Covid 19 - LG Workforce Issues
Test and Protect
The First Minister has just announced the launch of Test and Protect – Scotland’s test, trace and isolate program which is set to go live in every one of Scotland’s 14 health board areas on Thursday.
From the end of this week, through Test and Protect, anyone who suspects they have Covid-19 will be tested and if you test positive, your close contacts will be traced and advised to isolate for 14 days.
Key Points :
The protections for those affected by COVID either through sickness absence or isolation remain
Self-isolation may be required on more than one occasion.
Anyone who has symptoms must self-isolate straight away, and use NHS Inform or call 0800 028 2816 to arrange a test.
Employers should not, under any circumstances, be asking anyone who is isolating to come into work before their period of isolation is complete.
People who have tested positive for coronavirus must self-isolate for a minimum of 7 days from the time their symptoms started.
Close contacts of someone who has tested positive identified by an NHS contact tracer will have to self-isolate for 14 days. This could mean colleagues of an employee with symptoms may have been close contacts, and may be asked by the NHS to self-isolate if that employee does test positive.
NHS contact tracers may require someone to self-isolate even if they have previously tested positive for coronavirus and have recovered.
There is information on how employers should manage this here: https://www.gov.scot/publications/coronavirus-covid-19-test-and-protect-advice-for-employers/
There is specific information and support for anyone who has to self-isolate which you can read here: https://www.gov.scot/publications/coronavirus-covid-19-test-and-protect/
Casual Workers - please find attached circular SJC-62 on Casual Workers which has now been issued to all local authorities.
Testing for social care workers - the Cabinet Secretary for Health has written to all Health Territorial Boards and IJBs asking them to review their testing procedures to ensure that social care workers are not being refused or experiencing undue delays in accessing Covid testing. WeI have attached a copy of her letter for your information. This follows our discussion with her last week where she assured us that home and social care workers should be classed as category 1 workers alongside NHS colleagues for the purposes of testing and should therefore the same access to testing. We know there remain issues with the roll-out of testing in rural areas and continue to raise this in our discussions.
Non-Healthcare settings Guidance FAQs - these have been the subject of much debate/discussion between ourselves, the other TUs, COSLA, Scottish Government and Health Protection Scotland, have now been agreed and can be found here; This is a live document to be read in conjunction with the general LG FAQs (which we are also working on updating). We tried to get additional wording included covering educational establishments and ASN settings but the conclusion was that this would be better covered in a sector specific document. We will continue to press for this to be done asap - we are aware of the numerous concerns associated with the higher level of risk in those areas.
Jason Leitch video - that has been produced for local government workers
PPE - we continue to raise issues around the availability and distribution of PPE. We are also aware of instances in which individuals are either making their own PPE and or giving it out to the wider workforce. We need to be clear that whilst we understand the concern regarding availability that we do not encourage DIY PPE - it could leave people lacking the protection they need.
Homeworking - kit, adjustments, allowances - we have asked for further discussions with COSLA re supporting those working at home. We are aware that when we agreed circular SJC-61 no one thought lock down would last as long. Now that it seems to be continuing more than, we suspect, most of us would want we have asked that local authorities check in with people to make sure they have the kit they need to be working from home on a longer term basis, that any reasonable adjustments people might have had in the office environment are replicated at home and that they look at allowances, for use of home broadband etc. We will update you when we have progress.
A/L - We continue to press COSLA for some consistency on annual leave - what should happen to leave during the crises and what the arrangements will be once we're on the other side of it (taking into account the government's announcement the extended carry-over provisions for statutory leave). We know that in the absence of central guidance local authorities have been doing their own thing - in some cases this has resulted good outcomes for members, in others sadly it has produced the opposite. Our intention is to try to level up. They have promised to come back to us on this by the beginning of next week and we will report back with any progress.
Deaths in Care Homes – we are aware of a number of instances in which branches have tried to get data on the number of deaths in care homes and have been refused this. We have raised this with COSLA and will report back.
Temporary mortuaries - we have become aware of a number of temporary mortuaries being established in various parts of the country and that there is the possibility of some LGvt employees being deployed to work in them. We have raised this with COSLA to try to get clarity on what work they will be asked to do, who would be asked to do it and what training and support they will be provided with.
Homelessness - HQ are keen to hear from branches covering the larger authorities in the devolved nations on how those authorities are supporting the homeless during the crises. If you have anything I can feed back to them please let me know.
Casual Workers Payments