I've had to self-isolate due to my child being unwell, and the school is now closed. Is this classed as self-certified sickness? How long can I be off for if work from home is not possible?

It has been agreed that any self-isolation absence (whether with symptoms or without), which is taken following UK/Welsh Government advice in the interests of infection control, will be treated as medical exclusion. In these circumstances, colleagues will not be required to provide a Fit Note as the absence is considered authorised with full pay. Please liaise with your Line Manager regarding the recording of your absence in ESR, or see the guidance on the website.

Regarding school closures, we understand that school closures and the unavailability of planned childcare on this scale and for this long are unprecedented and an additional concern for parents and other carers in Public Health Wales.

UK Government advice now confirms that ‘If your work is critical to the COVID-19 response, and you cannot keep your child safe at home then your children will be prioritised for education provision’. All Public Health Wales staff are NHS employees and should be considered key/critical workers needed to help with the COVID-19 response. Therefore, we would encourage staff to please take up any childcare provision offered by the local authority wherever possible.

We appreciate that parents cannot currently rely upon those who are advised to be in the more stringent social distancing category such as grandparents, friends, or family members with underlying conditions. This means we may not be able to call on our usual support networks for extra help at this time.

Please discuss your children being looked after by your partner or co-parent (if you have one) if they are not also classed as a key/critical worker. Discuss with other support networks that may be available to you. We recognise that finding alternative childcare may pose a particular issue for those staff who are single parents. Consider whether you need to make use of ‘emergency carers and dependants leave’ in the short term to make arrangements for alternative childcare.

If you cannot attend work in line with your usual working arrangements, please consider how you can work flexibly. All managers are encouraged to think practically about what can be done and when. Our response to COVID-19 is our overriding business priority and we’re all working very differently to support the response and other remaining business critical work.