General advice for local government workers

This page was last updated on 12 May at 15.45

All our councils in North Yorkshire are part of the National Joint Council for Local Government Workers (NJC). This is a joint committee of the trade unions and employers and sets terms and conditions known as the ‘Green Book’. This covers our members who work for:

  • North Yorkshire County Council
  • Selby District Council
  • Hambleton District Council
  • Richmondshire District Council
  • North Yorkshire Moors National Park Authority
  • Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority

If you work for an Academy school, you may still be covered by the NJC but unfortunately Academies can opt-out of the Green Book. See our advice for school workers.

UNISON Coronavirus NJC guidance 10 March

Self-isolating – what will I be paid?

The Green Book is very clear – if you are unable to attend work due to an infectious disease you should receive your normal pay and this should not be counted as sickness absence. If your employer awards increments based on attendance, any period of self-isolation should not affect your increment. Any period of self-isolation should not be counted towards trigger points for absence management procedures.

If your employer is not following this you should, in the first instance show your manager this guidance and get them to confirm that they will follow it. If you are still experiencing problems please contact the branch so we can help you.

I have been diagnosed with Coronavirus – what will I be paid?

Unfortunately the employers have not accepted that being absent due to being diagnosed with Coronavirus is the same as being unable to attend work due to an infectious disease. This means that you will be classed as being sick. You will receive your normal entitlement to occupational sick pay, but your absence could count against you in respect of absence management policies and loss of increments.

We are pleased that all our council employers have agreed that absence related to Covid-19 will not count towards absence management triggers.

Will I need a Fit Note (sick note)?

Normally you would be required to have a Fit Note to cover any sickness-related absence after the first 7 days. However, ACAS has issued advice to employers that they should be flexible and recognise that it may not be possible to get a Fit Note to cover you when self-isolating. We expect our local government employers to follow this advice.

If you are self-isolating you can request an Isolation Note from the NHS online.

Request an Isolation Note

If you develop Coronavirus symptoms you need to check the advice on the NHS 111 website.

NHS 111 website

Can my employer cancel my booked leave?

Yes. These are exceptional times. Councils in particular may need to cancel leave to ensure they can continue to deliver statutory and other essential services. However, would expect employers to be reasonable and take into account any costs you may incur and what plans you had for the leave. They must give at least as much notice as the time you were taking (i.e. at least one weeks’ notice if you were due to take a week off).

Can I be asked to do different work, or move to a different department?

Yes, it is likely that your contract will have provision for emergency situations to allow councils and local authorities to ensure they have sufficient staff to maintain statutory and essential services. However, councils should seek volunteers first and you should only be asked to do work that you are able and qualified to do. You should identify any training needs with your manager. If you are asked to do work at a higher grade, you should be paid at the higher grade.

The national unions and the employers have issued guidance though the National Joint Council that we expect all local authority employers to follow. We have also agreed a Memorandum of Understanding with North Yorkshire County Council to cover our members at NYCC.

NJC Guidance 23 March (critical workers and redeployment)

Download the UNISON/NYCC Covid-19 agreement

Can my employer send me home if they think I am symptomatic, and what will I be paid?

Yes, but you should be placed on medical suspension and receive your normal pay. If you are not being paid in such circumstances you must contact the branch as soon as possible as you could have a claim for unpaid wages.

What if my employer closes my workplace?

All non-essential services should now have closed. When this happens you must continue to be paid your normal wage, unless your contract includes a clause to cover unpaid shutdowns. It is likely that council workers will be redeployed to help support essential and statutory services, as the number of staff not at work increases and there becomes pressure on being able to maintain key services (see above).