Coronavirus Q&As and absence guidance

Last updated at 14:47 on Thursday 04th June (updated Holidays & quarantine and Furlough).

Amey's Q&As are below and you can also find the Government's Q&As here.

NHS Symptom Checker - here 

Key worker
General update
Shielding Group
If you have a child
Absence
GSI
Getting paid
Homeworking
Wellbeing support
Site closure
Self isolation
Apprentices
EAP
Furlough
Testing
Test & Trace
Holidays & quarantine
reset

Once employees are on furlough, they will not be able to work for their employer, but can undertake online training or volunteer subject to public health guidance. This applies as long as they are not making money or providing services to their current employer or linked/associated employer.

You need to cancel your holiday and accrue (save) it. You cannot ‘take holiday’ while you are furloughed. Bank Holidays are also considered ‘not taken’ and will accrue as untaken leave. This also applies where you have bought additional holiday c/o choices.   

  • 10th June 2020 will be the last day that employers can place employees on furlough.
  • From 1st July, 'flexible furlough' is being introduced, meaning employees will be able to work part-time and be furloughed part-time. Businesses will decide how that will work (in terms of the time split).
  • From 1st August, employers will have to pay employee's national insurance contributions and pension contributions and can no longer reclaim them through the CJRS.
  • From 1st September, the government will only reimburse 70% of salary (up to a maximum of £2,190). Employers are required to top-up to 80% (or more, depending on what the employer agreed with the employee).
  • From 1st October, the government will only reimburse 60% of salary (up to a maximum of £1,875), and employers will continue having to top up to 80% (or more).
  • The furlough scheme will close on 31st October 2020.

Anyone who pre-booked a summer holiday abroad before 23rd March will have to quarantine for a period of two weeks according to recent Government guidelines. However, we will, on your return pay for your quarantine period as you did not know the restrictions would be in place at the time of booking.

 

For those who choose to book their holiday in July and August with the current quarantine restrictions now in place will have been clear on the guidelines before booking, therefore you should consult with your manager as we will not be paying quarantine. You would be travelling at risk and so the company would not be paying quarantine – i.e. you will have to take unpaid leave. However, please consult with your manager so you can be clear on the policy and options. We will keep this guidance under review and will comply with any updates from the Government.

  • Yes if you have symptoms you will be paid and in line with the guidance you must also take a test. If your test is positive you continue to isolate and if any of your household members get symptoms, they need to self isolate. If it is negative you continue to self isolate until the end of the 7 days when you can then return to work.
  • It is imperative that we take time to refresh and recuperate from the impact of coming to work every day. Holiday time was introduced to ensure that individuals could take a break and switch off in order to maintain their good health and wellbeing. As a responsible employer we want you to continue to take your time off and enjoy time at home with loved ones.
  • We will be encouraging managers to ensure that you are taking time off to switch off re-boot your energy levels as whilst we know you cant go to your favourite beach, canal or historical site, the most important bit about the holiday is you and your wellbeing.
  • We will provide managers with a list of employees who are not taking holiday time to ensure that time is taken between June and the end of August to ensure adequate rest is taken.
  • Holiday time is agreed between the line manager and the employee and with the right amount of notice the employer will give dates when employees must be off work. Conversely if there are too many people requesting the same time off the manager will give alternative dates to the employee to ensure the smooth running of the business.
  • The really good news is that as we have moved into easing back to normal, the Government has relaxed the restrictions on over 70s therefore we are able to bring you back to work. If you are in the vulnerable group then it has always been the case that you are able to continue to work but must pay particular attention to the social distancing and hygiene measures
  • Your line manager will be approaching you to support you in getting back to work and will explain the Covid 19 safety measures and risk assessments we have put in place to protect you whilst you are at work.
  • If you are in the Very vulnerable group and have a letter telling you to shield for 12 weeks, you must continue to do so. If you are in the Vulnerable group and your GP has advised that you shield and you want to return to work, you should visit your GP first and ask their advice.

Employers should encourage symptomatic people to get tested; self-isolate if they or anyone in their household is symptomatic. And, encourage people to support the Trace system so that infection can be effectively contained.

 

This approach will help to re-open the economy. More guidance is here.

You need to self-isolate only if you:

  • have symptoms which are any of the following : raised temperature; new continuous cough/loss of sense of taste
  • live with someone who has any of these symptoms
  • Have been in close contact  with someone who has tested positive, (See FAQ on 'Close Contact')

Close contact means any of the following

  • people who spend significant time in the same household as a person who has tested positive for coronavirus (COVID-19)
  • sexual partners
  • a person who has had face-to-face contact (within one metre), with someone who has tested positive for coronavirus (COVID-19), including: being coughed on, having a face-to-face conversation, within one metre, or having skin-to-skin physical contact, or any contact within one metre for one minute or longer without face-to-face contact
  • a person who has been within 2 metres of someone who has tested positive for coronavirus (COVID-19) for more than 15 minutes
  • a person who has travelled in a small vehicle with someone who has tested positive for coronavirus (COVID-19) or in a large vehicle or plane near someone who has tested positive for coronavirus (COVID-19)

More Government guidance on this is here.

Launched on Thursday 28th May the new Test & Trace service is a central part of the government’s coronavirus recovery strategy

  • Anyone with symptoms will be tested and their close contacts will be traced
  • People who have been in close contact with someone who tests positive must isolate for 14 days, even if they have no symptoms, to avoid unknowingly spreading the virus
  • This infographic shows what you have to do

Information for how you can access testing for Corona has now been updated. If you or a team member develop a new continuous cough or fever or anosmia (change in sense of taste or smell), you are strongly advised to arrange a test via the relevant link below.

Arrangements for testing

  • How to access the tests -  click on this link

Sharing your test results
If you have a test and are comfortable to do so, please share the result with your manager. Due to the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), you do not have to share your results with your manager if you do not want to.

No. Government guidance is that workplaces should not encourage the precautionary use of extra PPE to protect against COVID-19 outside clinical settings or when responding to a suspected or confirmed case of COVID-19.

Wearing a face covering is optional and is not required by law If people choose to wear one, it is important to use face coverings properly and wash hands before putting them on and taking them off again.

People can choose to wear their own face coverings in Amey Offices if they want to.

We will consider these on a case by case basis. If the contract you came from has been placed into furlough, we may be able to furlough you. If the contract services are running as normal we will not be able to place you into furlough.

We are unable to furlough you. Our services are still being paid for so we are unable to access the furlough scheme for redundancies. These were also related to a business-as-usual change, so are not eligible for the furlough scheme.

If you started up to 19th March 2020, we can furlough you if we take that approach in your contract. If you were employed after the 19th March and we furlough workers, we are unable to furlough you and you will need to approach your previous employer who will be able to place you into the scheme.

Yes if we use the same month from the previous year, your pay will vary.

Most apprentices should have received communication from their training provider about changes to learning.

This follows government advice from the Education and Skills Funding Agency (ESFA), which is taking steps to ensure that apprentices can continue to complete their apprenticeship, despite any break they need to take as a result of Coronavirus; wherever possible.

You can read the ESFA response here.

We are following the government guidance which is set out below:

  • 80% of your regular wage to a maximum cap of £2,500 will be paid which will be subject to pension, tax and National Insurance deductions. All other terms and conditions remain.
  • For an employee whose salary does not vary, fixed basic pay and recurring allowances, their Reference Salary is taken at the 28th February 2020.
  • For an employee whose pay varies due to ad hoc payments such as overtime, performance bonus etc. If the employee has been paid for 12 months or more their Reference Salary should be the higher of:
    • The same month’s earnings from the previous year.
    • The average monthly earning for the 2019 – 2020 tax year.

For an employee who only commenced work within February 2020, their earnings to date will be prorated

We expect that you will continue to receive the benefits you have, with the exception of salary.

You will come off sickness leave and be placed into furlough leave.

No. Furlough is a way of avoiding redundancy when work is temporarily switched off. We expect that work may return later and the furlough scheme is a way to avoid or minimise the need for redundancies.

Yes but at the current number of hours you currently work.​

We expect that you will remain on Furlough until the Government withdraws it. We will consider our options at that time, which may include consultation for redundancy.

If you have a mobile telephone, we need you to retain it so that we can contact you, if we need you to return to work.

If you are required to return equipment to assist other home workers, you will be contacted and notified of how to do this.

Yes. We would encourage you to support the country whilst you are at home. We may need you to return to work and this will then become your priority however, we will give you notice when we need you to come back to work.

We are looking into the exact methods of dealing with salary sacrifice benefits, although you should assume they continue in line with the arrangements of the scheme.

You will receive 80% of your regular wage up to a cap of £2500 per month. This may take you below the National Living Wage as this is a rate paid for hours worked. Furlough payment is an exceptional payment, made to help avoid redundancies.

Whilst you are in Furlough you are not able to take annual leave. We will work with you when you return to work to take as much of your holiday as possible, or carry some of it over in line with the Government announcement.

Yes, as this will be included in your regular wage calculation.

We would not expect Furlough to be applied in the event that clients are maintaining full payment for services, even if these services are reduced.

Therefore, certain government contracts may not require furlough scheme to be used. Some non-government clients will offer partial support but require us to mitigate our costs as far as possible, including the use of the furlough scheme.

In the event that Furlough schemes are no longer required because of arrangements with clients, you will be returned to work.

The Company is intending to maximise the use of the scheme to preserve as many jobs as possible. Where people are unable to work, continuing to pay top up wages could increase the risk that we would need to make redundancies.

The Company has not taken use of the Furlough scheme lightly. In the event that individuals object to being Furloughed, the Company may have consider redundancies.

Use of the Furlough scheme is the best way to retain the talent we have for when the pandemic’s impact is reduced.

To best apply the current Government guidance, we would encourage you to put into operation the following within your respective areas:

  • Positively encourage all teams to follow the personal hygiene guidance at all times
  • Positively encourage all teams to keep work wear well laundered in line with garment labels
  • Positively encourage all teams to wear the specified PPE.
  • Positively encourage all teams to wipe down touched surfaces regularly (vehicles/plant/tools)
  • Plan to prevent gatherings in work places, changing rooms, mess rooms, smoking areas, and briefing rooms by staggering activities and start, finish, loading, unloading and break times, and handing over work instructions and records remotely.
  • Where possible allow teams to take PPE home – to avoid gathering in changing rooms
  • Plan to keep the numbers of people in working/travelling teams as low as possible with at least 2 metres separation and, if in vehicles, keep people as far apart as possible and the vehicles well ventilated (it won’t always be possible to have solo vehicle use)
  • Positively encourage everybody to keep a minimum of 2 metres separation were possible, especially from third parties and those not in their direct team. Put in place controls to achieve this.
  • Keep team patterns constant (don’t mix them up) where possible
  • Keep same teams with same vehicles where possible
  • As work force availability reduces – where possible rotate vehicles (build in a vehicle ‘72 hour’ down time rota).

In addition to briefing this guidance please use the available poster to help our teams get these key messages:

https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/873778/COVID19_Guidance

Please confirm whether they are now fit to return to duty. This is normally seven days after the person becomes ill, unless there is different medical advice.

If you are living with a shielded person you are not required to adopt these protective shielding measures You  should do what you can to support them in shielding and you should stringently follow guidance on social distancing, reducing contact outside the home. If you care for but don’t actually live with someone who is extremely vulnerable, you should still stringently follow guidance on social distancing.

Here is the government advice: [https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/guidance-on-shielding-and-protecting-extremely-vulnerable-persons-from-covid-19/guidance-on-shielding-and-protecting-extremely-vulnerable-persons-from-covid-19]

The most Shielding Group includes:

  • Certain types of cancer patients
  • Organ transplant patients
  • People with certain genetic diseases
  • People with serious respiratory conditions like cystic fibrosis and severe chronic bronchitis
  • People receiving certain drug treatments which suppress the immune system
  • Pregnant women with heart disease

The Government has announced that about 1.5 million people are in the most-at-risk, the Shielding Group. People in this group should not go out at all for at least the next 12 weeks, to protect their own health.

If you have received a letter informing you that you are in a Shielding Group because of a pre-existing condition, the recommendation is that you self-isolate and do not go out for at least the next 12 weeks.

If you are required to shield at home, you will receive full pay.

 

Follow the social distancing guidelines strictly. They are:

  1. Avoid contact with someone who is displaying symptoms of coronavirus (COVID-19). These symptoms include high temperature and/or new and continuous cough
  2. Avoid non-essential use of public transport when possible
  3. Work from home, where possible. Discuss this with your manager.
  4. Avoid large and small gatherings in public spaces,
  5. Avoid gatherings with friends and family.
  6. Keep in touch using remote technology such as phone, internet, and social media
  7. Use telephone or online services to contact your GP or other essential services

This is something that you can do if you wish. You would need to arrange this yourself either through tax self assessment or a form P87, with the Government's Department of Work and Pensions. The article is available at moneysavingexpert.com.

 

People defined as vulnerable include:

 

We have guidance from our Health specialist Medigold about people with asthma:

 

Evidence and specialist opinion, however does not suggest that this group are at significantly greater risk than the general population of contracting Covid-19, nor of developing severe complications. A balanced approach might be to recommend:

 

  • no extra precautions where the individual is using a non-steroid inhaler (blue) and has stable asthma;
  • extra social distancing where an individual has stable asthma controlled with any dose of inhaled steroids (brown);
  • look to maximally restrict social contact and exposure to contaminated environments for individuals who have taken oral steroids in the last year OR been hospitalised with asthma in the last three years OR whose asthma is unstable or who have had two or more chest infections in the last year.

 

Dr Gareth Williams

Medical Director

MBChB MFOM

Accredited Specialist in Occupational Medicine

GMC No. 3120378

Most apprentices should have received communication from their training provider about changes to learning.

This follows government advice from the Education and Skills Funding Agency (ESFA), which is taking steps to ensure that apprentices can continue to complete their apprenticeship, despite any break they need to take as a result of Coronavirus; wherever possible.

You can read the ESFA response here.

If the pandemic gets worse, the government and Education service may change their approach.

We will stay close to the advice and we will work with you if this does become the case

No, the guidance clearly states if one parent is a key worker then the school will support you - if you have no way to keep your children home.

In Amey we have defined this as employees working in:

  • Call Centres
  • Courts
  • Defence
  • Highways Maintenance
  • IT and Data Infrastructure
  • NHS Mental Health Trusts
  • Prisons
  • Rail Networks
  • Schools
  • Utilities
  • Waste Collection

Each Account Lead has determined by contract who their Key workers are and they will give you a letter to take to School along with a letter from the Cabinet office determining our status as Key worker.

 

We hope that all employees would wish to support Amey in following the government’s advice about ways to reduce the spread of the Coronavirus.

If someone were to refuse to self-isolate in this situation, it would be categorised as a failure to follow a reasonable instruction and individuals will be sent home to self-isolate and will be subject to payment of contractual sick pay.

We will purchase hand sanitiser, however the guidance from the World Health Organisation is that washing your hands for 20 seconds or more with soap and water is the most effective way to help prevent COVID 19 spreading.

Hand sanitiser should be used when soap and water is not available – e.g. in pool cars, vans and other vehicles such as bin lorries. We will consider how we will utilise the supplies of hand sanitiser as we receive them.

All contract management teams should have received information on how to order these products.

Please contact Procurement if you have not: procurementsupport@amey.co.uk

No, they do not need to go home unless they develop symptoms themselves.

They should wash their hands thoroughly for 20 seconds after any contact with someone who is unwell with symptoms consistent with coronavirus infection.

Non-confirmed cases:

Forced closure of a site due to confirmed COVID-19 by government health officials:

  • Contact your Head of HR or HR Director for payment guidance.

Confirmed cases:

  • This work location will not need to be closed.
  • The work location/vehicle should be cleaned in line with Amey Guidance which is based on PHE guidance.
  • Do not disclose the name of the employee confirmed with COVID-19, for data protection reasons.
  • If you choose not to follow the PHE guidance (for example, when reacting to client requests) and need to arrange a deep clean, please call your Procurement Lead who can advise further.
  • Ensure all other employees on site are aware and run tool box talks using the guidance documents on self and household isolation and good hygiene practice found here: https://www.amey.co.uk/hub/advice-about-coronavirus/

You can also seek guidance, including financial counselling, from our Employee Assistance Programme. This service provides free, confidential support and information on a wide range of topics including Emotions, Work, Health and more:

Phone: 08001303414

International: +44(0)1482639981

Visit www.healthassuredeap.com or download the new Health Assured ‘Health e-HUB’ mobile app. Log in to both systems with the following:

  • username: eap
  • password: ameywellbeing

 

Further to our guidance on working from home, you must agree this with your manager as it may be necessary to have a skeleton staff in some offices at all times. Please visit our Coronavirus Advice web page for additional information, including:

Self-isolation – seven or 14 days:

  • If you are in self-isolation and working from home, you will be paid for your normal hours as you are not absent from work
  • If you are unable to work from home, you will receive normal pay.

Confirmed COVID 19 and on sick leave:

  • You will receive your normal pay

A GSI should be raised for significant Business/Service interruption only.

This advice has been updated – NB previous advice was to raise a GSI for each confirmed case.

For self-isolation, follow our normal self-certification for seven days. For the second 7 days of a 14-day isolation please complete the form provided by NHS 111 or through their on-line service - https://111.nhs.uk/isolation-note/

However, you must also advise your manager that you are going to be away from work and the reasons why. It can be completed on your behalf, if required, and emailed to hrhelpdesk@amey.co.uk and your manager. If needed, your manager can complete this for you, and they will email you a copy.

Please note that paperwork is being developed for those in the vulnerable groups who will need to self-isolate for longer than seven days

 

Our Dependants Policy is available here on the document library and a summary of situations is below. Guidance for taking time off to look after dependants is available here and you can see the government’s list of critical workers here.

The reasons you may need time off for dependants are:

  1. to provide assistance when a dependant falls ill;
  2. to make arrangements for the provision of care for a dependant who is unwell;
  3. because of the unexpected disruption or termination of arrangements for the care of a dependant; and
  4. to care for a child due to the closure of schools, nurseries or other educational establishments.

Time off in this situation is unpaid, or you can take holidays as agreed with your line manager.

Alternatively, please consider if you could do your job from home or find alternative support if your child’s school is closed, or you are a carer for an adult. Please discuss your options with your manager to agree the best way forward for you and your team. Decide whether you can continue to work normally, work from home, or take leave by asking these questions:

  • could anyone else help with care?
  • could you work from home, while handling caring responsibilities?
  • would changing your shifts, working patterns or reducing your hours help?

Managers can seek guidance for using this policy by contacting the Croner Advice Service.

The government announced that they will be writing to 1.5 million people to strongly advise the shield themselves. Vulnerable groups and those with underlying health issues that may exacerbate their risks should speak to their people manager for specific guidance and support.

If you are a manager and know that people in your team are in this category, please speak to them about what is the safest approach for them so that we can make reasonable adjustments. If an employee needs to shield at home, we will pay your normal pay unless your contract work reduces when you may be placed into Furlough.

 

All absences related to Coronavirus must be created for each employee in MSS to ensure the employee receives the correct pay.

The following reasons should be used to categorise the absence correctly

  1. CV01    CV19 confirmed case
  2. CV02    CV19 slf-isol 7 day
  3. CV03    CV19 slf-isol 14 day
  4. CV04    CV19 slf-isol 12 wks

 

Please only call Croner Advice Service if you need advice on Coronavirus related absences.  If absence details are entered into MSS there is no longer a requirement for you to open a case in Croner Professional. 

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