1. Purpose

These pages set out the University's response to the ongoing Coronavirus pandemic for staff and your actions as line managers.

While the pandemic is ongoing, the arrangements on these pages are temporary and remain under constant review; they do not represent a substantive change to the underlying Terms and Conditions of employment. In the same way, the adaptation guides (see section 8 below) explain temporary changes in how we are applying our HR policies and procedures during the pandemic.

The guidance on these pages and the related General FAQs for staff and FAQs on self-isolation apply to all staff in the University. Advice and support is available from your HR Advisor or Business Partner.

This guidance continues to be updated on an ongoing basis in line with further national Government / public health guidance and in liaison with our campus Trade Unions.

2. Our Approach

We are very aware that this outbreak and its implications will feel worrying and challenging for many of our staff, students, other users of the University and their families. Our role as leaders and managers is to support and protect our staff and students while ensuring that we provide the best services possible throughout this pandemic both during lockdown and as it is eased.

The University is closely following the current UK Government / public health advice on Coronavirus to ensure that we are following the most appropriate approach in the circumstances on an ongoing basis.

Our aim is to enable our staff to:

  • work safely from home wherever they can do so efficiently and / or

  • work safely on campus in a COVID-safe environment where their role (or parts of it) requires this.

Managers and staff have been, and continue to be, expected to reconfigure and re-prioritise work to fit around current circumstances so that the University can continue to function. With the easing of lockdown we have been restarting services on site where these are needed within a COVID-safe environment but continue to use online resources and other adjustments wherever needed, to protect our staff, students, visitors and the wider community.

As leaders and managers, we all have a key role in supporting our staff to take this approach with advice and support from your HR and Safety, Health and Employee Wellbeing (SHEW) teams.

If you log-on to TOPdesk you and your teams will find guidance within both the COVID-19 tile and under Working from Home, tile including on all for remote-working arrangements that could be used in this situation and access to key University systems and folders.

Given the great variety of the roles that staff undertake and individual circumstances they may have, we will need to apply this guidance with appropriate flexibility as we work through the very different scenarios that may occur, depending on how the pandemic and the virus develops.

3. If your staff have symptoms or a diagnosis of Coronavirus

The University is strictly following the guidance from the UK Government and the NHS in order to protect our staff, students, visitors and the wider community. For this to be effective we need all our staff (and students and visitors) to follow the University's guidance as set out below at all times.

If your staff think they are experiencing symptoms of COVID-19 they must:

A. Reporting required from your staff:

  • Contact you: Staff who are self-isolating either through self-diagnosis or through a positive test must inform you as their Head of Department / line manager on their first day of absence, as soon as possible after they have received this diagnosis or made this decision.

  • Certificate their absence: Staff with symptoms or a positive test are required to obtain an isolation note through the Online isolation note service on the 8th day of absence and forward this to you as their line manager or Head of Department by email. You can check an isolation note is valid by using the Check an isolation note service.

We are asking staff to contact you directly by phone (or by Teams video-call) so that you can discuss a number of matters with them that will be quicker by phone, including which of options i. and ii. below they will be following during the period of self-isolation. If the member of staff is not able to speak to you, they need to email you without delay giving their contact telephone number so you can phone them back.

You need to ask the member of staff to keep you updated on the following:

  • The period of isolation that they have been advised to take or have taken in line with NHS / PHE guidance and when this runs to. This is now required to be no shorter than 10 calendar days unless they have received a subsequent negative COVID-19 (PCR) test;

  • If their condition has got worse and they can no longer work from home;

  • When they are booked to be tested for Coronavirus (COVID-19) and when this test has taken place;

  • To update you when they have received their result back from their test and whether this is positive or negative for Coronavirus (COVID-19);

  • Any advice that they have received from NHS Test & Trace

  • If their symptoms have extended beyond 10 calendar days or got worse and any advice received from NHS 111 or their GP (remotely)

B. Options for your staff who are required to self-isolate due to having Coronavirus - and what you need to do:

i. Working from Home:

As Head of Department or line manager you can agree for self-isolating staff to work from home if they are otherwise fit and well to do so and their role and IT arrangements enable them to work effectively on this basis. They should follow the University’s guidance on working from home, which has been revised and expanded to cover the current situation. If working from home, self-isolating staff will receive normal pay.

Report on iTrent - You need to record this without delay on iTrent using the other absence - COVID-19 categories. You must use the other absence category and not the sickness one for staff working from home while self-isolating to ensure that they receive normal pay (not sick pay).

This User Guide gives instructions on how to record a COVID Other absence on iTrent.

There are three absence types for COVID:

  • COVID-19 - Working from Home - potential / self-isolating

  • COVID-19 - Working from Home - Required to self-isolate by NHS Test & Trace

  • COVID-19 - Working from Home - confirmed by test

You need to select the absence type that applies. If the self-isolating staff member's status changes, most importantly if they receive a positive test, then it is vital that you change the absence type accordingly (e.g. to confirmed by test if they get a positive test for COVID).

ii. Unable to work from home :

There will be some individuals who are self-isolating who will not be able to work from home, either because they are not well enough to do so or because their role or IT / technology does not allow them to. Employees in this situation will be on sick leave and will receive paid sick pay in line with their contract. You should record them as on sick leave on iTrent using the relevant COVID-19 category. Due to the exceptional nature of this outbreak, the University will not count sick leave due to Coronavirus as contributing to short-term absence monitoring targets.

Report on iTrent - You need to record this without delay on iTrent using the Sickness - COVID-19 categories. You must use the Sickness category to ensure that they receive sick pay.

This User Guide gives instructions on how to record a Sickness absence on iTrent.

Record sickness absence in the normal way but ensure that use one of the three absence reasons that apply for a COVID sickness absence:

  • COVID-19 / Coronavirus / Potential / self-isolating

  • COVID-19 - Required to self-isolate by NHS Test & Trace

  • COVID-19 / Coronavirus / confirmed by test

You need to select the absence reason that applies. If the self-isolating staff member's status changes, most importantly if they receive a positive test, then it is vital that you immediately change the absence type accordingly (e.g. to confirmed by test if they get a positive test for COVID).

Return to work

From the point that staff have completed their period of isolation in line with Govt. / PHE guidance (or have received a negative test outcome), they will be expected to return to work and sick pay will cease (if they have not been working from home).

Employees who are diagnosed with Coronavirus (COVID-19) through a positive test must remain on sick leave until the completion of 10 calendar days of self-isolation or they are advised that they are fit to return by an authorised NHS practitioner.

4. What to do if a member of your staff is contacted by NHS Test & Trace and told to self-isolate

If a member of your staff has been contacted by NHS Test & Trace and informed that they have been in contact with a person who has coronavirus they must do the following as required by NHS Test & Trace:

  • stay at home (self-isolate) for 14 days from the day they were last in contact with the person – it can take up to 14 days for symptoms to appear;

  • do not leave their home for any reason – if they need food or medicine, they must order it online or by phone, or ask friends and family to drop it off at their home

  • do not have visitors in their home, including friends and family – except for essential care

  • try to avoid contact with anyone they live with as much as possible

  • contact you as their line manager by phone (or Teams) on the day they have been contacted by NHS Test & Trace. They need to follow the same process of reporting as that set out in section 3A above and the same options (i) and (ii) in terms of working as set out section 3B above.

Report on iTrent

  • Working from Home - If the staff member is well to work and able to undertake their role from home while they are self-isolating they will continue to receive full pay. You should record their COVID status on iTrent straightaway as Other absence using the absence type COVID-19 - Working from Home - Required to self-isolate by NHS Test & Trace.

See option (i) in section 3B above for instructions for recording this in iTrent.

  • On Sick Leave - If they are unable to work from home they are entitled to sick pay and you should record as sick on iTrent using the (sickness) absence reason COVID-19 / Coronavirus / Potential / Self-isolating.

See option (ii) in section 3B above for instructions for recording this in iTrent.

5. Arrangements for staff needing to quarantine / self-isolate on entry / return to the UK

If a member of your staff is planning to take leave or has already booked to take leave outside of the UK then it is important that they contact you as their line manager prior to leaving for their holiday.

They should contact you straight away if the situation for the country they are going to, or are already in, changes - as has recently occurred for France, the Netherlands and other countries. This is to agree arrangements for what will happen when they return and to ensure that they are following the UK Government’s current requirements to quarantine / self-isolate on your return to the UK.

Check the Government guidance: The government advice on individual countries and the requirement to quarantine is likely to be subject to change on an ongoing basis, particularly in relation to which countries are exempt from self-isolation. Your staff are required to act at all times in accordance with the latest government guidance on re-entering the country and should check the UK Government / Foreign & Commonwealth Office (FCO) travel guidance and the Department of Health & Social Care guidance on returning to the UK and self-isolation

If they are returning from a country which requires them to quarantine / self-isolate they must do the following:

Follow the current Government / FCO guidance on how to self-isolate

Working from Home: If it is possible for them to work efficiently from home on their return, then you as their line manager can agree for them to work in this way while self-isolating and to continue to be paid their normal pay.

Not Working from Home: If it is not possible for your staff member to work efficiently from home (e.g. your work can only be carried out on campus) they must self-isolate for 10 calendar days and not work during this period. Unless they have symptoms and / or have tested positive for COVID-19 this absence cannot be classed as sickness absence (where sick pay would be paid) so the pay arrangements below would have to be applied.

Pay arrangements for not working during 14-day self-isolation period: As you will not be working or absent through sickness during this period you will need to agree with your staff member how these days will be covered. The options available are as follows:

i. If your staff member has sufficient annual leave, they can take additional annual leave to cover both their trip and the required period of self-isolation on their return (exceptionally you could agree for them to bring forward some of their 2020/21 leave allowance to cover this period);

ii. If they do not have sufficient annual leave, they can request for annual leave for your trip and additionally for a period of unpaid leave to cover the all or the remainder of the days of their required period of self-isolation on their return;

iii. If there are particular and extenuating circumstances and your staff member has taken the first full week (7-days) of their required period of self-isolation on their return through annual and / or unpaid leave (i or ii above) then you may agree to give them exceptional paid leave for the remaining period up to a maximum of 5 working days (pro-rata for part-time staff).

Should your member of staff develop symptoms of COVID-19 at any point, they must follow the relevant government guidance with regards to getting tested and report this to you as their line manager without delay. From this period sick pay would be paid.

Government guidance in this area continues to evolve and may change at any time. The University will continue to review this guidance in line with it.

6. Staff with care issues caused by the closure of a school / nursery / crèche / care home etc.

Where there is a confirmed closure of a school, nursery, care home etc. due to the Coronavirus outbreak and the staff member is unable to arrange alternative care arrangements, they need to contact you by phone to consider the two options for staff as below:

a. Working from home – As their Head of Department / line manager you can agree for your staff to work from home in this situation. We want as many staff as possible in this situation to work from home, while this will depend on them having sufficient time to do so and on their role and IT arrangements enabling them to work effectively remotely. To enable this to work, it may be necessary to allow staff to work during different hours wherever these can be accommodated to allow the employee to fit this around their caring responsibilities; we would strongly encourage flexibility in this area. They should follow the University’s guidance on working from home.

b. Not able to work from home - in these situations the University may consider if furlough would be appropriate. If this is not possible then the staff member will need to request annual leave, TOIL-taken and unpaid carer's leave to cover the period of absence.

7. Staff confirmed as Clinically Extremely Vulnerable or Clinically Vulnerable (or who live with someone confirmed as such)

These situations are likely to be sensitive to deal with, as those with an underlying health condition in these categories may be very concerned about the impact of Coronavirus on their health.

From 1st August 2020 the UK Government changed its advice for the Clinically Extremely Vulnerable. This advised that in England, shielding was now paused due to the reduced level of coronavirus cases.

Individuals with other underlying health conditions that are clinically vulnerable but do not come under an extremely vulnerable definition should follow the UK Government’s / PHE advice on social distancing.

8. Adaptation Guides: Adapting how you manage staff under key HR policies to take account of the impacts of COVID-19

We have developed separate guides for line managers on how to adapt your practical application of our existing HR Policies and Procedures that are affected where staff are working from home / remotely or flexibly and by specific arrangements for COVID-19 that are in place on campus.

These adaptation guides are a supplementary document. They do not replace but instead should be used in conjunction with the existing HR Policy & Procedure, which remains in place.

Please access the Adaptation Guides below for the following HR Policy & Procedure by clicking on the links:

If you have questions please contact your HR Advisor or Business Partner