Coronavirus (COVID-19) Information – Colleague FAQs

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Update 10 June 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 home testing programme to prevent asymptomatic spread of Covid-19 
  • Colleagues and adult visitors to campuses will be asked to wear face coverings in corridors and communal areas
  • 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?
The latest government guidance, updated on 10 May 2021, advises that students in FE colleges are no longer required to wear face coverings on campus.

Colleagues and adult visitors are required to wear face coverings in corridors and communal areas where social distance cant be maintained unless medically exempt. Face coverings are not required in classrooms.

Additional guidance released recognises that FE colleges are diverse and can also include vocational and commercial workplace training environments. Therefore, each NCG college has the discretion to recommend the use of face coverings in these areas.

Although face coverings are not mandatory for training environments, they are required for commercial outlets, such as hair and beauty salons and restaurants where customers and members of the public may visit.  For these areas we must comply with the relevant sector guidance and therefore face coverings and Covid-19 safety measures must continue to be adhered to. You can read the full guidance here.

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 when needed.

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 wherever possible.

How will students be assessed in the Summer exam series of 2021?

NCG has implemented a policy and process notes for assigning Teacher Assessed Grades (TAGs) for Summer 2021 which sets out this information.

Testing 

Testing for returning colleagues
All returning colleagues will have access to home testing kits so they can test themselves at home regularly.

Who will be provided with home testing kits?
Home tests will be provided to colleagues and students 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.   

Please note that guidance around self-isolation periods and testing may differ on a regional basis in line with Local Authority arrangements.

Clinically Extremely Vulnerable 

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

Although the shielding guidance outlined by the government was paused on 1 April, colleagues who are aged 60+ and classified as CEV are advised to remain working from home until the first vaccination is effective (4 weeks from your first vaccination).

We also encourage other CEV colleagues (regardless of age) and colleagues not classified as CEV but over the age of 60 to continue to work from home again until they have received their first vaccination and it is classed as being effective (4 weeks from your first vaccination).

We appreciate some colleagues may have already returned to work or may be planning to do so. In these circumstances, you can choose to return to college should you wish to. These arrangements must be discussed with your line manager in the first instance however.

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 changed on Thursday 1 April, which means they will no longer be advised to shield.

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

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 am an Invigilator and normally work over the exam season. I understand that the exams have been cancelled. What does this mean for me?
Most exams in England were cancelled in January 2021, however there may still be a requirement for Invigilators over the summer term. If you are required to work as an Invigilator, you will be paid for the hours that you have agreed with your line manager.

If you have worked for NCG as an Invigilator over the last few years and believe you were due to work this year to cover exams OR you are working a reduced number of hours compared to previous years, please contact planning@ncgrp.co.uk and a colleague will investigate the payment you may be entitled to.

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, holidays, 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. 

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

As restrictions begin to ease we understand colleagues might be considering holiday plans which may include considerations of a trip abroad.

The government’s travel traffic light system indicates whether an individual is required to self-isolate on their return to the UK. These traffic light statuses (red, amber, green) are subject to change at short notice – further government guidance on travel abroad can be found here.

  • If you are considering booking foreign travel, you are required to speak to your line manager ahead of traveling to confirm if you are able to work from home on your return.
  • If you have foreign travel already booked, you are advised to make your line manager aware as soon as possible.
  • Consider and agree arrangements with your line manager should you be required to isolate on your return and factor those arrangements within your leave (as stated this may be subject to change).

​​Returning from travel abroad – if you need to self-isolate
If you work within a student-facing role (i.e. teaching and support colleagues) it is expected that you return to work in-person, 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.

Safeguarding

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