Supporting our staff with carer issues where usual arrangements are impacted due to Covid-19

CUH recognises that there will be additional anxiety for our staff relating to carer responsibilities.  The Trust will provide additional flexibility for staff during the Covid-19 pandemic in addition to the standard carers’ leave arrangements. You may be experiencing any of the following:

  • Your usual carer support systems, e.g. day centre support for family members who are frail or have other health and care needs, are not currently available to you.
  • Your children may have to self isolate or their schools close unexpectedly.
  • You have had to take on additional carer responsibilities to help vulnerable family members stay out of hospital and within a safe environment during this time.
  • Your child/children have not been able to attend school or off-site day nurseries (please note CUH’s day nursery provision remains in place and that key worker staff have access to school places).
  • Your usual childcare support (e.g. childminder, family member etc.) has not been able to care for your child/children.
  • Your other forms of regular childcare support during term time (e.g. morning or afternoon school clubs/grandparents etc.) are not available.
  • Your child/children’s school has introduced staggered start/finish times

In the first instance, please talk to your line manager about any ideas you have to work flexibly or whether you can work a different shift pattern for a defined period, if this could help address any of the above difficulties and also support the needs of the service. Your line manager will review your situation with you and agree how your request for flexibility can be arranged around the needs of the service. The Trust’s Special Leave Policy is applicable and usually allows for up to two days/15 hours carer’s leave to make suitable child care arrangements. However, this has been temporarily extended to up to six days/45 hours (pro rata for part time staff).

Where you continue to experience any difficulty with carer responsibilities as a result of the issues highlighted above, there are five options available to help support you as follows:

  • Option 1 – You use some of your annual leave entitlement with the agreement of your line manager.
  • Option 2 – You can request the extended carers leave option. See details here.
  • Option 3 –You can request to work from home where your work can be carried out in this way; this may mean agreeing that work may have to be done flexibly at different times during the week or a combination of working at home and at base depending upon your circumstances. This should be agreed with your line manager.
  • Option 4 –Where working from home is not an option or where extended carers leave exhausted staff can continue to be paid and mutually agree with your line manager to gradually work back the time taken; this can be worked over the following six month period from the date taken.
  • Option 5 – if you wish to request unpaid leave to support your current circumstances you may do so.

You can make a request to your line manager for one or a combination of the options (where practicable). Your line manager will review the options with you and agree how your request can be arranged flexibly around the needs of the service.

If you have any other queries you can also call HR Consult on 01223 257000 or hrconsult@addenbrookes.nhs.uk.

Line managers: please see the Line Manager FAQ on this topic to understand how each of the above options should be recorded on Healthroster.

Sickness absence

If you are unable to come to work due to sickness please notify your line manager at the earliest opportunity and normal sickness absence reporting and management procedures will continue to apply.

If you have a high temperature and a new/persistent dry cough then you do not need to contact Occupational Health. You should notify your line manager at the earliest opportunity.

Employees will be required to self-certify for their sickness absence of between one and seven days. For absence of more than seven consecutive days employees are required to submit a fit note from their GP.

The Trust recognises that GP practices will be under significant pressure during the COVID-19 pandemic period and therefore if you have any issues obtaining a fit note please inform your line manager. For substantive staff, payment will be in accordance with national terms and conditions.

Sickness absence related to COVID-19 reasons will not be taken into account for the purpose of any sickness absence triggers.

Sick pay

For substantive staff, payment will be in accordance with national terms and conditions. For COVID-19 related sickness absences, this has been updated to full pay.

Bank staff and long term agency staff will be paid at band for the average number of shifts that they would usually work, determined using a 12 week average for a maximum of 4 weeks. Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) will apply after this period.

To qualify for statutory sick pay (SSP) a worker must earn on average £118 per week. SSP is paid for each calendar day that the employee is off sick (or self-isolating) regardless of whether they were due to work that day or not. Agency workers will need to contact their agencies to claim SSP.

Recording sickness on Healthroster

All absences should be recorded on Healthroster at the earliest opportunity. This is particularly important at this time and will help the organisation to manage staffing levels throughout each day and make decisions accordingly. The guidance for adding sickness absence using Healthroster can be found on Connect.

Coronavirus can cause a variety of symptoms so the most appropriate ‘Sickness Reason’ should be selected based on the symptoms described by the employee e.g. chest and respiratory problems. There is now a secondary sickness reason available to mark if the sickness is Covid-19 related

  • Staff members who are self-isolating (but otherwise well) should be recorded in Healthroster using the group ‘Other Leave’ and reason ‘Self-iso – Special Leave: Medical Self Isolation’,
  • Staff members who are unwell should be recorded in Healthroster as sickness absence with reasons as outlined above

Special carer’s leave

The Trust recognises that the current COVID-19 pandemic is unprecedented and that employees and line managers will need to discuss and agree pragmatic and workable solutions for childcare. The Trust’s Special Leave Policy  is applicable and usually allows for up to two days/15 hours carer’s leave to make suitable child care arrangements. However, this has been temporarily extended to up to six days/45 hours (pro rata for part time staff).

In discussion with line managers, staff may be able to work flexibility to support carer requirements, changing working patterns and practices. The trust is also working with local childcare providers and schools to establish emergency care arrangements for those required to work.

Please note: if you use the 6 day/45 hour allowance, you may use annual leave or unpaid leave. Please discuss and agree this with your line manager.

If you are experiencing difficulties with making childcare arrangements, email childcare@addenbrookes.nhs.uk for advice and support.

Further information is available in the Childcare section on this site.

Annual leave

As we approach the end of the current leave year, and with all of us being extremely busy in the ongoing pandemic period, we would like to outline the annual leave arrangements.

We are very grateful to all staff who have worked tirelessly throughout the ongoing pandemic and recognise the physical and psychological fatigue staff inevitably feel as a result of working in such conditions. Therefore, we encourage all members of staff to take their full entitlement of annual leave in a planned way wherever possible, however, we do acknowledge that the pandemic and current lockdown also challenge plans for leave.

Given these exceptional circumstances, if staff members have outstanding annual leave that they have been unable to take before Wednesday 31 March 2021, they will be permitted to carry it over into the subsequent leave year commencing on Thursday 01 April 2021. However, we ask that this is kept to the minimum level possible in order to avoid compounding the issue of accrued and untaken annual leave next year.

We are keen to ensure all staff members receive either the time or financial value of accrued and untaken annual leave, and therefore we are also re-running the annual leave sell back scheme through January until Friday 19 February 2021. The scheme is open with immediate effect and in the circumstances, it is our preference to pay for untaken leave rather than to create an on-going carry forward issue.

Application forms and further information are available here. Please direct any queries to your divisional head of workforce or, for medical staff, medical staffing.

Please see the FAQ section for advice on travel and quarantine periods.

Review of Trust policy regarding planned annual leave and the requirement to self-isolate

With the second wave of Covid-19 and an increasing level of staff needing to self-isolate, CUH is keen to support these staff by ensuring that they do not lose booked annual leave should they be informed by either Occupational Health or NHS Test and Trace that they should self-isolate. In these circumstances the staff member should inform their line manager and ask that their booked annual leave should be re-credited to their annual leave balance. Employees will not be entitled to an additional day’s leave if there is the requirement to self-isolate on a general public holiday.

Where staff are required to self-isolate due to being clinically extremely vulnerable, they will usually be asked to make themselves available to undertake work from home. Staff continue to be encouraged, and the opportunity will remain available for staff in these circumstances to be able to take planned annual leave. This should be recorded on HealthRoster in the usual manner.

This addendum to the Annual Leave Policy is effective from 05 November 2020 and will continue until further notice.