Information available below in relation to Direct Payments/Personal Health Budgets and Personal assistants in relation to Covid 19

 

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Working safely and social distancing

Guidance on how to stay safe during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic is updated regularly. For the latest government guidance:

Everyone should:

  • work from home if they can
  • follow guidance on making the workplace safe
  • avoid busy commuting times on public transport where travel is essential, and wear a face covering
  • wash their hands regularly

You must not go to work if you or anyone in your household has symptoms.

Social distancing at work

In Scotland and Wales, everyone should stay 2 metres (6 feet) apart ('social distancing' or 'physical distancing').

In England, everyone should stay 2 metres apart where possible. If it's not possible, people should be at least 1 metre apart and the employer should make extra changes to keep people safe. This might include things like wearing face coverings, working side by side instead of face to face, or using screens or barriers to separate people.

An individual should not go to the workplace if they:

  • have coronavirus (COVID-19) symptoms or have tested positive for coronavirus
  • are told to self-isolate (stay at home) by a government test and trace service, because they've been in close contact with someone who's tested positive
  • need to self-isolate because someone in their household has symptoms or has tested positive
  • need to self-isolate because they've returned to the UK after a holiday or business travel

If they're already at work, they should:

  • tell their employer immediately and go home
  • avoid touching anything, and wash their hands regularly
  • cough or sneeze into a tissue and put it in a bin, or if they do not have tissues, cough and sneeze into the crook of their elbow
  • use a separate bathroom from others, if possible
  • avoid using public transport to travel home, if possible

If someone with coronavirus comes to work

If someone with coronavirus comes to work, the workplace does not necessarily have to close, but they should follow cleaning advice.

See advice for cleaning workplaces on GOV.UK.

Supporting staff who need to self-isolate

If someone needs to self-isolate, it's good practice for employers to:

Depending on someone's circumstances, they might have to self-isolate more than once during the coronavirus pandemic. Employers should support them in the same way each time.

To find out how long someone must self-isolate for, see:

For workplace advice about the government test and trace services:

Employees and workers who who are no longer shielding may be able to return to the workplace if it's safe.

Anyone who's been shielding should talk to their employer as soon as possible about plans to help them return.

If they can continue to work from home, the employer should support this.

If working from home is not possible, options might include:

  • the employer putting extra measures in place to keep the person safe in the workplace
  • the person taking up an alternative role
  • temporarily changing the person's working patterns

Some people may be at very high risk of being severely ill if they catch coronavirus. Although shielding has been paused, someone’s doctor may advise them not to return to the workplace if they’re not fit to work.

An employee or worker affected by this should get a letter from their doctor to explain that they need to stay at home. They should share this with their employer. The employer should talk with the person to understand the issue and see how they can support them.

As of 13 March 2020, employees and workers who self-isolate must receive any Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) due to them from the first day they're absent from work if it's because:

  • they have coronavirus (COVID-19)
  • they have coronavirus symptoms, for example a high temperature, a new continuous cough or a loss of, or change in, sense of smell or taste
  • someone in their household has coronavirus symptoms
  • they've been advised to stay at home by their doctor because of an underlying health condition
  • they've been told to self-isolate by a doctor or NHS 111
  • they've been told to self-isolate by a government 'test and trace' service, because they've been in close contact with someone who tested positive ('NHS Test and Trace' in England, 'Test and Protect' in Scotland or 'Test, trace, protect' in Wales)
To be eligible for SSP, employees and workers must be off work for at least 4 days in a row. This includes non-working days.

If an employee or worker cannot work, they should tell their employer:

  • as soon as possible
  • the reason
  • how long they're likely to be off for

If someone has symptoms or has tested positive

If someone has symptoms or has tested positive for coronavirus, they must self-isolate (stay at home) for at least 10 days.

Anyone else in their household must self-isolate for 14 days.

If anyone else in the household starts displaying symptoms or tests positive, they must self-isolate for at least 10 days. This is regardless of where they are in the 14-day isolation period.

For more about households with coronavirus symptoms:

If someone is told to self-isolate by a test and trace service

If a government 'test and trace' service tells someone they've been in close recent contact with someone who has tested positive, they must self-isolate for 14 days. If they develop symptoms, everyone else in their household must self-isolate for 14 days.

For more information about test and trace:

If the employer needs proof

Employees in self-isolation need to follow their workplace's usual sickness reporting process.

Employees can 'self-certify' for the first 7 days off work. This means following their workplace process but not having to get a note from a doctor or NHS 111.

Those self-isolating due to coronavirus for more than 7 days can get an online self-isolation note from the:

It's a good idea to check your workplace's policy on absence from work. Employers might need to be flexible if asking for self-isolation notes. For example, an employee with severe symptoms might not be able to get a note straight away.

n most situations, employees and workers should use their paid holiday ('statutory annual leave') in their current leave year. This is 5.6 weeks in the UK.

This is important because taking holiday helps people:

  • get enough rest
  • keep healthy, both physically and mentally

Being flexible about holiday during coronavirus

Employers, employees and workers should be as flexible as they can about holiday during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

It's a good idea to:

  • talk about any plans to use or cancel holiday during coronavirus as soon as possible
  • discuss why holiday might need to be taken or cancelled
  • listen to any concerns, either from staff or the employer
  • welcome and suggest ideas for other options
  • consider everyone's physical and mental wellbeing
  • be aware that it's a difficult time for both employers and staff

 

During the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, you may be working from home, leaving your home to go to work or on ‘furlough’ (temporary leave). 

In any of these situations, you may find it hard to look after your mental health and wellbeing. For example, you may be working longer hours, be under pressure, have childcare responsibilities or find it difficult to cope with minimal social contact. 

There is no right or wrong way to feel in your situation. But some common feelings may include stress or anxiety. 

If you already have a mental health problem, it’s particularly important to talk to your manager about how you’re feeling. Your manager may be able to give you extra support. 

To help support your wellbeing you can:

  • stay in contact with people – talk to colleagues or friends about how you’re feeling
  • have a routine so you plan in advance what you’ll be doing each day
  • keep active and exercise
  • make time for activities you enjoy
  • reflect on what helps you feel more positive and what does not

The Department of Health has confirmed that PAs are included in the definition of key worker. If you are being challenged a template letter is available from us please call 01482878778 or email office@choicesandrights.org.uk

If someone becomes unwell in the workplace with coronavirus symptoms, they should:

  • If possible, get at least 2 metres (7 feet) away from other people
  • Go to a room or area behind a closed door.
  • avoid touching anything
  • cough or sneeze into a tissue and put it in a bin, or if they do not have tissues, cough and sneeze into the crook of their elbow
  • use a separate bathroom from others, if possible

The unwell person should either:

It’s best for the unwell person to use their own mobile phone to access these services if possible.

 

If you are staying at home because of COVID-19 you can now claim Statutory Sick Pay (SSP). This includes individuals who are caring for people in the same household and therefore have been advised to do a household quarantine.

If you have COVID-19 or are advised to stay at home, you can get an ‘isolation note’ by visiting NHS 111 online, rather than visiting a doctor. For COVID-19 cases this replaces the usual need to provide a ‘fit note’ (sometimes called a ‘sick note’) after 7 days of sickness absence.

If you are absent from work due to sickness or if you are self-isolating because of coronavirus (COVID-19), SSP will be paid from day 1, rather than day 4, of your absence from work for every day of sickness or every day you are in isolation. This applies from 13 March.

You must tell your employer you’re self-isolating because of coronavirus (COVID-19) or sick for another reason within 7 days. You could lose some of your SSP if you do not.

To be eligible for SSP you must earn an average of at least £118 per week.

If you are not eligible for SSP – for example if you earning below the Lower Earnings Limit of £118 per week – and you have COVID-19 or are advised to stay at home, you can now more easily make a claim for Universal Credit or new style Employment and Support Allowance.

If you are eligible for new style Employment and Support Allowance, it will now be payable from day 1 of sickness, rather than day 8, if you have COVID-19 or are advised to stay at home.

 

 

You should discuss with the provider the possibility of finding different and creative ways for activities to continue. For example, in the person’s home if possible or in a safe, open air, community space.

Consider using direct payments to recruit and employ a PA to deliver support in the home. We can help with this.

Always keep in regular touch with your provider, even if they have had to stop delivering activities, as the position may change and new ideas will emerge.

 

 

 

You should discuss with your care agency and find alternative, different ways of arranging services that would continue to meet the needs of the individual. For example, reducing the number of home visits or changing the times of the visits. It’s important to be as flexible as possible – as long as you stay safe.

Direct Payments will not be stopped

Self-isolating employees are legally defined as being unfit to attend work. They should therefore notify you of their intention to self-isolate in accordance with your sickness and absence procedures.

They have the right to remain away from work for a period of 14 days from the symptoms becoming known. You can find detailed Government guidance on staying at home due to a possible Coronavirus infection here: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/covid-19-stay-at-home-guidance

As the employee is considered to be unfit for work, they are entitled to statutory sick pay (if eligible) from day one of the absence.

Statutory sick pay is payable to employees who: - are employees or workers (includes zero hours and casual workers) and have earned on average £118 per week over the last 8 weeks, and - have given you the correct notice If the employee is not eligible you must provide them with the SSP1 form to explain why, which will allow them to present a claim for possible benefits. Statutory sick pay is paid at a rate of £94.25 per week, rising to £95.85 from 6th April 2020. The Government have announced that they will repay payments of SSP, up to 14 days, for each employee. If your employee is genuinely poorly with the virus themselves, they may well need more than 14 days. The NHS would expect to hear from them if symptoms have not alleviated after 14 days and so it is likely that further medical treatment and testing would be required at that stage. If the sickness absence persists beyond 14 days your normal sickness reporting procedures will apply, as will ongoing payment of SSP. At this stage you may feel it appropriate to obtain medical evidence to support the claim for ongoing SSP.

 

If your PA can’t work

Self-isolating employees are legally defined as being unfit to attend work. It's important to stay at home and self-isolate if you are displaying symptoms.

Advice about staying at home on the NHS website.

If your Personal Assistant tells you they have symptoms of COVID-19 as described on NHS website, they should stay home or you can send them home. If they earn above the Lower Employment Limit (LEL) statutory sick pay would apply from day one.

If they don’t qualify, they can check GOV.UK to see if they can get financial support in the form Universal Credit or Employment Support Allowance.

The statutory sick pay (SSP) regulations 2020 (coronavirus amendment) came into force Friday 13 March. SSP will now be payable to those self-isolating merely under Government guidance so there’s no need for formal written notice to be given by a medical officer.

 

 

 

If your PA chooses not to work and there’s no identified high risk then no pay other than authorised annual leave will be given as this is an unauthorised absence.

 

 

PAs are considered to be key workers. This means your PA’s children is eligible continue to attend school if they can’t be safely cared for at home.

The PA will need to contact the school for more information.

 

 

 

If your PA can work, they should carry on fulfilling their duties.

You and your PA must take any new rules on health and safety procedures very seriously and implement them based on government guidance. This is for their protection and to prevent the spread of infection to other people.

 

 

Personal Assistants (PAs) are key workers and are currently eligible for testing if they have symptoms.

Your PA can apply for a test on GOV.UK. The test is available for key workers (your PA) who currently have symptoms of COVID-19, or who live with someone who has symptoms. If this criteria changes, this will be updated on the government website.  There is a testing facility at Bristol airport with a capacity of 700 tests per day.

After the test your PA will receive a text or phone call with their results.  You can ask your PA to:

  • let you know when they are having the test
  • the result when they receive it

 

 

 

 

This new guidance, published on 21 April (updated on 6 July 2020), is for people who buy care and support through a direct payment, as well as local authorities, clinical commissioning groups and those who provide care and support. It sets out key messages to managing a direct payment during this time and help slow the transmission of COVID-19.

Read updated information (formerly the Q & A) on using direct payments during the coronavirus outbreak, an updated Easy Read Guide to Direct Payments and a useful headline list of 7 things direct payment holders need to know during the outbreak.

This guidance includes examples of emergency direct payments and using direct payments during the Covid-19 pandemic including:

The direct payment recipient needs to make sure that the health and safety procedures are always fully explained to their personal assistants and that they enforce these procedures.

For general advice on infection control and the appropriate equipment and clothing see Coronavirus: Infection, Prevention and Control.

For more specific advice on the Personal Protective Equipment to use in the community depending on your circumstances see:

Yes.

Choices and Rights biggest responsibility is to protect the health and safety of our community – both customers and staff. In order to reduce exposure to the virus we have made some changes to our services. From 17th March 2020 our offices will be closed until further notice, but we will continue to offer telephone on 01482878778 and email support at office@choicesandrights.org.uk
We have taken the decision to stop all home visits. This began on 17th March 2020 and will be in place until further notice.

No we ask you do not come to the office.

Choices and Rights biggest responsibility is to protect the health and safety of our community – both customers and staff. In order to reduce exposure to the virus we have made some changes to our services. From 17th March 2020 our offices will be closed until further notice, but we will continue to offer telephone on 01482878778 and email support at office@choicesandrights.org.uk
We have taken the decision to stop all home visits. This began on 17th March 2020 and will be in place until further notice.

Assuming your PA employees are themselves fit and willing to attend work, they should carry on fulfilling their duties. It is essential that you and they take very seriously any new rules on health and safety procedures you implement based on government guidance. It is not just for their own protection but also to prevent the spread of infection to other people in the household, fellow colleagues and the public at large when leaving your home.

If my personal assistant has to self- isolate as they or someone in their household have shown signs of a consistent cough or fever, what do they do?

Self-isolating employees are legally defined as being unfit to attend work. They should therefore notify you of their intention to self-isolate in accordance with your sickness and absence procedures.

What are my PA’s rights if they have to self-isolate?

They have the right to remain away from work for a period of 14 days from the symptoms becoming known. You can find detailed Government guidance on staying at home due to a possible Covid-19 infection here: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/covid-19-stay-at-home-guidance

They will get paid Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) if they are eligible (earn over £120/week). They will be paid from day one rather than the

fourth day of their illness. This will be applied retrospectively from 13th March 2020.

You do not need evidence from your PA to be able to claim SSP for them.

If they are self-isolating and then become sick, they should let you know

They can get a sick note from NHS 111 by following the link here https://111.nhs.uk/isolation-note/

What if my PA does not earn enough to be eligible for SSP?

They will be able to apply for Universal Credit and can receive an advance without physically attending a job centre. Please visit https://www.understandinguniversalcredit.gov.uk/coronavirus/

If I or my PA becomes sick with symptoms relating to coronavirus, can I send them home?

Yes, if your Personal Assistant lets you know they have symptoms described by the government guidelines you should send them home to Self-isolate.

What do I do if as the Direct Payment employer I feel it is safer for my Personal Assistants to self-isolate at home for your safety, even though they have not displayed symptoms?

You will need to pay them full pay if they are on contracted hours.

If because of coronavirus, my personal assistant does not want to come to work and neither my PA or myself (as the employer) are showing any symptoms. Do I still have to pay my personal assistant?

If the PA chooses not to work and there is no identified high risk then no pay (other than authorised annual leave) will be given as this is an unauthorised absence.

Please note that Statutory Maternity Pay, Statutory Paternity Pay, Statutory Shared Parental Pay and Statutory Adoption Pay are not affected.

 

You need to develop a contingency plan. This is where you plan for such eventualities such as: is there a Care Agency who could cover, can other staff pick up shifts, could you get ex staff to work for you again. You could also ask your friends and family to help out.

There are also volunteers or community group that could help.

If the replacement staff member has been ‘furloughed’ by another employer, they need to get permission from their employer to take on paid work for anyone else. They can support you but it will have to be unpaid.

If they are currently unemployed and receiving benefits, they must declare this new employment.

If they are currently receiving Carers’ Allowance, they must declare that they are now a paid carer.

New Paid staff must receive Terms & Conditions of Employment from their employer on their first day of paid work.

Please call our team on 01482878778 to get further support or email office@choicesandrights.org.uk

 

Please call us on 01482878778 or email the office at office@choicesandrights.or.guk for support.

You will need to speak to your local authority to discuss this, you will need to justify why the expense is beneficial. They may agree to fund the additional expense, but this may not necessarily be by using the Direct payment funds. Please do not spend any money on such purchases without authorisation.

This is a template of a COVID 19 Contingency Plan for your care that you may use for your own needs. It help you put down the essential things that you need for your care and support with on a daily basis: Contingency plan template

An example of a contingency plan for home if any one of the household gets ill. It sets out: How they can care for each other whilst minimising risk of cross infection and how they can manage illness as far as possible at home and absolutely minimise the need for hospital treatment. Home contingency template example

Contingency planning is a key part of any personalised care and support planning
process and it is likely that you will already have covered this in your personalised
care and support plan. However, in this difficult period there is a greater chance that
any paid or unpaid care arrangements you have in place could break down due to
sickness or self-isolation and it is important that you, and your carers, are prepared
for this eventuality.