FAQs about Human Resources

The health and wellbeing of our students, staff and visitors is of the highest importance.

The purpose of the following information on coronavirus (COVID-19) is to inform, educate and reassure our staff based on the latest available information and guidance from UK Government authorities.

We understand that you may have many questions about coronavirus and its impact on you as a member of staff and we have endeavoured to provide as much information as we can in the Qs and As below.

Please be aware that this is an ever-changing situation and this information will continue to be updated as the situation evolves.

The advice is that “No school should close in response to a suspected (or confirmed) COVID-19 case unless directed to do so by Public Health England.”

What is the Public Health Advice for returning to work?

We have compiled a document summarising the advice from Public Health England in relation to returning to work at schools. You can access the full document via the download button below:

TWHF - Staff Guidance on Returning to Work Download

When should staff and students stay away from school after potential exposure to Coronavirus?

Schools are under a duty to protect the health and well-being of those employed at and studying at the school. Students and staff should not be admitted where this would conflict with the NHS advice on, for example, self-isolation.

The current NHS advice is that individuals should stay at home for 7 days when:

  • They have a high temperature – they feel hot to the touch on their chest or back – or a new, continuous cough – this means that they’ve started coughing repeatedly.
  • Do not go to a GP surgery, pharmacy or hospital.
  • They do not need to contact NHS 111 to tell them they’re staying at home.
  • NHS will not be testing people who are self-isolating with mild symptoms.

Staff should check the current NHS advice https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/coronavirus-covid-19/

If the NHS advice is telling you to self-isolate, you should stay away from work. Please advise your staff absence as soon as possible and by 6 pm for a following day absence.

If you have concerns about attending work due to a personal medical vulnerability, then you should seek specific medical advice and discuss your circumstances with your line manager so that an appropriate risk assessment can be undertaken, and reasonable adjustments made.

What about pay and sick pay when absent from work?

School employees covered by the Burgundy Book (teachers) and Green Book (support staff) sick pay schemes are entitled to full pay for absence when they are required to be absent due to infectious illness and this absence does not count against sick pay entitlements.

Although there is normally a requirement that an approved medical practitioner attests that there is evidence to show a reasonable probability that an absence was due to an infectious or contagious illness contracted directly in the course of the staff employment, we are in an exceptional set of circumstances and will not be asking for this at this point in time.

We will ask staff to make a standard self-declaration; although this will not be recorded against a staff members entitlement to sick leave.

Time off to care for a close family member.

Principals have the discretion to grant up to 3 days’ leave with pay to staff at the time of an urgent domestic problem which may be extended by the governing body to 6 days leave with pay in exceptional circumstances.

Dealing with the care for a close family member due to Coronavirus meets the threshold for serious circumstances which are considered to be urgent and unforeseen and could not have been planned for.

The principal is best placed to make a local decision.

What happens if all schools close?

Wherever possible it is expected that staff will work with their line manager and work from home during normal school term time working periods.

I addition to normal working activities, we are updating TalentLMS so that all staff can use the time to read any mandatory policies as well as have access to a range of free courses. Further details will be provided.

What are some good tips for working from home?

We are entering a period where working lives are different from what we would usually call normal.

You should ensure that you are taking steps to look after your wellbeing during the period of school closures if you are working from home. These include:

  • maintaining regular contact with your manager and colleagues, perhaps to share best practice and keep in touch.
  • being clear about methods of communication to, from and between your manager and colleagues.
  • the need for security and confidentiality of information/papers that may be taken home.
  • ensuring your IT systems are as robust and secure as possible.
  • avoiding being ‘always on’ by ensuring that you identify non-working time, we recognise that working from home may not be normal for many staff. We would advise that you try and work 4-5 hours a day and make time for yourself and your family.
  • have a designated workspace if possible, set up an office space if you can, rather than just working at the kitchen table.
  • have regular breaks and change the scene if you can.
  • being aware of the things that can cause you poor wellbeing and the activities and resources that can help to address this i.e. contacting support service e.g. either Carefirst or Simply Health to access the employee assistance programme if they need support, for example, in relation to heightened feelings of anxiety.
  • check-in regularly with friends.
  • have a routine.
  • get some exercise – get out first thing for a walk (within the new guidelines), as you may get consumed by the day.
  • dress for work – wear what you’d normally wear rather than your PJs.
  • don’t watch any TV during the day, not even lunchtime.
  • have a regular lunch hour and take it away from your desk.
  • call people rather than just email to avoid feeling isolated.
  • log out of social media if you can or have set time limits on it.
  • it’s important to get up and walk around once in a while.
  • have a spreadsheet of weekly to-do lists and aim to finish by the end of your usual work hours.
  • have something to look forward to, reward yourself at the end of the day and the end of the week for all your hard work and efforts.

How do I access the Employee Portal for the WHF Employee Information, Benefits and Wellbeing Centre?

The portal can be accessed by clicking on the following link: https://twhf.rewardgateway.co.uk