020
PCA(M)(2020)03 Near Me Guidance for GP contractors 12/03/2020
PCA(M)(2020)02 Covid-19: guidance on planning and responding to primary care GP practice capacity Challenges 05/03/2020
PCA(O)(2020)02 General Ophthalmic Services (GOS): information and resources regarding novel coronavirus (COVID-19) for all community optometry practices and practice staff in Scotland 05/03/2020

Email from Lorraine Wakefield, Communications Manager at the Scottish Social Services Council:

18 March 2020
We recognise that the social service sector is on the frontline of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic and we want to support you to continue to deliver your vital work during this challenging time. As you need to change your services to meet demand, we’ve agreed regulatory changes with Scottish Government to enable an effective response by services. These are effective from today (18 March 2020).

Current flexibility regarding registration and redeployment between services

People working in social service roles in nurseries, care homes, care at home and housing support services, residential childcare services and school care accommodation service can currently work for six months without being registered.

We understand that for people working in these services applying for registration will not be a priority. We will update this information if there is any change to this time period.

Workers registered to work in one kind of service can be immediately redeployed to work in another kind of service without any need to change their registration status with the SSSC. They would currently have six months in which to register to work in a different service.

  • For example, a care home worker could be immediately deployed to work in a care at home service, as long as the provider is satisfied they have the appropriate skills and experience for the work.
  • Similarly, a healthcare worker can be redeployed immediately into a registered care service and would currently have six months before there was a requirement to register with the SSSC.

We are working with COSLA and care providers to develop a learning and development pack to support those moving and working across care services.

Changes in regulatory practice we are implementing immediately

Prioritising registration of social workers
Social workers have to be registered with us before they can practise. We have prioritised processing social work applications.

Keeping as many people on the Register as possible

People on our Register have to pay an annual fee and have to submit a renewal application at the end of their registration period. If they don’t, we normally remove them from the Register. We will continue accepting fees and renewals, but if people don’t pay, or don’t send in their renewal they will stay on the Register. We will contact people in due course when appropriate to do so.

Focusing on high risk fitness to practise matters

The safety and wellbeing of people who use services remains our priority. We will be changing our referral guidance for the sector, and only requiring them to refer the highest risk situations, such as abusive behaviour. We will delay investigating lower risk cases so the workforce can concentrate on responding to the pandemic.

We will only hold fitness to practise hearings for temporary suspension orders, when we feel somebody should be temporarily suspended from the Register to protect people who use services. We will hold these hearings remotely using video conferencing and support the worker to take part.

Registration qualifications

We understand that some of our workforce may be worried about completing their qualification. We can extend the amount of time people need to complete their qualification and will not remove people from the Register at the end of their period of registration during the pandemic. They can carry on working as normal. We will be in touch at a later time and will discuss with them what time period they need to complete their qualification.

Social work students

We are working with universities to decide if students should continue to go on practice placements and will have a statement on this later this week.

People who have been removed from the Register for not completing their qualification

Anyone who has been removed from the Register for not completing their qualification can apply and we can look at putting them back on.

If someone previously left work (and the Register) because they were approaching the end of the period required to gain qualifications, you can re-employ these workers. They will have the normal period in which to apply for registration, which is currently six months.

People who have left the workforce

We are planning to contact people who have recently left the Register to make sure they are aware that they can still work in the sector (other than as a social worker) even if they are no longer on the Register.
We will issue more detailed guidance shortly.

Contact Information:
Lorraine Wakefield
Communications Manager
Scottish Social Services Council

lorraine.wakefield@sssc.uk.com

If you have any questions please don’t hesitate to get in touch. We will keep you up to date throughout the week as further information is issued.