In response to ongoing developments around COVID-19 (Coronavirus), we want to assure you that we are doing everything we can to ensure the safety of our members, the continuity of business and continued support for our members. The virus outbreak has raised many questions amongst officers, and we will try to answer some of those here and guide you to other areas where you might find helpful advice.
To make sure our members receive the best support your Federation has:
- Ensured pregnant officers were protected in guidance to Forces;
- Made sure officers who are asked to do different tasks are given the right training and tools;
- Continue to make the case that officers responding to COVID-19 incidents are given the correct levels of protection;
- Are helping to shape how Forces deploy and use officers during increased demand;
- Are helping to shape the HR guidance to ensure officers on Special Leave receive full pay;
- Push for better communication to officers so that they have the information they need;
- Have shaped the advice to HR departments around self-isolation;
- Made the case with government that key workers, including police officers, should be given priority access to COVID-19 testing;
In order to continue our service for members, we are taking measures appropriate measures which include:
- Maintaining business as usual via remote working, but please be advised that in the short term there may be some delays in responding to emails and other enquiries
- Ensuring coverage of Post Incident Procedures when officers need us most
- Liaising with providers of travel insurance to get advice to officers when they need it
Government guidance on how we should all react to the outbreak covers advice such as:
- Having minimal social contact, for example avoiding crowded areas or places such as theatres, bars and restaurants;
- Where possible, avoiding public transport or using public transport at times it is less crowded;
- Where roles allow, working from home as much as possible;
- Ensuring good basic hygiene, particularly around regular washing of hands and covering the mouth and nose with a tissue when sneezing or coughing;
If you are well and you have the ability to work from home
- Subject to the approval of your line management; you will work from home.
- You will discuss with your line management what activity you could undertake whilst at home in line with your force’s Business Continuity plans, and how you will maintain contact with your line management while working from home.
- You will work your normal working hours and record them as normal.
- You will continue to work at home until directed otherwise. This could include attending your normal place of work or an alternative agreed location to undertake any such reasonable duties as the organisation requires.
If you are well and you do not have the ability to work from home
- You will continue to work in your normal place of work, or alternative agreed location, taking into consideration organisational distancing and business continuity plans.
- You will continue to work as directed by your line management.
If you have to isolate yourself due to one of your immediate dependants/co-habitees that you live with having cough/fever/shortness of breath symptoms - as per Public Health guidelines
- You will work from home (if that is possible in respect of your role and working hours).
You must follow national Public Health guidance on the length of time you need to remain away from work including following symptoms stopping for all the household.
- You will contact your line management to discuss what activity you could undertake whilst at home in line with your force’s Business Continuity plans, and how you will maintain contact with your line management while working from home.
- If it is not possible to work from home – you will have to take special leave (this will be paid)
This leave will not be counted towards any management intervention.
If you have the symptoms of COVID-19
- You will advise your force / line management as per the force procedure for notifying of COVID-19 absences, in the absence of any specific procedure normal sickness reporting procedures should be followed.
- You will be recorded as sick on your absence record.
- This absence will not be counted towards any management intervention.
- This absence will not be counted towards any threshold in respect of the calculation of sick pay.
- You will have to follow medical advice about return to work once recovered
If you are aged over 70 or fall into one of the categories of increased risk of severe illness from COVID-19
- The list of those conditions are listed on Public Health England website
- You will work from home (if that is possible in respect of your role and working hours)
- You will contact your line management to discuss what activity you could undertake whilst at home in line with your force’s Business Continuity plans
and how you will maintain contact with line management while working from home.
- If it is not possible to work from home – you will have to take special leave (this will be paid).
- This leave will not be counted towards any management intervention
Clearly, our role as police officers means that we cannot always take the same precautions as some others in society. However, there are some practical steps we might be able to take to minimise the risk to ourselves and colleagues:
- You should adopt good hand hygiene and wash your hands for at least 20 seconds using soap and water;
- Keep fingernails short;
- Where possible, be clean shaven as protective masks (where and when supplied) may not otherwise provide the desired level of protection;
- Where possible, keep sleeves rolled up to avoid making unnecessary contact with surfaces;
- If practical, when entering a home or other premises ask the occupant if you can wash your hands before doing anything else;
- Wash your hands as soon as returning to the police station and as soon as you return home;
- Keep your mobile phone, desk, keyboard and other equipment clean;
- If you have the relevant symptoms, report them immediately and follow the advice around self-isolating
In terms of answering the question of whether you should self-isolate, the following may be useful for you:
- if a member of my household has to self-isolate, do I, as a police officer, in the same household have to self-isolate also?
- a member of my family is in a vulnerable group and live with me. They have been asked to self-isolate for 12 weeks. Does this mean that I too should self-isolate?
No – the advice on self-isolation in these circumstances is clear, in that it depends on you or a member of your household displaying the relevant symptoms, such as a new, continuous cough or have a temperature in excess of 37.8 degrees.
- I am in a vulnerable group, should I self-isolate?
Potentially. Please see the above advice, point 5, which has been provided to forces. The list of conditions regarded as vulnerable to COVID-19 can be found on that relevant link.
- Government advice is to limit social contact, but my role as a police officer surely increases the risk to me because I have contact with the public as part of my duties?
The most recent clinical advice from government advisors is that there is no heightened risk to police officers from carrying out our routine duties. However, the Police Federation has made the case that officers dealing specifically with suspected cases of COVID-19 should be provided with the relevant protective equipment. The latest government advice on what equipment is appropriate can be found on the Public Health Advice To Emergency Responders.