COVID-19 Update (Verbal)
The Service Manager (Human Resources and Organisational Development) provided the Panel with an update on how the Council was managing the effects of COVID-19 on its own workforce. The update covered the following areas:
- Managing Vulnerability
The Council continued to support its staff, who had been vulnerable due to health conditions, to work from home and had re-allocated tasks to others. Support was also provided to those staff who could not work from home and had to remain at home. During the third period of lockdown the Council had continued to support and work with staff, particularly with those who were advised that they were clinically extremely vulnerable.
As of 1 April 2021, those who had been advised to stay at home and could not work would be returning to roles which adhered to strict social distancing guidance.
- Annual Leave Management
Managing leave had been very well managed by staff who had engaged with the approach to taking leave throughout the year, with designated amounts of leave being taken for certain periods. A guide was set that all staff should have taken 17 days leave by the end of January 2021, with the normal ability to be able to carry forward the usual five days. Therefore, staff would not be carrying forward excessive amounts of leave into 2021/22.
- Furlough Job Retention Scheme
The Council had continued to operate the Furlough Job Retention Scheme, but only for those jobs which were income funded. Opportunities had been taken to flexibly furlough/redeploy staff where able to do so. The number of staff on Furlough would diminish alongside the Government’s roadmap guidance.
- COVID-19 Testing
Staff working in the Offices were being encouraged to undertake lateral flow testing twice a week. A lateral flowing testing provision was also being provided, twice a week, at the West Suffolk Operational Hub. Unfortunately, it was not possible to roll this service out to the Council’s smaller depots, as there were insufficient numbers of staff to be able to support this.
With there being no decision required, the Panel noted the update.