Return to Work Toolkit for Candidates and Families: May 2020
Adults who have Down’s syndrome will need to make personalised, informed decisions about when they feel safe to return to work.
We are here to support individuals, families and employers through this process.
The government has published guidance about the current phase of managing the pandemic and it includes some details on how to support people to get back to work. It’s called “Our Plan to Rebuild: The UK Government’s COVID-19 recovery strategy”
We understand that you will be missing your work colleagues and the job that you love so if you are thinking about going back to work, we’ve listed some things for you and your parents/carers to discuss and included some easy read documents for you to look at:
- do you need information to help you to understand what Covid-19 Coronavirus is?
Easy Read New Normal leaflet is about how things have changed recently and what we can do to stay safe and well.
• do you have any health conditions or concerns? Anyone who has a learning disability is considered to be ‘vulnerable’ – this means that you may need some extra help or protection and must avoid contact with anyone who has the Covid-19 virus. Have a look at Annex B of “Our Plan to Rebuild: The UK Government’s COVID-19 recovery strategy” with your parents/carers if you’re not sure which vulnerable group you belong to.
• do you need to get some advice from your doctor (or a hospital consultant if you have one)?
– please ask a parent or carer to support you to contact them if you need help with this.
• do you know what you may have to do differently to stay safe when you leave your home or if you go back to work? Have a look at at the Social Distancing document below and also Annex A of “Our Plan to Rebuild: The UK Government’s COVID-19 recovery strategy” with your parents/carers.
• are you ready to accept some extra help and follow new instructions from your buddies at work so that you can follow the new rules (hand-washing, social distancing, other instructions) that your employer will tell you about?
• can you travel to work with someone from your household and avoid public transport?
• do you and your family need some advice about money and benefits? You can contact the DSA Hepline on 0333 1212 300 if you need specific advice about your circumstances (Monday – Friday 10:00am to 4:00pm – not premium rate).
• how do you feel at the moment and will going back to work make you feel better or might you be anxious?
General advice about Coronavirus
If you are unwell and need to contact NHS 111 you can watch a video about what questions you might be asked when you call them.
You may need to have a test (called a swab test) to see if you have Coronavirus. It’s quick and it doesn’t hurt. – have a look at this easy read document so that you know what to expect.
There have been some changes to the help and support that might be available through your local authority.
We hope that the documents that we have included will be useful – you may want to print them or you can open them on your computer, tablet or phone.. You could look at them with your parents/carers and then have a discussion about your job before you contact your employer about returning to work.
Our Toolkit for Employers is available on the WorkFit website
Please remember that even though you may want to go back to work soon, it may not be possible yet. This is because your employer needs to make some changes at work so that everyone is safe. They will need to complete new risk assessments (checks about being safe at work) to ensure that they have all the necessary procedures and equipment in place and this may take some time. Also it’s possible that some businesses will not be able to re-open at all. WorkFit will help you to get back to work as soon as we can.
One way to communicate with everyone (that we use at WorkFit) is “Zoom” – click on the link to open see the easy read guide below which tells you how to you can download the app and call people via video chat.
If you have any questions that relate to the your employment or the employment of your son, daughter or the person you care for, please contact WorkFit by email at firstname.lastname@example.orgFor anything urgent, please call Employment Development Manager, Alison Thwaite on 07973 612720
If you have a general enquiry relating to a person who has Down’s syndrome, please contact the Information Team by email at email@example.com or call the DSA Helpline on 0333 1212 300 Monday – Friday 10:00am to 4:00pm (not premium rate). Please note that the Helpline is currently very busy and an email outlining the issue and your contact details may help us to get back to you more quickly.
|The DSA website has a Covid-19 Information page with lots of information including advice about money and benefits, keeping fit and healthy, things to do etc.|
Additional information for WorkFit Parents/Carers:
SEND Risk Assessment for educational settings
Only those involved in knowing the particular circumstances of a child can make an assessment of risk and this must include the views of the family and the child or young person. We support this approach and hope that schools will work collaboratively with families to agree a plan that works best for each child.
Participate in a survey about the person with Down’s Syndrome for whom you provide care and who has tested positive or has symptoms of COVID-19
Other useful links and resources
Easy Read Posters from Photosymbols
An accessible free download from Books Beyond Words
Previous guidance April 2020
Dear WorkFit Candidates and Families/Carers,
The Down’s Syndrome Association’s website has a page dedicated to providing a range of information about Coronavirus including Easy Read documents. It is being continually updated and there is lots of useful information to help you with social distancing, keeping healthy, things to do (free audiobooks, webcams etc.) benefits and finances etc. https://www.downs-syndrome.org.uk/coronavirus-covid-19/
Following the Coronavirus briefing on 23/03/20, the government has introducing three new measures to reduce the risk of infection, they are;
- Requiring people to stay at home, except for buying food, going to the chemist and some types of essential work
- Closing non-essential shops and community spaces
- Stopping all gatherings of more than two people in public
Many of you have been in touch recently to say that you have decided to temporarily suspend your jobs and we wanted to let you know the situation around pay and sick pay. Put simply, what you will receive is based on who makes the decision to not attend the workplace.
If this decision is made by you (perhaps with advice from your family) based on health concerns or having symptoms and you cannot work from home, you will be classed as self-isolating.
If you are in receipt of Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) and are classed as doing either permitted work or supported permitted work, you will not be able to claim Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) on top of your ESA as you are already receiving a sickness benefit. Whether your employer pays you in addition to this, would be down to their policy.
If you are in receipt of Universal Credit (UC) and your wage has reduced, you should notify UC to tell them. You will probably already have had a Work Capability Assessment (WCA) and if you are in the Work Capability Higher Rate Group, you should be receiving your full amount of benefits.
The Work Capability lower amount was removed a number of years ago for new claims, but if you are in receipt of this lower amount (because your claim was before 3rd April 2017) then tell UC if you are not able to work as you are self isolating as this may increase and you may be able to access the higher rate.
If you are not on ESA or UC you will be paid SSP from your employer. The basic level of SSP is £94.25. Some employers may pay you a full wage for a set amount of months and you will need to check your contract and perhaps speak to your manager at work to find out more. Please ask your family or WorkFit for help with this if you need it.
If your employer requests an Isolation Note because you are staying away from work, one can be obtained from NHS111 website: https://111.nhs.uk/isolation-note
If the decision is made by your employer for you not to attend work and you are in a paid job, we think that you will be designated as retained or ‘furloughed’ workers through the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme which has been put in place to allow employers to continue to pay 80% of the wages of their employees, if their jobs are at risk. Initial information about this scheme and other support for employers can be found at: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/guidance-to-employers-and-businesses-about-covid-19/covid-19-support-for-businesses
General employment advice and guidance can also be found on the ACAS website at: https://www.acas.org.uk/coronavirus
WorkFit will be providing information to employers about this option and recommending that they apply for this financial support to protect the income of their paid employees if they have sent them home, and, possibly more importantly, to help them to keep their jobs in the longer term. We would encourage you and your family to have a look at your contract of employment and speak to the employer/organisation if this situation applies to you. Again, we are happy to help you with this.
WorkFit will, of course, continue to provide updated information and keep in touch with everyone going forward. The health and welfare of our candidates is our top priority and we fully support any decision that you may make about your job. In addition, the DSA Helpline is available as usual and all of our teams are continuing to provide DSA services. An updated Benefits leaflet is attached.
On behalf of the Down’s Syndrome Association, we’d like to send you and your families our very best wishes for the future. We’re here if you need any information or would just like to talk to us, so please feel free to call or email.
The WorkFit Team