Coronavirus (COVID-19) Information – Colleague FAQs

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Updated 1 April 2022

In line with government guidance, all NCG colleges are delivering face-to-face learning.

Government guidance was updated on 24 February and again on 1 April. This means that:

  • There is no longer guidance in place for staff and students in most education and childcare settings to undertake twice weekly asymptomatic testing. This includes staff and students in SEND, Alternative Provision and Children Social Care Settings.
  • There is no longer a legal requirement to self-isolate following a positive test. Adults and children who test positive are still advised to stay at home and avoid contact with other people for at least five full days and then continue to follow the guidance until they have received two negative test results on consecutive days. If you test positive, you must not attend work at any NCG location until five full days have passed from your positive test.
  • Fully vaccinated close contacts and those aged under 18 are no longer asked to test daily for seven days, and there is no longer a legal requirement for close contacts who are not fully vaccinated to self-isolate.
  • Self-isolation support payments, national funding for practical support and the medicine delivery service are no longer available.
  • Routine contact tracing has ended.
  • Health Protection (Coronavirus, Restrictions) (England) (No. 3) Regulations have been revoked.
  • COVID-19 provisions within the Statutory Sick Pay and Employment and Support Allowance regulations have been removed.
  • Guidance on voluntary COVID-status certification in domestic settings has been removed and certain venues are longer be advised to use the NHS COVID Pass.
  • Free access to universal symptomatic and asymptomatic testing for the general public in England is no longer available unless you meet certain criteria.
  • The health and safety requirement for every employer to explicitly consider COVID-19 in their risk assessments has been removed.

Campus safety and guidance

How will I be kept safe whilst I am on campus?

We are continuing to follow all of the available guidance and we continue to have safety measures in place on our campuses. This means that we will continue to:

      • ensure good hygiene for everyone.
      • maintain appropriate cleaning regimes.
      • keep occupied spaces well ventilated.
      • place hand sanitiser across campuses to encourage continued good hygiene.

Individuals can still reduce the risk of catching and passing on COVID-19 by:

      • getting vaccinated.
      • wearing a face covering in crowded and enclosed spaces, especially where you come into contact with people you do not usually meet, when rates of transmission are high.
      • trying to stay at home if you are unwell.
      • taking a test if you have COVID-19 symptoms, and staying at home and avoiding contact with other people if you test positive; and
      • washing your hands and following advice to ‘Catch it, Bin it, Kill it’.

What is the guidance on wearing face coverings?

Guidance recommending the use of face coverings was removed on Thursday 27 January 2022.  Staff and students may wish to continue to wear face coverings and this will continue to be supported by NCG.

I’m worried and believe it may not be safe to work. What should I do?

We will work with you on an individual basis by undertaking a robust risk assessment / occupational health review. If, following this, there are genuine concerns for the health and safety of an individual, we will work with you to assess what (if any) work can be done from home (or alternative place of work). If it is not possible for you to continue to work from home / an alternative location and you choose not to return to work, unpaid leave will be considered.

Can I work from home?

Work from home guidance has now come to an end and staff based in colleges who were working from home should now have returned to work, unless an agreement for hybrid working is in place.


Testing 

Testing for colleagues and students

The government no longer recommends regular asymptomatic testing for anyone in education settings however NCG are asking staff and students to continue to test should they display Covid-19 symptoms. This includes those in SEND, Alternative Provision and Children Social Care Settings. NCG does not expect colleagues or students to routinely test but we ask that tests are undertaken if symptoms emerge.  Tests will continue to be available free of charge for staff and students from our colleges whilst stocks last.

When you need to get a PCR test 

There is no longer a requirement to have a PCR test.  These are no longer routinely available to the general public.

Self Isolating Following a Positive Test

There is no longer a legal requirement to self-isolate following a positive test, but adults and children continue to be advised by the government stay at home and avoid contact with other people for at least 5 full days, and then continue to follow the guidance until they have received 2 negative test results on consecutive days.If you test positive, you must not attend work at any NCG location until five full days have passed.


Covid Symptoms and Absence  

I have Covid symptoms or have tested positive, should I stay at home? Should I continue working?

Yes, if you have symptoms or have tested positive you should remain at home and must not attend your place of work.

If you have symptoms but are well and able to work from home you should continue to do so. If you are unable to work from home as a result of the nature of your role this should be discussed with your line manager.

If, as a result of Covid, you are not well enough to work from home you should record your absence as sick leave.

Will Covid related absence count towards sickness trigger points?
No, any period of sickness linked to Covid will not count towards sickness triggers, as has been the case throughout the pandemic. This position will be reviewed again in May 2022.

What needs to be recorded on iTrent?

There is no longer a need to record on iTrent that you are working from home. We can confirm, however, that colleagues are required to continue to record the following absences using the correct code:

Any non-coronavirus sickness related which should be recorded as normal.

[Coronavirus – Self Isolation] If a colleague is self-isolating and is unable to work from home as they are too ill.

[Coronavirus – Dependent] If you are required to look after a dependent and are unable to carry out any work from home

[Coronavirus – Confirmed Diagnosis] If it has been confirmed that a colleague has Covid-19 iTrent should be updated to reflect this

I have tested positive for Covid and I am on annual leave. Can I cancel them and use them at another time? 

      •  If you are well enough to have worked, you should take holidays as planned.
      •  If you are not well enough to have worked, you should follow the guidance as outlined in the NCG Sickness Absence Policy.

If a colleague is sick during a period of annual leave, this will be classed as annual leave unless they have complied with the normal sickness absence notification requirements. They will also need to submit a fit note from their GP, regardless of the length of the sickness absence and they are responsible for any cost in obtaining a GP’s fit note.”

My child has Covid symptoms and I need to take them to be tested. How will this be recorded?
Routine testing is no longer available. If your child has Covid, you will be paid in full and it will be recorded as dependant leave. 

What if I have an illness unrelated to Covid-19?
All absences from work that are unrelated to Covid-19 will be treated in the normal way in line with your contract. 

What if I am still in my probationary period and/or don’t have the contractual entitlement for occupational sick pay?
If your absence is due to Coronavirus and you either need to self-isolate or are diagnosed with Covid-19, you will receive full sick pay.

I have an hourly paid contract, what will I be paid if I’m sick / need to self-isolate or the college closes?
Colleagues who have an hourly paid contract and are unable to attend work as a result of Covid-19 will be paid in line with the hours they were due to deliver.

I’m unable to work my usual working pattern due to caring responsibilities; what should I do?

Our expectation is that all colleagues should now be undertaking their normal working patterns.

If, however, as a result of caring responsibilities (such as if your child has Covid-19) you are unable to deliver your normal working pattern, it is important that you discuss this with your line manager as soon as possible. Your line manager will work with you to see what options are available to you i.e. hours you are available and duties you are able to undertake if it is not your full role.

If you are unable to work from home (due to the nature of your role), consideration will be given to whether you can be redeployed to a role that enables you to work from home in the short term.

If this is not an option, the following will be considered:

  • Taking annual leave
  • Dependant Leave – Unpaid after the first day
  • Unpaid leave
  • Temporary reduction in hours / salary

 Will I be paid when self-isolating due to a positive Covid-19 test?

If you are self-isolating and able to work from home, your pay will continue as normal.

If you are self-isolating but unable to work from home (due to the nature of your role) your pay will continue as normal.

If you are sick and unable to work, you will be paid occupational sick pay in the normal way and in line with your contractual rights.


Self-Isolation

When to self-isolate

It is only recommended that you self-isolate if you test positive for Covid-19. Although no longer a legal requirement, you must not attend work at any NCG location if you have a positive Covid-19 test until after at least 5 days.

You no longer need to self-isolate if:

  • You are a close contact, whether you are vaccinated or not.
  • Contacts will no longer be required to self-isolate or advised to take daily tests. Staff, children and young people should attend their education settings as usual. This includes staff who have been in close contact within their household, unless they are able to work from home.

Coronavirus Vaccine

I have been asked to go and get the coronavirus vaccine, can I go during work time?
Vaccination centres are open seven days a week and after working hours. We would encourage colleagues to attend outside of their working hours. If you are only able to get an appointment during working time you will be paid for the time taken to attend the appointment and should return to work after your appointment.

I’ve heard that in some cases there may be some side effects of the vaccine and I may feel unwell. What happens if I’m unable to work due to feeling unwell after the vaccine?
If you are unwell after the vaccine and unable to work, you should follow the normal sickness absence processes. As this is a sickness absence due to Coronavirus, this will not be counted within the absence triggers for short term absence, just like any other type of absence related to Coronavirus.

Visit our page for FAQs around reporting absence →


Clinically Extremely Vulnerable 

I am in the Clinically Extremely Vulnerable (CEV) group; how does this affect me?

Shielding guidance outlined by the government was paused on 1 April 2021.

In line with guidance, those involved in the delivery of teaching, learning, support and services to students have now returned to campuses where required.  If you have any concerns regarding this please speak to your line manager in the first instance.


Holidays

I am thinking of travelling abroad, what happens if I need to self-isolate? 

There is not currently any requirement to self-isolate on return from foreign travel but please bear in mind that these rules may change again with little notice and you can find the latest guidance here.

If self-isolation is required when returning from travel abroad

Should guidance change please speak to your line manager ahead of traveling to confirm if you are able to work from home on your return, or if you need to factor arrangements within your leave.

If you work within a student-facing role (i.e. teaching and support colleagues) it is expected that you return to work in-person, as opposed to working remotely.

If you are unable to work from home or if the business requires you to work in-person (as above) you may need to take unpaid leave or additional holiday.