Tier 4 Covid 19 update for Council members

Dear Colleague

Please find below a copy of guidance which was issued to all managers yesterday following the announcement by the Scottish Government that Inverclyde, along with all other councils in mainland Scotland, will move to tier 4 from boxing day. I have also added at the end the keyworker definition. It is important to note that all members working in schools and early years establishments are considered to be keyworkers.

If you have any concerns about the guidance please do not hesitate to contact me.

in the meantime I hope that all members have a safe and peacefull time over the Christmas period.

Robin Taggart
Branch Secretary
Unison (Inverclyde Branch)

As you are aware Tier 4 Covid Protection Level 4 will be applied to all of mainland Scotland for three weeks from Boxing Day. Given this change we have been asked to remind managers of the guidance on the following HR issues.

Homeworking

Managers should make every reasonable effort to make working from home the default position. Where a worker can perform their work from home, they should continue to do so. Please ensure that the maximum occupancy of offices, in respect of maintaining physical distancing is not exceeded. Consider how to best utilise technology and working practices to facilitate home working, review existing rotas and staggered working times etc. You will need to translate this into the specific actions you need to take depending on the nature of your service – the employee composition, how it is organised, operated, managed etc

Childcare

Arrangements for the phased reopening of schools in January 2021 has been updated to take account of public health advice and the First Minster’s announcement of 19 December. Separate guidance on this is being issued but schools will reopen for childcare purposes in the first week of term for the children of key workers and the most vulnerable children only, with the guidance setting out who this applies to. On 6th January – all staff to attend school for planning purposes, no children in school. For the majority of pupils the holiday period will effectively be extended until 11 January and learning will take place online from the 11 January to the 15 January

The following guidance on Childcare arrangements will apply for employees:

Where employees are working from home, they will normally be able to cover childcare while they are working. They may require some flexibility of when they work depending on the needs of the child. This should be discussed and agreed with line managers

Where staff don’t normally work from home or can’t work from home due to the nature of their job managers should be flexible and explore what options the employee can do if they are unable to cover childcare responsibilities (remembering that if they are self-isolating this must be within the household). Line managers should consider the following, and take an equitable and flexible approach in applying the guidance:

• Can the employee work from home for the isolation period?
• Can they use annual leave to cover the period of absence?
• Can they share childcare with a partner or other adults in their household?
• Is there flexibility in start and finish times?
• Can the employee do a specific piece of project work from home?
• Can the employee work a compressed or reduced week?

In exceptional circumstances, where childcare arrangements cannot be met, managers should allow paid special leave, but only where all the options above have been considered.

Shielding

The following guidance applies to those who receive shielding letters:
Minimise contact with people outside your own household if you can.
You should not take public transport.

If you cannot work from home – the majority of workplaces can be made safe. If you have any concerns you should discuss these with your manager. Letters are being issued from the Chief Medical officer to those on the shielding list living or working in level 4 areas. If you cannot attend work because it is not covid-safe to do so you will be able to use that letter as evidence for your manager to show that you should not go to work, including for sick pay purposes. All you need to do is show them the letter, which serves a similiar purpose to a fit note, and is called your Shielding Notification. You do not need a separate fit note from your GP. Only stay off work if your workplace cannot be made covid-safe for you or if you cannot travel safely to work.

Risk Assessments

When establishments return in January 2021, the country will effectively be in Tier 4. This means that all of the current arrangements for Tier 4 should be observed. If you have risk assessments in place thes should be reviewed to ensure it is still relevant.

Applying for essential key worker childcare care from school and early years establishments

All parents who are key workers and meet the criteria should apply for a childcare place at their child’s school / establishment by 9am on 6 January 2021 by completing the application form sent out by schools. You should return this directly to your school/establishment using the office email address.

On 6 January 2021 school and early years establishments will process applications from all parents on this day and confirm places for 7 and 8 January 2021 and week beginning 11 January 2021 with all applicants.

Childcare in schools will be delivered from 9am to 3pm. Early years establishments will inform of the specific arrangements.
In addition, schools will make contact with individual families whose children may require access to school for other reasons.

Key worker definition:

Health and care workers directly supporting COVID response, and associated staff; health and care workers supporting life threatening emergency work, as well as critical primary and community care provision; energy suppliers (small numbers identified as top priority already); staff providing childcare/learning.

All other health and care workers, and wider public sector workers providing emergency/critical welfare services (for example: fire, police, prisons, social workers), as well as those supporting our critical national infrastructure, without whom serious damage to the welfare of the people of Scotland could be caused.

All workers (private, public or third sector) without whom there could be a significant impact on Scotland (but where the response to COVID-19, or the ability to perform essential tasks to keep the country running, would not be severely compromised).

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