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 –If you cannot work from home due to your job role (e.g. you are in a clinical role or a role that requires your presence on site), and where you have already exhausted the extended carers leave, you can request to continue to be paid and mutually agree with your line manager to gradually work back the time taken by 31 March 2021.
  • 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.

The Trust recognises that all GP practices will be under significant pressure during the COVID-19 pandemic period and therefore employees will not be required to obtain a GP or hospital fit note for absences of 8 days or more during this period.

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

The Trust recognises this is a very difficult time for all staff and the COVID-19 virus has disrupted many travel plans. In anticipation of further disruption, we encourage staff to take days off that are booked, and to carry over no more than one working week of accrued annual leave into the next leave year. Where staff have been asked not to take leave by the Trust, then this will be offered as additional pay or may be carried over.

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

Self isolation and annual leave/bank holidays

Any pre-booked annual leave days and bank holidays that fall within a period of self-isolation will remain as annual leave/bank holidays.

Managers please note: when self isolation is recorded on Healthroster, using the group ‘Other Leave’ and reason ‘Self-iso – Special Leave: Medical Self Isolation’, the annual leave booked/bank holiday will be cancelled out when the self isolation period is entered. Managers should go back into the annual leave request/bank holidays and manually re-approve the period that was cancelled.