• Wellbeing FAQ - PHSPublic Health Scotland

    1. What can I do to stay well?

    PHS is committed to ensuring you keep well and we have a range of tools to help you with this.  We can enable this but you need to access the information for it to have an impact.


    - The Spark (http://spark.publichealthscotland.org/health-and-wellbeing/wellbeing-advice/ )

    - HR Connect (https://www.nhsnational-hr.scot.nhs.uk/occupational-health-safety-and-wellbeing-sub-areas/covid-19-hub/109321 )


    The Scottish Government has also created and promotes the following websites for us all to use:

    - HR Connect (https://www.nhsnational-hr.scot.nhs.uk/occupational-health-safety-and-wellbeing/employee-assistance-counselling/93982#ForEmployee) for the Scottish Government HELP Guidance

    - National Wellbeing Hub, https://www.promis.scot/ , this is for us all to use and has information and resources to support individuals and managers, including how you can access coaching support among other resources

    https://clearyourhead.scot/ , providing ideas on how to keep moving, creating routine, looking after yourself, staying connected and healthy eating

    https://www.parentclub.scot/topics/coronavirus advice and help with parenting during this time.


    Coaching for Wellbeing Initiative


    Flyer and Elevator pitch for Coaching Initiative:



    Coaching for Wellbeing – a digital coaching service for all health and social care staff

    This service offers two options for online coaching, both designed to support you with issues you may be facing during these challenging times. Experienced coaches will support you in building resilience and improving your well-being and if you lead others there will be space to explore how you support your staff too.

    The service is for all staff and whichever option you choose, coaching will bring new ways of understanding yourself and your situation, clarity as to how you can play to your strengths and further strategies for staying on track.

    To find out more got to: https://www.knowyoumore.com/wellbeingcoaching


    Suicide Prevention

    Learning modules link

    - Counselling (Scottish Government Employee Assistance Service) - https://sg.helpeap.com/ or 0800 587 5670

    - Breathing Space      0800 83 85 87

    - Samaritans                116123

    - NHS 24                      111

  • Support whilst working from home FAQ - PHSPublic Health Scotland

    1. What support can I access whilst at home?

    PHS recognises the unprecedented times and want to support you at home just as we would if you were in the office.

    We have information and guidance on wellbeing can be found on the Spark here


    2. I am a line manager. What support is there for me managing staff at home?

    We appreciate the challenges that may be faced by staff and line managers and support information is available here.


    3. Can I keep in contact with colleagues without always having to talk about work?

    You should continue to speak to your line manager and colleagues on a regular basis but we encourage you to keep in touch with other colleagues as you would do if at work. You can still do this, just using a different form of communication - virtual Teams calls for this can be a good way to keep in touch. You can also speak to your staffside or H&S representative if you require help or support

  • Workplace Recovery FAQ - PHSPublic Health Scotland

    Safe Workstation Assessment for Working at Home (Covid-19)

    1. How long will I be working from home?

    Throughout the pandemic, PHS has continued to follow Scottish Government (SG) guidance on working at home.  The default SG position still remains that, wherever possible, employers should enable staff to continue to work from home.  As we are now 8 months into this way of working, in order to provide staff with some more certainty around how home working will continue, PHS Senior Leadership Team have agreed, in partnership with staffside representatives, that there will not be a return to the office until at least April 2021.

    As a result, staff will continue to work from home for the remainder of this financial year.


    2. Does this impact on my contract or terms and conditions of employment?

    No. This working arrangement is as a direct result of enacting Scottish Government advice and PHS does not consider creating a precedent for permanent changes to terms and conditions. These arrangements have been developed on a ‘without prejudice’ basis, All of your terms and conditions of employment are retained and are unaffected by this way of working as a result of the pandemic.


    3. Can I work from home permanently?

    We understand that for many staff, based on what you told us in the staff wellbeing survey earlier in the year, this way of working has become the norm. PHS has, in discussion with staffside representatives, agreed to look at the longer term PHS position on permanently working from home, which would alter staff contracts.  For now, the status quo remains but we are committed to exploring this in the future, taking into account any NHS Scotland guidance, Once for Scotland Homeworking Policy and any other relevant evidence. This will be reviewed with staffside colleagues as it becomes available. 


    4. I need equipment/furniture to enable me to work from home. Can I get it from PHS?

    Yes. As a reasonable employer, PHS wants to support staff whilst at home and wants to ensure that you can access the equipment you need.  We know that some people may already have borrowed or bought equipment, however, as we now have clarity around home working for the remainder of this financial year at least, we now want to  ensure that you have all the equipment that you need.


    5. I have already bought equipment can I claim expenses for this?

    Option 1 – PHS to reimburse full amount of purchase (Non Taxable)

    Employee can purchase equipment up to an agreed value and PHS reimburse in full.  This would be a non taxable expense.  Employee must provide a receipt as proof of purchase which does not exceed the agreed value.

    Option 2 – PHS to reimburse a contribution to the total purchase (Taxable)

    Employee can purchase equipment over the agreed value and PHS can reimburse part of the purchase to the agreed value.  As PHS are not reimbursing for the full amount of the purchase this would be a taxable expense for the employee.  Employee will need to provide receipt as proof of purchase


    6. Will I have to return any equipment provided by PHS?

    Although the property belongs to PHS, it has been provided for your use at home, for as long as the requirement exists for you to do so. PHS has made allowances for this from a budget perspective and this will be reviewed when we are clearer on a likely return to the office.


    7. What if the equipment gets damaged?

    This will be dealt with as it would if you were working in the office and will be repaired or replaced.


    8. Who is responsible for the equipment?

    PHS is providing you with the equipment to enable you to do your work. Staff are responsible for the care of all PHS property in the home, and for keeping it in good condition.


  • Pausing of Shielding - Guidance & FAQsNational Services Scotland

    Shielding and Covid-19 Pandemic

    A number of NSS staff have been “shielding” during the Covid-19 pandemic due to being at higher risk of severe illness if they develop the condition. For some, that has meant working in their substantive role from home; for others that has meant working from home – but in an alternative role as their job cannot be undertaken from home.  In some instances, it may have resulted in someone being off work during this period, where it has not been possible for them to undertake alternative work from home.

    It has now been announced that with effect from 1st August 2020, the period of “shielding” will be paused and that, where appropriate, NSS colleagues can return to a Covid secure workplace.

    As someone who is currently shielding – what does that mean?

    The first step will be for you and your manager to have a discussion to look at what changes this may involve.  Your manager will work through this Risk Assessment with you to help to identify what the appropriate next steps are.  This may involve seeking some further advice and support from NSS Occupational Health.  This should be completed as soon as possible and certainly before any return to working in an NSS site.

    Does that mean that I will be returning to working normally?

    In some cases, if you have been working from home during the previous months, you will continue to do so.  If you have been working on alternative duties, or where no alternative duties have been available during the shielding period, it may be appropriate that NSS Occupational Health provide advice and guidance as to whether or not a return to your previous duties/site is appropriate and whether any adjustments are required.

    No-one will return to the workplace following shielding until a refreshed risk assessment has been undertaken, with input from NSS Occupational Health if appropriate and any necessary measures to make your workplace safe for your return have been put in place.  As there may be a number of staff in this category, this may take some time.

    What terms and conditions arrangements will apply until I have undergone my updated risk assessment?

    You will continue on the same arrangements you were on before 31st July 2020.

    What terms and conditions will apply if, after an updated risk assessment, I continue to be required to shield?

    If after completing the updated risk assessment you still need to shield, the present arrangements will continue to apply.

    5) What if I have concerns regarding returning to work?

    That would be understandable and should be discussed with your line manager during the completion of the Risk Assessment.  If any further advice or support is required, NSS Occupational Health would be happy to discuss.

    6) As the line manager of someone who is returning from “shielding” what additional support can I provide?

    Completing the Risk Assessment process is the first step in providing support.  NSS Occupational Health would be happy to provide any further advice and support required to you or your member of staff in helping them during this time.

    Wellbeing support services should also be sought for staff through the National Wellbeing Hub (https://www.promis.scot/) which signposts staff, unpaid carers, volunteers and their families to relevant services and provides a range of self-care and wellbeing resources designed to support the workforce as they respond to the impact of COVID-19.  All Health and social care workers can access mental health support through the national wellbeing helpline, open 24 hours a day, seven days a week.  The number to call is 0800 111 4191.

    To help you more fully understand the route to pausing shielding, please refer to the Scottish Government Shielding Route Map

    When would I be expected to return to my normal role/place of work?

    This certainly wouldn’t be before the risk assessment process was undertaken.  After that it may be appropriate to ease you back into work over a short period of phased return.  The arrangements for this would need to be discussed and agreed with NSS Occupational Health.  In some instances, it may be that homeworking will continue to be in place for a further period of time.

    8) I haven’t been booking Annual Leave during the shielding period – what happens now?

    You and your manager now have to agree how to make sure that you use your annual leave entitlement over the remaining 8 months of the annual leave year.  Applications to carry forward large annual leave balances are unlikely to be supported and it is important that you take time away from work for the benefit of your physical and emotional health.

    As a line manager, is there anything further I need to put in place once the member of staff who was shielding returns to work?

    Please remember that, if they were placed on Special Leave during this time, you should update records to show that this has now ceased. 

  • Contact Tracing – Call to Arms FAQsNational Services Scotland, Public Health Scotland

    1) When do you need people to start?

    As soon as but individuals do need to go through the training first which is the starting point t and then on line as soon as possible


    2) How many people do you need?

    Overall we are looking for up to 100


    3) How long will you need people for?

    Certainly for the next 8 weeks with option to review – this provides time to backfill with new recruits


    4) What type of staff do you need (is this open to anyone or specifically admin staff)?

    It is open to anyone – grade should not be a barrier. We need people who are confident on the phone, able to follow a script but are also inquisitive, ask questions and can make an assessment of the case


    5) Will staff be paid and at what rate?

    Deployees will of course be paid and at their current banding and any Saturday/Sunday premia will apply


    6) Is there a role description?

    Yes – here are the links to the Job Description and also the Personal Specification


    7) How long are the shifts?

    The NCTC operates 8am – 8pm, Mon – Sunday and shifts are ordinarily 4, 6, or 8 hours and inclusive of the weekend


    8) What type of training is available?

    There is a set training pack which is predominantly self directed with 1 x day facilitated followed on with supervision prior to individuals going live


    9) Is this a work from home role?

    Yes although if you are working with a computer in an NHS site then that is also possible


    10) How will individual members of staff be managed/assigned work?

    Individuals will be assigned to a Team Leader but due to shift working it will be the on-duty Team Leader that will be responsible for the shift. Individuals pick up the cases from the CMS system


    11) Do I need to go through a Disclosure Scotland check?

    Yes, all contact tracers do require a Standard level Disclosure Scotland check so whilst you go through the training we will ask you to complete your Disclosure Scotland application.

  • Coronavirus - Foreign Travel during Covid-19 Pandemic FAQNational Services Scotland


    1) Can I go on a foreign holiday this year?

    The Foreign and Commonwealth Office currently advises British nationals against all but essential international travel and the most up to date information in relation to this can be found on:www.gov.scot/coronavirus-covid-19.

    The Scottish Government Letter – DL 2020 (20) https://www.sehd.scot.nhs.uk/dl/DL(2020)20.pdf advises that all staff will have to quarantine (self-isolate) if returning to Scotland from a territory where the regulations in force at the relevant time require that a 14 days self-isolation period apply.

    Travel to some countries and territories is currently exempted in relation to any requirement for you to self-isolate on your return to Scotland. With effect from 10th July 2020, you may not have to self-isolate in Scotland when arriving from one of the countries covered by the ‘travel corridor’ exemptions.  Details can be found here: https://www.gov.scot/publications/coronavirus-covid-19-public-health-checks-at-borders/pages/overview/

    However, if you arrive in Scotland from one of the countries not covered by these exemptions – you must still complete 14 days of self-isolation.

    These regulations are reviewed regularly and details may change at short notice.   It is your responsibility to check the provisions that apply to any travel that you undertake. However, the Scottish Government Health Department position remains that foreign travel for recreational purposes is discouraged at this time.

    The arrangements for any leave that you take will depend on when you booked your holiday, when the leave was agreed by your manager and also whether or not a period of self-isolation is required on your return.  

    a) Holidays booked before 9th June 2020 – where holiday requests had already been approved by your line manager:

    You should speak to your line manager as soon as possible providing details of the booking (e-mails, booking confirmation etc) and also advise whether or not cancellation would incur financial detriment.  Where a period of self-isolation is required – a discussion needs to take place to explore possible arrangements for working from home for all or part of the self-isolation period.  Only if working from home (which may include suitable work activities that are different from your normal role) isn’t available, special leave would apply during the 14 day self-isolation period. However, if during the period of special leave, any work suited to your skills and capabilities becomes available, you will be expected to undertake this, as directed by your manager.

    In the event that a number of members of staff from the same area require special leave for this purpose at the same time and this could affect clinical services – line managers are advised to contact HR to discuss available options. 

    b) Holidays booked before 9th June 2020 – but no prior approval for holiday request sought from line manager:

    The same arrangements will apply, however, you should be aware that your colleagues who have sought prior approval for their leave will have priority. It is therefore vitally important that you discuss this with your line manager as soon as possible. 

    c) Holidays booked between 9th June and 9th July 2020:  

    Special Leave or working from home arrangements will not apply to any period of self- isolation on return to Scotland and you will have to ensure that you seek other forms of leave (for example, annual leave, time off in lieu, flexi leave) to cover both your holiday and subsequent quarantine on return. This must be done before making the booking and through discussion and agreement with your line manager. 

    d) Annual Leave booked after 9th July 2020 for travel to a country where self-isolation/quarantine arrangements have been re-imposed:

    If you have booked leave to travel to a country where no restrictions apply and the advice changes before you travel or whilst you are in that country, then you will be required to quarantine on return.  In these circumstances you will be allowed to work from home (as outlined in (a) above). If this is not possible, then the time will be taken as Special Leave.  

    You are advised to refer to DL 2020 (20) which provides additional guidance to staff on the actions they should take when planning foreign travel. 

    This advice will be kept under review as if the re-imposition of quarantine becomes a common occurrence then it may no longer be possible to book foreign travel “in good faith” on the assumption that a quarantine will not be required. 



    2) I am planning on travelling to a country which requires a period of self-isolation/quarantine on arrival – can I work from that location during the quarantine or apply for special leave?


    No. Any period of quarantine on arrival in the foreign country must be taken as additional annual leave.

    3) I have to travel at short notice due to a family bereavement to a country where there is a requirement to quarantine on return, what arrangements apply?

    In these types of exceptional circumstances, special leave can be put in place, as appropriate, on your return. You should discuss this with your line manager as soon as you can.  

  • Coronavirus- how to record any absence from a staff member. SSTS new absence codesNational Services Scotland, Public Health Scotland

    New SSTS absence codes have now been set up to deal with the various possible COVID-19 related absences.

    If you are a line manager, please remember to keep this system up to date following the new codes:


    SP - Coronavirus – Covid 19 Positive
    Employees who have tested positive for the virus

    SP - Coronavirus – Self displaying symptoms – Self Isolating        
    This will record a staff member who is displaying symptoms and allow testing of key workers to be targeted (original self-isolating reason)

    SP - Coronavirus – Household Related – Self Isolating                 
    Someone in the household of the staff member is displaying symptoms

    SP - Coronavirus                                                                             
    This will record those who have caring responsibilities and are absent due to these

    SP - Coronavirus – Underlying Health Condition                            
    Staff member has Underlying Health Condition  putting them in the at risk category

    SP Coronavirus - Quarantine
    Staff member is required to quarantine (see Guidelines in Circular DL(2020)20)

  • Coronavirus - Annual Leave and Public Holidays FAQsNational Services Scotland

    1. I was unable to fully utilise my 2019/20 annual leave entitlement due to COVID 19 work pressures in my department.  Am I permitted for this reason to carry forward my unused leave?

    In the circumstances you describe, theStaff may – with agreement from their manager – have cancelled annual leave in order to support cover of key services

    Staff may also be seeking to postpone their annual leave scheduled in March, due to cancellation of flights and trips abroad.

    normal carry over leave provisions within both the NHS Scotland Annual Leave Policy (for staff under Agenda for Change and Executive Level terms and conditions) and Medical and Dental Terms and Conditions, will be waived and your full untaken leave will be carried over to the 2020/21 leave year.


    2. I agreed with my manager that I would delay taking my leave in March in order to support COVID-19 related work, and I have carried this leave forward into 2019/20.  I am concerned that I may not have sufficient time to fully utilise my now enhanced 2020/21 leave entitlement.  Can I be paid for the carry forward leave?

    Staff who carried forward leave from the 2019/20 leave year due to COVID 19 related reasons, can request payment of their unused annual leave.  You should discuss this with your manager and complete the COVID-19 Carry Forward Annual Leave Payment Form.  Payment for this leave will be as if at work.


    3.  I was asked to delay taking my leave during March 2019 because of COVID-19 and have carried this forward.  I’ve opted to take this as annual leave but have not yet decided when.  Can I change my mind further down the line and ask for payment instead?

    It would be preferable where possible that staff provide a decision either to use their carry forward leave or request payment for this as early as possible into the new leave year of 2020/21.  However, where staff have chosen to take annual leave and then change their mind, staff should discuss this with their line manager to ensure there is no impact on service provision and agreement can be made for payment to be provided.


    4. I asked my manager if I could cancel 7 days’ annual leave that I had booked in March 2020 because my holiday was cancelled as a result of COVID-19. In the circumstances, my manager agreed to this and to me carrying forward these 7 days into the 2020/21 leave year.  Can I get this carry forward leave paid?

    It is recognised that there were a number of wider impacts on staff that came indirectly due to COVID-19.  Staff who carried forward annual leave from 2019/20 due to an indirect consequence of COVID-19 – for example, flights or holiday were cancelled during March 2020 - can carry the untaken leave forward into 2020/21 and can opt to either use the untaken leave during 2020/21 or request payment of all or part of the untaken leave paid.


    5. I am self-isolating due to symptoms of COVID-19 but do not feel well enough to work from home.  I have a few days annual leave booked at this time.  Do I get my annual leave back?

    If you are self-isolating and do not feel well enough to work from home, the normal sick leave provisions should apply in relation to your leave.  Therefore, as long as you have followed the correct reporting procedures, you should receive your booked annual leave back.


    6. I am self-isolating due to symptoms of COVID-19 but I am well enough to work from home.  I have a few days annual leave booked.  Do I get this annual leave back?

    If you are self-isolating due to symptoms of COVID-19 but are feeling well enough to continue to work from home, you should discuss this with your line manager.  It is possible for you to take your annual leave, if you are still working and your manager may well encourage you to do so, particularly from a health and wellbeing perspective as it is important that you have ‘downtime’ away from your work.


    7. I am currently self-isolating and working from home for 14 days because a household member has symptoms of COVID-19.  I have 5 days annual leave booked.  Do I get my annual leave back because I’m self-isolating?

    If you are self-isolating because a household member has symptoms of COVID-19 but are continuing to work from home, you should discuss this with your line manager.  As you are still working from home, it is possible for you to take your annual leave and your manager may well encourage you to do so, particularly from a health and wellbeing perspective as it is important that you have ‘downtime’ away from your work.


    8. What if a staff member in my team does not take the minimum full statutory leave entitlement during 2020/21?

    Given that the COVID-19 situation is likely to continue for some time to come, it is essential that managers monitor the leave of staff at regular intervals throughout 2020/21 and identify early those staff who have higher than normal amounts of leave still to take, so that they can be encouraged to schedule their untaken leave. 

    The expectation for NSS, as determined by DL (2020)9, is that all staff are expected to take the minimum statutory leave within 2020/21 leave year.

    Managers should therefore work with staff to plan annual leave throughout the year and ensure that there is a balanced allocation of leave across the team. 

    Annual leave should be managed effectively to enable staff to take their full leave entitlement during 2020/21.  If due to COVID-19, this is not possible for everyone, the above approach should help ensure that staff at least receive their statutory leave entitlement.


    9. Staff in my team are reluctant to book leave at this present time in the hope that current travel restrictions will be lifted and greater certainty over low infection rates.  What should I advise my staff as I am concerned there will be a high level of annual leave requests for later in the year that for business reasons will be unmanageable?

    It is understandable that staff may wish to hold back their annual leave in the hope that the current travel restrictions and social-distancing requirements will end soon.  However, the current guidance would suggest that restrictions arising from COVID-19 are likely to continue for some time. 

    Staff may not be able to take the type of holidays they are used to but they can however still plan for leave away from work. It is also important for staff to regularly take leave in order to support their wellbeing and work life balance and managers should encourage staff to plan their leave throughout the 2020/21 leave year.

    From an operational perspective, this will also ensure that staff annual leave continues to be allocated throughout the year enabling staff cover to be planned.  Further guidance about the taking of Annual Leave during the current pandemic is contained in the NSS Guidance on Annual Leave and Public Holidays during COVID-19.


    10. I am currently shielding.  If the requirement to shield is paused as at 31st July, what does this mean in relation to booking annual leave going forward?

    Details regarding annual leave for 2020-21 in respect of staff who have been shielding are contained in DL (2020) 22.

    For those staff who have been in receipt of a shielding letter, it is anticipated that the current shielding period will not extend beyond 31st July 2020 if infection rates across Scotland continue to be low.  If so, from 1st August 2020, this may mean a return to the work place or commencing or continuing to work from home (and further guidance on this will shortly be provided to staff who are shielding and their managers). 

    To date, for staff who have been shielding, it has not been considered reasonable to expect them to take annual leave during the shielding period.  However, given the anticipated change in the shielding provisions from 1st August, it is therefore important, as with all other staff, that managers and those employees who have been shielding meet to discuss their annual leave plans for the remainder of the 2020-21 leave year.

    Please Note - There may be exceptional circumstances where the restrictions placed on employees by shielding make it impossible to enjoy an adequate level of rest and recuperation, even during time designated as annual leave. Employers are therefore asked to bear in mind that there may be instances where it would be unreasonable to expect a shielding staff member to take all their annual leave in 2020-21. Every individual’s situation will be different, so each scenario, and any potential for carryover of leave, will need to be dealt with on a case by case basis at a local level.