Colleague update 20 March 2020

“You have been magnificent”

See our Chief Executive, Jas Bains’ thank you message to you all. 

Colleague loans

Hafod is keen to support its employees through this difficult period and we are doing this in a number of different ways. A colleague loan facility has been put in place to help colleagues who have suffered financial consequences from the COVID-19 outbreak, for example if they are unable to work due to contracting COVID-19, or their partner has lost their job as a result of the infection.

The guidance we have produced explains the criteria and terms of the loans and the procedure for applying for one.

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Purpose

1.1 This procedure has been created to help colleagues who have been adversely affected financially due to covid-19. This procedure sets out the circumstances in which the Association will make an interest-free loan to a colleague, the procedure for making the loan, and the conditions that will apply to the loans.

1.2 The terms of the procedure may be varied from time to time at the Association’s discretion. The Association may terminate the procedure without notice at any time or exclude colleagues from participating in the procedure at its discretion.

1.3 The procedure does not form part of a colleague’s contract

1.4 The Association may make a loan to help a colleague who is in financial difficulty as a result of unexpected expenditure, or loss of income, for example where the colleague:

  • Has been ill due Covid-19 and has been unable to work;
  • A colleague’s spouse (or someone they are financially dependent on) is unable to work due to Covid-19

Loan amount

2.1 The maximum amount that the organisation will lend to colleagues is 50% of the colleague’s average net monthly pay. This will be calculated using your net monthly pay from the previous three periods.

2.2 Loans will be capped at £1000 or 50% of the colleague’s average net monthly pay whichever is lower.

Eligibility

3.1 A colleague is not entitled to apply for a loan where they:

  • are still within their probation period
  • have served notice of resignation
  • have received notice from the Association terminating their employment;
  • are subject to disciplinary proceedings that could result in their dismissal;
  • are subject to an active final written warning;
  • are still making payments from a previous loan agreement

3.2 In deciding whether or not to provide a loan, the organisation may take into account:

  • the colleague’s ability to repay the loan
  • the colleague’s personal circumstances; and
  • extenuating circumstances.

Association's discretion

4.1 The Association will decide at its absolute discretion whether or not to grant a loan to a colleague at their request, and whether or not the full amount of the loan requested will be provided.

4.2 The Association reserves the right to deny a loan application on whatever grounds it deems appropriate.

Repayment period

5.1 The loan repayment period will be agreed between the Association and the colleague and will depend on the type and amount of the loan. The maximum length of a loan repayment period will be up to either 6 months or 12 months depending on the loan amount.

5.2 Once the loan is made, the Association will take deductions of equal monthly instalments from the colleague’s salary for the purposes of repayment of the loan.

5.3 The first deduction will be made from the colleague’s salary as set out in the loan agreement letter.

5.4 Deductions from the colleague’s salary for the purpose of repaying the loan will be itemised on the colleague’s payslip.

Termination of employment

6.1 In the event of the termination of employment for any reason, the colleague will be required to reimburse the Association for the outstanding amount of the loan.

6.2 A deduction equivalent to the outstanding amount on the loan will be made from any final payments due to the colleague. Pay for these purposes includes (but is not limited to) salary, holiday pay, expenses.

6.3 In the event that the colleague’s final pay is insufficient to allow for the whole of any such deduction the colleague will be required to make a separate payment to the organisation.

6.4 If relevant, the Payroll department will set out a schedule for repayment of the outstanding amount.

6.5 If the colleague does not repay the loan in accordance with this procedure, the Association may take legal action to recover the amount outstanding.

Procedure

7.1 To apply for a loan, a colleague must complete a loan application form (Appendix A), which is available on Hoogle or from the HR and Payroll departments.

7.2 The colleague should return the completed form to the payroll department. The Association may take up to five working days to consider the application.

7.3 If the application is approved, payroll will contact the colleague and request that they enter into a written agreement with the Association for repayment of the loan.

7.4 On receipt of the signed written agreement for repayment of the loan, the Association will initiate a transfer direct into the colleague’s bank or building society account, using the details we currently hold on payroll records.

7.5 Any loans agreed will be processed for payment on the Monday, providing the agreement is signed off by the Thursday before.

7.6 It is a disciplinary offence for a colleague to abuse this procedure. If a colleague is found to have abused the procedure, they will be subject to disciplinary proceedings, which could lead to dismissal.

Data protection

8.1 The organisation processes personal data collected during the administration of a loan in accordance with its data protection policy. In particular, data collected as part of the operation of the loan policy is held securely and accessed by, and disclosed to, individuals only for the purposes of processing a loan application. Inappropriate access or disclosure of colleague data constitutes a data breach and should be reported in accordance with the Association’s data protection policy immediately. It may also constitute a disciplinary offence, which will be dealt with under the Association’s disciplinary procedure.

Testing FAQs 

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Which colleagues are being tested?

Currently, regular testing has been made available by Public Health Wales to all colleagues who work in care homes.

Why do colleagues in care homes need to be tested?

Testing will help us stop the spread of the virus and protect our residents and fellow colleagues. 80% of coronavirus infections being very mild or asymptomatic, it simply isn’t enough to rely on feeling well to rule out having the virus

I have tested positive. Will I need to be tested again?

No you will not need to be tested again.

The only exception is colleagues who have previously tested positive (either by polymerase chain reaction (PCR) or antibody test) should still self-isolate and be tested again if they become symptomatic.

I have tested positive, what does that mean?

You should self-isolate for seven days from the date of your test or symptom onset. After seven days, or longer, if you still have symptoms other than cough or loss of sense of smell/taste, you must continue to self-isolate until you feel better. You need to have not had a fever for 48 hours and generally feel better.

My test result was inconclusive, what should I do?

The advice is the same as if you tested positive. That is, you should self-isolate for seven days from the date of your test or symptom onset. After seven days, or longer, if you still have symptoms other than cough or loss of sense of smell/taste, you must continue to self-isolate until you feel better. You need to have not had a fever for 48 hours and generally feel better.

We will also ask that you be tested again if the onset of the symptoms was less than five days ago.

What pay will I receive?

You are entitled to your contractual sick pay. You may be able to use holiday if you have holiday available and it is approved by your manager. Please discuss and agree this with your line manager over
the telephone.

How long will the regular testing continue?

We will continue to follow the latest advice and guidance from Public Health Wales and Welsh Government about testing.

I do not work in a care home and would like to be tested.

Anyone with coronavirus symptoms can apply for a test.

I have been in contact with someone who has tested positive, what should I do?

You should self-isolate for 14 days and read this information about ‘contact’ to make sure you understand what it means.

Contact means you have been close to someone who has tested positive for COVID-19 anytime from two days before the person was symptomatic up to seven days from onset of symptoms (this is when they are infectious to others) and you haven’t been wearing PPE.

A contact is defined as:

  • Spending significant time within the same household as a person who has tested positive for COVID-19
  • A person who you have had face-to-face contact with (within one metre), has tested positive for COVID-19. This includes being coughed on, having a face-to-face conversation within one metre, having skin-to-skin physical contact, or contact within one metre for one minute or longer without face-to-face contact
  • If you have been within 2 metres of someone who has tested positive for COVID-19 for more than 15 minutes
  • If you have travelled in a small vehicle with someone who has tested positive for COVID-19 or in a large vehicle or plane near someone who has tested positive for COVID-19

If you are unsure, please discuss with your line manager.

Holiday entitlement FAQs 

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I’m in a frontline role and can’t take my holiday due to the current situation?

If you are in a key worker role and are unable to take your holiday due to covid-19 and supporting the
business at this time guidelines have changed to allow you to carry over up to 4 weeks holiday entitlement into the following two holiday years.

If I carry over holiday entitlement, how long do I have to use it?

You will have a period of 2 years to use any unused holiday entitlement you carry over for reasons relating to COVID-19.

What about my holiday entitlement that is over the statutory 4 weeks?

You will be able to carry over 4 weeks into the following two holiday years. Any holiday entitlement over the 4 weeks that you are unable to take will be paid to you.

My holiday plans have changed do I need to cancel my pre-booked holiday?

We understand you may want to keep your holiday entitlement in case you are able to go later in the year but we encourage you to take some leave to ensure you are able to take all your holiday entitlement
within this holiday year. This will also depend on the role you are carrying out at this time.

My holiday has been postponed, can I move my booked holiday to another date later in the year?

If you know when your holiday is going to take place you may be able to move the dates of your holiday.
Please discuss this with your line manager to make sure you are able to book the new holiday dates before making holiday new arrangements.

I’ve cancelled my holiday and now have a large holiday balance to use by the end of my holiday year.

Colleagues are encouraged to have regular breaks from work throughout the year and this should continue when working remotely.

As a guide you should spread your holiday throughout the year in line with your entitlement, for example if you are half way through your holiday year you should have used half of your holiday entitlement.

If you have cancelled holiday due to supporting the business during the covid-19 outbreak (see questions 1 and 2).

If I don’t use all my holiday by the end of the holiday year can I carry if over?

This will depend on the role you carry out at this time.

Central services – colleagues are expected to use their holiday entitlement within their holiday year as per the normal holiday process.

Frontline care colleagues – there are separate arrangements in place for frontline colleagues who have
not been able to take their holiday due to COVID-19 (see questions 1 & 2).

Can a request for holiday be turned down?

We will try and allow colleagues to take holiday when requested however we recognise that due to the
current pressure on our business we may have to turn down requests for holiday, particularly for our
frontline colleagues.

Can I use holiday instead of SSP if I’m self–isolating?

Yes this can be considered if you have holiday available to use. Please discuss and agree this with your line manager.

Can I use holiday if I’m isolating and taking unpaid leave?

Yes this can be considered if you have holiday available to use. Please discuss and agree this with your line manager.

I’ve returned to work following a period of selfisolation, can I retrospectively take holiday for that time?

Yes this can be considered if you have holiday available to use and you have not already been paid your
SSP entitlement via payroll for the period you were off . Please speak with your manager to see if this
option is available for you.

I have a query about my holiday balance, who should I speak to?

You can speak to your line manager in the first instance or contact the HR Admin team via
HR.Admin@hafod.org.uk.

Key worker FAQs 

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Who are key workers?

Key workers are people whose jobs are vital to public health and safety during the coronavirus lockdown. Because their work is so vital, the Government is keen to ensure that they are able to carry out their jobs with as little restriction as possible. This includes being able to put their children in school and use necessary transport links.

The list includes frontline health and social care staff such as doctors, nurses, midwives, paramedics, plus support and specialist staff in the health and social care sector. A full list is available here.

Can children of non-key workers still go to school?

No, they should be at home and follow social distancing guidelines.

Do both parents need to be key workers?

No, as long as one parent is a key worker they are able to go to school.

Do the children have to go to school?

No, this is an offer to parents and carers and there is no requirement to send children to school if do not wish to do so or do not need childcare, although the government say that every child who can be safely cared for at home should be.

What age groups does this cover?

In Wales it covers children at primary and secondary schools and further education colleges.

Will schools and colleges be open over the Easter holidays for holiday clubs and childcare?

The government is encouraging schools and colleges to continue to look after critical workers’ children and vulnerable children throughout the Easter holidays. Contact the school or college for more details.

I am a key worker but I don’t want to send my child in to school, do I have to?

Many parents working in these critical sectors may be able to ensure their child is kept at home. Every child who can be safely cared for at home should be.

This is an offer to parents and carers and there is no requirement for parents and carers to send their children to school if they do not need or wish to do so.

For vulnerable children, your child’s social worker will work with you to assess the best option for your child.

How do I find out if my school is open and offering care for key workers?

Not all school have taken the decision to stay open to provide support. You will need to contact your child’s school for further information.

What information do I need to provide to the school to prove that I am classed as a key worker?

The government haven’t provided guidance on this but some schools may already have a list of information or documentation they may accept. If you require further proof please contact the HR department.

Colleague FAQs

Taking leave to look after a dependent

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What happens if I have to take emergency leave to look after a dependent?

If you are a carer you can take unpaid emergency leave for two days to deal with an emergency situation.  You can also apply for annual leave if required.

Dependent on your role, it is expected that where possible all efforts should be made by you (in agreement with your manager) to undertake some work remotely.  You should discuss flexible working opportunities with your manager.

What is Hafod's policy when schools close?

As an organisation that cares for vulnerable people our priority is the care and safety of our customers and colleagues.

Whilst we appreciate that school closures will impact on our colleagues we will need to continue to provide services to our customers.

We ask therefore that colleagues with caring responsibilities consider as soon as possible how they will manage their childcare responsibilities during a school closure. We will support colleagues wherever we can by varying working hours and shift patterns to meet their needs. We ask colleagues to discuss their childcare concerns with their manager as soon as possible and before any closures are announced to allow for effective planning for all parties.

An announcement has been made that schools in Wales will close from Friday 20th March.  We will review all guidance and update colleagues accordingly.

I have a relative / family member living with me, who has a serious medical condition, what should I do?

You need to assess your situation and put in place measures that protect your relative / family member. Where required you should also take advice from an appropriate medical professional.

Colleagues with underlying health conditions

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I have an underlying health condition as stated by the government, does this mean that I cannot work?

If the health condition is identified by Public Health Wales as putting you at higher risk if you were to contract Covid-19 then you should discuss this with your line manager to establish what alternative arrangements can be put in place for you. 

This will need to be agreed on a case by case basis following an assessment and recognising individual circumstances.  Where possible the organisation will make reasonable adjustments to enable colleagues to continue working whilst considering their health conditions and concerns.

Self-isolation and working from home

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I have been told to self-isolate. Will I be asked to work from home?

This depends on your role and whether or not you feel well.  If you are feeling well and self-isolating for precautionary reasons (e.g. you have recently returned from an area listed by the FCO but do not feel unwell) it is expected that all efforts should be made for you to undertake some work remotely.  This should be agreed between you and your line manager on a case by case basis. 

I have been told to self-isolate and the work I do means that I can’t work from home. Can I take annual leave rather than receive SSP?

Yes this can be considered if you have annual leave available to use.  You should follow normal annual leave request processes.

Will Hafod pay my utility bills if I am working from home?

This is a unique situation and homeworking may be put in place for your safety.  As a not for profit organisation, we need to carefully consider what we spend. We consider that the costs of coming into an office would match any costs incurred through home-working.

We also advise colleagues working from home that they utilise Wi-Fi calling such as messenger and WhatsApp to enable free telephone calls. We are also very aware that a lot of colleagues have unlimited phone calls as part of their phone packages. If you do feel that you need some additional support please discuss this with your line manager.

I have never worked from home. How do I assess whether I have a safe working environment?

An online DSE assessment is available on Hoogle to assist you with your home working set up.

What pay will I receive if I am absent due to Covid-19?

The HR team have issued sick pay guidelines to each manager who can advise you of your particular entitlement. Whether you are showing symptoms of COVID-19 or are self-isolating due to a member of your household showing symptoms of COVID-19, you will receive your usual sick pay entitlement.

Do I have to provide a fit note if I have Covid-19 or if I am advised to self-isolate?

You can now obtain a fit note for covid-19 reasons through the NHS 111 website. Please ensure you send this to your line manager as soon as you are safely able to do so. 

I have been advised to self isolate, can I take annual leave rather than receive SSP?

Yes, this can be considered if you have annual leave available to use. Please discuss and agree this with your manager.  The usual annual leave request process should be followed.

I’m required to self-isolate. Will this contribute to my sickness absence trigger/Bradford Factor score?

No. All absences due to Covid-19 will be discounted for Bradford Factor calculations.

I am in a group identified as being at an increased risk of severe illness from Covid-19? What will I get paid if I am not able to work?

If you are unable to work you will receive your usual sick pay entitlement.

What happens if there is an enforced site/office closure?

You will be expected to work from home or from another location. 

If I cannot carry out my normal duties and I do not have the facilities to work from home, will I still get paid?

As we are a 24/7/365 operation you may be asked to carry out alternative duties to support the business. For example, if you usually work in head office you may be asked to carry out work in one of our care facilities. In these circumstances you will receive your normal pay.

If a manager works a front-line shift in addition to their normal working week, what will they be paid?

Managers will be paid for the shift they are covering; i.e. Senior Carer

I need to self-isolate but I am not eligible for SSP

If you do not meet the eligibility criteria for SSP you may be required to take unpaid leave. Alternatively you may be able to take annual leave.  Please see earlier question: I have been advised to self isolate, can I take annual leave rather than receive SSP?

Training

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I am due to attend training at an internal training facility. Is it still going ahead?

The only internal training currently happening is manual handling. All other training has been cancelled apart from e-learning.

Can I attend external training and conferences?

No. All attendance at external training and conferences has been cancelled.

What is happening to AWIF training?

We have reviewed the AWIF induction requirements and they will be delivered over eight e-learning modules, but manual handling will still need to be delivered during a face-to-face session. These sessions will be carried out by in-home manual handling trainers and our in-house L&D team (once a risk assessment has been completed).

Shielding

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What is shielding?

Shielding is a measure to protect people who are clinically extremely vulnerable by minimising all interaction between those who are extremely vulnerable and others.

Those colleagues who fall into this category will be contacted directly by the NHS. This evidence may be requested by Hafod (see question 3). 

Who falls under the category of extremely vulnerable?

People who are extremely vulnerable include:

  • Solid organ transplant recipients
  • People with specific cancers:
    • people with cancer who are undergoing active chemotherapy or radical radiotherapy for lung cancer
    • people with cancers of the blood or bone marrow such as leukaemia, lymphoma or myeloma who are at any stage of treatment
  • people having immunotherapy or other continuing antibody treatments for cancer
  • people having other targeted cancer treatments which can affect the immune system, such as protein kinase inhibitors or PARP inhibitors
  • people who have had bone marrow or stem cell transplants in the last 6 months, or who are still taking immunosuppression drugs
  • People with severe respiratory conditions including all cystic fibrosis, severe asthma and severe COPD.
  • People with rare diseases and inborn errors of metabolism that significantly increase the risk of infections (such as SCID, homozygous sickle cell).
  • People on immunosuppression therapies sufficient to significantly increase risk of infection.
  • Women who are pregnant with significant heart disease, congenital or acquired.

Should I attend work if I fall in the category of extremely vulnerbale?

Shielding is for your personal protection, you should not to attend work.

If you are well and able to work from home, you will be required to work from home, where this is not possible, please speak to your line manager.

The NHS is directly contacting people with these conditions to provide further information, as per the government advice, people who are extremely vulnerable are being asked to self-isolate for a 12 week period on the day you receive the letter.  If you fall within this category you should notify you rline manager and provide a copy of your NHS letter.  Please note this period of time could change, we will keep our guidance in line with the governments.

I do not have one of the underlying illnesses listed above and I am choosing to shield

You are required to attend work as normal if you do not have one of the underlying conditions listed above.

You should discuss with your line manager any preventative and self-protection measures that you are able to take in the workplace. Your line manager may be able to grant annual leave whilst you put measures in place.

If you choose to shield and refuse to attend work, the time you take off will be unpaid and unauthorised and may result in the disciplinary process being instigated.

I live at home with a family member who is in the extremely vulnerable category, should I attend work?

You do not need to shield, and should still attend the workplace.

Please discuss with your line manager measures that can be put in place to support you e.g. working from home, lifts to work with colleagues to avoid public transport. Your line manager may be able to grant annual leave whilst you put measures in place.

You can also put in place measures to protect those you live with:

1. Minimise as much as possible the time family members spend in shared spaces such as kitchens, bathrooms and sitting areas, and keep shared spaces well ventilated.

2. Aim to keep 2 metres (3 steps) away from people you live with and encourage them to sleep in a different bed where possible.

3. If you can, you should use a separate bathroom from the rest of the household. Make sure you use separate towels from the other people in your house, both for drying themselves after bathing or showering and for hand-hygiene purposes.

4. If you do share a toilet and bathroom, it is important that they are cleaned after use every time (for example, wiping surfaces you have come into contact with). Another tip is to consider drawing up a rota for bathing, with you using the facilities first.

5. If you share a kitchen, avoid using it while others are present. If you can, you should take your meals back to your room to eat. If you have one, use a dishwasher to clean and dry the family’s used crockery and cutlery. If this is not possible, wash them using your usual washing up liquid and warm water and dry them thoroughly. If you are using your own utensils, remember to use a separate tea towel for drying these.

We understand that it will be difficult for some people to separate themselves from others at home. You should do your very best to follow this guidance and everyone in your household should regularly wash their hands, avoid touching their face, and clean frequently touched surfaces.

If you and your household are following the advice on social distancing and minimise the risk of spreading the virus within the home by following the advice above, there is no need for you to also shield alongside other family members.

If you choose to shield and refuse to attend work, the time you take off will be unpaid and unauthorised and may result in the disciplinary process being instigated.

I am aged 70 years or older, but I do not have one of the listed medical conditions, should I shield?

If you are over 70 and do not have one of the listed medical conditions, you do not fall within the shielding category.  The government has advised that if you are over 70 you should take social distancing steps which are:

  • Avoid contact with someone who is displaying symptoms of coronavirus (COVID-19). These symptoms include high temperature and/or new and continuous cough.
  • Avoid non-essential use of public transport when possible – work from home, where possible.
  • Avoid large and small gatherings in public spaces, noting that pubs, restaurants, leisure centres and similar venues are currently shut as infections spread easily in closed spaces where people gather together.
  • Avoid gatherings with friends and family. Keep in touch using remote technology such as phone, internet, and social media.
  • Use telephone or online services to contact your GP or other essential service.

Health and well-being

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What health and well-being support is available to colleagues?

All Hafod colleagues have access to LifeWorks which has a wealth of information and resources to support your mental, physical social and financial well-being.  You can also save money with everyday items that you buy using Perks and can earn cashback when you shop online through the LifeWorks platform.

LifeWorks also has a handy coronavirus toolkit to provide you with tools and resources on the following topics:

  • Advice of the symptoms of the covid-19
  • A guide to preventative measures
  • Tips for self isolating
  • Financial advice
  • Maintaining your mental and physical well-being

There are also lots of other useful resources – here are  a couple that we think are useful:

How do I access LifeWorks?

Go to www.login.lifeworks.com or download the LifeWorks app on your mobile phone, click on ‘sign up’ then enter your invitation code, click ‘submit’ and create personal credentials (email address/password) for future logins. Your invitation code is HAF- followed by your payroll number. For example, if your payroll number is 123 then your invitation code is HAF-123.

You can also contact LifeWorks EAP by phone on 0800 169 1920 or via live chat through the app or website for confidential, professional support 24/7.

What financial support and advice is available to colleagues?

Eligible colleagues are able to access a short term interest free loan.  More information is available on the Hafod website.

LifeWorks has information on coping with financial instability at this time. 

The Hafod Smart Money team is also available to colleagues as well as tenants.  Contact our Head Office on 02920 675800 and ask for the Smart Money team or email at smartmoneyteam@hafod.org.uk  providing your name and telephone number and a brief snapshot of the issue.

The Smart Money team can help with:

  • Ensuring you are getting all the benefits/income you are entitled to.
  • Understanding changes to the benefits system, including Universal Credit.
  • Helping you to prioritise how you spend your money to ensure you pay the most important bills first and don’t get into arrears.
  • How to deal with debts and to help you manage your arrears.
  • Getting the best deals on utility bills and phone contracts.
  • Saving money and considering comparisons for affordable loans.
  • How to avoid loan sharks, payday loans and high cost rent to own schemes for your essential items.

Useful tip:  If you are self isolating  and use card and key meters energy suppliers are giving emergency credit – contact your supplier to find out what they are offering.

I am worried about a family member's health and well-being

  • Family members of colleagues can access the Lifeworks EAP service. There are also plenty of online resources, see our other Health and well-being FAQ’s

Here are some useful tips:

  • Let them know you’re worried, this is a good way to start a conversation – it shows you care and have time for them.
  • Ask open questions that start with “how”, “what”, “where” or “when”. This can help people open up.
  • Be patient and don’t assume you know the full story. There may be reasons why they have found it difficult to ask for help. Just being there can be helpful for someone who may want to open up later.
  • Do not force someone to talk to you or get help. This may lead to them feeling uncomfortable, with less power and less able to speak for themselves.
  • Offer practical help – little acts of kindness – like offering to do the shopping, sending a nice message.
  • Reassure them -The first time someone mentions their worries is a big step. It’s good to recognise this and reassure them. Let them know you’re there to listen when they need to talk.
  • Do what you usually do – behaving differently can make someone feel more isolated.
  • If they don’t want support, gently explore their reasons for not wanting to get support. If they are unsure whether to get help, just talking and listening without judgement could help work out what’s getting in the way.
  • Look after yourself – It can be upsetting to hear someone you care about in distress. Be kind to yourself and take some time to relax or do something you enjoy.

I am finding working from home difficult

Lifeworks has a number of useful articles with tip’s on working from home, please see how to access Lifeworks in FAQ 1.

Some of the key things you can do are:

  • Do your commute to work – in a different way. Use the time you would have spent travelling to work doing something else to prepare you for your day. You could try yoga, a morning walk, reading a book.
  • Create a dedicated workspace in which you only do work, if possible make it an area away from the common areas in your home.
  • Complete Hafod’s self assessment DSE

  • Plan your workday, make a to do list to help you keep on track, but make sure it’s realistic.
  • Build in time for breaks from your screen, breaking up long spells of DSE work with rest breaks (at least 5 minutes every hour) or changes in activity. Take lunch away from your workspace!
  • Take regular active breaks, getting up to stretch or taking a walk can help to increase your efficiency and reduce errors.
  • Agree when and how often you will communicate with your team and your line manager, keeping in touch is important.
  • Maintain boundaries, make sure that all members of your family understand and respect that even though you are at home, you’re working, setting some guidelines may help. For example, agreeing you’ll only be disturbed if it’s an emergency, informing your family members what times you’ll take a break.
  • Don’t work all day and night, agree a start and finish to your workday and keep to it.

If you are struggling, speak to your line manager.

How can I stay active and healthy when I’m working from home / self isolating

If you’re working from home, take a regular break to get up to stretch or go for a walk, make sure that you adhere to government advice on social distancing.

  • Get as much sunlight, fresh air and nature as you can, if you’re in doors open the windows.
  • Build physical activity into your daily routine, if possible. Exercising at home can be simple and there are options for most ages and abilities, such as:
    • cleaning your home
    • dancing to music
    • going up and down stairs
    • seated exercises
    • sitting less – if you notice you’ve been sitting down for an hour, just getting up or changing position can help.
    • online exercise workouts that you can follow:
      • Subscribe to Joe Wicks – Body coach TV for daily work outs which you can do at home https://www.youtube.com/user/thebodycoach1
      • Les Mills on demand fitness is available via Lifeworks, you can sign-up to a free trial and then receive 33% discount per month afterwards

Aim to do a minimum of 15 minutes exercise each day

How can I keep in contact with colleagues/family members when I'm working from home/self-isolating?

There are plenty of ways to keep in contact with colleagues and families which doesn’t involve face-to-face conversations. Here’s a few examples:

  • You may already have the following apps on your mobile device; Facetime, Google duo, WhatsApp
  • Free group video chat: Zoom, Skype
  • Conference calls through Webex

How can I manage working from home and childcare now that schools are closed?

Think about if you can devise a rota with your spouse or another family member for looking after your children, and discuss the times you may be able to work with your line manager.

Look at implementing a routine to your children’s day, begin by scheduling when you expect your children to do school work and when you want to have meals and breaks.

Set boundaries with your family when you are expected to work and why they need to respect the fact your attention will be focused elsewhere.

Facebook groups are being created for parents and educators to share ideas to keep the children busy during school closures, for example:

  •  Plan C
  •  Family lockdown tips & ideas

Staedtler have opened up their STAEDTLER Teacher’s Club UK for parents and guardians to access and download an array of free, curriculum-linked teaching resources to use at home. To access, simply click here to register (for free) as a Teachers’ Club member online.

What can I do if I'm self-isolating and feeling lonely?

We all need to see and speak to people, and there’s lots of ways to do this:

  • Let friends, family and colleagues know that you’re self-isolating and would love to hear from them.
  • Try video calling with Skype, Whatsapp, or Facebook Messenger – these are free and it can help to see people’s faces.

What things can I do to boost my mental health while self-isolating?

  • Try structuring your day, for example, getting dressed each morning and having set mealtimes for each day. You could have tasks for each day – if you’re not working this could be things such as weeding the garden, sorting out your wardrobe.
  • Eat well and stay hydrated. Drink water regularly. Drinking enough water is important for your mental and physical health. Changing your routine might affect when you drink or what fluids you drink. It could help to set an alarm or use an app to remind you.
  • Have you thought about things to do, books to read or TV shows to watch?
  • Is there something you’d like to learn that you could block out in your day – like learning to cook something new or doing a free online course? What would you enjoy that you can do at home?
  • Have you got materials so you can do something creative, such as paper and colouring pencils?
  • Build in exercise to your day 

Try to maintain regular sleeping patterns and keep up good sleep hygiene practices – like avoiding screens before bed, cutting back on caffeine and creating a restful environment.

I am feeling anxious and scared about the coronavirus

This is a strange situation for all of us, and it’s normal to feel scared when things are uncertain, try and speak to someone if you are feeling anxious.

Try to focus on the things you can control, such as your behaviour, who you speak to, and where and how often you get information.

It’s fine to acknowledge that some things are outside of your control, but if constant thoughts about coronavirus are making you feel anxious or overwhelmed, speak to someone.

You can contact LifeWorks EAP by phone on 0800 169 1920 or via live chat through the app or website for confidential, professional support 24/7. 

Alternatively there are a number of charities thorough the UK who may be able to help:

  • Mind – call 0300 123 3393, or email info@mind.org.uk
  • Anxiety UK: 03444 775 774 (Monday to Friday, 9.30am to 10pm; Saturday to Sunday, 10am to 8pm) or use their Live Chat Advisory Service on https://www.anxietyuk.org.uk/
  • Samaritans: 116 123 (free 24-hour helpline)

Other tips:

  • Stay connected with current events, but be careful where you get news and health information from.
  • Find a credible source you can trust – such as GOV.UK or the NHS website – and fact-check information you get from newsfeeds, social media or other people.
  • Think about how possibly inaccurate information could affect others too. Try not to share information without fact-checking against credible sources. Social media could help you stay in touch with people, but might also make you feel anxious including if people are sharing news stories or posting about their worries. Consider taking a break or limiting how you use social media
    • Do things you normally enjoy, focus on your favorite hobby.
    • Relaxing indoors or connecting with others can help with anxious thoughts and feelings.
    • There are lots of free tutorials and courses online, and people are coming up with inventive new ways to do things, like hosting online pub quizzes and music concerts.

General Questions

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What constitutes an ‘essential’ visit to a tenant?

Our tenants’ needs will vary considerably from situation to situation. We therefore ask that our colleagues make a judgement on what they feel is an appropriate ‘essential visit’ to ensure that the well-being of tenants is catered for and that we meet our statutory and legal obligations.

I have annual leave booked and have now been advised to self-isolate. What happens to my leave?

When colleagues are required to self-isolate, they will be expected to isolate for a 14 day period and will be entitled to their annual leave reimbursement on their return, unless they choose to continue to use their annual leave.

Can I handle postage and packaging from abroad?

Colleagues should continue to follow existing risk assessments and safe systems of work. There is no perceived increase in risk for handling post or freight from specified areas.

Should we shake people’s hands?

This is a personal decision and you should make this decision based on the circumstances. Please remember to follow good hand hygiene practices at all times. 

Should I be attending large scale public events?

Please follow the latest government guidance for mass gatherings – here

Can I go on holiday abroad?

Please follow the latest government advice about travelling abroad – here

Can my manager insist that I take annual leave?

Yes. Your manager can insist that you take annual leave by giving you double the days notice of the number of days they require you to take. E.g. If they require you to take 5 days holiday, they will give you 10 days notice (this includes rest days and non-working days).

Neither I nor anyone in my household has any relevant symptoms but I have decided to self-isolate.

Some colleagues might feel that they do not want to go to work if they’re afraid of catching Covid-19. You should refer the colleague to the online NHS coronavirus symptom checker for advice. However if you have no valid reason why you should not attend work, you should request annual leave. If this cannot be accommodated you should be aware that a refusal to attend work could result in disciplinary action.

Visiting housing customer guidelines (repairs and maintenance)

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What do I do when visiting a home?

  • Knock the door and step back two metres to avoid close contact with the customer
  • Ask if anyone in the home is self-isolating of if they’ve been in contact with anyone who has been diagnosed
  • If no-one in the home is self-isolating or been in contact with someone who is diagnosed then please continue with the work as normal

What do I do if there is someone in the home who is self-isolating or has been in contact?

  • Check to see if the work is an emergency or not (see list below)
  • Call your line manager to discuss whether the work should go ahead. If you and your manager agree that the work is not an emergency then do not enter the home and explain to the customer the work will be re-arranged at a later date.

The following can be classed as emergency work:

  • Gas servicing
  • Electrical servicing (we have added gas and electrical servicing to the usual emergency works list during this time as it is vital that we keep homes safe whilst housing customers are spending more time in their homes.)
  • Gas leaks – please report suspected gas leaks directly to Wales & West Utilities on 0800 111 999.
  • Carbon monoxide alarm alerts.
  • Burst Water Pipes – advise tenant to turn off stop valves if they can.
  • Blocked toilet when sole toilet in dwelling
  • Lift failure.
  • Unstable brickwork.
  • No electricity – ask customer if they have a meter and have checked it recently.
  • Broken windows – we will board up the window then replace during normal working hours – we may charge for this work.
  • Loss of all heating between 30th September & 1st April, or if they have a medical reason meaning they need heating throughout the year.
  • Bad roof leaks – we will undertake a temporary repair, weather permitting arrangements will then be made to carry out the full repair during normal working hours.
  • Securing the property following incidents of racial harassment, fire, domestic violence, police activity, or if property becomes void.
  • Where a situation arises which is clearly an emergency because of the tenants circumstances (e.g. newborn baby, disabilities, support needs etc) but is not covered by the above.

Line Managers

  • Record that the job has been postponed, the reason why and confirm that the customer knows this.
  • Make arrangements so no other work can be made on the property during the period of self-isolation.
  • Make sure the customer is contacted before future work to confirm nobody in their home is self-isolating.

If you and your Line Manager have agreed the work is an emergency

Consider if you have an underlying health condition e.g. diabetes. If you do don’t enter the property, call your Line Manager and seek advice.

If you don’t have an underlying health condition please continue as follows:

  • Ask the customer to move the infected person into a room with a door closed in an area away from where you’re working.
  • Ask everyone else in the property to go into another room and for them to stay two metres away at all times.
  • Use disposable gloves (Nitrile or Latex free surgical), disposable paper aprons.
  • Wear all other personal protection equipment (foot wear, eye protection etc).
  • Avoid touching surfaces when possible.
  • Once you’ve completed the work remove all disposable PPE (gloves last) and double bag, tie the final bag for normal disposal.
  • Do not touch your face until you have cleaned your hands.
  • Make sure you have enough personal protection equipment and hand gel for your next job.

Line manager action

  • Place the colleague on another job and arrange for another colleague to attend in their place (confirm that they don’t have an underlying health condition).

If you have any issues, problems or queries then contact your line manager in the first instance. If you are unclear about any job or situation which also may arise then please check in and call your manager for advice and guidance first.

Useful guidance documents