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: 15/09/2021

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.

Annual Leave

What were the Guidelines for Annual Leave during 2020-21 and the COVID-19 pandemic?

Previous guidance around annual leave was provided prior to the Easter and Summer breaks.  The focus of the guidance was on the health and well-being of employees to ensure they were able to take annual leave and have sufficient rest, given that a significant number of staff continued to work very hard in critical services, supporting schools and education restart.   

That focus on employees’ health and well-being continues to be a key strategic priority.

The following guidance for corporate and school based staff has been updated in relation to annual leave for the remainder of 2020-21:

  1. In line with guidance issued in July 2020 , all corporate and school based staff, as far as possible, should have taken a minimum one third of their annual leave entitlement between 1 April and 30 September 2020.
  1. All corporate and school based staff should continue to take their annual leave as normal, as far as possible, during the remainder of the 2020-21 leave year up to 31 March 2021 to prevent staff building up leave where they are not required to do so, particularly where this could adversely impact future service delivery.
  1. Managers should, as far as possible, allow staff flexibility to revise planned/booked leave dates and to avail of leave for childcare responsibilitiesparticularly during periods when schools and child care provision are not operating normally.    Where annual leave has been booked and an individual then has to self-isolate during this period, the leave may be cancelled.  Where an employee is well and is able to work from home during a period of self-isolation, they should continue to do so if they do not wish to take annual leave. 

    Staff who have a child who is required to self-isolate as a result of COVID-19;  it is recognised that in an emergency situation a member of staff may be unable to attend school/work place in their usual capacity at very short notice due to their child being required to self-isolate for a period of time as a precaution against COVID-19 and there being no one else available to care for the child.  In these specific circumstances, the member of staff should be facilitated to work from home.  If the nature of the individual’s job prevents this the member of staff, in these circumstances and for the period of the COVID-19 pandemic, may request exceptional dependant leave from their Principal/manager up to a maximum of ten working days (pro-rated for part time staff) on normal pay.  In all other circumstances staff with dependents should continue to investigate and source all care options available to them in order that they can attend the school/ workplace.  Further guidance for staff is available here:  Guidance on absence relating to Coronavirus updated 8 October 2020.
     
  2. Government guidance currently states that you should avoid all unnecessary travel.  Click here to learn more about Current Restrictions.  Staff who do travel should adhere to the relevant government guidance in place at the time of travel and must be cognisant of any requirements preventing immediate return to work e.g. quarantine requirements.  Further guidance for staff is available here:  Guidance on absence relating to Coronavirus updated 8 October 2020.  Staff should continue to reference government guidance and be aware that some guidance may change.
     
  3. In exceptional circumstances staff may be required to work and unable to take their annual leave as normal.  All such requests must be based on the need to support schools and critical services supporting education through COVID-19, and take account of an employee’s personal circumstances, balanced with the need for staff to be provided with rest from work during prolonged periods.  The EA will work to ensure that staff can access leave to enable them to rest in support of staff well-being and that untaken annual leave is not lost.
     
  4. Staff are reminded that they are permitted to carry forward up to 7 days annual leave into the following leave year in accordance with JNC Circular No 20. 

    Only in exceptional circumstances will staff be permitted to carry forward more than 7 days annual leave, subject to prior agreement with their Principal/ Assistant Director.  Where exceptional circumstances may apply, staff are advised to discuss with their line manager in the first instance.  The Authority continues to prioritise the health and well-being of all our employees and ensuring staff can avail of annual leave is very important.

    As a result of the introduction of the Working Time (Coronavirus) (Amendment) Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2020 there may be exceptional circumstances when a worker may be able to carry over up to 4 weeks annual leave into the next 2 leave years.              

    When this amendment was brought forward it was clarified to MLAs that this would apply to staff who were prohibited from taking annual leave due to their involvement in delivering critical services as a result of COVID-19. This will therefore only apply to those staff who are able to demonstrate they have been prevented from taking their annual leave by the EA due to the criticalities of the service which they are delivering.

    It should be noted that any exemption will apply only to circumstances where workers are unable to take their leave as a result of the COVID-19 outbreak, and carry-over of annual leave will be limited to the next 2 leave years. It is not intended to be a general relaxation of rules on holiday leave and entitlement.

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?

If staff have symptoms of coronavirus (COVID-19), however mild, they should begin self-isolating and book a PCR test. These are widely available and are free.

Affected staff should continue to isolate until the result of the test is available. If the result is positive they should continue to self-isolate for 10 full days after the symptoms started.

They can end self-isolation 10 days after symptoms started, as long as they do not still have a high temperature. If they still have a high temperature, they need to continue to self-isolate until their temperature has returned to normal for 48 hours.

Staff do not need to continue self-isolating for more than 10 days if you only have a cough or loss of sense of smell/ taste, as these symptoms can last for several weeks after the infection has gone.

It is important that Principals/line managers are fully aware of staff within their school/team who are self-isolating at any time. 

More information is available at:

Stay at home: guidance for households with possible or confirmed coronavirus (COVID-19) infection(external link opens in a new window / tab)

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).

My staff member is currently off having received a positive diagnosis for COVID-19 following testing. They are experiencing further ill health and are unlikely to be fit to work following the 10 day imposed isolation period.

How is this recorded and processed on the timesheet?

The majority of those who contract COVID-19 will recover within the 10 day imposed isolation and recovery period. For the minority who do not recover within this timeframe the Minister of Education has approved the following approach:

  • The first 10 calendar days following a positive diagnosis will be paid as “normal pay” and should be coded as CA (You have a confirmed COVID-19 test result) on the timesheet
  • From the 11th calendar day the absence should be removed from COVID-19 coding on the timesheet and transferred to the normal sickness absence management processes/procedure.

What is the expectation of the staff member from the 11th day having tested positive for COVID-19?

The majority of those who contract COVID-19 will recover within the 10 day imposed isolation and recovery period. For the minority who do not recover within this timeframe and are therefore not fit to work they will be required to comply with the normal absence management process from day 11.

This includes;

  • Providing a Statement of Fitness for Work from their GP to cover the period/s of absence from calendar day 11. The Principal/ line manager should ensure the individual is aware of this requirement.
  • There is an ongoing expectation that the staff member and Principal/ line manager will remain in supportive contact during any period of absence.
  • A protracted illness linked to COVID-19 can result in a substantial impact on the individual, both physically and mentally. Consequently, staff should be reminded that they can access Inspire Wellbeing counselling provisions for free confidential specialist support and information (24/7, 365 days a year). Tel: 0808 800 0002

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.

What is expected of me as an EA employee not currently in the workplace?

If you are not in the workplace you are reminded that as an EA employee you are expected to be available for work and you may be reasonably directed to support the work of your, or another,  team.

You should:

  • Share a mobile/contact number with your line manager and be contactable during normal working hours
  • Check emails daily if practically possible - you can access your email from home via https://webmail.eani.org.uk 
  • Undertake such work tasks/functions from home as you reasonably can
  • Divert your desktop phone to your mobile if you can
  • Notify your line manager if you have a confirmed case of COVID-19 or are required to self-isolate

What support is in place for staff to support their health and wellbeing during self-isolation and social distancing?

We recognise that long periods of reduced social contact and a less active lifestyle can have an adverse impact on an individual’s mental health and physical health. Below represents some of the key support mechanisms EA has in place. 

Inspire Wellbeing

Our main Employee Assistance Provider (EAP) is Inspire Wellbeing. EA staff have free 24/7 access to confidential and independent counselling support service.

Inspire is the leading provider of workplace wellbeing solutions, delivering mental health and wellbeing support to some of the UK and Ireland’s leading private, public and third sector organisations.

The number for staff to call for support is 0808 800 0002.

EA Health Well

To support you and best ensure your accessibility to important information and advice during this challenging time, EA has made the decision to fast-track the launch of its all staff Health and Wellbeing digital Hub – Branded EA Health Well

health well logo

What is EA Health Well

  • a digital solution developed to support the themes of EA’s first Health and Wellbeing Strategy 2019-22. The solution will improve accessibility for staff to key health and wellbeing information and initiatives.
  • an interactive website which provides EA employees with support, education and information on a wide range of topics as a way of improving their overall health and wellbeing.
  • a solution which in time will complimented by a programme of activities and events organised through Workplace Champions.

A network of Health and Wellbeing Champions has being created and will be developed and supported so that individuals can get involved in driving wellbeing forward for themselves and their colleagues.

You can access the EA Health Well via the below link

https://healthwell.eani.org.uk/

If viewing on a PC we recommend using Google Chrome.

Initial Focus

Supporting “Healthy Minds and Bodies” of all staff during these unpresented changes in lifestyles and need for reduced social contact will be the initial focus. However this internet based solution will provide a greater breath of support as we move forward linked to the themes of the EA Health and Wellbeing Strategy 2019-22 and the changing needs of our people.

How do I deal with a situation where a member of staff who does not wish to return to work due to living with a vulnerable person?

If a member of staff is living with someone who is considered clinically vulnerable, the current Public Health Agency (PHA) advice does not require them to self-isolate therefore they are able to attend work.   

It may be the case where a member of staff living with a vulnerable person, feels they cannot return to work in any capacity at present despite the assurances and appropriate measures being put in place by the school. In this case the staff member and Principal/line manager should consider options which may include reduced hours/days, annual leave (if the contract of employment allows for this) or unpaid leave as appropriate.

If however, despite all of the above arrangements and assurances being put in place, the member of staff still does not come to work or avail of the options available then HR advice should be sought from the employing Authority.

Can you please explain what is meant by ‘Clinically Vulnerable’ and ‘Clinically Extremely Vulnerable’?

Definition of  Clinically vulnerable

Some people are considered to be ‘vulnerable’ but not ‘clinically extremely vulnerable’ in relation to COVID-19.  People over the age of 70 are considered ‘vulnerable’, even if they do not have an underlying health condition. This also applies to those who are pregnant.

Others considered vulnerable include people who have are under 70 with one or more underlying health conditions from the list – Click here to see the full list. 

For adults this usually is anyone instructed to get a flu jab as an adult each year on medical grounds.

Definition of  Extremely Clinically vulnerable (CEV)

Medical experts identified specific medical conditions that, based on what we know about COVID-19 so far, place some people at greatest risk of severe illness from COVID-19. 

The list of highest risk diseases can be found here

Only those with the conditions listed have been defined as ‘clinically extremely vulnerable’. 

If you have concerns, it is best to speak with your GP or hospital clinician as they will have knowledge of your medical history and circumstances.

Click here for advice and further information on those considered Clinically Vulnerable.

Click here for advice and further information on those considered Clinically Extremely Vulnerable.

What are the current work restrictions for my Clinically Extremely Vulnerable staff and how do I best support them?

During April 2021 (with effect from 12 April) CEV staff were written to and informed by the Chief Medical Officer that they should continue to work from home where this is possible.

Where it is not possible to work from home, staff can attend their workplace, provided their employer has taken all reasonable measures, as part of an individual risk assessment, to ensure social distancing in the place of work.

This advice will be subject to ongoing review of the status of the virus in Northern Ireland.

Risk Assessment

Principals/line managers should undertake an individual risk assessment with the member of staff to assess and control measures to reduce risk. This may involve reviewing a prior risk assessment in light of new advice. The aim of the risk assessment and subsequent control measures is to reduce risk to the individual. Therefore, in most cases this will assist in reducing the risk to a staff member and support a return to the work place if they are unable to work from home. See relevant risk assessment template.

Based on the outcome of a risk assessment the Principal/line manager and Employing Authority reserve the right to request that clinically extremely vulnerable staff do not attend the work place. In this case the individual would continue to receive normal pay and there would be no impact on absence triggers or contractual sick pay.

Exceptional CEV Directives and Evidence

In exceptional circumstances an individual may be directed by their GP or other medical specialist to continue to self-isolate.  In this exceptional case the individual would continue to receive normal pay and there would be no impact on absence triggers or contractual sick pay.

Evidence

The Principal/line manager and Employing Authority may request evidence that a staff member has been advised to shield or self-isolate.

The Government is regularly monitoring its position on clinically extremely vulnerable individuals.

Click here for advice and further information on those considered Clinically Extremely Vulnerable.

Further guidance on households containing clinically extremely vulnerable (CEV) people

The above advice applies to CEV staff only. Others living in a household with someone who is CEV are not advised to follow it, but should continue to stringently follow the guidance on social distancing, face coverings and hand hygiene.

If a member of your staff’s household is considered CEV, current PHA advice does not require them to self-isolate. If a member of their household falls into this category, they are able to attend work.

How should staff who are clinically vulnerable (but not extremely clinically vulnerable CEV) be supported were they are unable to maintain 2m social distancing due to the nature of their job?

PHA advice would be to maintain social distancing of 2metres or more, particularly for vulnerable people.

If clinically vulnerable individuals cannot work from home they should take extra care in the work place observing social distancing, staying 2 metres away from others wherever possible, although the individual may choose to take on a role that does not allow for this distance if they prefer to do so.

In situations where 2 metres cannot be maintained Principals/line managers should undertake an individual risk assessment involving occupational health and the staff member’s GP if necessary to assess and control measures to reduce risk.

If significant risks remain unmitigated, alternative work should be offered at the safest available onsite location (where working from home isn’t possible). Where alternative work isn’t available the employee should be asked to remain at home on normal pay.

All COVID-19 vulnerable staff require an individual risk assessment to ensure their unique circumstances are considered.

 

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

Pregnant individuals have been included in the list of people at moderate risk (clinically vulnerable) initially as a precaution.

All clinically vulnerable individuals have been advised to take extra care in observing social distancing and should work from home where possible. Principals/line managers should endeavour to support this, where possible, for example by asking staff to support remote education, carry out lesson planning or other roles which can be done from home.

Where vulnerable individuals cannot work from home they can attend the work place subject to risk assessment and adequate mitigations in place. Extra consideration is required for pregnant staff when they

  • have underlying health conditions that place them at a greater risk of severe illness from COVID-19
  • are 28 weeks or more pregnant 

Pregnancy in public facing roles

Principals/line managers must undertake a risk assessment and put in place mitigating measures to reduce risk for public/ customer facing roles such as Teacher, Classroom Assistant, Drivers etc.

If unavoidable risks remain, alternative work should be offered at the safest available onsite location (where working from home is not possible). Where alternative work is not available the employee should be asked to remain at home on normal pay. For more information click here  

Further information is available through this link.

Click here for the current HSENI FAQs on Pregnancy and COVID-19.

Risk considerations linked to the stage of pregnancy  

Recent PHA advised (Jan 21) confirmed the following;

Staff with less than 28 weeks of pregnancy do not appear to be more likely to be seriously unwell than other healthy adults if they develop COVID-19.

However, for staff who are 28 weeks pregnant and beyond, there is an increased risk of becoming severely ill should they contract COVID-19. This is true of any viral illness contracted, such as flu.

What is the PHA advice on protecting pregnant women, at various trimesters, where social distancing at 1m plus mitigations cannot be guaranteed?

Up to 28 Weeks

If a pregnant woman is under 28 weeks, a risk assessment should be undertaken and precautions such as PPE put in place to minimise risk in the work environment.

Post 28 Weeks

Pregnant staff who are 28 weeks pregnant and beyond, or if they are pregnant and have an underlying health condition that puts them at a greater risk of severe illness from COVID-19 at any gestation, should take a more precautionary approach. 

This is because although they are at no more risk of contracting the virus than any other non-pregnant person who is in similar health, they have an increased risk of becoming severely ill and of pre-term birth if they contract COVID-19. 

The Principal/ line manager should ensure pregnant staff are able to adhere to any active national guidance on social distancing and/or advice for pregnant staff considered to be clinically extremely vulnerable. The Principal/ line manager should endeavor to support working from home where possible, for example by asking staff to support remote education, carry out lesson planning or other roles which can be done from home.

All Principals/ line managers should consider both how to redeploy and how to maximise the potential for homeworking, wherever possible, for staff in this risk category.

Pregnant staff of any gestation should not be required to attend the work place if this is not supported by the risk assessment. Pregnant staff require special consideration as contained in Government guides for different industries.

Individual considerations when carrying out a risk assessment linked to pregnancy

  • Ability to social distance at 2m within current role should be taken into consideration.
  • The medical history and current health status of the individual worker needs to be considered. The Principal/ Line Manager may consider an Occupational Health referral for an individual if they still remain concerned.
  • The Royal College of Obstetrics and Gynaecology Guidance is designed primarily for Health Workers but also applies to anyone in a public facing role. The Chief Medical Officers of the 4 Nations have noted that ONS identifies teaching as a lower risk profession.

To view the Royal College of Obstetrics and Gynaecology Guidance for COVID–19 click here

If a staff member is displaying symptoms of COVID-19 as Principal what advice should I give to them regarding testing?

Staff who exhibit any symptoms associated with COVID-19 should not attend school/ the work place. 

Symptomatic Staff are expected to follow the advice and book a polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test immediately and isolate until the results are known. 

If your test is positive you will have to isolate for a total of 10 days.

Click here to book a (PCR) test.

A member of staff has claimed that they have a medical condition which prevents them from returning to school. Am I entitled to request information on what the medical condition is?

The Principal/line manager and employing Authority are entitled to request and be provided with evidence to confirm medical conditions and inform, where necessary, risk assessments.

Where can I access the individual risk assessment templates for staff attending the work place?

There are 4 individual risk assessment templates and guidance on how to complete these on the DE web site - https://www.education-ni.gov.uk/publications/guidance-supporting-staff-return-schools

Why is an individual risk assessment required?

By carrying out an individual risk assessment the Principal/ line manager can consider the requirements of the vulnerable member of staff and decide what control measures can be put in place to minimise the risk to the member of staff. The Principal/ line manager should discuss with the member of staff the details in the risk assessment.

It is unlikely that generic assessments will be totally appropriate for each individual employee, there may be different circumstances pertinent to each case. They should therefore be modified for each individual making that assessment specific to their medical vulnerability and specific area of work.

The information on an individual risk assessment should be regarding as highly confidential and appropriate security/safeguards should be in place to ensure confidentiality.

Is a face covering required if I need to visit a school site in the normal course of my corporate role?

In line with the latest government directives, where possible, meetings should be held remotely. If this isn’t feasible the Coronavirus (COVID-19): Guidance for Schools and Educational Settings in Northern Ireland (published 18 August 2021) supports the appropriate use of face coverings.  

Use of Face Coverings

The best available scientific evidence is that, when used correctly, wearing a face covering may reduce the spread of COVID-19 droplets in certain circumstances, helping to protect others while also providing some protection to the wearer. Because face coverings are mainly intended to protect others, not the wearer from COVID-19, they are not a replacement for social distancing and regular hand washing. The wearing of a face covering will not automatically exempt an individual from being identified as a close contact by the PHA’s Contact Tracing Service.

Safe wearing of face coverings requires cleaning of hands before and after touching – including to remove or put them on – and the safe storage of them in individual, sealable plastic bags between use.  Where a face covering becomes damp, it should not be worn and should be replaced carefully. It is vital that clear instructions are provided to staff and children and young people on how to put on, remove, store and dispose of face coverings in all of the circumstances above, to avoid inadvertently increasing the risks of transmission.

More Information on the use of face coverings

This advice covers all education settings including EOTAS, Special Education provision and boarding schools.

Face coverings must be worn in staff rooms and during adult to adult meetings lasting more than 15 minutes and by adults visiting the school site.

There is advice about how to make your own face covering available on the UK Government website.

It is important when choosing what face covering to wear that you exercise care so as not to embarrass or intimidate co-workers or disrupt a harmonious working environment.

Please be mindful that the wearing of a face covering may inhibit communication with people who rely on lip reading, facial expressions and clear sound.  Some useful information is available here

Further information on the use of face coverings, including guidance on how to wear a face covering and how to maintain and dispose of face coverings, is available here.

Because face coverings are mainly intended to protect others, not the wearer, from coronavirus (COVID-19) they’re not a replacement for social distancing and regular hand washing.

There is a clear distinction between PPE and face coverings.  PHA guidance makes clear that staff should continue to use PPE in line with current health and safety policies and risk assessments.  Depending on the working environment, an individual or organisational risk assessment may identify a need for PPE, including facemasks.   For any contact that has been risk assessed as requiring PPE, this will be provided.

Pay

Will Extended School Staff continue to be paid if they are absent from work as a result of Covid-19?

Yes, Principals should honour any arrangements and working timeframes agreed prior to the period of absence. 

In circumstances when the imposed 10 day isolation period is applicable sickness deductions will commence from day 11.

Agency Workers

What is the position in relation to the engagement of Agency Workers?

Agency worker requirements for Corporate EA roles and EA Services are sourced using the Public Sector Resourcing (PSR) framework for contingent labour which is managed by Alexander Mann Solutions (AMS) and provides different routes to sourcing agency workers depending on the specific role concerned. 

For current clerical and administrative opportunities within Corporate and EA Services candidates can register their CV on the Brook Street website.

For professional and other non-clerical / administrative agency worker roles within Corporate and EA Services these will be sourced through the PSR framework using the PSR website.

Overtime

What is the position about paying staff for whom overtime has been a frequent practice?

If an employee normally works overtime  they will continue to be paid for their contracted hours plus overtime. It is the responsibility of the line manager/principal to complete timesheets reflective of the hours employees would have worked in normal circumstances ensuring overtime arrangements in place prior to the period of absence is honoured.

New Employees

I am managing a member of staff who is within their probationary period; is there any action I need to take during these exceptional circumstances relating to COVID-19?

As services are now operational it is expected that in the majority of cases staff will be able to progress through their probationary period, whether working from home or in the workplace, and be notified of the outcome.  No exceptional action is required by the Manager.

If a member of staff is, in the Line Manager's opinion, prevented from demonstrating the required standards aligned to the normal expectations of their substantive role due to special factors relating to the COVID-19 pandemic.  The Line Manager should pause the probationary period

Line managers should follow these guidelines:

  • The probation period is "paused" from a date that is reasonable in the circumstances;
  • The remaining period of probation should resume as soon as reasonably practicable and the duration of the "pause" should not be any longer than is necessary;  
  • In some cases it may be practicable that the remaining period of probation is resumed whilst the staff member is working from home, although in other cases, it will not be feasible until there is a resumption of normal working arrangements;
  • Staff should be advised that the "pause" is due to the impact that the factors pertaining to the Covid-19 pandemic has had on their individual work circumstances; and
  • Such arrangements are to be confirmed in writing with the member of staff, ideally following an informal discussion with their Line Manager.

See below for a letter template, to be edited as appropriate.

Recruitment (Part 1)

On-going management of the recruitment processes

Will EA continue to advertise vacancies at this time?

EA’s Resourcing Service is fully operational and vacancies continue to be advertised, particularly in respect of school-based posts and front-line services including teaching, school and leadership posts, posts linked to Special Educational Needs and other critical services such as cleaning and catering.

If you have not already done so, we recommend that you create a profile on the on-line recruitment system and register for job alerts so that you are notified as soon as jobs which meet your requirements are advertised.

How will I receive communication about my application?

The vast majority of all job applications are made online. If you have submitted an on-line application we will be in touch via email as soon as an update is available.

If you have made a manual application with no email address we will contact you by post or telephone.

How long will it take to complete the recruitment process?

Whilst the majority of recruitment activity is being effectively completed remotely at this time it is possible that recruitment exercises may take longer than normal to complete due to the challenges of the pandemic.

Your patience and understanding is appreciated.  We will be in touch as soon as any update is available.

In view of Government guidance how will interviews be conducted?

Where possible, interviews continue to take place remotely.

There may be circumstances where candidates are asked to attend a face to face interview. In these circumstances all guidance as relevant at the time will be adhered to including social distancing and the wearing of face coverings.

I have been asked to attend a face to face interview but I am in the ‘clinically extremely vulnerable’ category or self-isolating. How should I proceed?

Should COVID-19 prevent you from physically attending a scheduled interview because you are self-isolating or clinically extremely vulnerable please contact us so that your specific requirements can be considered in more detail. 

This may include providing a remote interview and when we are in touch to reschedule your interview we will provide you with full details and guidance on how the remote interview process will work.

I am unwell due to COVID and unable to attend for interview, either face to face or remote.

If you are not fit to attend for interview as a result of COVID, as far as reasonably practicable we will arrange for you to be provided with an alternative interview date.

As long as you are fit, you should report for interview on the revised date.

If advice around the importance of social distancing is still applicable at that time of my interview, how will this be incorporated into my interview process?

Please be assured that we will adhere to Government advice, as current at the time, regarding social distancing.

Social distancing arrangements will be observed from how you will be greeted when you report for interview, in the size and layout of the interview room itself and in the cleaning of the interview facility.

If you have any specific concerns, please advise us in advance of your interview date.

If required to attend for face to face interview, what can I expect in relation to the wearing of face-coverings?

Face coverings must be worn by candidates and panel members while moving around the building and in communal areas, unless exempt for medical reasons.  Candidates and panel members may choose to remove their face coverings whilst seated provided social distancing is adhered to and all other recommended safety precautions are in place.  

 

Recruitment (Part 2)

You are already in receipt of an offer of employment

I have already received a conditional offer of employment. What can I expect to happen next?

The delivery of recruitment services is now fully operational.  We are currently working with schools and line managers to progress all offers of employment.

I have received a confirmed offer and contract. Should I report on the start date given on the letter?

You should only report for work on your first day if you are symptom-free and fit for work.  If there is any change to reporting arrangements your line manager will keep you informed.

If there is any change in your health or circumstances prior to your given start date which means you are not able to report as agreed, then you should contact us as soon as possible to update us.

Your new contract of employment will commence from the start date agreed with your new line manager and that included within your new contract.

We continue to value your interest in the Education Authority and your co-operation and patience at this time is much appreciated.

Acting-up Appointments during the COVID-19 Pandemic

A member of staff is absent. As a line manager what are my options for covering the duties and responsibilities for the period of absence?

EA’s Acting-up Policy for Support Staff has been adapted to provide guidance on acting-up arrangements for the duration of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Acting-up should not be the first solution considered by Line Managers where temporary cover is required, as job descriptions provide reasonable flexibility to assign additional duties and responsibilities.  Line Managers may first wish to give consideration to ways in which work may be re-organised on a temporary basis.  If the requirement for cover is reasonably expected to last 4 weeks or more an acting-up appointment should be considered. 

The Acting-up Framework developed for use throughout the COVID-19 pandemic sets out the available options for acting-up and the principles for selecting staff for the acting-up opportunity.  These are set in the context of ensuring effective business continuity at a time when normal recruitment and trawl activities are restricted. 

The higher salary associated with the acting-up will be paid with effect from the first day on which a member of staff was required to undertake acting-up duties.  The normal 4 week qualifying period will not apply in respect of COVID-19 related acting appointments.

HR Business Partnering and Employee Relations

What do I do if there is an employee relations or business partnering matter that needs to be addressed during the current situation?

As COVID -19 continues to affect us all, the EA is taking all possible actions to protect staff, whilst continuing to deliver critical services for our children and young people.  A priority has been placed on critical services outlined in EA communications on www.eani.org.uk/staff and implementing important measures, in line with government guidance in relation to social distancing.

As a consequence of this, the progression of employee relations and business partnering work will be scaled back but kept under review in line with the above.  However, in order to avoid a significant back log of work when restrictions are lifted, where resource is available and it is possible to progress cases in accordance with agreed procedures this work can continue.

If there is a pressing employee relations or business partnering matter, advice can be obtained from:
 

Area of work

HR Function

Locality

South

West

Locality North

Locality East

DIRECTORATES

(Operations & Estates) (Education) and (HR)

DIRECTORATES (CYPS)
(Finance & ICT)

Disciplinary, Grievance, Dignity at Work/Bullying & Harassment, Performance Management & Probation

Employee Relations

Email:

ER-Casework@eani.org.uk

Tel: 028 9041 8012

Eimear McKibben

Janelle Russell

Helen Mills

Marina McAlary

Gabriel Mulryan

Tribunals or

Early Conciliation by the Labour Relations Agency (LRA)

Employee Relations

Email: ER-CC-CD@eani.org.uk

Jane Hegarty

Tel: 028 9056 6554

or

Marina Hughes

Tel: 028 9056 4390

Redundancy, termination of fixed term contracts, variation of contracts, restructuring

Business Partnering

Keith Farrell

Tel: 028 3751 2416

keith.farrell@eani.org.uk

Philomena McKenna

Tel: 028 8225 3383

philomena.mckenna@
eani.org.uk

Donna Kearney

Tel: 028 9056 6255

donna.kearney@
eani.org.uk

Michelle Boyd,

Tel: 07789 945040 

 michelle.boyd@eani.org.uk

Sinead Curran

Tel: 074034 3193
sinead.curran@
eani.org.uk 

Responsive Working During COVID-19 – Principal/ Manager Toolkit

Last updated: 15/09/2021