Covid-19 HR FAQs

The following questions and answers are set out to advise and guide managers and staff regarding important employment issues during this ongoing period of public health concern.

Staff Guidance

Last Updated: 29/06/2023

The situation relating to COVID-19 is continually evolving and therefore these questions and answers will be subject to ongoing review and amendment as appropriate. Please endeavour to keep up to date with developments via links and channels outlined within the answers section.

COVID -19 - Vaccination Programme

I wish to book an appointment to receive the COVID-19 vaccine. Am I entitled to paid time of work to attend the appointment?

EA fully supports the ongoing COVID-19 PHA vaccination programme and therefore there is an intention to be flexible, accommodating and supportive to the eligible staff wishing to avail of the vaccine. 

All staff are asked to seek to arrange for such appointments to take place outside core working hours/school hours or within their own time.  It is recognised however that this may not always be possible. When this is the case staff should endeavour to access time slots which minimises disruption to the school/work place. Principals/ Line manager are asked to be as flexible as possible to accommodate such requests.

Appointments within working hours must be agreed with the Principal/ Line Manager in advance. A reasonable period of time should be agreed to account for travel and waiting times. 

As with any medical appointment, evidence of the appointment should be provided to the Principal/Line Manager on request.

Flexi Leave

What is the latest guidance on the accrual and use of Flexi Time for Headquarters Staff?

As services are fully operational the flexi scheme arrangements operated by EA have been reinstated. The main purpose of flexi scheme arrangements for staff is to provide flexibility around core working hours to vary times of arrival/departure from work and lunch breaks and to take time off if they accrue extra hours.  There is however a guiding and overriding principle that this flexibility should be achieved without adverse effect on the overall efficiency and staffing of services and service delivery needs.  In line with normal operating arrangements staff should seek prior agreement with the relevant service manager in relation to the operation of flexi scheme working arrangements.  Managers should monitor workloads and hours worked to ensure that employees can achieve a work life balance while meeting business needs whether an employee is working on site, off site or in a hybrid manner.

Staffing Issues / Staff Concerns

I am due to report for work, however I am feeling unwell and my symptoms match those of COVID-19. What should I do?

For the latest advice visit NI Direct.

My staff member now wishes to return from long term sickness absence. How do I go about managing this?

The normal managing attendance procedure will be upheld.

Where Principal/ Line Managers are concerned about the support arrangements in place for those returning they should contact HR on 028 9041 8023.

In most cases some or all of these supportive measures will be required prior to safeguard a return. 

  • Appropriate notice and supportive dialogue with management to ensure a smooth transition back to work.
  • Statement of Fitness for Work completed to sign them off as now fully fit to be at work
  • An OH referral if concerns around support are still present (telephone/ virtual).

Can Classroom Assistants provide support to pupils they ordinarily work with in school in their homes?

Taking a range of factors into account, during this time, it is not appropriate for Classroom Assistants to provide support to pupils in their own homes during EA contracted hours.

I have a pregnant staff member. Can I ask them to continue to come into the work place?

Once notified in writing of pregnancy Principals/Line Managers should carry out a standard Maternity Risk Assessment to comply with the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations.

A general pregnancy assessment may include COVID-19 risks but there is no requirement for an additional COVID-19 specific assessment.

The Royal College of Obstetricians & Gynaecologists (RCOG) RCOG/RCM Guidance contains guidance on coronavirus (COVID-19) in pregnancy and should be considered as part of this Maternity Risk Assessment.

Pregnant staff of any gestation should not be required to attend the work place if this is not supported by the risk assessment.

People with a higher risk due to existing medical conditions, pregnant staff, carers, the elderly etc are all eligible for an autumn booster vaccination and this is the primary intervention in preventing the worst harms of COVID-19 present. Other public health messages around hygiene and ventilation still stand.

Responsive Working During COVID-19 – Principal/ Manager Toolkit

Last updated: 29/06/2023