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Coronavirus (COVID-19) FAQs for staff and volunteers

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Last updated: Thursday 21 May 2020


The health and wellbeing of our staff is currently our highest priority. It is therefore vital that you adhere to the government statement issued at 20:30 on Monday 23 March and remain at home, unless for the purposes of shopping for essential items, for limited daily exercise (with those only in your household) or for medical purposes and to support vulnerable individuals.

The situation regarding coronavirus remains rapidly changing, however we have created this page to answer as many questions as we can – where accurate and current information is available to us. We aim to update this as regularly as possible, with new advice and information as we receive it.

This page and its information is for Peak District National Park Authority staff, casual staff, volunteers and members only, unless otherwise indicated as UK government advice.

If you have any additional questions that are not answered below and you are not already in contact with HR, please email tom.marshall@peakdistrict.gov.uk. If you have a question of a confidential or personal nature, please continue to liaise with the HR team.


Your Health

Q: What are the coronavirus symptoms I should look for?

  • If you have either of a new, repetitive and persistent cough or high temperature (you feel hot to the touch on your back or chest).
  • A loss of, or change to, your sense of smell or taste.

Q. What action should I take if I have the above symptoms?

If you have any of the above symptoms, you should stay self-isolated at home for 7 days. If you live with other people, they should also self-isolate at home for 14 days from the day the first person in the household shows symptoms.

Employees should contact their line manager and follow the guidance given in COVID-19 Sickness Reporting and Self Isolation Arrangements.

Q: I have symptoms of the virus, how long should I isolate for?

Take a look at this infographic from the BBC.

Q: I need to self-isolate – what information does the Authority need from me?

A: In your first day of absence and/or isolation you should report this to your line manager. We have a new form which relates specifically to sickness and isolation due to the coronavirus. You should complete this form on your first day of absence and submit it, electronically where possible, to HR and your line manager. If you are unable to complete the form electronically, your manager can do this on your behalf.

Q: Do I still need to provide a self-certification for my sickness absence?

A: Further information on what you will need to provide in relation to a sickness absence is given in COVID-19 Sickness Reporting and Self Isolation Arrangements. During this period we have a temporary self-certification form which helps us capture information about the virus.

Q. What if I am over 70 or pregnant?

You fall into one of the categories identified as being at increased risk of severe illness from the virus. The government is advising that you are particularly stringent in avoiding non-essential interaction with any others for 12 weeks.

In line with this advice we recommend any employees who fall within those categories follow the guidance given in COVID-19 Sickness Reporting and Self Isolation Arrangements and self-isolate at home.

Q. What if I live with someone in a vulnerable category, or have caring responsibilities?

Where possible, if you can work from home and reduce your social interaction, this is the current recommendation.

If you are unable to work from home, there is currently no government guidance which changes our current terms and conditions. See COVID-19 Time Recording, Pay and Flexible Working Arrangements.

Q. I may have an underlying condition that could mean I am more severely affected by coronavirus?

The government advice provides a list of those who may be more vulnerable. You can find this at www.gov.uk. If you are still unsure whether you have a condition that requires self-isolation or additional measures, please contact your health professional. If you are given advice in regard to this, please inform your line manager and follow the guidance given in COVID-19 Sickness Reporting and Self Isolation Arrangements.


Your working procedures

Q. I’m worried about my income, will I get paid?

We know that the uncertainty around pay will be causing additional pressure to many staff, so we have agreed the initial arrangement that all employees will be paid their full contracted hours for the next three weeks. This will be further reviewed towards to the end of the period and we will keep staff informed at that time.

Q: I am a casual worker, what about pay I was expecting to earn?

You should speak directly to your line manager to confirm how this impact on you. We may be able to offer business critical work during this period on a casual basis although this may not be your usual tasks.

Q: What about Aldern House and other office facilities/hubs?

Aldern House will be moving onto restricted opening hours of Wednesdays only for at least the three-week period identified by government. This will allow for a small number of nominated staff to undertake business critical activities across finance and planning procedures that involves the collection of post or physical documentation. If you think this may apply to you, prior permission must be sought from your line manager and any access to Aldern House must be in accordance with our lone working policy.

If you are expecting a large delivery, please contact your line manager to discuss whether alternative arrangements can be made with the supplier.

Unless otherwise indicated by your line manager, all other National Park Authority facilities will be closed until further notice.

Q: What about meetings?

In line with the government statement of Monday 23 March to remain at home, you should not attend any meetings. If you are able, please make use of the available technology such as web or telephone-based conferencing. Additional information on the use of these services will be distributed to all staff who have home-working capability. The IT service are looking at a range of options to allow flexibility for all staff.

As of 17.03.20, all committee meetings, working groups and P&R will be cancelled on a basis of rolling review.

Q: Can I use my own vehicle instead of a pool car for site visits/meetings?

Unnecessary travel should be minimised, including the use of personal vehicles. Individual line managers will speak with staff who may need to use a personal vehicle during this period as part of their role, and on a case-by-case basis. The use of pool cars (Fiestas, Nissan Leaf) is currently suspended.

Q: What are my obligations regarding working hours if I need to undertake care of children or other vulnerable people?

Normal arrangements will apply in accordance with our terms and conditions. This may include the use of flexible working arrangements, annual leave or flexi-time or a form of unpaid leave (for example parental/carer leave).

Please ensure all time is recorded and coded appropriately and accurately on your timesheets. See the COVID-19 Time Recording, Pay and Flexible Working Arrangements for further details.

Q: My child’s school has closed, what do I do?

A: If your child requires attention and you are unable to work, you should follow the guidance given in COVID-19 Time Recording, Pay and Flexible Working Arrangements.

Q: Will all staff be required to work, even if they cannot undertake normal tasks based at home?

Unless you are self-isolating in accordance with public health advice, you should remain available for work. We may identify alternative work that can be done to support other services.

Q: What do I do if I’m home-based and not allocated a laptop, but require a PC to undertake my role?

If you do not have the equipment to work from home you should speak to your line manager about alternative options. This may mean undertaking work to support other services.

Q: Can I cancel annual leave I’ve already booked?

Currently, normal arrangements for managing annual leave apply which means you can cancel and amend annual leave in agreement with your line manager. Whilst we understand that travel and leisure opportunities are limited, it remains important that staff take breaks from work so we do expect staff to use annual leave, as normal.

Q: I have booked annual leave but I now need to self-isolate, can I claim my leave back?

No, there are currently no arrangements to reimburse annual leave during this period. You will still need to follow the guidance in COVID-19 Sickness Reporting and Self Isolation Arrangements because your absence now relates to the virus.

Q: What about site visits/surveys?

In line with the government statement of Monday 23 March to remain at home, you should not undertake any site visits or surveys until otherwise advised by you line manager. Unnecessary travel should be minimised unless undertaking public safety or critical maintenance work as part of the normal duties of your role.

Q: What about our financial procedures and paper-based systems?

We are working towards a system which will minimise the use of authorisation in-person/by signature and will allow most financial procedures to be maintained. Our priority will also be to maintain a consistent service to our suppliers. More detail is available here.

Q: What about external grant-funded programmes?

Heads of Service have been asked to contact relevant funding bodies to confirm flexibility in work programmes that may be impacted as a result of coronavirus.

Q: Passwords

You will be asked to change your network login password (where relevant) from week beginning 16 March, to ensure you have access for the next 90 days. This will avoid you being locked-out during any extended period of remote working.

Q: External contacts

Please make use of email signatures and your outlook calendar to inform others of your current working status (for example, reference to ‘Working from home’ across your weekly calendar). Additional advice on this will be distributed by the IT service.

Q: Pool cars

From 23 March the use of pool cars has been suspended until further advised by the Authority (please see additional question on the use of personal cars).

Q: How can I contact HR during this time?

The HR team are continuing to work from home during this time and can be contacted in the first instance by email to hr@peakdistrict.gov.uk. The team are also available on their usual extension numbers but hours of work may vary from the norm over the coming weeks.

  • Theresa Reid: 01629 816283
  • Natalie Webster: 01629 816359
  • Natalie Clemmitt: 01629 816360
  • Laura Thompson: 01629 816361
  • Jon Wayte: 01629 816392

Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme

The National Park Authority has taken the decision to ‘furlough’ a number of our employees. As a local authority we are only eligible to make a claim in the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS) where employees’ wages are paid from the income we would normally generate. In taking the decision to furlough, we have tried to avoid more drastic choices from the circumstances in which we find ourselves, such as redundancies.

We also appreciate that many of you who are not eligible to be furloughed continue to strike a challenging balance between working, looking after young children or undertaking other care needs. We understand the impact this can have, and we will remain flexible and pragmatic in how contracted hours are met during these anxious times.

After consultation with Unison and Staff Committee we took the decision to make a claim under the CJRS and furlough employees. It may not provide a solution that everyone agrees on, but we have tried to create a balanced approach that helps us all to be part of a viable National Park Authority in the end.

FAQ’s from ‘furloughed’ employees

Q: Am I able to do ELMS courses for personal development whilst furloughed?

Yes. You can. You must not undertake any work for or on behalf of the Authority.

Q: What should I do about completing my timesheet?

Continue to complete your timesheet with the total hours you would have worked but enter the hours in the absence column and code them as LFUR.

Q: Do I still need to send in timesheets?

No. You do still need to continue to complete your timesheet as above and they should be monitored electronically by your manager.  You will need to print these and have them signed once you return to work.

Q: What is the maximum amount of time we can currently furlough people for?

3 weeks is the minimum. The scheme is currently only in place until the end of May. We will constantly review our position.

Q: Will I be paid as normal in April/May into my bank account?

Yes, you will. Hopefully the CJRS will reimburse us for 80% of your wages. The Strategic Leadership Team (SLT) have agreed to top up wages to 100%.

Q: What will happen with annual leave during the period?

You are still an employee and will continue to accrue your holiday entitlement.

The starting point with employees who are on furlough leave is that we should not allow them to cancel leave during this time. In exceptional circumstances we expect managers and employees to manage their leave.

Our position still remains that employees can only carry over 2 week leave at the end of the year.

The Strategic Leadership Team (SLT) reserve the right to require employees to take leave - we do not want to enforce this but may be something we have to consider further down the line.

HR will monitor the amount of leave taken and keep SLT informed.

Over the next few weeks we would like you to have a discussion with your manager about how you plan to use your leave this year. We need to work collaboratively to ensure that we can operate effectively once the lock down is over.

What notice will I receive to return to work?

You will be given two days’ notice. We want to be able to be up and running as soon as possible.


Our operations

Q: Are we closing our services and facilities?

As of 23 March, our visitor centres, cycle hire and North Lees campsite facilities are closed until further notice. Our schools engagement work has also been suspended for the foreseeable future. Our car parks and trails remain open for the benefit of local residents.

Rights of Way issues remain under review on a national level as this is a legislative matter.

Q: What about events?

As of week beginning 16.03.20, all external events operated by Authority (inc. guided walks) will be postponed due to a future date or cancelled. Normal refund procedures will apply.

Q: Can we allow staff and our vehicles to work with the various local community groups and volunteer services that are setting up to support those who are self-isolating? Will our insurance cover this?

We are gathering a picture of who and what equipment and facilities are available we can offer to the Local Resilience Forum (LRF) so they can be directed where most needed. HoS are pulling this information together for SLT to discuss on Wednesday 23 March. Please ask any requests for PDNPA assistance to be logged with the Local Resilience Forum.

Q: Are we/national parks lobbying government at all for support for rural industries especially tourism and hospitality? If so, can we make a special mention of independent/charity based outdoor centres and the freelance staff who work in the sector?

Yes. Through working closely with our partners including Marketing Peak District & Derbyshire and Business Link. Also CEO’s and communications teams are working on a joint national statement across multiple outdoor organisations to communicate widely.

Q: Do we want individual volunteering to continue?

All National Park Authority volunteering has been suspended until further notice.


External procedures

Q: What about planning and development?

The latest information on how this service is affected can be found on our main coronavirus webpage.

Q: Building and asset safety

Procedures are being prepared to allow for the continuation of priority health and safety monitoring and maintenance of our property portfolio.

Q: Recruitment

We are recruiting only to posts where resourcing requirements are urgent.


Community impacts

Q: Is the park going to support communities during the outbreak?

We have already spoken with colleagues across the local public sector involved in this work and support from the National Park, where required, will be coordinated via the Local Resilience Forum. If you are approached and a request for National Park assistance is made, please indicate this to your line manager.

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