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HR Director Covid-19 briefing – 12th June

June 15th, 2020 Category: Company News Covid-19 Press Releases Staff

As you are aware, the Government have loosened the lockdown restrictions to enable people to have a little more freedom, which is a positive step to gaining some sort of normality back to all of our lives. We are seeing more of our customer sites open and more of our employees return to work from furlough. In our next step at Nviro, we plan to open our Head Office on 4th July, and Clair will be sending out some further information about the phased opening and how this will work.

We see some changes to our personal lives too, with the Government setting out its plan to return life to as near normal as we can. You may be seeing differing advice or contradicting information about this in the media, and I’ve found the following link really useful and clear in terms of what you can and can’t do now in our personal and social lives, in accordance with Government guidelines:

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/coronavirus-outbreak-faqs-what-you-can-and-cant-do/coronavirus-outbreak-faqs-what-you-can-and-cant-do

As of 9am this morning there have been 6,240,801 tests for coronavirus, with 197,007 tests carried out yesterday. 291,409 people have now tested positive for the virus. As of 5pm yesterday, of those who have tested positive for coronavirus, across all settings, 41,279 have sadly passed away – a rise of 151 fatalities from the day before. We are seeing a steady decline in deaths overall, but need to be cautious that we are still in a pandemic, and social distancing and hygiene both in our personal lives and at work is still vital.

In terms of key updates for our employees and managers, I have attached the latest HR Director update which covers useful information, including the latest on shielding, self-isolating, test and trace system, travelling abroad and changes to the furlough scheme.

We now are getting ready to enter a really exciting time at Nviro, where we will start to see a change in the need for cleaning to a focus on hygiene and sanitisation. It is now more important than ever to maintain the message that we saw countrywide throughout the pandemic; that our frontline staff are vitally important, are valued and are a visible workforce and everyone working for Nviro should feel really proud of what we do as a business and what we’ve achieved. Thank you everyone!

Please do keep sharing your good news stories, celebrating success, giving us
feedback, following us on Facebook and engaging with our drop in sessions. Brian is still running his askbrian@nviro.co.uk email too which is open to frontline employees also.

Finally keep calm, flexible and pragmatic, and have a brilliant weekend!

Hannah Miller
HR Director

As you are aware, the Government have loosened the lockdown restrictions to enable people to have a little more freedom, which is a positive step to gaining some sort of normality back to all of our lives. Please continue to be safe, continue to social distance, keep hygiene levels high and look after each other. These steps are paramount in taking further steps back to normality and reducing the risk of infection.

Please see below for some of the most commonly asked questions following new Government updates.

What does ‘stay alert’ actually mean?

It means use your common sense, but the Government breaks it down like this:

  • Stay at home as much as possible
  • If you go outside keep your distance from people outside your household
  • Keep your hands and face as clean as possible
  • Work from home if you can
  • Reduce the number of people you spend time with in a work setting
  • Avoid crowds
  • If you have to travel (for example, to work or school), think about how and when you travel
  • Wash your clothes regularly
  • Keep indoor places well ventilated
  • When at work, follow the advice given to you by your employer

For more information please follow the link: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/staying-alert-and-safe-social-distancing/staying-alert-and-safe-social-distancing

When should I stay at home?

You should immediately self-isolate for 7 days if you have any of the following symptoms:

The most important symptoms of coronavirus (COVID-19) are recent onset of any of the following:

  • a high temperature
  • a loss of, or change in, your normal sense of taste or smell (anosmia)
  • a new continuous cough

For most people, coronavirus (COVID-19) will be a mild illness. However, if you have any of the symptoms above you must stay at home and arrange to have a test to see if you have COVID-19. If the test comes back negative, you do not need to continue to self-isolate.

How do I know if I should continue to self-isolate passed the initial 7 days?

After 7 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 do not need to self-isolate if you only have a cough or loss of sense of smell/taste after 7 days, as these symptoms can last for several weeks after the infection has gone.

What if someone in my household has symptoms of COVID-19?

The person suffering with symptoms should arrange to have a test to see if they have COVID-19, as soon as possible. All people living in the same household, should self-isolate for 14 days to limit any further infection. If the COVID-19 test comes back negative, you do not need to continue to self-isolate.

How do I know where I can get tested?

Please visit https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/coronavirus-covid-19/testing-for-coronavirus/ to find out how to arrange testing and where testing is being carried out in your local area.

If you are tested positive for COVID-19 it is imperative that you do not come to work and inform your line manager as soon as possible.

If you previously tested positive for COVID-19 and have another episode of symptoms, do you need to self-isolate again?

If you have tested positive for coronavirus (COVID-19), you will probably have developed some immunity to the disease. But it cannot be guaranteed that will happen in all cases, nor exactly for how long that will last.

If you have previously tested positive but develop symptoms again, you must self-isolate for at least 7 days from onset of symptoms and be tested. If you live in a household with other people, all other household members must stay at home for 14 days.

What will happen if I attend work when I am suffering with COVID-19 symptoms?

If you have any symptoms of COVID-19, have not been tested to confirm you do not have it, and continue to attend work, this may be classified as gross misconduct and could lead to your dismissal from Nviro.

For some people COVID-19 can be deadly and you should do all you can to stop the transmitting the disease to others.

What is the Government advice on travelling abroad?

The Government currently advises British nationals against all but essential international travel. This advice is being kept under constant review.

Travelling abroad during these unprecedented times, is at your own risk, and you may be asked to quarantine when you arrive abroad or be refused entry.

Anyone returning to the UK will be required to self-isolate for 14 days upon their return, in accordance with Government guidance.

For more information please follow this link: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/travel-advice-novel-coronavirus

What is the Company’s stance on employees who want to travel abroad at this time?

The Company guidance on this is as follows:

  • Book your annual leave as per the normal holiday booking procedures and inform your manager of your plans to travel abroad at this stage and the reasons why. You will need to allow for an additional 14 day period of leave due to the requirement to self-isolate upon your return to the UK. You must also check if the country you want to travel to also requires you to quarantine upon arrival and you must inform you manager of this and include this in your holiday booking.
  • Await authorisation from your manager prior to booking any flights or travel tickets, as your manager may not be able to accommodate this extended period of leave.
  • It is at your line manager’s discretion whether they agree any extended period of leave to go abroad.
  • If you already have pre-booked flights that are still due to go ahead during pre-booked authorised annual leave, please inform your manager as soon as possible so that you can both make the necessary arrangements for the two weeks of self-isolation following your return to the UK.
  • You will not be paid for the 14 day self-isolation period unless it is agreed with your manager that this is to come out of your annual leave entitlement.

I’m currently shielding based on medical/government advice. What has changed?

The government has updated its guidance for people who are shielding taking into account that COVID-19 disease levels have decreased over the last few weeks.

People who are shielding remain vulnerable and should continue to take precautions but can now leave their home if they wish, as long as they are able to maintain strict social distancing. If you choose to spend time outdoors, this can be with members of your own household. If you live alone, you can spend time outdoors with one person from another household. Ideally, this should be the same person each time. If you do go out, you should take extra care to minimise contact with others by keeping 2 metres apart. This guidance will be kept under regular review.

For more information on shielding follow the link: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/guidance-on-shielding-and-protecting-extremely-vulnerable-persons-from-covid-19/guidance-on-shielding-and-protecting-extremely-vulnerable-persons-from-covid-19

Does this mean if I am shielding I can now come back to work?

The Government is currently advising people to shield until 30 June 2020 and is regularly monitoring this position. The only change is to allow for careful time outside in the fresh air away from other people, to help with mental wellbeing. If you are shielding you are still unable to spend time in other buildings or enclosed places. Therefore for our frontline employees currently shielding, you will be unable to return to work for now.

What if I do not want to be shielded?

Shielding is for your personal protection and the Government have advised it’s your choice to decide whether to follow the shielding measures they advise. However if you are classed as clinically extremely vulnerable, Nviro may not be able to put in place the stringent measures needed to keep you safe on site and therefore would be unable to facilitate a return to work at the moment. If you would like to talk about your individual circumstances you can do this with your line manager and our HR department.

If I am shielding what are my options if I can’t return to work?

In most circumstances you will remain Furloughed under the Government Job Retention Scheme. If you are not eligible for Furlough you can take annual leave or be paid in line with your sickness entitlement.

Will Nviro still pay 80% if I am off work because I am self-isolating following government guidelines?

If you are not eligible to be furloughed, Nviro will still ensure you receive 80% of your wage if you are self-isolating in line with government guidance. This is in place until 3 July. Thereafter you will receive payment in line with your sickness entitlement, or you have the option to request annual leave. This will be reviewed regularly.

Do Nviro still pay a premium for working on the frontline?

The premium policy ceased on 29 May as we slowly start to resume normal service.

What if I’m too worried to return to work even though I am being told I should?

Nviro have put in place measures to allow your safe return to work and your line manager will discuss the return to work risk assessment with you to alleviate any fears.

If you still have concerns you can discuss these with your line manager who can talk to you about your individual circumstances and individual options.

What if I’m over 70 or vulnerable and unsure whether I can return to work?

If you are classed as clinically extremely vulnerable, you should have been contacted by the NHS or your GP to advise you of this.

If you are not in this category you are able to return to work if advised to, including over 70’s, as Nviro have put in place measures to allow your safe return to work, in line with our risk assessment that you must follow.  If you have concerns you can discuss these with your line manager who can talk to you about your individual circumstances and individual options.

How should I wash my uniform?

To minimise the possibility of dispersing the virus through the air, do not shake dirty laundry.

Wash items in accordance with the manufacturer’s instructions as soon as possible after finishing work and entering your home. All dirty laundry can be washed in the same load.

If you do not have a washing machine, wait a further 72 hours after your duration of isolation has ended when you can then take the laundry to a public launderette.

Should I be wearing a face mask if I am using public transport?

At present it is not mandatory to wear a face covering on public transport, but the Government are looking to make this mandatory from Monday 15 June 2020.

Social distancing and hand washing remain by far the most important disease prevention measures but it is recommended that passengers travelling on buses, coaches, trains, trams, ferries and aircraft should wear a face covering (doesn’t have to be a face mask) as it can help people to avoid unknowingly spreading the virus if they are suffering from coronavirus, but not showing symptoms. People should wash their hands or use hand sanitiser before putting their face covering on and after taking it off and it is important that people don’t touch their face covering when wearing it, where possible, to avoid hand to mask transmission of the virus.

Wherever possible people should continue to avoid public transport and walk, cycle or drive instead.

What is the NHS Test and Trace service?

The NHS test and trace service will help reduce the spread of the infection and save lives. By playing your part through the actions set out in the below link, you will directly help to contain the virus.

You are therefore responsible as part of the UK population to make yourself aware of the track and trace system. Information can be found following this link: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/nhs-test-and-trace-how-it-works

What do I do if I have been contacted by the NHS test and trace service because I have been in close contact with someone who has tested positive for coronavirus?

You need to self-isolate for 14 days even if you do not have symptoms and inform your line manager of this. Your line manager may ask you to provide evidence.

How will I be paid if I have been told to isolate for 14 days following test and trace?

Up until the 3 of July you will be paid 80% of your salary. Thereafter you will receive payment in line with your sickness entitlement, or you have the option to request annual leave. This will be reviewed regularly. You may also be eligible to be furloughed.

What are the changes to the Coronavirus Job retention Scheme (Furlough scheme)?

From 1 July 2020 onwards the CJRS scheme will be restricted to previously furloughed workers. The CJRS will therefore close to new entrants on 30 June. In view of the need for any furlough period to last a minimum of 3 weeks, this means that the final date by which an employer can furlough a worker for the first time will be 10 June. Employers will therefore need to ensure any workers they wish to furlough and claim for under the CJRS have been placed on furlough leave by 10 June.

From 1 July 2020, the scheme will become more flexible allowing employers to bring furloughed workers back to work on a part time basis if appropriate. More information to be released on how this will work.

From 1 September, the government’s contribution will reduce to 70% of wages up to a cap of £2,187.50 per month. From 1 October, the government’s contribution will reduce to 60% of wages up to a cap of £1,875.

The scheme will close in its entirety on 31 October 2020.

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