FAQs

Q. Coronavirus COVID-19 Update

As per government guidance, and to minimise the spread of COVID-19, we have made the decision to implement working from home for all of our staff from 18th March 2020.

Opus LGSS is well equipped to deal with remote working and our robust IT infrastructure facilitates this. We expect minimal impact to our service during this time.

We will be operating a “business as usual” approach. You can continue to contact us via email or telephone where we will be happy to help.

We are maintaining regular contact with all temporary workers, hiring managers, council HR leads and our supply chain and will provide updates in line with any new government advice.

Health and wellbeing of all remains our top priority and we thank you for your continued support during this difficult period.

For any queries during this time please contact us via email at [email protected]

Q. Job Retention Scheme

We hope that all our customers, workers and suppliers remain safe in these challenging times. We at Opus are keen to support as much as possible as we move through the different stages being faced.

On Friday 27th March, the government announced further guidance on the Job Retention Scheme.

The key points being:

-The Job Retention Scheme is available to Employment Agencies and Umbrella Companies for eligible PAYE workers.

-The scheme does not apply to employees who started assignments after 28th February 2020.

-Furlough must be for a minimum period of 3 weeks.

-The job retention scheme initially runs to the end of May, however can apply to roles furloughed since March 1st.

-Furlough cannot apply to those whose hours have been reduced, or partially applied (i.e. furloughing someone for 2 days so they can work for the remaining 3 days of their typical 5 day assignment).

-Furloughed workers must not undertake any work for their employer during their furlough period.

-Workers placed in training must be paid at least the National Minimum Wage.

During this period we have been working with the Recruitment and Employment Confederation (who represent the majority of recruitment organisations in the UK), and external professionals to establish a way forward for our customers, workers and suppliers and hoped to be able provide greater clarity at this stage, however there are still many unanswered questions to work through.

Although it is pleasing that the Government have taken measures to support the income of individuals directly affected by the crisis, we must gain further clarification on how the scheme can be applied, especially when the customers we work with are in the public sector.

The Government is very keen for public sector workers to remain available for work to help in this time of crisis. Being effectively paid by the Government is a factor as the guidance released is for public sector organisations to not furlough workers.

For the full government guidance on the measures put in place, please visit https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/guidance-to-employers-and-businesses-about-covid-19

 

Q. Should I be working from home?

The latest government guidance confirms if you are able to, you should work from home. Please discuss any working from home arrangements with your line manager. Time sheets should be completed as normal.

Q. What do I do if I cannot work from home?

If you are unable to work from home because your role doesn’t enable remote working, please speak to your line manager. There are a range of options that may be available to you:

  1. Redeployment to another role
  2. Take the time off as unpaid leave
  3. Use your holiday balance to be paid for the time off
  4. With agreement from your line manager, continue to work in the office but adhere to the 2m social distancing rules

At this stage, the guidance is not clear as to whether the financial support released supports temporary workers or not. Further guidance from the government is promised at the end of this week and hopefully we will be in a position to offer more clarity then.

In the meantime, you can register to receive updates from the government in relation to any changes here: https://www.gov.uk/email-signup?link=/government/topical-events/coronavirus-covid-19-uk-government-response

Q. Where can I find the latest Public Health guidance?

For the latest public health guidance, you can visit the NHS Covid-19 website here: https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/coronavirus-covid-19/

The best way to stop the virus spreading is to follow the simple steps below:

  • wash your hands with soap and water often – do this for at least 20 seconds
  • use hand sanitiser gel if soap and water are not available
  • wash your hands as soon as you get back home
  • cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or your sleeve (not your hands) when you cough or sneeze
  • put used tissues in the bin immediately and wash your hands afterwards

 

Q. Where can I find any mental health support?

It is important to stay on top of your mental health and ensure you ask for support if you feel you need it.

Staying in touch with family, friends and colleagues is one way to ensure you do not feel isolated from others.

There are a number of resources you can use to stay on top of your health and wellbeing and obtain support as needed:

https://www.who.int/docs/default-source/coronaviruse/mental-health-considerations.pdf

https://mentalhealth.org.uk/publications/looking-after-your-mental-health-during-coronavirus-outbreak

https://www.mind.org.uk/information-support/coronavirus-and-your-wellbeing/

Q. How do I take sickness absence and claim Statutory Sick Pay (SSP)?

If you are unwell and unable to work, you should contact your line manager and our admin team on [email protected] immediately.

If a member of your household is unwell with COVID-19 symptoms, the latest guidance advises you should stay at home at self-isolate for 14 days.

The latest symptoms and self-isolation guidance can be found here: https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/coronavirus-covid-19/self-isolation-advice/

As of 13th March, SSP can be claimed from the first day of absence if you’re self-isolating due to COVID-19. This includes individuals who are caring for people in the same household and therefore have been advised to self-isolate too.

To claim SSP, contact a member of our admin team who will be happy to help.

It is important to remember to keep in regular contact with your line manager and Opus during your period of sickness absence.

Q. How do I provide proof of sickness absence?

If you have COVID-19 or are advised to stay at home, you can get an ‘isolation note’ by visiting NHS 111 online here https://111.nhs.uk/covid-19/ rather than visiting a doctor. For COVID-19 cases, this replaces the need to provide a ‘fit note’ (sometimes called a ‘sick note’) after 7 days of sickness absence which would usually be provided by a GP.

Q. How to work with Opus LGSS – Temporary worker guidance

Opus work directly with local authorities to fill temporary and interim positions across a wide range of job categories within the public sector. If you are looking for work and are interested in working through us, please register online, or send your CV to [email protected].

If you are already in a temporary role, you will be able to find guidance surrounding your placement within our temporary worker handbook, below.

Opus Temporary Worker Handbook

Our policies:

Customer Service Policy

Compliments, Comments & Complaints Policy

 

Q. How to work with Opus LGSS – Managers’ Guidance

We are here to source temporary resource for you whenever you need it. If you need a temporary worker, you can create a request online through the Opus Job Portal. We will then contact you to discuss more about the role you need to fill and the qualities and skills that potential candidates will need to possess

You can find more information about us, and instructions on how to request and manage a temporary worker within our managers’ handbook below.

Opus Managers’ Handbook

Our Policies:

Customer Service Policy

Compliments, Comments & Complaints Policy

 

Q. What are the benefits of recruiting through Opus LGSS?

Opus LGSS work directly with your organisation to source temporary workers exclusively for you. Our aim is to reduce local authority spend by recruiting temporary workers directly, rather than through external agencies.

Some of our benefits include:

  • Saving money – By recruiting through Opus money is saved by avoiding the fees that external agencies charge.
  • We work in-house – Our dedicated recruitment consultants understand your organisations recruitment needs and are based on site within every location, should you have any queries or need assistance.
  • We invest in the council – we are committed to returning money back to the council.
  • Fast, responsive and professional – We have significant breadth and depth of knowledge in temporary recruitment.
  • We are a member of the REC – we operate according to government legislation and best practice.

Q. How can I request a temporary worker?

All existing hiring managers are set up with access to the Opus Job Portal, the system we use to manage your requests. You can request a temporary worker at any time by logging in to the Opus Job Portal and filling in some basic information about the role you have available.

You can find full instructions on how to request a temporary worker within our Managers’ Handbook: Opus Managers’ Handbook

If you do not have access to the Opus Job Portal, please contact us to arrange logins.

 

Q. How do candidates register to work with Opus LGSS?

Candidates register with Opus LGSS by filling in the online form on our website or sending their CV to [email protected].

A consultant will determine if the CV has relevant experience and will contact the individual to discuss next steps.

The registration process includes online skills testing (if applicable), compliance checks and an interview with a consultant. Once this has been completed, candidates will be notified of suitable vacancies.

If you would like to fill a temporary vacancy with a known candidate instead of going through a selection process, please notify Opus of this when completing a new order request and include the individual’s name.

You will need to refer the candidate to Opus to register. A consultant will then conduct a registration to gather compliance and set up the placement as per the normal process.

Q. How can I register to work with Opus LGSS?

You can apply to work with Opus LGSS by registering on our website or sending your CV to [email protected].

A consultant will determine if your CV has relevant experience and will contact you to discuss next steps.

The registration process includes online skills testing (if applicable), compliance checks and an interview with a consultant. Once this has been completed, candidates will be notified of suitable vacancies.

 

Q. What are the benefits of being a temporary worker with Opus LGSS?

As a temporary worker with Opus LGSS there are lots of benefits.

These include:

  • We receive vacancies first. Candidates registered with Opus are made aware of all available vacancies first, before external agencies are even aware.
  • Ability to gain experience to support permanent job applications.
  • Opportunity to apply for a permanent positions as an ‘internal candidate’.
  • Up to 31 days holiday (Including bank holidays).
  • We work in house and have consultants based on site at each of our locations.
  • Fast, responsive and professional service, with significant breadth and depth of knowledge in temporary recruitment.
  • We invest in the council. Our consultants do not earn commission and we are committed to returning money back to the council.
  • We are a member of the REC and operate according to government legislation and best practice.

Q. What compliance standards and checks do Opus LGSS carry out?

Opus has a thorough compliance process and all checks are completed and signed off prior to your temporary worker starting.

Compliance checks include:

  • Full employment history
  • References
  • Proof of right to work in the UK
  • Declaration form
  • Registration form
  • Temporary worker checklist
  • Signed terms of engagement
  • LTD company documents (if required)
  • Enhances DBS (if required)
  • HCPC (if required)
  • NMC (if required)
  • Driving licence & certificates (if required)

Q. How do I pay my temporary worker?

We pay workers on a weekly basis. In order to ensure your worker gets paid, you will need to authorise time and expenses by 5pm on a Monday every week. Your worker should submit their time or expenses in advance to allow you time to do this.

We will invoice your organisation directly and they will use the cost code you provide to allocate spend to your budget.

You can find full instructions on how to approve time and expenses within our Managers’ Handbook: Opus Managers’ Handbook

Q. What is IR35 and what do I need to do to check if it applies to my role?

R35 legislation will not apply to most temporary vacancies, however on occasions, for highly skilled roles, it will. Your consultant at Opus will let you know if a check needs to be completed as part of the recruitment process.

IR35, also known as ‘Intermediaries Legislation’ was introduced in April 2017 and applies to workers within the public sector that work through an intermediary such as a limited company. As these workers are paid through an intermediary, they pay income tax and national insurance in a different way to an employee.

The legislation was introduced to ensure all workers’ pay the correct income tax and national insurance contributions. It is the responsibility of public authorities to determine if IR35 applies to an engagement, a helpful online tool is available for you and all consultants at Opus have been given appropriate training to support you with determining the status of a worker. If the check confirms the legislation does apply, either Opus, the worker’s agency or umbrella company are responsible for making sure income tax and national insurance contributions are deducted correctly.

The tool asks several questions about the engagement including whether the worker will have office holder duties, if a substitute would be accepted and general working arrangements.

https://www.tax.service.gov.uk/check-employment-status-for-tax/setup

For more information, please speak to a consultant at Opus who will be happy to help you.

Q. How do I get paid?

We pay workers on a weekly basis. In order to ensure you get paid on time, your timesheet must be submitted and approved by your manager by 5pm on a Monday. Please make sure to leave enough time after submitting your timesheet to allow you manager to approve it before the deadline.

Your payslips will be issued weekly and you will be able to view these within your InTime account.

More information on submitting timesheets and viewing payslips can be found in our Opus Temporary Worker Handbook.

Q. Can temporary workers claim holiday?

All temporary workers that are employed directly through Opus accrue holiday. Holiday is accrued based on the number of units worked weekly. This is carried over weekly for up to one year from commencement of placement. After 12 months any leftover holiday balance cannot be carried over and will reset to zero.

For more information on how temporary workers can claim their holiday, please see our Opus Temporary Worker Handbook .

Q. Are temporary workers entitled to statutory sick pay, compassionate leave, maternity leave and paid bank holidays?

Statutory sick pay: Temporary workers are entitled to statutory sick pay (SSP) if off sick for a period of four or more consecutive days. However, this must be entered into the timesheet for the corresponding week. A doctor’s note will be required after seven days.

Compassionate leave: Any period of compassionate leave must be agreed with the manager but is not paid. However, temporary workers may be able to cover this using their accrued holiday balance.

Maternity pay: To qualify for statutory maternity pay (SMP) you need to have worked with your employer continuously for at least 26 weeks continuing into the ‘qualifying week’ – the 15th week before the expected week of childbirth.

You may qualify for SMP or maternity allowance and our team can help you with this. For more information on maternity, please see our maternity FAQs: Maternity FAQs

Bank holidays: Temporary workers are not paid for bank holidays, however can choose to cover this using their accrued holiday balance.

Q. For social work appointments, what is the Memorandum of Co-operation and how does it affect my role?

The Memorandum of Co-operation (MOC) is an attempt to work more collaboratively across the East of England initially, and then with bordering councils, to manage the demand and supply of children’s social workers. Suffolk County Council have also taken the decision to adopt this approach for the recruitment of adult’s social workers.

This means qualified social workers that have been permanent within one of the councils listed below within the last 12 months, are unable to work as a locum until a 12 month period has passed. Opus and its registered supply chain are aware of the MOC and will not send you candidates that breach it.

The MOC also regulates pay rates for social workers to ensure consistency across the market. A consultant at Opus will be able to advise you of the correct pay rate, depending on the seniority of the post and payment method chosen.

  • Bedford Borough Council
  • Cambridgeshire County Council
  • Central Bedfordshire Council
  • Essex County Council
  • Hertfordshire County Council
  • Luton Borough Council
  • Peterborough City Council
  • Norfolk County Council
  • Southend Council
  • Suffolk County Council
  • Thurrock Council

For more information, you can view the link below:

http://adcs.org.uk/assets/documentation/ER_MoC_demand_supply_of_childrens_social_workers.pdf

Q. What are the Agency Worker Regulations and how do they affect my role?

The AWR are designed to give temporary agency workers equal treatment like permanent employees regarding pay and working conditions. After 12 weeks in the same role, workers will be afforded equal pay and employment conditions as if they had been hired directly into that role by the hirer at the start of the 12-week period.

You can find out more about AWR within this document: Temporary Worker FAQs on Agency Workers Regulations

Q. Can I make my temporary worker permanent?

You are able to offer any of your temporary workers a permanent position. However, if your temporary worker is offered a permanent job within 12 weeks of their start date, this will likely incur a charge.

If you would like to make your temporary worker permanent, please contact us to confirm details for your specific placement.

Q. What types of jobs do you recruit to?

We recruit to all areas within the local authorities. The list below outlines the possible job categories a role will fall in to:

  • Admin & Clerical
  • Catering/Hospitality
  • Education
  • Engineering & Surveying
  • Facilities & Environmental Services
  • Finance
  • General Industrial
  • Housing, Benefits and Planning
  • Human Resources
  • IT
  • Legal
  • Procurement
  • Property
  • Social Care – Qualified
  • Social Care – Unqualified
  • Technical
  • Senior Interim

We are also able to assist with recruitment to permanent roles. If you are a manger and wish to hire a permanent role through Opus, please email [email protected] to discuss this further with one of our consultants.