Coronavirus (COVID-19) Information – Colleague FAQs

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National Lockdown 5 January 2021

On Monday 4 January 2021, the Government announced a national lockdown. The information on this page will be continually updated as we navigate through the situation.

Working from home

Do I now need to work from home?
Government guidance suggests all colleagues should now work from home if possible.  You should discuss your work arrangements with your line manager in the first instance.

Where can I access the systems I need to work from home?  
We’ve collected links to the systems and resources that colleagues need at NCG here. Read our Top Ten Tips for Working Well from Home. 

What if I am unable to work from home? 
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. This should be discussed with your line manager in the first instance.  

What happens if I refuse to work from home? 
An agreement may be made to allow you take annual leave or a period of unpaid leave. However, if an agreement cannot be reached, this may be considered as a period of unauthorised and unpaid leave which could become subject to disciplinary action.  

Working from Home Tax Allowance
You may be able to claim tax relief for some of the bills you have to pay because you have to work at home on a regular basis.

From 6 April 2020 you can claim up to £6 a week (£26 a month) to cover your additional costs if you have to work from home.  Guidance can be found here.

Clinically Extremely Vulnerable

I’m classed as clinically extremely vulnerable (CEV), what does this mean for me?
Government guidance is that you should work from home.  If you cannot work from home, you are advised not to go to work and may be eligible for Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) or Employment Support Allowance (ESA). You are advised to stay at home as much as possible, but are encouraged to go outside for exercise.  As with the lockdown in March, NCG will continue to pay colleagues who are unable to work from home and may also use the furlough scheme.

Working patterns and caring responsibilities

As schools are closed, I have my children at home which impacts on my ability to work, what should I do? 
As you work in education you are classed as a key / critical worker, and your child should be able to still attend school or nursery. In the event that this is not possible you are requested to still engage in work activities as much as caring duties will allow. It is important that you discuss this with your line manager as soon as possible.  

I’m unable to work my usual working pattern due to caring responsibilities / I’ve been told to self-isolate. What should I do?
You should discuss your situation with your line manager at the earliest opportunity to establish work which can be carried out at home, around your caring responsibilities.  If you are able to fulfil your work it will be agreed with you Line Manager as to what this looks like (i.e. the hours you are able to fulfil).

If you are unable to work from home redeployment to a role that enables you to work from home, in the short term may be considered.  If these options are not appropriate we will continue to pay people with caring responsibilities fully throughout lockdown.

What if I need time off to look after others?  
You are normally entitled to take a reasonable period of unpaid time off work to care for dependents in the event of unexpected events or in an emergency. However, if you are required to take leave to care for dependents affected by the Coronavirus, NCG will continue to pay you in full. In these circumstances, colleagues are requested to still engage in work activities as much as their caring duties will allow. 

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 April 2021 and will pay 80% of a person’s salary up to a monthly payment of £2,500.  The Government is due to review the scheme at the end of April 2021.  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. 

Sickness and self-isolation

Will I have to work from home if I am self-isolating?
If you are self-isolating, but are symptom-free and capable of carrying out your work, you should continue to undertake your normal duties. You should discuss and agree the specifics of this with your line manager. 

Will I have to work from home if I am sick?
If you are sick and unable to work, you should ensure your line manager is aware that you are off sick. It is important to be clear whether you have received a formal written diagnosis / sick note. Where it has not been possible you should inform your manager as soon as possible. 

Where you are unwell and unable to undertake your normal role in full you should be classified as sick. 

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 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. 

Will any absence due to Coronavirus count towards the sickness absence trigger?
Any absence related to Coronavirus, whether you have been diagnosed or are self-isolating with no symptoms, will not count towards the NCG absence triggers. 

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.

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.

Visit our page for FAQs around reporting absence →

Safeguarding

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