Covid-19 guidance for Personal Assistants
There are now no official Covid-19 rules or restrictions in Scotland. However, this page includes some things you may wish to consider around Covid-19 as a Personal Assistant.
General hygiene measures
The Scottish Government have recognised that we are now living with COVID-19 as a respiratory illness like cold or flu.
They advise following simple hygiene measures to avoid the risk of infection, like:
- trying to stay at home if you have symptoms
- if you have symptoms and do need to go out, wear a well-fitting face covering
- get the vaccine if offered to give you the best possible protection
- wash your hands regularly
- meet in well-ventilated spaces.
You can find more suggestions for how to stay well at the link at the bottom of this page.
‘Self-isolating’ (staying at home) is no longer a legal requirement. But you should still tell your employer if you suspect you have Covid or have tested positive. If you feel fit to work, it is usually up to your employer whether they are happy for you to do so. There may be a clause in your employment contract that sets out what rights your employer has to determine if you are fit for work, and what will happen if they decide you are not fit to work – for example placing you on sick leave.
Check with your employer about what is in your contract, if you have any questions about whether you’re able to work.
Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), including face masks, is no longer available for free to people working in social care.
Your employer may have a policy about the use of face masks and PPE which says that they require you to wear PPE when working for them.
It is your employer’s responsibility to provide you with PPE if needed for your role.
If you need advice about how to discuss the issue of face coverings with your employer, you can contact the ACAS helpline on 0300 123 1100. The helpline is open Monday to Friday, 8am to 6pm.
You can find more advice from ACAS at the link at the bottom of this page.
A Face Covering Exemption Card scheme, delivered by Disability Equality Scotland, closed on 22 September 2023. Cards already in circulation can continue to be used, with no time limit on their use.
Routine free testing for Covid-19 is no longer available.
You can buy Covid-19 tests from pharmacies, supermarkets and online if you suspect you have Covid-19 and want to check.
Your employer may have a Covid-19 policy in place which sets out if they require testing. It is your employer’s responsibility to provide you with tests if this is a required part of your role.
In winter 2023, only the following groups of people are eligible for the Covid-19 vaccine:
- frontline health and social care workers (including Personal Assistants)
- residents and staff in care homes for older adults
- people aged 65 and over
- people aged 6 months and over with a condition that places them at higher risk
- pregnant women
- carers aged 16 and over
- people aged 12 and over who are household contacts of people with a weakened immune system.
If your employer wants their PAs to be vaccinated to protect their own health, they should discuss this with you and listen to your views, especially if you have any concerns about getting the vaccine. Your employer cannot force you to get a Covid-19 vaccine.
Check out the factsheet from the Independent Living Group, ‘Can I insist that my PA gets the coronavirus vaccine’? at the bottom of this page for more information.
If you are eligible for a vaccine and wish to take it up, speak to your Employer about taking time off work to get it.
You can check if you are eligible for winter vaccines, including Covid-19 and flu, at the NHS Inform website.
Some local health boards are offering drop-in clinics for people eligible for the vaccine. You can find more information on the NHS Inform website.
Some people who have had Covid-19 continue to experience symptoms that last for a long time after the infection. This is known as ‘long covid’.
If you have long covid and need support to be able to continue to do your job, speak to your employer.
You can find advice from ACAS on long covid in the link at the bottom of this page.
Take a look at the resources available below to guide you in more detail.