Covid-19 FAQs – What are my rights?

For ease of reference this page is split into sections and hyperlinked.  As it is updated new updates will be highlighted.

If your specific question is not answered please email [email protected]

 

Index

Q1 I am Shielding. What does this mean for my pay and Conditions?

Q2 I live with someone who is shielding.  What can I do?

Q3 I am in a group listed as vulnerable, but not needing to shield. What about me?

Q4 I live with someone who is vulnerable but not shielded.

Q5 I am pregnant what should I do?

Q6 My Partner is pregnant, what should I do?

Q7 I am fit to work but have children at home, what can I do?

Q8 I am classed as Vulnerable / shielded but I want to work. Can they force me not to?

Q9 I have been sent home because there isn’t any work for me to do. Can they do that?

Q10 Can they force me to work from home?

Q11 Do I have to take part in dial-ins

Q12 I am signed off long term sick. Can I sign back on and go onto Special leave?

Q13 Can I be furloughed?

Q14 I am fit to work but there is no priority work…can I go home?

Q15 Other teams have been sent home but mine has not. What can I do?

Q16 I’ve been in work throughout and I am worried about running out of AHW hours…

Q17 I want to cancel leave but have been told I can’t.

Q18I’ve been instructed to take leave and I don’t want to

Q19 Can I wear a facemask / face shield  / gloves?

Q20 The Unit has run out of gloves / sanitizer etc?

Q21 I’m struggling with my mental health, where can I get help?

Q22 Can I be deployed to another location?

Q23 Can I be compelled to work other than what I was recruited for?

Q24 Can I take volunteering leave?

Q25 The port I work at has closed, what will happen to me?

Q26 I am working from home, can I claim money?

Q27 I normally have reasonable adjustments in place, can I be forced to work from home?

Q28 Do I have to work fixed hours from home?

 

 

Q1:  I am Shielding.  What does this mean for my pay and conditions?

If you can work from home you may be asked to do so; but if not you will be placed on paid special leave.  If shielding is extended beyond 12 weeks you may be asked to undertake detached duty to an entirely home based role; suitable IT and Training will be provided.

For a full list of those considered to be extremely vulnerable / needing to shield click here

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/guidance-on-shielding-and-protecting-extremely-vulnerable-persons-from-covid-19/guidance-on-shielding-and-protecting-extremely-vulnerable-persons-from-covid-19

For information on basic_pay_and_shift_based_allowances

For impact on SDA weekend working

For impacts on AHW rosters and hours

 

Q2:  I live with someone who is shielding. What can I do?

At the moment staff who live with someone who is shielding are being allowed to work from home or placed on paid special leave.  If the shielding requirement extends beyond the first 12 weeks this may be reviewed.

For information on basic_pay_and_shift_based_allowances

For impact on SDA weekend working

For impacts on AHW rosters and hours

 

Q3:  I am in a group listed as Vulnerable; but not as needing to shield. What about me?

At the moment staff who are suffer from any of the conditions listed as vulnerable are being asked to work from home. If you cannot work from home you will be placed on paid special leave; but if this continues that position might be reviewed.

For a full list of conditions which are  considered to be vulnerable click here

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/covid-19-guidance-on-social-distancing-and-for-vulnerable-people/guidance-on-social-distancing-for-everyone-in-the-uk-and-protecting-older-people-and-vulnerable-adults

For information on basic_pay_and_shift_based_allowances

For impact on SDA weekend working

For impacts on AHW rosters and hours

 

Q4: I live with someone who is vulnerable but not shielded.

At the moment staff who are living with someone who is vulnerable are usually allowed to work from home or granted paid special leave; but there is provision in policy for you to be asked to attend work if necessary.  This is something to keep under review with your line manager; make sure you speak to an ISU rep if you have concerns.

For information on basic_pay_and_shift_based_allowances

For impact on SDA weekend working

For impacts on AHW rosters and hours

 

Q5: I am pregnant.  What should I do?

Pregnant women are currently considered as vulnerable because there is limited scientific evidence on whether or not CV19 can be transmitted to the baby.  You must be either allowed to work from home or placed on paid special leave.

For information on basic_pay_and_shift_based_allowances

For impact on SDA weekend working

For impacts on AHW rosters and hours

 

Q6:  My Partner is pregnant. What should I do?

At the moment concerned partners of women who are pregnant are being allowed to work from home or given paid special leave.  (This is likely to also apply to partners of women who have recently given birth).  But as with the provisions for those who are living with vulnerable people there is provision to require you to attend work if necessary and this will be kept under review.  Make sure you contact your ISU rep if you have any concerns.

For information on basic_pay_and_shift_based_allowances

For impact on SDA weekend working

For impacts on AHW rosters and hours

 

Q7:  I am fit to work but have children at home. What can I do?

Most ISU members are classed as key workers and as such my still be able to access the school system.  If you are not able to access the school system, or if you choose not to you may still be allowed to work from home.  If you can’t work from home you may also be able to take your annual leave or unpaid parental leave.  The first thing to do is speak to your line manager and ask your local ISU rep for help. At the moment managers are being quite flexible.

 

Q8: I am classed as vulnerable / shielded etc. but I want to work.  Can they force me not to?

Technically yes they can – but the HO Guidance at this point stops short of that.  If you really want to come to work then speak to your line manager.  If you can’t resolve it speak to an ISU rep.

 

Q9:  I have been sent home because there isn’t any work for me to do. Can they do that?

Yes.  There is a right in law to be paid; but no matching right to be provided with work for that pay. Your pay and basic allowances must continue but there is an impact on “as worked” allowances like SDA and Cutter allowance; also potentially an impact on AHW accrual.

For impact on SDA weekend working

For impacts on AHW rosters and hours

 

Q10:  Can they force me to work from home?

Mostly  – yes.  If you are being paid then it is reasonable for the employer to ask that you undertake some working response to that.

 

Q11:  Do I have to take part in dial ins etc?

Mostly yes – again it’s a reasonable management request if you are on paid special leave or working from home.  However you do not have to join in if you are signed off sick.

 

Q12I am signed off  long term sick.  Can I sign back to work and go onto paid special leave?

It will depend on circumstances.  As long as your GP will sign you fit to work without any other conditions and you genuinely are fit to work then it should be possible; although your manager might ask for an OHS review to ensure that this is the case.  However if you are not fit to work and this is only a means to return to pay then it might be more difficult.  Contact your ISU rep.

 

Q13: Can I be furloughed?

In theory yes – the furlough provisions apply to everyone including civil servants.  But there is no way for an employee to insist on being placed on furlough.  If you are fit to work and the employer has work for you then you can be compelled to attend work.

 

Q14:  I’m fit to work but there is no priority work to do; can I go home?

In many locations, no.  Fit staff can be re-directed to work which would normally be low priority, or asked to come in to do emails   / e -learning etc.  But this does have to be reasonable.  For example if you are not able to socially distance at work it might be better for managers only to require part of  a team attendance rather than all the team.   If you have concerns you can speak to your line manager or your ISU rep.

 

Q15:  Other teams have been sent home but mine has not.  What can I do?

This does depends on the circumstances but where all other matters are equal if the available workload falls more on one team than on another it may be reasonable to re-distribute it. Speak to your line manager or your ISU rep.

 

Q16: I’ve been in work throughout and am worried about running out of AHW hours.  Will I be compelled to work more hours as this goes on?

In a short answer – no.  The AHW policy provides that you may agree to work additional hours; but you cannot be compelled to.  You have your AHW contract for a set number of hours in each block.  Once those are exhausted you can just leave.  In practice we do recognise that managers will sometimes seek to pressure staff or pretending to have powers under the policy that they do not.  If this happens to you contact an ISU rep immediately.

 

Q17:  I want to cancel leave but have been told I can’t.  Is that right?

In theory an employer can compel staff to take annual leave – but following pressure from the ISU core Home Office have eased their position on this and it should be possible to have a reasonable discussion with your manager.  Particularly if you have leave booked for a lifetime event – a wedding, a long holiday etc. – which cannot now proceed you should be able to cancel all or part of the leave.  BF are taking a stronger stance on this and we are working on that.

 

Q18:  I have been instructed to take leave; but I don’t want to.  Can I refuse?

Only if you are also signed off sick.  Staff who are signed off sick may take leave if they wish to do so; but cannot be compelled.  Otherwise the employer can, in general terms, compel you to take leave at a stage that suits the business.  However this should not be unreasonable or oppressive.  The start point is always a conversation with the manager and an attempt to reach agreement.  Contact your local ISU rep if you need to.

 

Q19:  Can I wear a facemask / Face shield / gloves?

The ISU has produced a separate range of materials for staff who feel they want to wear a face mask or take other protective measures outside those areas where PPE is required.  Please click here to view these.

 

Q20: The unit has run out of gloves / sanitizer / other required PPE.  What can I do?

If PPE is required by the Safe System of Work or the Risk Assessment and is not available – don’t do the task!  Contact an ISU rep immediately.

 

Q21:  I’m really struggling with my mental health. Where can I get help?

The ISU has a list of organisations which can offer support. Click here to view the list of resources.   You can also access the Employee Assistance Programme.

 

Q22:  Can I be deployed to another location?

Mostly – yes.  Most staff are mobile grades; only longer serving AO (equivalents) and part time staff are non mobile.  All mobile staff can be compelled to serve at any location as long as they are given reasonable notice and paid the appropriate amount under contract.  Even non mobile staff can be required to serve at another location within reasonable daily travel; 75 mins each way outside London and 90 mins each way inside.

 

Q23:  Can I be compelled to do work other than that which I was recruited to do?

As long as you have the required skills and training, and it does not otherwise adversely impact your pay, it is usually  reasonable management instruction to undertake other types of work in the short term.  But if you do not have the necessary skills and / or training then it is not likely to be reasonable.  This is always fact specific and you may need to seek advice from an ISU rep.

 

Q24: Can I take volunteering leave?

Technically not – Civil servants are excluded from the statutory provisions for volunteering leave.  But many units will allow paid special leave for the purposes of volunteer work. Talk to your manager In the first instance.

 

Q25:  The port / airport I was posted to has closed.  What will happen to me?

You may be placed on special leave or allowed to work from home.  You may be asked to work at another location.  See Here.  We don’t yet know when, or if, ports currently closed will re-open. If your port closes permanently then you will be redeployed; but it is not likely (at the moment) that you will be offered redundancy.

 

Q26:  I’m working from home.  Can I claim any money?

HO have determined that staff working from home will not be eligible for the home workers allowance.  However you can claim a tax allowance worth up to £2.40 per week. https://www.gov.uk/guidance/claim-income-tax-relief-for-your-employment-expenses-p87

Please check carefully to be sure that claiming this allowance is the right thing to claim in your personal financial circumstances.  If you do not already complete a self assessment form you may be required to do so.

 

Q27: I normally have reasonable adjustments in place.  Can I be made to work from home?

It depends on your adjustments. The employer is obliged to make reasonable adjustment for you even when you are working from home. But it may not always be reasonable to provide the same adjustments as you have in the office.    Each case is going to depend on its own facts but if you require an adjustment that really cannot be made at home then it may be appropriate to allow you to work from the office or to place you on paid special leave.  Speak to an ISU rep if you need advice.

 

Q28:  Do I have to work fixed hours from home.

It depends on your specific role; but most managers are reasonably flexible as long as the work is done.  For example if you have children at home you may need to work your hours around times when the children are occupied, asleep or being cared for by a partner.  But some elements, for example a dial in with others, may have to take place at a  specified time.

 

Impact on basic pay and shift based allowances

Staff working from home, sent home or on paid special leave should continue to receive full basic pay including any attendance based allowances such as AAA/ AHW / SDA and Maritime allowances.

 

Impact on