COVID-19 frequently asked questions on resourcing and vacancy management. Including questions for staff, managers and panel members.

FAQs for staff

1. I have an interview date scheduled for coming weeks, will this go ahead?

NICS HR has advised that during the current COVID-19 restrictions and until further notice, the majority of interviews have been temporarily suspended. HRConnect will contact you to let you know if your interview has been suspended.

2. Will I be given a new interview date?

Yes, when the current COVID-19 restrictions have been lifted, HRConnect will then arrange for you to be provided with a revised interview date, and as long as you are symptom-free and fit for work you should report for interview on the revised date.

3. When will I be notified about a rescheduled interview?

We currently do not have a timeframe for when interviews will be rescheduled to. However, as and when we are in a position to do so, HRConnect will contact you to advise of your rescheduled interview date.

4. After COVID-19 restrictions have been lifted, if I am due to report for an interview but am in the ‘vulnerable’ category and would wish to defer, how should I proceed?

If you are given a new interview date but wish to defer for a further period due to ongoing concerns around COVID-19, NICS HR will facilitate a deferred interview date.

5. After COVID-19 restrictions have been lifted, if my interview date is during my self-isolation period. Will I be given a new interview date?

Yes. If you are given a new interview date but you are in a period of self-isolation, you should advise HRConnect of when your period of self-isolation is due to end. HRConnect will then arrange for you to be provided with a revised interview date, and as long as you are symptom-free and fit for work you should report for interview on the revised date.

6. If advice around the importance of social distancing is still applicable at that time of my interview, how will this be incorporated into my interview process?

Be assured that NICS HR and HRConnect will adhere to the Government advice at the time regarding social distancing. Where possible, interviews will be conducted via video/telephone. Where that is not possible, social distancing arrangements will be observed from how you will be greeted when you report for interview (eg no handshakes, two meter distance observed etc) and in the layout of the interview room itself (eg appropriate distance between yourself and the panel, and between panel members). If you have any specific concerns, please advise the member of HRConnect staff on duty at the time of your interview.

7. I am currently in self-isolation, and my start date in my new branch coincides with my return to work date. Should I report to my current branch or new branch?

As long as you are fit for work and out of your 7/14 day self-isolation period (ie seven days if living alone and 14 days if living with another person/s), and not required to return to your current branch to complete a hand over, then you should contact your new line manager to confirm that you can report to your new branch on the date agreed.

Given the evolving situation and the rate at which staff and managers are now homeworking, you are advised to contact your new manager in advance to check on reporting arrangements. HRConnect can assist as necessary.

8. I have received an offer letter from HRConnect. Should I report on the start date given on the letter?

Given the evolving situation and the rate at which staff and managers are now homeworking, you are advised to contact your new manager in advance to check on reporting arrangements, but only if you are symptom-free and fit for work. HRConnect can assist you as necessary.

If there is any change in your health or circumstances prior to your given start date which means you are not able to report as agreed, then you should contact HRConnect as soon as possible. You will then be notified of a revised start date in due course.

9. I have been told that my interview will go ahead as planned but although I do not have any symptoms nor have I been self-isolating, I have decided, due to the wider COVID-19 concerns, that I will not be attending the interview. Can I get a reconvened interview?

Please be assured that NICS HR and HRConnect will adhere to the government advice at the time regarding social distancing, and this advice has now been incorporated into the processes in place for all scheduled interviews. However, if you have any specific concerns please contact HRConnect.

FAQS for managers

1. I am a manager expecting a new member of staff (existing NICS officer) to arrive on an agreed start date. My team are all working from home, what should I do?

If you wish the new member of staff to start on the agreed date, for example to take up a business critical post, you should ensure that all necessary contingency measures are put in place, for example, taking into account the current COVID-19 restrictions, including the need for social distancing in the workplace, you may wish to consider whether the new start can report to another office for induction/training in the interim.

Alternatively, if you want to defer the start date, you should contact HRConnect as soon as possible.  

2. I am a manager expecting a new member of staff (recruited from external competition) to start on an agreed start date. My team are all working from home, what should I do?

NICS HR have identified all new starts due to start before the end of April.  Vacancy Management teams will contact each of the LMs to see what alternative arrangements need to be made and in turn the new starts will be advised accordingly.

3. I am a manager with a new vacancy. Should I declare this now and submit a Funding and Headcount form as usual?

Funding and Headcount forms should only be submitted to NICS HR for business critical vacancies.

As an initial consideration, you may wish to consider internal redeployment from within your branch/division using existing staff as an immediate interim measure. 

4.  I have advertised to fill my vacancy via elective transfer and it is a pressing staffing need. Should I continue with informal discussions with the applicants?

For those already advertised on the Weekly Opportunities Bulletin, face to face informal discussions with applicants should only take place if social distancing arrangements can be ensured and with the agreement of candidates. Rather, line managers are encouraged to use Jabber or telephone or to suspend action temporarily. 

5. Will there be consideration given to extend current live lists if business areas are not in a position to fill posts during this period of uncertainty?

These are unprecedented times and NICS HR will be as flexible, adaptable and responsive as possible. This will be considered on a case by case basis.

FAQS for panel members

1. I am due to be a panel member for a competition, but am now self-isolating. Who should I advise? Will the interviews be rescheduled?

You should contact your recruitment lead in HRConnect as soon as possible to advise them that you are not now able to sit as a panel member as previously arranged. HRConnect will liaise with NICS HR Resourcing on the best way forward, taking into account all information available at the time, and will then advise you on the status of the competition.

2. I am due to sit as a panel member and, although symptom-free, I am concerned about participating on an interview panel given the current situation. Should I attend as arranged?

Please be assured that government advice regarding social distancing will be put in place for all scheduled interviews. However, if you have any specific concerns please contact your recruitment contact in HRConnect.

3. Going forward, will there be other methods for interviewing if face to face is not suitable. 

Where necessary, alternative arrangements, including video or telephone interviews can be considered.

Should you have a query which is not covered above, please send an email to NICSHR.Resourcing@finance-ni.gov.uk

In the subject field please indicate your department and Covid-19 query.

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