This has been a difficult year for us. The challenges arising from the coronavirus pandemic, whether medical, emotional or financial have been different from anything we have experienced before as a community. Yet the resilience, flexibility and sheer hard work of members of this University has ensured that we have delivered great services to students and supported each other at a time of great anxiety and uncertainty. We do not yet know what 2021 will bring, but the ending of this calendar year gives us some time to stop, reflect, recuperate, and perhaps celebrate a little with our families and friends.

In the last few years, the University has ‘closed’ from Christmas Eve through to New Year. This year, in recognition of the difficult year we have had, we have decided to cease most activities at the University for the two full weeks over Christmas and New Year – from the evening of Friday 18 December until the morning of Monday 4 January. This will apply to this year only and iTrent will be adjusted to implement this decision.

Of course, this does not mean that all activity ceases. We have students who will be with us over the Christmas period, a large estate to keep safe and secure and essential services which need to operate 24/7, all year round.

The staff who undertake these essential activities will be working through the Christmas period and we want to recognise that it is through their efforts that the University can continue to meet students’ needs.

Under our existing arrangements, staff who are required to work on Bank Holidays or Discretionary Days, double time will be paid for the actual hours worked, and time off in lieu will be given for the same number of hours worked on that day.

Traditionally this has only applied to Grades 2-5, but for this time only, we will extend that to staff up to and including Grade 9. Furthermore, staff who are required to work for 2 or more Bank Holidays or Discretionary Days over this period will receive a Christmas hamper to enjoy at home. More details of this to come.

With social distancing restrictions, Christmas will be less of celebration for many of us. As such, we are encouraging managers to think about the traditional office festivities and consider whether these can be delayed to the Spring/Summer, aside from virtual team social meetings. This may make it easier for all to be involved and there are likely to be fewer restrictions on what we can do to celebrate, and who with.

More detailed guidance on working arrangements over the Christmas period will be available to managers, but if you have any questions, do speak to your HR contact.

Seasons best wishes,

Richard Brooks

Director of Human Resources