Scottish Government Advice and Board Information
On this page you will find COVID-19 guidance and information published by the Scottish Government or specific communications and information relevant to your Board.
Latest Advice from Scottish Government
Further information relating to specific arrangements within your Board can be found in the Board tabs below. If managers and staff are looking for additional advice you should contact HR using the Contact Us tab.
Healthcare Improvement 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.
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.
Looking after your own health and wellbeing is crucial in the fight against COVID-19. We are all under increased pressure, and its important that we are all able to talk openly and honestly about our wellbeing, including our mental wellbeing. There is a lot of information being circulated at the moment, all offering different advice and support. This in itself, can feel overwhelming. To make it easier for you, we have brought some of this content together on the NHS 24's Intranet.
Additionally, please view:
NHS Education for Scotland
Coronavirus: HR advice for managers and staff
As a result of the unprecedented global spread of coronavirus (COVID-19) NES developed resources, available via the links below to give guidance to managers and employees who are faced with a rapidly changing situation.
There is now an intranet area for Coronavirus HR information for managers and staff on employment and other HR issues.
Please find further guidance following the closure of schools here: COVID-19: Closure of Schools Guidance
We will add further resources and update our guidance as the situation develops.
NHS Golden Jubilee
NHS inform provides the latest national guidance about coronavirus (COVID-19) from NHSScotland and the Scottish Government, including social distancing and stay at home advice. It can be found at https://www.nhsinform.scot/illnesses-and-conditions/infections-and-poisoning/coronavirus-covid-19.
NHS Golden Jubilee Intranet
STAFFnet holds a lot of useful information for staff and management relating to COVID-19. As STAFFnet is an Intranet site it is only available from NHS Golden Jubilee PCs, laptops and mobile devices. COVID-19 information can be found at http://jubileestaffnet/index.php/departments/infection-control/covid-19.
As a result of the unprecedented spread of COVID-19 we have developed resources to support staff and managers during this time. We will add further resources and update our guidance as the situation develops.
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
The State Hospital
The situation with coronavirus (Covid-19) is escalating and changing on a daily basis. We must all take measures not only to protect ourselves but also to ensure that we protect the most vulnerable in society including our patients.
You may be anxious or concerned, but there is much we can do to reduce the risk to ourselves and others. Hand washing, be this soap and water or gel, is the best measure for prevention and managing the risk of infection.
Please be assured that we are doing everything we possibly can to minimise the impact of Covid-19 here, and to keep everyone informed. A staff bulletin will be issued promptly after the 10am Silver Command Meeting each day. Information requiring to be shared as a result of the meeting, will be issued in a supplementary bulletin before 3pm each day where possible. In addition, each one of the Bronze leads have been instructed to communicate with their teams verbally immediately following every Silver Command meeting. This will ensure that on a daily basis staff will be kept well informed of developments. Urgent ‘all user’ emails will be issued as and when required.
Thanks goes to all staff for their hard work and dedication at this particularly difficult time.
- Circular PCS(COV)2020-1 - £500 COVID Bonus Instalment Form
- PCS(COV)2021/1 £500 COVID Bonus Payment Opt Out and Further FAQs
- COVID Bonus Payment Opt-Out Form
- COVID Bonus Payment Opt-In Form
- Circular PCS(COV)2020-1 - £500 COVID Bonus Payment
- NSS Communications to Staff regarding Coronavirus COVID-19
- Guidance on SPF Statement on Partnership Working Final - NSS
- Case Management Protocol Final - NSS
- Covid-19 - Annual Leave and Public Holiday Guidance - NSS
- Special Leave Policy Health Scotland
- Coronavirus symptoms at work – information for managers and actions to take - NSS & PHS
- Resource Deployment Guidance for Non Clinical Staff - NSS
- Coronavirus - Foreign Travel during Covid-19 Pandemic FAQs
These FAQs should be read alongside DL 2021 (13) - QUARANTINE (SELF-ISOLATION) FOR NHS SCOTLAND STAFF RETURNING TO THE UK
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.
- Future Ready - About Future Ready
1. What’s the difference between the staff survey and RSA workshops?
The survey and the workshops are complimentary and will both significantly influence the NSS Future Ready strategy. The Future Ready staff survey was the first step. It gave NSS colleagues an opportunity to share their experiences of working during the pandemic, feedback their preferences for future working and provide tactical recommendations on how NSS can improve ways of working.
The next step was to run RSA workshops with the Executive Management Team, Joint Shop Stewards and all SBUs. In addition to exploring how the recommendations from the survey could be put into practice, the workshops also took a more strategic view. This included examining our future approach to service delivery, partnership working, behaviours and leadership. This insight will be used to drive NSS strategy, ways of working and planning.
2. When we've all had the vaccine, will any of this be necessary?
Guidance on how and where we work in relation to the ongoing threat of COVID-19 are determined by Scottish Government and NSS will always act in line with the latest guidance and advice.
COVID-19 workplace guidance will be informed by the scientific evidence and approved by the Health and Safety Executive. As the vaccinations are novel there are a number of studies currently reviewing the efficacy of the vaccines in terms of COVID-19 outcomes and possible transmissibility. The findings of these studies will inform the remobilisation plans for workplaces.
For now, the advice is to continue with all current COVID-19 measures even if both doses of your vaccine have been received. Hopefully, over time some of these restrictions will be lifted as guidance allows.
3. Given that working from home works for many people (using objective measures such as targets met, client survey results) has been a success, should we instead ask how do we justify a request for someone to be present in the office?
The staff survey showed the majority of staff wish to work from home either permanently or in a blended way with some time spent in the office. Future Ready is acting on those results and exploring how we can make that a reality for our people. This needs to be carefully considered against requirements set out by Scottish Government along with service and user needs.
- Future Ready - HR and Occupational Health & Policies
1. How is NSS supporting staff at home who don’t have dedicated workspaces?
More than 80% of respondents to the Future Ready staff survey reported having access to a workspace such as a dining room or kitchen table, or home office. Those without had some innovative solutions but reported far lower levels of satisfaction.
NSS is able to support colleagues without dedicated workspaces in two ways. The first is through the working at home self-assessment form and 'requests assets' form, which enable discussion about your working space with your line manager and provide access to appropriate equipment to work comfortably.
The second type of support is enabling a return to the office, if that was desirable and when government rules allow. We know from the Future Ready staff survey that some staff want to return fully to the office, or would benefit from doing so. Consequently, the initial focus on office returns will prioritise staff who will go back to being onsite regularly. If you want to request a return to an NSS building for business reasons or due to personal circumstances, you need to fill in this form.
Some staff have advised, through the staff survey, that they are holding off on improving their home working environment until there is a finalised decision on the future of working in NSS. The Future Ready programme will make recommendations on this topic at the end of August and these will be implemented towards the end of 2021. It is likely however that a larger majority of staff will work from home going forward at least part of the time, if not on a permanent basis.
2. How can I access the right equipment to work from home?
First, you should fill in a working at home self-assessment form if you haven't already. This is something to discuss with your line manager.
After you've done that, you can request equipment such office chairs, monitors and risers using this 'requests assets' form, as well as smaller items like a keyboard and mouse.
If you’re unsure whether you need any items, you can review how to establish good desk posture.
In most cases you’ll need to collect your equipment from an NSS site at a set time, subject to agreement from your line manager. You can only stay onsite as long as it takes to collect what you need.
Line managers, please review the guidance on HR Connect's COVID-19 hub for how to process office equipment requests.
Ideas and advice on how to set up your working area can be found within the Working at Home Employee Guidance on HR Connect.
3. What's being done to support mental health of remote workers?
Healthy Working Lives is rolling out mental health awareness training for line managers. This is designed to help managers with techniques to enable sensible, sensitive conversations with staff who may require support.
There are mental health first aiders (MHFA) across the organisation who have received recent mental health awareness training. The MHFAs have made themselves known within their SBUs and colleagues can request contact with a MHFA within a confidential breakout room through the NSS wellbeing hub’s safe space channel.
Colleagues can also find supportive information on the wellbeing pages on HR Connect; find wellbeing advice on working from home on HR Connect's COVID-19 hub; and join the NSS wellbeing hub on Teams. These sites include links to the Employee Assistance Programme and the Promis website, which is the national wellbeing hub for staff working within health and social care.
4. Working at home whilst balancing childcare or home schooling can be difficult. What does the future of flexible working look like for NSS?
NSS and NHS Scotland have a variety of flexible working policies that can be found on HR Connect and we have encouraged all staff and managers to be as flexible as possible during the pandemic to ensure staff are able to balance caring commitments and home schooling. Our aim is to continue this as one of the lessons for the future as feedback suggests staff have welcomed the approach and the benefit this has given them through difficult times.
We understand that caring commitments and sharing your temporary home working environment with others can be difficult. If you have any concerns regarding your contractual hours or adhering to your normal recognised work pattern, please discuss this with your line manager in the first instance. Support can be provided to explore our policies with staff and managers so that appropriate solutions can be found to meet the individual needs.
You could also refer to the ‘Working from Home’ guidance and FAQs on the COVID-19 Hub on HR Connect.
5. Will the ability to continue working from home be based on your distance from your workplace?
No. The past year has taught us that by using digital technology to engage and communicate, this negates the previous requirement on distance from the office. Therefore, working from home or returning to the office will be determined by a combination of business needs and what individuals want.
6. Will staff receive compensation for working at home, such as a stipend to offset electricity costs, or to purchase things needed to set up a home office?
Currently NSS has no ability to offer or enact any form of financial compensation to offset against such costs and as such we are not in a position to provide staff compensation for working from home. This would be a matter for discussion at a national NHS Scotland level and should anything change, we will ensure staff are informed.
However, staff are eligible for tax relief for the additional household costs they incur, such as heating and electricity. (Please see the next question for details.)
You can request equipment such as office chairs, monitors and risers to be lent to you using this 'requests assets' form.
7. Can I get a tax break from the government for working at home?
Employees who are required to work from home can claim tax relief of £6 per week, backdated to 6 April 2020. No evidence of receipts, bills or contracts is required.
Further details on how to make a claim to HM Revenue and Customs can be found in the Coronavirus - Pay and Leave FAQs (question 10) available on HR Connect.
8. What will we maximise face-to-face or in-person office working?
One of Future Ready’s main objectives is to explore how to make the most of how and where we work in a post-pandemic world. We know in-person collaboration is the main driver for many people to return to office, even if it’s only occasionally.
Future Ready is currently running tests of change to explore how to enable onsite group working. The test sessions will be run once each to explore different working set ups, such as plenary and breakout sessions; a meeting of the disability network; a hybrid meeting with some attendees joining remotely; case management and product testing.
The experience and outcomes from the tests of change will be analysed and form part of Future Ready’s recommendations to the programme board in August. These proposals may include suggestions such as how to configure our working spaces to promote collaboration.
9. Will workloads be reviewed as we move out of the pandemic? How can staff maintain a good work/life balance if we continue to work from home?
Keeping a good work-life balance can be tricky. As NSS remobilises and services begin to re-focus on business as usual activity you might find it helpful to agree priorities and time boundaries with your line manager.
To avoid burning out or feeling constantly anxious when you should be winding down with your loved-ones, be strict with yourself. Try to set working times and daily work schedule as you would have when we were in an office environment. Switch off your work devices when you finish, and disconnect your work email from your personal phone.
You can find further guidance and support on HR Connect’s COVID-19 Hub
10. How will the ‘always-on’ culture of back-to-back Teams meetings be addressed to help staff focus on delivery and switch off?
The move to homeworking necessitated Teams. We recognise that the increased use of technology has in some instances created a culture where colleagues feel they’re always expected to be available. Many of us attend back-to-back meetings on a daily basis.
The future NSS Wellbeing Strategy will include our approach to Digital wellbeing and inform more around how we want to work but ensure we keep ourselves healthy whilst increasing our use of digital tools to deliver services.
In the meantime, NSS trusts us to make the right decisions for healthy working. We all have a responsibility to each other to facilitate and encourage healthy working practices, and call out actions that negatively impact on others. Staff are encouraged to speak with their line manager in the first instance to highlight any concerns.
Good Teams etiquette can be established locally, with best practice outlined in teams or departments. This could include agreed rules around diary management – for example ensuring there’s ten minutes between consecutive meetings; planned lunch breaks are blocked out in diaries; focus work time is blocked out and enabled through the ‘Do Not Disturb’ status option on Teams, etc.
If you have further ideas or suggestions, please share them in NSS wellbeing hub.
11. How can I make more of MS Teams? Is training available?
Microsoft offers comprehensive training materials on Teams.
The best way to get more from Teams is to experiment, and share what you learn! You can post your discoveries in the NSS 365 Network Teams area, which is also a really useful forum to ask questions and see how colleagues are using Teams.
If you’re looking to troubleshoot issues, you’ll also find resources in the Knowledge Base on ServiceNow.
12. How will NSS engage staff and ensure they’re informed as remote working continues?
When remote working began, NSS Communications adapted internal methods of communicating and adopted new technologies. Stay Connected, NSS’s internal newsletter hosted in Sway, is read by more than 25% of the organisation. Many SBUs and services have their own internal newsletters, too. Quarterly live events with Chief Executive Mary Morgan and Employee Director Ian Cant, as well as those run locally, provide an opportunity to hear updates and ask questions directly.
Coupled with continuous engagement by line managers, all-staff emails remain the most effective method of reaching as many colleagues as possible to provide important information. Marketing and Communications continue to explore new technologies and methods for reaching all staff in NSS. If you have suggestions for the team, you can email them your ideas.
13. How will NSS update on-boarding and training for new staff if it becomes a predominantly remote organisation?
Over the past year, Learning and Development has transitioned its face-to-face sessions to webinars which mostly use Teams. We have adapted content from the “classroom” into shorter, online sessions with pre-reading. The Learning and Development Team make good use of Teams for learning in a group environment, frequently run informal learning sessions and have guest speakers on the Teams Management Hub. There has been good uptake on events.
Induction materials and processes have also been adapted for remote on-boarding. The first live induction and welcome event with CEO Mary Morgan was recently held via Teams.
14. Given that you are looking at the potential for staff to work permanently from home, is there any scope to work from a non-UK location?
Future Ready is exploring three approaches to working: at home, at an NSS site, or a mix of both. Work is underway to scope out the approach required for staff around the future working arrangements, including any requirements around working from home policies, terms and conditions etc.
The ability for staff to work from a non-UK location will be considered as part of our longer term look at future working. This is an unfamiliar approach for NSS, therefore some research will be required to understand fully any implications, such as any legal or tax requirements pertaining to different countries, in order inform a decision and to support both the employer and employee’s in such circumstances should we agree to work this way going forward.
15. I’m struggling. Where can I get help?
Living through a pandemic is difficult, before you add the rest of life’s stresses on top. If you’re seeking support, then first, please reach out to someone – whether that’s your line manager, a colleague or friend. You’re not alone.
You can also speak with one of NSS’s mental health first aiders (MHFA). You can request time with a MHFA within a confidential breakout room through the NSS wellbeing hub’s safe space channel.
You’ll might find information on the wellbeing pages on HR Connect helpful too. These sites include links to the Employee Assistance Programme and the Promis website, which is the national wellbeing hub for staff working within health and social care. Clear Your Head is the Scottish Governments new online support tool that is full of helpful ideas and suggestions to support your mental wellbeing.
External support can be found here:
- Future Ready - Using NSS Buildings
1. What will the office look like? More meeting rooms, a few permanent desks, and hot desks?
Future Ready is currently exploring how our workspaces should function. Proposals for operating models will be made in summer 2021. Once these models have been agreed and established, the office environment will be reconfigured if required. The speed of change will follow Scottish Government timelines as restrictions are lifted. Permanent changes will be more likely as life becomes more stable post-pandemic and restrictions are either reduced or embedded.
We know from the Future Ready staff survey that 48% of NSS colleagues want a hybrid model, working some of the time onsite and some of the time at home. There are a lot of variables to unpack to make this a reality; however, it’s likely that time spent in the office will be for group collaboration and meetings, so the setup of buildings will need to reflect this.
What we do know is that our office environment will look and feel very different with far fewer people in our buildings. There are also one-way systems in place and signage which directs staff to follow COVID-19 safety measures when moving around the building. There will also be allocated desks which are cleared for use with a green tick, to maintain social distancing.
If you have any ideas or suggestions for our future workspaces, please send Future Ready an email.
2. Will there be an app or system to book desks and workspaces?
NSS already has a system for booking meeting rooms which could be extended to have more collaborative spaces to choose from. For any return to the office this year it’s likely that booking spaces will be managed locally as part of risk assessments in place. The need for any desk booking system will be determined as future demand against restrictions becomes clearer. Facilities Management is looking at new wider management systems which will have the options to add these system components if required.
3. What ideas are in place to mitigate aerosol transmission and improve ventilation?
The current position within NSS is for staff to continue to work from home and this is not expected to change until national guidance allows. Any transition back to workplaces will be undertaken in a planned, risk-based and proportionate way.
Adequate ventilation is one of the suite of mitigating actions for COVID-19 employed, as advised under guidelines from the Chartered Institute of Building Service Engineers.
Ventilation systems were assessed in 2020 to instruct any changes needed to maximise the safety of the environment and will continue to be monitored in line with the latest Scottish Government guidance.
Mechanical ventilation systems are intended to dilute stale or contaminated air by bringing fresh air into the building from outside, filtering it within the air handling unit prior to it circulating around the building.
Extract vents actively draw air from outside the building. Currently our sustainability processes (where approximately 25% of air would normally be recirculated air) have been turned off.
Filters are in place, although HEPA filters are only expected to be used in healthcare facilities where there is a high risk of patients with possible infection or at high risk of acquiring infection.
Where mechanical ventilation systems are not present in a premises, windows should be opened to increase airflow. This should not be done where mechanical systems are present as this could decrease the performance of the working systems.
Aerosol transmission would most likely be encountered if a staff member was symptomatic and coughing, however staff are still expected to follow the COVID-19 guidance and not attend the workplace if they have COVID-19 symptoms.
We are also encouraging all staff attending a site to take lateral flow device tests. This will help to reduce the risk of someone who is asymptomatic attending the workplace.
In addition, if all other mitigating actions are in place and being followed, such as physical distancing, cleaning of workstations, regular hand hygiene and wearing of face coverings whilst entering and moving around the buildings, the risk is reduced. For this reason, it’s important to follow rules and guidance if you’re in one of our buildings.
4. Why was the Gyle chosen for the initial test of change, and when will details for other locations be shared?
Future Ready is currently running tests of change to explore how to enable onsite group working. Gyle Square had a large vacant space available that could be quickly adapted to support the test of change and in a way that minimised its impact on other building users.
The project is reviewing all existing collaboration spaces and vacant areas that could be used for onsite group working in line with COVID-19 guidance. We will provide details on other tests of change once they have been agreed.
The test sessions will be run once each to explore different working set ups, such as plenary and breakout sessions; a meeting of the disability network; a hybrid meeting with some attendees joining remotely; case management and product testing. This list is not exhaustive and the outcomes will be shared in future communications.
5. How will Future Ready support disabled staff?
The Future Ready programme is working with Louise MacLennan, Head of Equality and Engagement, as well as the NSS Staff (dis)Ability network. Louise sits on the project steering group as an advisor for equality and inclusion matters.
Future Ready will carry out equality impact assessments as the programme progresses. We’re currently exploring the potential for running a test of change for disabled staff, and using the equality data provided through the Future Ready staff survey to inform recommendations and equality impact assessment work.
NSS values the diversity of its staff and has policies and buildings that promote inclusion. We recognise that some of the temporary changes currently in place at our sites may cause some difficulties for members of staff. Because current government guidance is that you should work from home where possible, all staff returning to the office need to fill in this form. This process should capture any individual requirements and enable us to address difficulties where possible.
If you have suggestions for Louise or Future Ready, or want to get involved in the equality impact assessment work, please send us an email to NSS.Ability@nhs.scot.
6. How will catering staff be supported if the office isn’t used by as many people for much of the time?
The Future Ready programme is looking at the experiences of all staff; those onsite as well as those working from home. Specific resource requirements for the future in many different departments are unknown at this point, and any staff who are concerned should speak to their line manager in the first instance.
It’s worth noting that Aroma café and other NSS staff restaurants are classed as NHS premises, rather than hospitality venues like high street eateries. This means any considerations and changes will need to be in line with the most up to date Scottish Government and Health & Safety Executive guidance for NHS buildings, rather than hospitality.
- Future Ready - Possible Models of Working
1. Will those who are currently working from home continue to have the option to do so?
Yes. From the Future Ready survey results we know that the majority of NSS colleagues want to work from home at least some of the time. Unless you are required to work onsite for business reasons you will be able to work from home. Current government guidance for all COVID-19 protection levels is that you should work from home where possible.
2. Not everyone likes working from home. What will be done to support these staff to return to the office?
Although remote working still remains the default work location, it's recognised that not all of us are able to work from home. If you want to request a return to an NSS building for business reasons or due to personal circumstances, you need to fill in this form. The information helps the Senior Management Team in your business area (SBU) determine which requests need to be prioritised, whether or not to grant them, and how to implement each request.
If your return to an office is agreed, your line manager will work with you to ensure that you have information on what to do before you come back into the building; what to do on arrival at the building; what to do when you locate your desk; and guidance on how to work in a building during the pandemic.
All returns to the office will happen on a phased basis and in line with the latest Scottish Government guidance. Anyone who returns will need to undertake some basic training, such as re-familiarisation with first aid requirements and fire exits.
3. How will NSS facilitate staff coming in to the office for collaboration, training, team working etc?
How to enable hybrid working is one of the biggest challenges NSS must tackle in order to address the future use of our workspaces. We anticipate it will take the remainder of this year to make hybrid working safe, fair, effective and sustainable. We also have to balance requirements against the current government guidance for all COVID-19 protection levels, which is that you should work from home where possible.
Future Ready is currently running tests of change to explore how to enable onsite group working. The test sessions will be run once each to explore different working set ups, such as plenary and breakout sessions; a meeting of the disability network; a hybrid meeting with some attendees joining remotely; case management and product testing. This list is not exhaustive and the outcomes will be shared in future communications.
4. Is there an expectation that a set amount of days will be required in the office on a weekly basis, like a 3:2 hybrid model?
Current government guidance for all COVID-19 protection levels is that you should work from home where possible. Therefore, we anticipate in this intra-pandemic period that there will not be a general return to the office. Only staff who are required to work in the office or have requested to work in the office and that request has been approved will be allowed to return to the office on a regular or permanent basis.
At present there is no set expectation on the amount of days, this is something that Future Ready will be exploring as we determine the best way of bringing staff in to offices and our capacity in buildings.
5. How does remote working for most staff benefit NSS? Why does it make NSS a great place to work?
93% of respondents to the Future Ready staff survey listed benefits to working at home. These included less travel, or no commute (68%); increased productivity (19%); better work/life balance (15%); caring/family time; flexibility; better health and more exercise. A happy, healthy workforce benefits everyone. The flexibility of how we can work is one of the reasons NSS is a great place to work.
- Future Ready - Decision Making
1. When will decisions be made on where we work? What timeline can I give my team?
The Future Ready programme is divided into three phases; short, medium and long term.
The short term considers the next three months. This is to enable the phased return of some staff to offices, in line with the dates and requirements outlined by Scottish Government.
The medium term is looking at the next 12 months. How we enable effective collaborative working, in person, at NSS sites, will be considered. This will also be a phased roll out, but exploration will begin from August 2021.
In the long term, the aim is to create a workplace that supports the ambitions of NSS and its staff. Future Ready’s proposals and outline plan will be agreed at the August 2021 Partnership Forum.
For most staff, it's unlikely you'll return to the office before the end of the year. It's likely that only a small percentage of NSS colleagues will return to the office all the time.
2. Will NSS commit to long term decisions on working arrangements?
Yes. The Future Ready team is exploring what has worked through the pandemic, as well as likely future demand on office space. Proposals and an outline plan will be agreed at the August 2021 Partnership Forum. All suggestions however must align with Scottish Government restrictions, which can make exact timelines for a roll out on new working arrangements difficult to determine.
It is not our intention to make any immediate changes to staff contracts of employment in the short or medium term. We want to make sure we have agreed our plans going forward, engaged fully with staff and also take into account any future requirements placed upon us via Scottish Government. We will endeavour to keep all staff informed of any such changes and timescales going forward as part of the programme of work.
3. What scope will individuals have regarding their own preferences should they disagree with decisions made by their SBU? Can you choose to work from home and only go in when required?
Where you work should be an agreement between you and your line manager that balances the work you do with business needs. Provided there is no specific requirement for you to be physically on site, and it’s your preference to work at home for either some or all of your time, NSS will support your choice.
The Future Ready survey provided insights into how NSS would like to work at an organisational level. Further analysis and data gathering, including SBU-specific workshops led by the Royal Society of Arts, will help us understand differences at an SBU level.
Recommendations will be made an organisational level and SBUs will need to take into account the needs of their services and staff. The equality impact assessment process will determine if a one-size-fits-all approach for an SBU is appropriate or if alternate options are required to ensure it doesn’t indirectly discriminate on any equality protected characteristics.
4. How will offset costs such as heating, lighting or rent savings be re-invested? Will it go back into SGHD to invest in frontline patient care or, for example, for maintaining team cohesion with lunches and activities as part of a quarterly in-person half-day meet-up?
Fewer staff in NSS buildings means we’ve reduced our carbon footprint but unfortunately it doesn’t generate savings, as heating, lighting and rent still need to be paid as the buildings themselves have not fully closed. Because National Services Scotland receives funding from the Scottish Government to meet these financial requirements, should we no longer require funding it would be up to Scottish Government to determine how the money was spent instead.
- Coronavirus - Annual Leave and Public Holidays FAQs
1. I was unable to fully utilise my 2019/20 annual leave entitlement due to COVID 19 work pressures in my department. Am I permitted for this reason to carry forward my unused leave?
In the circumstances you describe, theStaff may – with agreement from their manager – have cancelled annual leave in order to support cover of key services
Staff may also be seeking to postpone their annual leave scheduled in March, due to cancellation of flights and trips abroad.
normal carry over leave provisions within both the NHS Scotland Annual Leave Policy (for staff under Agenda for Change and Executive Level terms and conditions) and Medical and Dental Terms and Conditions, will be waived and your full untaken leave will be carried over to the 2020/21 leave year.
2. I agreed with my manager that I would delay taking my leave in March in order to support COVID-19 related work, and I have carried this leave forward into 2019/20. I am concerned that I may not have sufficient time to fully utilise my now enhanced 2020/21 leave entitlement. Can I be paid for the carry forward leave?
Staff who carried forward leave from the 2019/20 leave year due to COVID 19 related reasons, can request payment of their unused annual leave. You should discuss this with your manager and complete the COVID-19 Carry Forward Annual Leave Payment Form. Payment for this leave will be as if at work.
3. I was asked to delay taking my leave during March 2019 because of COVID-19 and have carried this forward. I’ve opted to take this as annual leave but have not yet decided when. Can I change my mind further down the line and ask for payment instead?
It would be preferable where possible that staff provide a decision either to use their carry forward leave or request payment for this as early as possible into the new leave year of 2020/21. However, where staff have chosen to take annual leave and then change their mind, staff should discuss this with their line manager to ensure there is no impact on service provision and agreement can be made for payment to be provided.
4. I asked my manager if I could cancel 7 days’ annual leave that I had booked in March 2020 because my holiday was cancelled as a result of COVID-19. In the circumstances, my manager agreed to this and to me carrying forward these 7 days into the 2020/21 leave year. Can I get this carry forward leave paid?
It is recognised that there were a number of wider impacts on staff that came indirectly due to COVID-19. Staff who carried forward annual leave from 2019/20 due to an indirect consequence of COVID-19 – for example, flights or holiday were cancelled during March 2020 - can carry the untaken leave forward into 2020/21 and can opt to either use the untaken leave during 2020/21 or request payment of all or part of the untaken leave paid.
5. I am self-isolating due to symptoms of COVID-19 but do not feel well enough to work from home. I have a few days annual leave booked at this time. Do I get my annual leave back?
If you are self-isolating and do not feel well enough to work from home, the normal sick leave provisions should apply in relation to your leave. Therefore, as long as you have followed the correct reporting procedures, you should receive your booked annual leave back.
6. I am self-isolating due to symptoms of COVID-19 but I am well enough to work from home. I have a few days annual leave booked. Do I get this annual leave back?
If you are self-isolating due to symptoms of COVID-19 but are feeling well enough to continue to work from home, you should discuss this with your line manager. It is possible for you to take your annual leave, if you are still working and your manager may well encourage you to do so, particularly from a health and wellbeing perspective as it is important that you have ‘downtime’ away from your work.
7. I am currently self-isolating and working from home for 14 days because a household member has symptoms of COVID-19. I have 5 days annual leave booked. Do I get my annual leave back because I’m self-isolating?
If you are self-isolating because a household member has symptoms of COVID-19 but are continuing to work from home, you should discuss this with your line manager. As you are still working from home, it is possible for you to take your annual leave and your manager may well encourage you to do so, particularly from a health and wellbeing perspective as it is important that you have ‘downtime’ away from your work.
8. What if a staff member in my team does not take the minimum full statutory leave entitlement during 2020/21?
Given that the COVID-19 situation is likely to continue for some time to come, it is essential that managers monitor the leave of staff at regular intervals throughout 2020/21 and identify early those staff who have higher than normal amounts of leave still to take, so that they can be encouraged to schedule their untaken leave.
The expectation for NSS, as determined by DL (2020)9, is that all staff are expected to take the minimum statutory leave within 2020/21 leave year.
Managers should therefore work with staff to plan annual leave throughout the year and ensure that there is a balanced allocation of leave across the team.
Annual leave should be managed effectively to enable staff to take their full leave entitlement during 2020/21. If due to COVID-19, this is not possible for everyone, the above approach should help ensure that staff at least receive their statutory leave entitlement.
9. Staff in my team are reluctant to book leave at this present time in the hope that current travel restrictions will be lifted and greater certainty over low infection rates. What should I advise my staff as I am concerned there will be a high level of annual leave requests for later in the year that for business reasons will be unmanageable?
It is understandable that staff may wish to hold back their annual leave in the hope that the current travel restrictions and social-distancing requirements will end soon. However, the current guidance would suggest that restrictions arising from COVID-19 are likely to continue for some time.
Staff may not be able to take the type of holidays they are used to but they can however still plan for leave away from work. It is also important for staff to regularly take leave in order to support their wellbeing and work life balance and managers should encourage staff to plan their leave throughout the 2020/21 leave year.
From an operational perspective, this will also ensure that staff annual leave continues to be allocated throughout the year enabling staff cover to be planned. Further guidance about the taking of Annual Leave during the current pandemic is contained in the NSS Guidance on Annual Leave and Public Holidays during COVID-19.
10. I am currently shielding. If the requirement to shield is paused as at 31st July, what does this mean in relation to booking annual leave going forward?
Details regarding annual leave for 2020-21 in respect of staff who have been shielding are contained in DL (2020) 22.
For those staff who have been in receipt of a shielding letter, it is anticipated that the current shielding period will not extend beyond 31st July 2020 if infection rates across Scotland continue to be low. If so, from 1st August 2020, this may mean a return to the work place or commencing or continuing to work from home (and further guidance on this will shortly be provided to staff who are shielding and their managers).
To date, for staff who have been shielding, it has not been considered reasonable to expect them to take annual leave during the shielding period. However, given the anticipated change in the shielding provisions from 1st August, it is therefore important, as with all other staff, that managers and those employees who have been shielding meet to discuss their annual leave plans for the remainder of the 2020-21 leave year.
Please Note - There may be exceptional circumstances where the restrictions placed on employees by shielding make it impossible to enjoy an adequate level of rest and recuperation, even during time designated as annual leave. Employers are therefore asked to bear in mind that there may be instances where it would be unreasonable to expect a shielding staff member to take all their annual leave in 2020-21. Every individual’s situation will be different, so each scenario, and any potential for carryover of leave, will need to be dealt with on a case by case basis at a local level.
- Case Management Protocols Final - NSS FAQ
1. As an employee, I am involved in a current case how do I know if it’s going ahead or not during COVID-19 pandemic?
Your line manager will speak with you and confirm the status of your case at this time and if you have any questions, you should contact your line manager in the first instance.
2. As a manager, I am currently taking forward an active case. Should this go ahead given the COVID-19 pandemic?
The NHSScotland Partnership Working Statement, and the NSS protocol on Case Management [attach link] should be followed in relation to all active cases. You should contact your HR Case Advisor who is assigned to your case and they will provide you with an update on the category of your case.
3. As a manager, I have a potential new case, what should I do?
You should log a call through HR Contact Us on HR Connect. However, in line with the guidance, you should consider if alternative methods of dealing with the issue might be appropriate, before commencing a new case.
4. As an employee, I wish to raise a new case, what should I do?
As an employee, where you have any issue at work e.g. grievance, an issue of Bullying and Harassment, Whilstleblowing etc. you should in the first instance speak to your line manager who will be able to support you in considering the approach you would like to take in line with NSS Policy. Alternatively, an as appropriate, for those who are members of a Trade Union/Professional Organisation you can raise this with your local representative. Employees can also log a call through the HR Contact Us on HR Connect and a member of the HR team will respond back.
5. How have the categories of the cases been determined?
All cases will be determined on a case by case basis using the categories below for general guidance and a risk based approach.
Cases that should progress and are deemed critical to continue due to having a potential detrimental impact to the employee or the organisation e.g. Suspension/Dismissal, Whistleblowing, Health & Safety, Bullying & Harassment, issues of pay or serious grievance e.g. allegations of Fraud.
Cases that can continue to be supported where possible but have less of a detrimental impact to the employee or the organisation Conduct (not likely to end in dismissal), less serious grievance e.g. complaint on process, Capability (based on ill health)
The likelihood of the impact of the case not progressing is determined as minimal it is therefore recommended that cases identified as a low category should follow option 3 within the managers guidance, which is to postpone until normal working arrangements have been resumed e.g. Attendance both long and short term, Capability (based on performance), review meetings
NB – it should be noted that issues of pay under the ‘High’ category relate to where there are implications for an employee’s pay e.g. half pay or no pay as part of a long term absence case and linked to Agenda for Change Section 14.
6. I have a member of staff on Long Term Sick Leave prior to COVID-19 what should I do?
It is important that Line Managers maintain contact with any employee currently on long term sick leave in line with the relevant Attendance Policy, which will either be the NSS Promoting Attendance Policy or the NHS Scotland Attendance Policy. HR will be happy to advise if you are unclear on what policy you should be referring to.
7. An employee has objected with rationale to a process continuing, or pausing, what are my options?
All employees have the right to object to a process continuing where they are able to offer a rationale. If a process requires to be postponed, at the employees request, then a conversation should be captured as a record of discussion with the rationale provided and attached to the case file. Managers should also seek to agree the next steps once normal working arrangements resume.
8. I am trying to arrange a Hearing, what should I be considering?
As Chair of the Hearing, the following points should be considered when arranging a Hearing:
- Consider individual personal circumstances for all attendees including employee, manager, trade union representative/Companion and witnesses, and in particular consideration should be given to whether they are already working in NSS buildings or from home, requirements for social distancing and the use of public transport
- Agree meeting etiquette ahead of the meeting and share with all parties in a timely manner
- Ensure all documentation can be circulated to participating members in a timely and confidential manner at all times
- Ensure that the employee is able to communicate concerns ahead of the Hearing in order to try and put any reasonable support measures in place
- That a face to face Hearing should only be conducted in exceptional circumstances and only when the case falls under the High category option. Where this is deemed necessary this will be taken forward only where all parties have agreed to do so and into consideration bullet point 1 above.
- Seek advice from the HR Case Advisor where necessary.
9. I have an employee working through a Supported Improvement Plan (SIP) but the review meeting has been postponed, what should I do?
You should continue to engage with your member of staff to ensure that any additional adjustments and supported measures that are required during this time can be accommodated until such times as a full review meeting can take place.
10. I am a manager and my case has been postponed. What actions do I need to undertake?
You should ensure you communicate the position to the employee involved as quickly and as clearly as possible, ensure that they are agreeable to the postponement and offer additional support as appropriate. You should seek any further advice from your assigned HR Advisor.
11. What support can NSS offer an employee at this time?
The services offered by NSS are our Occupational Health Service, contactable by telephone on 0131 275 6360, and the Employee Counselling Service, HELP contactable by telephone on 0800 032 9849.
The following link Employee Support Guides also provides current relevant guidance for employees.
- Coronavirus - Recruitment FAQs
1. I am a hiring manager and I have staff due to start within the next couple of weeks. Should I be changing the start dates?
No, start dates still remain the same for the moment. However this is an evolving situation and may change depending on the advice coming out each day.
You may wish to start to considering, for example
- can the new employee collect their equipment on the first day and set up from home depending on the role.
- Guidance on what the new employee can be working, for example mandatory training through LearnPro
- gathering an information pack for new starts that includes information on line manager contact, IT contact, HR Connect etc
2. My advert has closed and we are now at shortlisting stage. Should I go ahead and arrange interviews?
It would be advised to still complete the shortlisting as normal. Unsuccessful candidates can still be informed.
You should now consider if the vacancy is critical or if you wish to put a hold on arranging the interviews. Candidates can be informed of this decision via JobTrain.
3. I have interviews arranged with presentations over the coming weeks. Should I be cancelling the interviews?
If it is a small panel then you may wish to consider the advice around social distancing and limit sharing equipment. You should also ensure the candidates and the panel are well and fit and comfortable going ahead with the interview
You can also consider alternatives to face-to-face interviews and presentations. For example could the candidate use Microsoft Teams/SKYPE/telephone interviews etc.
4. I have an eRAF going through the approval process, will this be advertised?
You should consider if the vacancy is a critical role that needs to be filled.
Consideration should be given to the practicalities around start dates and induction etc following an offer
You may also wish to look at alternatives such as, are there any suitable candidates in the resourcing pool in the short term.
5. What should I do if I have queries regarding my ongoing recruitment?
Please log a call using the HR Contact Us form on HR Connect.
6. I am currently recruiting for a vacancy in my team and I have received a query from a potential candidate who is furloughed from their current employment. Are they permitted to apply for an NSS vacancy?
Yes, furloughed candidates can still apply for an NSS vacancy.
However, please ensure the potential candidate has considered the following points should they wish to take on this role as additional employment to their current furloughed post:
- Does their contract of employment with the current employer allow them to work for another employer?
- Is there any potential conflict of interest between their current employment and the NSS role?
- When furloughing comes to an end, will their working hours and working patterns in both employments meet the requirements of the Working Time regulations?
They should carefully consider all factors prior to applying.
If appointed, the applicant would need to comply with existing NSS policy regarding notification of additional employment – both within the NSS Working Time Regulations – Guidance and also the NSS Standing Financial Instructions – Section 2 (Code of Conduct).
- Coronavirus - General Terms and Conditions FAQs
1. Could I be asked to work at other sites/across boards?
Our intention is to deploy staff available as appropriate from scaled down services in support of essential services.
To allow for essential service provision, staff should be made aware that in the event of a severe outbreak staff may need to be deployed into different roles/locations where appropriate. This may involve some non-clinical staff being deployed to clinical roles to support the service. Staff will only be transferred where they have the skills and competencies to do so.
Staff will be reimbursed for additional travel, subsistence and accommodation in line with existing NSS arrangements.
2. I have been asked to attend a meeting outwith Scotland – should I be travelling?
The guidance received from Scottish Government is that travelling should be kept to a minimum and only where absolutely necessary.
The Guidance also states that non-urgent business such as meetings, conferences and developmental training should be postponed.
You should discuss this with your manager in the first instance, giving consideration as to whether the meeting needs to go ahead or can be postponed, as well as exploring whether there are alternatives to travelling – for example, teleconference, videoconference etc.
The Foreign Commonwealth Office has also advised against all non-essential international travel, initially for a period of 30 days (from 17th March 2020), so any consideration to travel abroad should be reviewed until after this time.
3. What are the arrangement’s for staff working overtime and excess hours?
Where appropriate shift patterns and other working arrangements may need to be revised and any overtime and excess hours payments should be considered for the appropriate staff groups. Staff who are on protection when doing additional hours should not have excess hours/overtime counted in any protection arrangements.
All efforts should be made to comply with the Working Time Directive, any opt outs that are agreed during the outbreak should be rescinded once it is over. Staff that have been working above contracted hours should be given priority for annual leave.
4. Should critical/key workers who have to come into their place of work be issued with a letter that they can show police should they be stopped and challenged?
It is considered that as long as staff display their Identity Badge - which contains both their photo and the NHS NSS logo, this should be sufficient to demonstrate that the staff member is undertaking essential, work related travel. If staff experience any problems, you should raise this with your line manager, in the first instance.
5. What should I do if I have a person with a severe risk or very high severe risk medical condition in my household?
Household members are at no greater risk of getting COVID-19 if staff members follow effective infection control and strict hygiene measures. If you live with a person with a severe or very high severe risk medical condition, it is particularly important to protect them from transmission of COVID-19. They should already be following the Government’s advice on shielding, which can be found using this link www.gov.scot/publications/covid-shielding-contacts/. Strict adherence to the measures above should be followed for their protection. In addition, don’t forget about good hygiene of your personal objects and clothing that may have been in contact with the virus (e.g. phones/shoes etc).
6. I am a fixed term contract holder who was appointed during the COVID-19 outbreak. Will I gain access to Redeployment during my notice period when my fixed term contract is coming to an end?
No. Access to Redeployment for staff recruited on fixed term contracts will temporarily be suspended, for the period of the COVID-19 response.
- Coronavirus FAQ's -SAS