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.
- 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
- Circular PCS9COV)2020-1 - £500 COVID Bonus Instalment Form
- 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 FAQ
These FAQs should be read alongside DL 2020 (20) - QUARANTINE (SELF-ISOLATION) FOR NHS SCOTLAND STAFF RETURNING TO THE UK
1) Can I go on a foreign holiday this year?
The Foreign and Commonwealth Office currently advises British nationals against all but essential international travel and the most up to date information in relation to this can be found on:www.gov.scot/coronavirus-covid-19.
The Scottish Government Letter – DL 2020 (20) https://www.sehd.scot.nhs.uk/dl/DL(2020)20.pdf advises that all staff will have to quarantine (self-isolate) if returning to Scotland from a territory where the regulations in force at the relevant time require that a 14 days self-isolation period apply.
Travel to some countries and territories is currently exempted in relation to any requirement for you to self-isolate on your return to Scotland. With effect from 10th July 2020, you may not have to self-isolate in Scotland when arriving from one of the countries covered by the ‘travel corridor’ exemptions. Details can be found here: https://www.gov.scot/publications/coronavirus-covid-19-public-health-checks-at-borders/pages/overview/
However, if you arrive in Scotland from one of the countries not covered by these exemptions – you must still complete 14 days of self-isolation.
These regulations are reviewed regularly and details may change at short notice. It is your responsibility to check the provisions that apply to any travel that you undertake. However, the Scottish Government Health Department position remains that foreign travel for recreational purposes is discouraged at this time.
The arrangements for any leave that you take will depend on when you booked your holiday, when the leave was agreed by your manager and also whether or not a period of self-isolation is required on your return.
a) Holidays booked before 9th June 2020 – where holiday requests had already been approved by your line manager:
You should speak to your line manager as soon as possible providing details of the booking (e-mails, booking confirmation etc) and also advise whether or not cancellation would incur financial detriment. Where a period of self-isolation is required – a discussion needs to take place to explore possible arrangements for working from home for all or part of the self-isolation period. Only if working from home (which may include suitable work activities that are different from your normal role) isn’t available, special leave would apply during the 14 day self-isolation period. However, if during the period of special leave, any work suited to your skills and capabilities becomes available, you will be expected to undertake this, as directed by your manager.
In the event that a number of members of staff from the same area require special leave for this purpose at the same time and this could affect clinical services – line managers are advised to contact HR to discuss available options.
b) Holidays booked before 9th June 2020 – but no prior approval for holiday request sought from line manager:
The same arrangements will apply, however, you should be aware that your colleagues who have sought prior approval for their leave will have priority. It is therefore vitally important that you discuss this with your line manager as soon as possible.
c) Holidays booked between 9th June and 9th July 2020:
Special Leave or working from home arrangements will not apply to any period of self- isolation on return to Scotland and you will have to ensure that you seek other forms of leave (for example, annual leave, time off in lieu, flexi leave) to cover both your holiday and subsequent quarantine on return. This must be done before making the booking and through discussion and agreement with your line manager.
d) Annual Leave booked after 9th July 2020 for travel to a country where self-isolation/quarantine arrangements have been re-imposed:
If you have booked leave to travel to a country where no restrictions apply and the advice changes before you travel or whilst you are in that country, then you will be required to quarantine on return. In these circumstances you will be allowed to work from home (as outlined in (a) above). If this is not possible, then the time will be taken as Special Leave.
You are advised to refer to DL 2020 (20) which provides additional guidance to staff on the actions they should take when planning foreign travel.
This advice will be kept under review as if the re-imposition of quarantine becomes a common occurrence then it may no longer be possible to book foreign travel “in good faith” on the assumption that a quarantine will not be required.
2) I am planning on travelling to a country which requires a period of self-isolation/quarantine on arrival – can I work from that location during the quarantine or apply for special leave?
No. Any period of quarantine on arrival in the foreign country must be taken as additional annual leave.
3) I have to travel at short notice due to a family bereavement to a country where there is a requirement to quarantine on return, what arrangements apply?
In these types of exceptional circumstances, special leave can be put in place, as appropriate, on your return. You should discuss this with your line manager as soon as you can.
- 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