Coronavirus (COVID-19) Information – Colleague FAQs

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Update 29 March 2021

In line with government guidance, face-to-face learning has now resumed across all NCG colleges.

Return to campus  

Who will be returning to campus?
The majority of colleagues involved in the delivery of teaching, learning, support and services to students will return to campus. All other colleagues should continue to work from home. If you are due to return to campusyour line manager will arrange a discussion with you about your return.  

How will I be kept safe whilst I am on campus?
While campuses are now reopen, student learning will continue to be a blend of on-campus practical learning and online teaching over the next term. This will allow students to benefit from being on-site whilst keeping colleagues and learners safe by reducing the number of people on campus at any one time. 

We are continuing to follow all of the available guidance and we have extensive safety measures in place on campus:  

  • All students and colleagues will be invited to take part in our testing programme to prevent asymptomatic spread of Covid-19 
  • All students and colleagues will be required to wear a face covering in ALL indoor settings, including classrooms, unless medically exempt  
  • All lessons will be subject to social distancing wherever possible 
  • One-way only systems will remain wherever possible and lifts restricted to one person use. 

What is the guidance on wearing face coverings?
Face coverings should be worn in classrooms and during activities unless social distancing can be maintained.  As per government guidance, NCG is encouraging the use of face coverings in the classroom. It is expected that staff and students will now have access to face coverings due to their increasing use in wider society, and should wear these.  If there is a setting where social distancing cannot be maintained, a risk assessment will be carried out on these tasks and any relevant PPE will be provided to both staff and students.   

I’m worried and believe it may not be safe to return to work; what should I do?
We will work with you on an individual basis by undertaking a robust risk assessment / occupational health review to facilitate a return to work. 

Iffollowing the above support, 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. If this is not possible for you to continue to work from home and you choose not to return to work, unpaid leave will be considered. 

What is happening with adult and HE provision?
NCG continues to follow government guidance. All students across all provisions will return to campus to complete practical elements, whilst theory will be delivered remotely.  

Testing 

Testing for returning colleagues
Colleagues who are working on-site to provide teaching and support, or provide services should be tested prior to return

A consent form should be completed before you arrive on campus to be tested. Your first test will also require you to complete a registration on the NHS website. Testing is completely voluntary, but we hope you will recognise how it will help us to create a safer campus for everybody. 

Please remember to wear a face covering when attending your test, unless you are medically exempt. If you are displaying any symptoms of Covid-19, you MUST NOT attend campus for your test. 

The consent form and detailed testing procedures have been communicated by your college SLT team.   

Once you return to working on campus, you will be asked to complete further testing at home on a weekly basis. More information has been provided to you about this by college leadership teams. 

Who will be provided with home testing kits?
Home tests will be provided to colleagues only and not the remainder of your household. If you have other members of your household who attend an education setting as a student or colleague, they should receive their own tests. Other members of your household are also able to access tests through a local test site, or by ordering home test kits online here.

With the roll out of mass testing, will any close contacts still be asked to self-isolate, or will there be the option for daily testing?
Anyone identified as a close contact of a positive case will be asked to self-isolate. If someone has been asked to self-isolate they should self-isolate in line with government guidance.   

Clinically Extremely Vulnerable 

I’ve received a shielding letter recognising I am in the Clinically Extremely Vulnerable (CEV) group; how does this affect me returning to work?
The government has announced that shielding guidance for Clinically Extremely Vulnerable people will be paused from Thursday 1 April. This means that anyone who may fall into the clinically extremely vulnerable (CEV) category, will no longer be advised to shield.

For NCG colleagues, those involved in the delivery of teaching, learning, support and services to students will be asked to return to campuses following the Easter break. All other colleagues should continue to work from home.

This is in line with government guidance provided to NCG which allows our campuses to open for students.

If you are due to return to campus, your line manager will arrange a discussion with you about your return. If you have any concerns, your line manager will carry out an individual risk assessment to see what measures can be put in place to ensure that you are safe.

I live with someone who is classed as Clinically Extremely Vulnerable, what does this mean for me?
If you live with someone who is classed as CEV, the guidance will change from Thursday 1 April, which means they will no longer be advised to shield.

In line with guidance and advice given to all NCG colleagues, those involved in the delivery of teaching, learning, support and services to students will be asked to return to campuses following the Easter break. All other colleagues should continue to work from home.

Covid symptoms and absence  

I have Covid symptoms, should I stay at home now that colleges have reopened?
Yes, if you have symptoms you should remain at home. If you have symptoms but are well and able to work from home this should be discussed with your line manager. If you are unwell and unable to work this will be recorded as sickness absence.  

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 period of lockdown. 

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 the coronavirus iTrent should be updated to reflect this 

[Coronavirus – Self Isolation (Shielding)] This is to record if any colleagues that have been issued a letter from the government saying they need to shield. 

My child has Covid symptoms and I need to take them to be tested. How will this be recorded?
You will be paid in full and it will be recorded as dependant leave. 

What if I have an illness unrelated to the Coronavirus?
All absences from work that are unrelated to the Coronavirus 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 the Coronavirus and you either need to self-isolate or are diagnosed with the Coronavirus, 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 the Coronavirus will be paid in line with the hours they were due to deliver.

I am currently employed through an agency. If I’m unable to attend work due to Coronavirus will I get paid?
Yes, if you are unable to deliver your contracted hours due to the Coronavirus (as a result of sickness or site closure), you will continue to be paid in line with your agency’s contract of employment. Please note however, that this position will be continually kept under review. Any change to our published position will be communicated via these FAQs.

I am a colleague employed by NCG on an hourly paid contract. will I still be paid?
Colleagues employed directly by NCG on hourly paid contracts will continue to be paid for planned hours or those hours it is expected that they would normally work.  Colleagues should claim for these hours in the normal way with all claim forms being authorised by their line manager.

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 childcare) 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?
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.

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 at all possible. We appreciate that it can be difficult to get an appointment, therefore 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 →

 

Travel to work scheme  

I’m returning to work at Newcastle and cancelled my travel pass, can I renew?
The window to apply for travel passes for Newcastle will be available as soon as possible. Please continue to check this page for further info.  

Who should I contact to receive formal classification of my Key Worker status?
For formal classification as a Key Worker, colleagues should contact planning@ncgrp.co.uk. 

The Furlough Scheme, processes and probation

The Furlough Scheme has been extended, are NCG continuing to use this? 
The Job Retention Scheme has been extended until the end of September 2021 and will pay 80% of a person’s salary up to a monthly payment of £2,500. NCG will review where we may need to use this. 

All formal processes were put on hold during the first lockdown in March, what is happening in this lockdown?
As we have operating in a more agile way for a long while now and this is more normal, all formal processes, relating to performance, sickness and conduct will continue.  We will ensure that relevant support is provided and Coronavirus mitigation factors are considered.

What happens to my probation period?
Probation periods will bmonitored and assessed in the usual way ensuring that relevant support is provided. 

Are my planned/booked holidays and annual leave allowance affected?
Colleagues are reminded that throughout this period of disruption it is expected that you will continue to work your normal contracted hours. As a result, and regardless of your place of work (for example, at home as a result of a building closure) if you are not available for work during your normal contracted hours you will be required to take annual leave. 

Whilst current guidance permits the cancellation of leave, colleagues are reminded that all leave must be taken prior to the year-end and should be spread across the academic year to ensure appropriate staff coverage is maintained at all times. 

Additionally, colleagues should be aware that in learner-facing roles, planned holidays cannot take place during term time and no more than 5-days will be permitted to be carried forward for any role. 

Safeguarding

Who do I contact if I have a safeguarding issue?
You can find contact information for Safeguarding leads in each college here.