Frequently Asked Questions


There continues to be widespread media coverage of Covid-19 (Coronavirus) around the world in recent weeks.

We have updated the Frequently Asked Questions which give information, provide advice on the council’s position and provides you with links to national advice.

Please contact the HR Advice line on 01343 563261 or email, if you have any queries.

Symptoms of the Virus and what to do (including testing and prevention)
What are the symptoms of Coronavirus?

The most common symptoms are now:

  • continuous cough (has lasted for an hour; experienced 3 or more episodes of coughing in 24 hours; are coughing more than usual)
  • fever/high temperature (37.8C or greater – feeling hot to the touch on your chest or back. You may feel warm, cold or shivery)
  • loss of, or change in, sense of smell or taste (anosmia)

Some people will have more serious symptoms, including pneumonia or difficulty breathing, which might require admission to hospital.

If you have, or think you have, any of these symptoms, however mild, do not leave your home and do not come to work. You will need to self-isolate for 10 days.

This will help to protect others in your community while you’re infectious.

Please also refer to the next question “I think I have symptoms of Covid-19, what do I do?”

I think I have symptoms of Covid-19, what do I do?

Contact your manager at the earliest opportunity, by telephone (or email) to advise them of the situation.

If you are a Key Worker, your manager will arrange a referral for testing, as key workers will receive priority.

If you are not categorised as a Key Worker you can arrange to be tested by accessing the link and following the guidance Testing - Non Key Workers and following the guidance.

The test is only reliable if you have coronavirus symptoms.

You should get tested in the first 3 days of symptoms appearing, although testing is effective until day 5.

You won’t normally be tested after day 5 unless it’s for a specific reason. This will be agreed on a case-by-case basis.

Do not leave your home and do not come to work. You will need to self-isolate for 10 days. You should only leave your home to travel to and from your testing appointment. This will help to protect others in your community while you’re infectious.

Self-isolation means you should remain at home and should not go to work, school, public areas or use public transport. You should not go out to buy food or other essentials.

You must stay at home.While you are self-isolating, you should:

  • stay at least 2m/6ft away from other people in your home
  • stay in a different room from other people in your home, ensuring it is well-ventilated
  • sleep alone in a separate bed
  • spend as little time as possible in shared areas (sitting room, kitchen, bathroom)
  • avoid using your kitchen while others are present
  • use a separate towel to dry your hands after you wash them
  • clean your kitchen, bathroom and other surfaces throughout the house every day

You should always:

  • wash your hands with soap and water for 20 seconds regularly, or use an alcohol-based hand sanitiser if your hands aren’t visibly dirty
  • catch your coughs or sneezes in a disposable tissue and put it in the bin, or catch them in the crook of your elbow
  • avoid touching your face, and especially your mouth, nose or eyes

You should remain at home until you get the result of the test, and then follow the advice you will be given based on the result.

Only phone 111 if:

  • your symptoms worsen during home isolation, especially if you’re in a high or extremely high-risk group
  • breathlessness develops or worsens, particularly if you’re in a high or extremely high-risk group
  • your symptoms haven’t improved in 7 days

If you have a medical emergency, phone 999 and tell them you have coronavirus symptoms.

I have a cold should I self-isolate?

The NHS Inform website has a helpful guide to help you assess and decide what actions you require to take to keep yourself and your community safe: Self-Help Guide - Coronavirus (Covid-19)

A member of my household has been advised to self-isolate as they are displaying symptoms – should I self-isolate too?

Yes. If you live with someone who has been advised to self isolate as they are displaying symptoms then you will also need to stay at home for 10 days from the start of their symptoms, even if you don’t have symptoms. 

If you develop symptoms within the 14 days, you will need to stay at home for 10 days from the day your symptoms started and arrange to be tested. This will help to protect others in your community. 

Your whole household should follow the NHS Inform’s Stay At Home Guidance for Household with Possible Coronavirus Infection

How do I notify my employer that I am self-isolating?

You should contact your manager using the same process as for sickness absence to let them know as soon as possible that you are self-isolating and cannot physically attend work.

(If you are working from home and are isolating and do not have symptoms, you will be able to continue to work from home).

The Absence From Work (COVID-19) Form (Revised April 2020) must be completed.

What happens if I become unwell whilst I am self-isolating?

You should contact your line manager by telephone or e-mail to inform them of your illness.  If you have developed symptoms of the coronavirus (Covid-19):  your manager will arrange a referral for testing, if you are a Key Worker.

If you are not categorised as a Key Worker you can arrange to be tested by accessing the link and following the guidance Testing - Non Key Workers.

The test is only reliable if you have coronavirus symptoms.

You should get tested in the first 3 days of symptoms appearing, although testing is effective until day 5.

You won’t normally be tested after day 5 unless it’s for a specific reason. This will be agreed on a case-by-case basis.

You will receive normal sick leave provisions until you are able to return to work taking account of medical advice.

You should follow normal procedures for self-certification of illness.  You should follow normal arrangements for keeping in touch for sickness absence. Please check with your manager for any service specific arrangements.

You should submit a fit note after that, should you have an extended period of sickness. Please do not attend your GP or workplace in person. Post or scan fit notes or wait until you return to work if that is not possible.

I have not been advised that I am a keyworker/essential worker, I don’t have symptoms and nobody in my household has symptoms, can I/we be tested?

The purpose of the government’s testing programme is to determine whether those with coronavirus (COVID-19) symptoms (however mild) have the virus.

The test is only reliable for those who have symptoms.

How can I avoid catching infections like the Coronavirus (Covid-19)?

You can reduce your risk of getting and spreading respiratory infections by:

  • Avoiding direct hand contact with your eyes, nose and mouth.
  • Covering your nose and mouth when coughing or sneezing with disposable tissues and disposing of them in the nearest waste bin after use
  • Maintaining good hand hygiene - washing hands with soap and water or alcohol hand sanitiser:
  • After coughing or sneezing 
  • After going to the toilet
  • Before eating and drinking
  • After being outside
  • Avoiding direct contact with people that have a respiratory illness and avoiding using their personal items such as their mobile phone.
  • Practice social distancing (2m)
  • Making sure you follow the Scottish Government’s coronavirus advice
Changes to Shielding
Should I still be shielding?

The latest Scottish Government advice is that there is a pause on shielding from 1 August 2020. This means that, in general, people who have been shielding can now follow the same advice as everyone else in Scotland.

It is now safe enough for those who have been shielding to:

  • meet indoors with up to 8 people from 2 other households with physical distancing (2m/6ft)
  • meet outdoors with up to 15 people from 4 other households outdoors with physical distancing
  • go inside pubs and restaurants
  • attend places of worship for congregational services, communal prayer and contemplation
  • return to work or school
  • return to university of college as part of the phased return to campus
  • use formal childcare providers – this now includes children who have been shielding
  • stopping physically distancing from the people you live with or who are in your extended household group
  • using toilets in other people’s homes and allowing other people to use yours at home
  • use public transport wearing a face covering unless you are exempt
  • travelling further than 5 miles from home, as far as you want
  • booking all types of holiday accommodation or travelling to a second home – and staying over with people outwith your household
  • going inside shops and leisure venues wearing a face covering unless you are exempt
  • visiting outdoor public gardens

However, depending on your individual circumstances, some of this advice may not be suitable for every individual.

Clinicians sometimes advise individuals to avoid doing certain things.  This will be because of their specific health condition or treatments.  Examples include people who:

  • are waiting on a solid organ transplant
  • are having treatment for cancer or have recently completed treatment

This does not mean that they are being advised to shield again because of an increase of coronavirus.

They should contact their specialist care team to discuss if this advice is right for them. You should always continue to follow any specific advice that your clinician provides.

I have been shielding, can I come back to work now?

You should contact your manager (if not already done so). An assessment of your ability to work from home will be undertaken if this has not already been done.

This would assess what tasks it is possible for you to carry out and the arrangements that will require to be put in place. Priority will be given to providing equipment to key workers in services that the council must maintain and so it may not be possible for everyone to homework.

Only those who are specifically given permission from RRMT are expected to return to the workplace. The default position, at the moment, remains that people work from home where possible.

If they can’t work from home, they remain at home. The only exception is if they are a key worker.

A member of my household is continuing to ‘shield’ and I don’t want to expose them to any risk; should I stay at home too?

If a member of your household is continuing to shield, the rest of the household are not required to adopt shielding measures for themselves.

There is no requirement for you to stay at home in these circumstances. However, you should support your household member in shielding by following the latest guidance provided by the Scottish Government’s Changes to Shielding Advice

Employment Issues
I am planning to return to work after a period of self-isolation, what will happen?

A return to work discussion with your service manager, in keeping with normal return to work discussions, should take place.

Where employees are returning to work following a positive test result either for themselves or a member of their household, the return to work risk assessment needs to be completed by your manager.

Please note that you should only be returning to the workplace if you were working in the workplace prior to self-isolation. If you were working from home, you should continue to do so following the period of self-isolation.

Am I able to work if I am in self-isolation?

Yes, employees who are in self-isolation, but who are not currently displaying symptoms, should arrange with their manager to work from home, if this is practical. You may be allocated alternative or adjusted duties for a temporary period to enable this.

Employees should follow local arrangements for keeping in touch with their service manager while self-isolating.

What will I get paid, if I am in self-isolation and because I have no equipment, I am unable to work from home?

An employee who is self-isolating will receive normal pay.

Employees should follow local arrangements for keeping in touch with their service manager while self-isolating.

I am at home, I am no longer in self-isolation but I am unable to carry out work, as I have caring responsibilities, what are my options?

Contact your manager to discuss whether there may be a short term flexible solution available e.g. flexible ways of working; different working times or days; temporary adjustment of tasks or role if that can be accommodated to facilitate homeworking.

If, however, this is not possible and you are required to attend your normal workplace then you will be required to make appropriate arrangements to care for your dependents and return to work (e.g. annual leave, flexi leave, time off in lieu (TOIL), parental leave, unpaid leave).

I am at home, and I do not want to be temporarily redeployed, what are my options?

If you are unwilling to be redeployed you should discuss your situation and any concerns with your manager

The purpose of this discussion is to endeavor to resolve the concerns as regards returning to work in a redeployed role and where these cannot not be resolved consideration will be given to using different types of leave, e.g. annual leave, flexi leave, unpaid leave to cover your absence from work. However the backstop position is that normal pay may be ultimately withdrawn.

How will it be determined if I am able to homework?

Consideration is being given to where best to deploy equipment and resources in order to enable and maintain critical service areas. Therefore your manager will undertake an assessment of your post to determine priority of distribution of resources/equipment.

I already have an allocated laptop/PC for homeworking, will I be able to continue with this arrangement?

Your manager will be assessing your ability to continue to work from home against the needs of services that are deemed a critical service area. You may be asked to return your equipment so it can be reallocated to a priority area where necessary.

Is there a homeworking allowance?

The HMRC allows you to claim up to £6 per week (£26 per month) expenses, HMRC issued a statement which said “Employees can claim the P87 expenses at any time but claiming when they return to their place of work means their claim will be for the right amount and they will only have to contact us once”. If you wish to claim in excess of £6 per week you will have to provide paperwork to support your claim. You can only claim this if you are working at home because you have to, not out of choice.

Do I have to provide my own phone for work?

Managers should ensure that if equipment is essential for the role then this should be provided, if the employee does not have their own equipment that can be used.

For example, most employees using their own phones have tariffs that include unlimited calls and all phones have the ability to ‘hide’ their personal numbers when calling others.

There is no additional cost to the employee. In circumstances where this is not the case and having a phone is essential, then for the employee to carry out that role, they would need to be provided with a work’s mobile phone.

Can I claim travel expenses if I’m working from home and then asked to come in to the office for a meeting?

If this journey is the same as, or less mileage than your normal home to work journey, then you would not be able to claim travel expenses.

You would be able to claim any additional mileage above your normal home to work journey mileage that you have incurred for work purposes.

Annual Leave
Can I cancel my pre-booked annual leave?

It is important that employees are able to take their leave where possible within the current leave year to ensure that they get enough rest and keep mentally and physically healthy.

Managers are asked to consider exceptions on a case by case basis and these should be considered with a balanced assessment of what might be reasonable in relation to service delivery requirements and staffing cover, particularly where there are requests to reduce the period of leave booked at this time so that the leave is available later in the year where holiday plans have had to be cancelled and are to be re-booked at a later time.

The full guidance is available on the interchange.

Can my manager tell me when to take annual leave?

There is an expectation that employees will continue to take some annual leave. It is therefore reasonable for your manager to ask you to take a proportionate amount of annual leave as your health, safety and wellbeing is important.

As usual, employees and managers should discuss and agree what leave can be taken during this period taking into account service delivery requirements and the need for employees to be able to rest and recharge within the context of continuing service delivery.

Can I carry over annual leave?

The provision to carry over leave is limited to key worker roles only and in all other service areas every effort should be made for annual leave to be taken in the normal manner considering the business requirements of the service.

For those in critical services, employees will be expected to have taken any leave that is above the 4 weeks or 20 days afforded by the carry over regulations before the end of the 2020 leave year.

I’ve been temporarily redeployed, but I’m due to have annual leave shortly, can I cancel this annual leave?

You should contact the manager of your redeployed post to ascertain whether you are able to take annual leave at that time.

If you are asked to change your annual leave arrangements, the leave will be available for you to be take later in 2020.

Can I carry over unused annual leave into 2021 if I have been redeployed to a critical post and am unable to take all my leave in 2020?

Please see question ‘Can I carry over annual leave?’

If, due to having been redeployed to a key worker role, you have been unable to take all of your annual leave before the end of the 2020 leave year, then the same provisions for key workers in terms of carry-over of leave will apply even though you are not a key worker in your substantive post.

I am going abroad for my holiday and have been told that I will need to quarantine for 14 days on my return, do I need to use more annual leave?

If you are able to work from home during the quarantine period then there will not be a need to look at alternative arrangements.

If, after discussion with your manager, you are unable to carry out any kind of work from home during the quarantine period and your holiday was booked before 21 May 2020 this would be considered Covid-19 Special Leave.

If, after discussion with your manager, you are unable to carry out any kind of work from home during the quarantine period and your holiday was booked after 21 May 2020, then you took the decision to travel abroad in the knowledge that quarantine was, or was likely to be required on return to Scotland.

Therefore, you should explore with your manager the use of annual leave, flexi leave, or as a last resort, unpaid leave, that could be used while in quarantine.

Returning to the workplace
I have been asked to return to work, will I be provided with a face mask?

Face masks should be distinguished from facial coverings. Employees who require face masks for work purposes as part of PPE provision e.g. in Care at Home and certain ASN situations are already provided with the appropriate face masks.

However, the council will not object to employees making a personal choice to wear facial protection at work, unless there is a specific safety or service issue that prevents the wearing of a mask/facial covering or makes it inadvisable.

My role requires me to wear a face mask (PPE), but due to my health, I am unable to. What will happen?

You must advise your manager immediately. Your safety in the workplace is a priority. Your manager will determine whether there is a different style of face mask available that may be suitable for your needs as an alternative.

If that is not available/suitable, a referral to Occupational Health and temporary adjustments may also be required.

I want to come back to work in the office, when can I?

Employees must not return to the office unless they have specifically been asked to by their manager, who will have obtained the appropriate authorisation. It is important that we make sure that the workplaces are safe for people to return to and in order to do this, the capacity for numbers of people for each workplace has been identified and different work practices are being implemented and maintained.

However, for the foreseeable future, we will only be able to accommodate a fraction of office staff within the buildings and this is being organised in a safe, structured way.

I have been homeworking and my manager now wants me to return to the office, what can I expect?

Before returning to the workplace you are asked to familiarise yourself with the information provided to you by your manager about returning to the workplace to ensure that you understand any new ways of working and what new cleaning protocols there are for the use of your workstation, personal hygiene and physical distancing measures are in place that you must adhere to.

You will receive a ‘back to work induction’ as we will all have to make behaviour changes, particularly in how we use the shared common space such as break-out areas, canteens, toilets and printing/photocopying areas.

There may also be changes to how we move around the buildings with one-way systems and dedicated entry and exit doors.

Further information can be found at: Interchange - Return to Work

My manager wants me to work from the office as my Wi-Fi is unreliable, is this a satisfactory reason?

No, not if this is the only consideration.

Before asking any employee to return to the workplace, managers will have carefully planned for the needs of the service, carried out risk assessments and made adjustments to the workplace and ways of working and presented these for approval by the Recovery and Management Team (RRMT) or the Head of Service or Depute Chief Executive.

It is only with this approval that employees will be allowed to return to the workplace. You may wish to ask your manager about the authorisation they have obtained with regard to returning to the workplace.

I am uncomfortable working in the office with my colleague who has shared on Facebook recent posts that show that they are not adhering to the Scottish Government’s guidance

It is normal to be anxious about the risks of being exposed to the Coronavirus (Covid-19) outside of your home environment, and particularly within the workplace.

Within the offices and workplaces, great care has been taken to ensure that Scottish Government’s requirements on distancing and hygiene are met and adhered to.

However, all employees are reminded that it is the Scottish Government that is requiring you to act responsibly for your safety – and the safety of others – at all times.

The Council requires that all employees ensure that their conduct outside of work does not interfere with the health and safety of others within the workplace, and you should be particularly aware of the potential consequence of your actions outwith work that may carry over into the workplace.

Further information and useful links:

NHS Inform (Scotland)

Public Health Scotland 

Scottish Government 

UK Government –

World Health Organisation – 

If you plan to travel to any of these countries or location, please find advice on the Foreign and Commonwealth Office website

Covid-19 Helpline: 0800 028 2816 - The helpline is open Monday to Friday, 8.00am to 10.00pm; Saturday and Sunday, 9.00am to 5.00pm. This is for advice if you have no symptoms. If you have symptoms, please contact NHS 24 (111).

Rate this Page