Guidance for Key Workers

On this page you will find specific guidance for Key Healthcare Workers during the COVID-19 pandemic.  Please refer to your Board tab below for more information.

National Services Scotland

Please refer to the information in the tabs below.  If you cannot find the guidance or advice you are looking for please contact HR using the contact us tab.

NHS 24

Please refer to the information in the tabs below.  If you cannot find the guidance or advice you are looking for please contact HR using the contact us tab.

Public Health Scotland

Please refer to the information in the tabs below.  If you cannot find the guidance or advice you are looking for please contact HR using the contact us tab.

Scottish Ambulance Service

Please refer to the information in the tabs below.  If you cannot find the guidance or advice you are looking for please contact HR using the contact us tab.

The State Hospital

Please refer to the information in the tabs below.  If you cannot find the guidance or advice you are looking for please contact HR using the contact us tab.

    • Coronavirus - Foreign Travel during Covid-19 Pandemic FAQsNational Services Scotland, Public Health Scotland


      1) Can I travel abroad this summer?

      At this time, staff can no longer book foreign travel in good faith on the assumption that a quarantine/self-isolation period will not be required on return.  You should closely follow Foreign and Commonwealth Office and Scottish Government advice in relation to essential international travel and are advised not to travel to a country on the amber or red list.

      Travelling abroad also carries a risk of bringing new cases and variants of COVID-19 into Scotland.  You should think carefully about whether your trip abroad is necessary before booking travel.


      2) If I need to travel abroad due to emergency/unforeseen circumstances, what leave am I entitled to on return?

      If you are travelling for essential international travel such as a consequence of a family illness or bereavement then special leave or homeworking (if appropriate) will be granted, as appropriate, during quarantine/self-isolation arrangements on your return.  You should discuss this with your line manager prior to travel.


      3) If the country I have travelled to changes from the green list to either amber or red while I am there, what leave or payment an I entitled to?

      If an individual travels to a country where no quarantine restrictions apply at the time of travel, and the advice changes whilst they are in that country meaning quarantine is required on return, the employee should work from home if possible.  If this is not possible, this time should be taken as (paid) Special Leave.


      4) If I need to self-isolate or quarantine on return from international travel, what leave am I entitled to on return?

      NHS Scotland staff are advised not to travel to an amber or a red list country and staff should check prior to travel as this can change on a frequent basis.  If staff travel to a country on these lists, and the country has amber or red status prior to travel, they will not be entitled to paid leave if they are required to quarantine or self-isolate on their return.  This will apply even if the country was on the green list at the time of booking.

    • COVID-19 Lifting of Shielding FAQs NSSNational Services Scotland

      1. As a line manager, what should I do if a member of staff is reluctant to return to work after the end of shielding?

      It is appreciated that this will be a difficult time for many as the period of shielding comes to an end.  That’s why it is important to commence discussions as soon as possible.  The Individual Risk Assessment should be undertaken and any required adjustments identified.  If concerns remain, advice should be sought from Occupational Health and HR.  Advice can then be provided on ways of ensuring a safe return to work.

      Support is available for those that require further psychological support from the National Wellbeing Hub and National Wellbeing Helpline.

      2.  I am coming out of shielding and will be returning to the workplace.  I’m very anxious about using public transport to get to work.  What can I do to ensure that I’m safe as I travel to work?

      It’s understandable that you will have concerns.  Transport Scotland has provided a comprehensive guide to how to travel safely during the pandemic.  Please refer to this for the latest advice

      3.  Because I’ve been shielding for so long – I’ve used very little annual leave – what should I do?

      It’s important for your health and wellbeing that you make arrangements to use your annual leave over the rest of the annual leave year.  You should discuss this with your line manager as soon as possible and start scheduling in the leave.

      4.  Is there anything further that I need to do as a line manager of someone who has been shielding?

      The most important thing to do right now is to arrange a conversation with the member of staff and to source any further advice or guidance that is required (eg an OH referral if required).

      Additionally – please don’t forget to update the Special Leave portal to reflect that the period of shielding has ended.

    • What can I do if I cannot access childcare for my child until 18th January 2021?National Services Scotland

      The NSS Special Leave policy may be applied where urgent carer needs arise due to the closure of a school, for example. If you need time off to make alternative arrangements this is also covered within the provisions of the special leave policy.

      However, in the current situation and to support staff during this time, it may be possible for staff with childcare responsibilities to work more flexibly in terms of the hours that they work and the work pattern followed.  This should be discussed, as soon as possible, with your line manager to explore what options may be available.

      Details of the Flexible Working Policies can be found on HR Connect at the following link: Flexible Working Policies.

    • Coronavirus - Guidance for Health Care Workers - Risks to Staff Health FAQsNational Services Scotland

      The FAQs below are in response to recent guidance issued by the Scottish Government. Please note that these FAQs reflect the current position and will be updated, if appropriate, as the COVID-19 outbreak progresses. All Guidance documents relating to COVID-19 can be accessed on Coronavirus Hub.

      1.  Am I a critical worker?

      The term ‘critical worker’ refers to workers who are needed to perform certain functions where, if these functions were not performed, even for a short period of time, and requiring a physical presence, serious damage to the health and welfare of the population would be caused.

      2. Am I a key worker?

      The term ‘key worker’ refers to workers who are needed to perform certain functions where, if these functions were not performed, there could be significant impact to the health and welfare of the population.

      3. How will I know if I’m a critical or a key worker?

      If you fall into either category, you will be advised by your line manager what this means for you in relation to your role and where you should be physically based.

      Based on current Guidance, NSS has produced a list of areas across NSS which contain critical and key workers for the purposes of COVID-19.  Click here to view the NSS list.

      If you are unsure whether you fall into one of these categories, you should speak to your line manager in the first instance.

      4.  Will I have to be tested for COVIDS-19?

      The possibility of testing critical and key workers is being considered as a priority in order to help maintain essential services and enable staff who are currently self-isolating, to return to work at the earliest opportunity. More information regarding this will follow shortly.

      5. Who will carry out the testing for COVID-19?

      There are a number of options for undertaking testing for COVID-19 which are currently being explored by the Scottish Government.

      There will be a communication to staff and their managers as soon as further details become available.

      6.  Who do I contact, as a manager, for a test for COVID-19 to be carried out on a staff member?

      The acquisition of COVID-19 testing kits is a priority for NHS Scotland and we are awaiting further guidance from the Scottish Government as to delivery of these and the arrangements that will be put in place for testing staff who fall into the critical and key worker categories.

      We will be communicating with staff and their managers as soon as further details become available.

      7. What if I don’t want to be tested?

      It is acknowledged that acceptance to being tested is a matter for individual agreement.

      If you decline to be tested, then the normal rules regarding self-isolation apply.

      8. If I am either a critical or key worker, will I have to physically come into my place of work?

      If you are classed as a critical worker, it is highly likely that you will be required to be physically present at your place of work for all or part of your normal working time.

      If you are a key worker, it may be possible for you to undertake your substantive post and work from home.

      The above guidance is different if you are a critical or key worker who has a severe disease/illness or are at risk of contracting a severe disease/illness due to COVID-19 or are pregnant (please refer to Qs 9 below).

      9.  I have not received a shielding letter but I fall within a higher risk category (e.g. I am over 70 years of age, I am pregnant, I am a diabetic, I am asthmatic, etc).  What should I do?

      If  you believe you fall into a higher risk category please inform your line manager as soon as possible so that this can be discussed and a Risk Assessment completed.  This will help to determine:

      - Where you should work from (on-site or from home),

      - Based on your substantive, role what work can be undertaken remotely, and

      - If you are unable to fulfill the requirements of your substantive role remotely, should consideration be given to a temporary deployment within NSS.

      If there are any questions or queries regarding the assessment process, your Manager should contact the Occupational Health Service at

      10.  Who will carry out the risk assessment?

      Your manager should arrange completion with you of the Managers Risk Assessment for Staff at Risk of Severe COVID-19 Ill health.

      11.  Should the Risk Assessments be sent to HR Services to be saved in the personal file?

      Yes, if the risk assessments are sent to HR via the Contact Us form they can be recorded in the person HR file.

      12.  What does it mean if I have to be deployed into a lower risk setting?

      A ‘Resource Deployment List’ is currently being compiled of staff who could be available for deployment to other areas of service need within NSS.

      If you are unable to undertake your normal role because you have an underlying health condition, you will be placed on the ‘Resource Deployment List’ and a member of the COVID-19 Resource Deployment team will be in contact to discuss options with you.

      13.  What work will be available for me if, due to my underlying health condition, I am required to work in a lower risk setting?

      This will very much depend on your knowledge, skills, qualifications, professional registration, work base etc. Information concerning this will be requested from you and a member of the COVID-19 Resource Deployment Team will be in contact with you to discuss options.

      14.  How do I find out the information on post/work availability?

      This will be discussed individually with those staff identified as requiring deployment to a lower risk setting.

      15.  How will the work in a lower risk setting be determined?

      Staff will be matched on the basis of such factors as knowledge, skills, qualifications, professional registration and work base.

      16.  I am a manager and have a staff member in a critical worker role who needs to be physically in the workplace but they are at risk of severe illness. What should I do?

      Line managers should complete the Managers Risk Assessment for Staff at Risk of Severe COVID-19 Ill health and, as appropriate, take advice from Occupational Health.

      17.  How do we ensure Visitors to our sites are fit and well - for example, JCC has Engineers (Contractors) that attend regularly?

      All visitors and contractors are still required to sign in at Reception. The staff on Reception have a process in place which includes seeking positive confirmation that any visitor/contractor is not and has not recently experienced any of the symptoms related to COVID 19.

      18.  What social distancing measures are in place for those attending their place of work?

      Whilst many staff are able to work from home, it’s recognised that some colleagues may need to be onsite to carry out their roles. In some areas, social distancing will be more challenging to fully implement at work, however please remember that you should stay at least two metres away from others.

      Line managers must support staff to follow the Scottish Government guidelines which include social distancing.   

       - stay 2 metres (approx.6 feet) away from other people, this includes taking breaks inside or outside the building

       - wash hands more often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, or use hand sanitiser where available

       - car sharing should only be undertaken with members of your household. Staff who cannot work from home and have concerns about travelling to work should speak with their line manager in the first instance

       - travel should only be undertaken when essential, including travel to and from work where you should have your ID badge with you at all times

       - clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces in your work area

       - wash your hands when you get home or into work, when you blow your nose, sneeze or cough, eat or handle food

       - avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands

       - avoid close contact with people who have symptoms

       - cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in a bin and wash your hands

      This will help prevent the spread of respiratory viruses like COVID-19.