This document sets out the University's response to the ongoing Coronavirus emergency. These are temporary measures which will remain under constant review. These do not represent a change to the underlying Terms and Conditions of employment.
This guidance document and the related General FAQs for staff and FAQs on self-isolation for staff are designed to set out the University’s approach and processes on managing your staff through the Coronavirus outbreak, which is already greatly affecting the UK and will do so significantly over the coming months.
This guidance applies to all staff in the University. This guidance will 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 outbreak.
The University Emergency Management Team is closely following the current UK Government / public health advice on Coronavirus and meeting 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 from home wherever possible, using online resources and other adjustments where needed, to protect them, their colleagues and our students. Managers and staff will be expected to reconfigure and reprioritise work to fit around current circumstances to ensure that the University can continue to function. Our default should be to provide services online unless it is not possible to do so.
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. Through this approach, we aim to follow the guidance from the UK Government, Public Health England (PHE) and the NHS.
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 outbreak and the virus develops.
3. Guidance for dealing with and reporting Coronavirus-related absences
3.1 Staff Diagnosed with Coronavirus or directed / expected to self-isolate
The current UK Government (and related NHS and Public Health England) advice states that those with symptoms of a high temperature and / or a new, continuous cough are requested to self-isolate and only contact NHS111 if their symptoms get worse or do not get better after 7 days. Please refer to this PHE guidance and the online NHS 111 Coronavirus service.
To clarify our approach, please see the table below.
|Living arrangements||Standard Isolation period||Symptoms in Isolation period||No symptoms in isolation period||Symptoms disappear after 7 days of arriving||Symptoms get worse and you are unable to cope during self-isolation||Symptoms don’t improve after 7 days|
|Live alone in a single household and experience symptoms||7 days. Advise University on day 1.||N/A||N/A||Come out of self-isolation||Call 999. Advise University when able.||Contact NHS 111 for further advice. Advise University of outcome|
|Live in a shared household where someone else has symptoms before you||14 days. Advise University on day 1.||Isolate for 7 days from date that your symptoms start. Advise University of expected end date.||Come out of isolation after 14 days. Advise University.||Come out of self-isolation. Advise University.||Call 999. Advise University when able.||Contact NHS 111. Advise University of outcome.|
|Live in a shared household2 where you have symptoms before anyone else||7 days||N/A||N/A||Come out of self-isolation||Call 999. Advise University when able.||Contact NHS 111 for advice. Advise University of outcome.|
Live alone in a single household - You do not share any living facilities – kitchen, bathroom or toilet facilities with anyone else.
Live in a shared household - You share either a kitchen, toilet or bathroom with other people.
This change in the Government’s guidance along with a lower level of testing means that we will not have a definitive diagnosis of Coronavirus for the many of our staff affected by it. The UK Government has produced the following Guidance Diagram on Staying at Home, which explains this in a clear visual way.
On 20 March 2020, The UK Government and the NHS launched a new Online isolation note service . This provides proof of coronavirus absence from work. Staff who are unable to work for more than seven days because of coronavirus (COVID-19) are requested to obtain an isolation note through the new Online isolation note service and forward this by email to their line manager or Head of Department.
Reporting required from your staff:
Staff who are self-isolating either through self-diagnosis or through NHS 111 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. As above they must also provide you with an NHS online isolation note after 7-days absence due to Coronavirus.
We are asking staff to phone you directly so that you can discuss a number of matters with them that will be quicker by phone, including which of options a. and b. below they will be following during the period. 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.
The member of staff should be asked 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;
If their condition has got worse and they can no longer work from home;
If they are being 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).
If their symptoms have extended beyond 7-days or got worse and any advice received from NHS 111 or their GP (remotely)
Options for Self-Isolating staff:
1. 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. They should not be recorded as on sick leave on iTrent.
2. 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 do. 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 Coronavirus 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.
From the point that staff receive a negative test outcome, they will be expected to return to work and sick pay will cease. Employees who are diagnosed with Coronavirus (COVID-19) through a positive test must remain on sick leave until advised they are fit to return by an authorised NHS practitioner.
3.2 Staff with dependents / partner self-isolating or diagnosed with Coronavirus
In line with Government advice, if a member of staff lives with a person who has symptom of Coronavirus – i.e. has a persistent cough or fever - they and everyone living in the household there must follow the advice given in the table in section 3.1 above. All those in the same household should follow the Government / PHE / NHS advice – currently to avoid, if possible, leaving the house "even to buy food or essentials".
The current PHE guidance is that the dependent / partner with symptoms should fully self-isolate taking actions set out in PHE guidance for self-isolation, including isolating themselves from those without symptoms within the home.
Staff in this group must follow the arrangements in 3.1 above including contacting their HoD / line manager and confirming whether they will be able to work from home (option 1) or not (option 2).
3.3 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:
1. 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.
2. Taking Emergency Leave - the University will exceptionally allow you as Head of Department / line manager to grant Emergency (additional) Paid Leave to your employed staff. This would be subject to them:
- making alternative caring arrangements at the earliest opportunity if these become available;
- utilising annual leave already booked over the School holidays
- sharing caring responsibilities with their partner;
- undertaking as much work as possible, around their caring responsibilities.
Emergency Paid Leave will be paid to staff in this situation until the end of the School current term and will be reviewed on an ongoing basis. It will be reviewed no later than 3rd April 2020 to determine if these arrangements continue or other leave would need to be taken. The University recognises that normal school holiday arrangements may also be disrupted.
Other issues such as the closure of public transport or road closures may also have to be considered.
3.4 Staff that have a specified underlying health condition (or who live with someone with such an underlying health condition) that may have a significantly greater risk from Coronavirus
These situations are likely to be sensitive to deal with, as those with an underlying health condition may be very concerned about the impact of Coronavirus on their health.
The UK Government’s / PHE advice on shielding those who are extremely vulnerable provides guidance on the type of health conditions in this group and advises on how to shield those from the virus. The guidance in this area changed on 24 March 2020. Those individuals in this smaller group should be contacted directly by their GP, consultant or other NHS clinician and should be able to show you a copy of a formal letter that they have received confirming their extremely vulnerable status and advice on what to do.
Individuals with other underlying health conditions that do not come under an extremely vulnerable definition should follow the UK Government’s / PHE advice on social distancing that all individuals in the UK are required to follow. This follows the lockdown arrangements put in place from 23rd March 2020 and the last update to the guidance on 29th March 2020.
Reporting to you and working from home: All staff with an underlying health condition (or those living with someone with one) are requested to inform you of any condition that may affect their risk to Coronavirus. You should discuss with them whether and how they might work from home. Discussions should follow the options and processes set out in 3.1 above. If you need further advice on these matters you should contact your HR Advisor or Business Partner.
If not able to work from home: If any member of staff in this situation is unable to work the University has exceptionally agreed for them to be paid Emergency Paid leave. During this period please do not record them on iTrent as on sick leave.
Taking normal precautions: All staff with an underlying health condition (or living with someone with one) should be encouraged to take their normal precautions alongside particular social distancing actions to avoid the virus (see NHS information on coronavirus and its common questions) and may wish to contact their GP or NHS 111 remotely, (whilst being aware of the guidance to only contact the NHS if absolutely necessary) and follow their advice. They should inform you as their Head of Department / line manager of any further advice that they receive that might be relevant to working at the University.
3.5 Where the University takes the decision to move to Reduced Campus Operations
Following the UK Government's guidance on 23rd March 2020, the University has moved to Reduced Campus Operations. Operations. This is not a complete closure of the campus, but moves all services that can be moved online, where this can be achieved, including all learning & teaching, and leaves the minimum essential services running on site.
In this situation, those essential services that need to continue on site will be identified by the University’s Emergency Management Team and the staff in these roles will be informed. Staff in these roles would continue to work and receive their normal pay.
Other services that are able to do so, are likely to continue to operate remotely and staff in these roles will need to undertake their roles remotely as guided by their Head of Department, line manager and the University’s Emergency Management Team.
1. Redeployment of staff - There may also need to be the redeployment of staff from other posts where they are unable to work into the identified essential roles in order to maintain the resilience of the University.
Planning - It is important to consider now and in advance what services your team or department would need to operate during reduced campus operations and how it could best do so remotely.
Communication to your staff remotely will be vital and tools such as Microsoft Teams can provide effective ways to achieve this – please refer to the Ways of Working guidance for information on this.
4. Key Actions from you as Head of Department or Line Manager
We need you to undertake the following actions to assist your staff and the University as we go through the outbreak.
a. Building Resilience
There are a number of actions now that will help your department to have greater resilience if / as the outbreak worsens; many of these are part of the business continuity planning activity that is going on. Key actions in relation to staff include:
Reviewing how your services and roles could be carried out remotely – to look at how your services and identify which services could move to operating online and to test this. We are asking Heads of Departments to assess their teams against the attached criteria (provided as Appendix 6, below) and report an assessment of A to D against each sub-team or service as soon as possible. We then need you to create a plan to implement key changes as soon as possible to ensure ongoing service provision.
Staff information - Ensuring that staff’s address / phone / contact / next of kin details are up to date, so that you can contact them if they are unable to attend at the University. They can update these using iTrent ESS.
Reviewing IT arrangements at home – asking staff what IT arrangements they have at home so that you get ready for them to work from home, if necessary.
Building resilience in working arrangements – to look at the physical arrangements for your staff and identify how they could be improved in relation to preventing / reducing virus spread – e.g. splitting up key team members to reduce the risk that they are off at the same time, increasing physical distance between staff, trialling home working arrangements for some staff.
Building up knowledge of staff’s relevant health conditions – You may be aware of staff members in your team / department with an underlying health issue, but this may be incomplete. You could give staff the opportunity to inform you confidentially of any conditions that you need to be aware of and record these confidentially in liaison with your HR Advisor or Business Partner.
Reinforcing Key Public Health Messages - to draw your staff’s attention to the University’s guidance and UK Government / PHE / NHS messages. This **short guide on Coronavirus is a useful document to refer staff to.
b. Reporting Requirements
During this outbreak it will be critically important for the University that we understand the position with our staff and the capacity that individual departments have on a week-by-week or even daily basis. You have a key role in this in the two ways that we need you to report:
1.Coronavirus-staff SharePoint site
We have set up the Coronavirus-staff Information site on SharePoint to give you a secure and simple to use way of reporting the arrangements of your those staff. If you click on this link it will open to a site, which operates in the same way as the SharePoint site used for Industrial Action. This should be updated by the Head of Department, Department Coordinator or other specified department-level individuals with input access for their department. We need you to make sure that any of your staff who are not working on site are reported on this SharePoint page. Your spreadsheet will list all of your department staff and give you a drop-down menu for each day to report type of absence. These are:
- Self-isolating, off sick due to Coronavirus (COVID-19);
- Self-isolating, working from home due to symptoms;
- Self-isolating due to symptoms, but not working from home due to nature of work;
- Working from home, due to vulnerable status of self or close relative – full social distancing;
- Working from home, due to need to care for dependants e.g. school closure;
- Not working, taking some form of leave (Emergency Paid Leave, Annual Leave, TOIL, unpaid leave).
The expectation is that your staff will be required to report to their manager if their status changes and you will ensure that SharePoint is updated.
We also need you to report those of your employees who are on sick leave on iTrent in the normal way using one of the two new sickness reasons on iTrent that you should use for Coronavirus:
- COVID-19 / Coronavirus: confirmed by test - this is only for those staff who have been positively identified as having Coronavirus through a test;
- COVID-19 / Coronavirus: potential / self-isolating - This is only for staff who are unwell, self-isolating and not working at home.
Please note that if a staff member is self-isolating but working from home, they should not be recorded on iTrent as on sick leave.
5. Further Questions or Advice
On the frequently asked questions (FAQs) for staff, staff are asked to contact you as their line manager or Head of Department in the first instance for questions. If you or they have questions about Coronavirus and staff that you do not know the answer to, we have set up a TopDesk site for you to raise questions or issues on. This will ensure that all questions are tracked and where relevant the answers are used to update this guidance and the Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs).
Any member of staff who requires further emotional support should make use of the University's Staff Counselling services.
Appendix A. Departmental Actions Assessment Form
Below is the simple assessment grid ( with 4 categories from A to D) to use.
|A: Required while the campus is open to maintain safe and healthy operation / maintenance of business critical systems||- Where staff are required on campus, use appropriate social distancing, risk assessment, use of PPE where necessary; Where staff can deliver function off-campus, provision of cover and routine daily check-in; Ensure succession arrangements in place|
|B: Some on-campus presence required to maintain an effective service e.g. student facing||- Consider rotating teams i.e. only a small proportion are in the office at any time; When in the office, practice social distancing by using larger and separated rooms; - Rigorous application of hygiene techniques between ‘shifts’; Routine daily check-in between ‘on campus’ and ‘off campus’ members of team through conference call or Teams|
|C: Staff are able to undertake their tasks remotely with no significant loss of effectiveness e.g. project work, remote services||Staff to work from home; Ensure provision of appropriate IT and, if necessary, financial support; Routine daily check-in between ‘on campus’ and ‘off campus’ members of team through conference call or Teams|
|D: Functions can be suspended for a period with no short-term impact on University services||Staff to make themselves available to be redeployed to other tasks, either working from home or on campus as appropriate|
Q. What should I do when a member of my team has told me that they have coronavirus-like symptoms?
A. Section 3.1 of the line manager guidance gives advice on self-isolation and the need for reporting. You should speak to the member of staff about this as soon as they contact you. You should appreciate that the information being provided to you by the individual is personal medical information and should not be shared with others at the University unless you have been given specific permission by the individual to do so. We would recommend that you restrict what you tell others to simply advising that that the individual is self-isolating or working from home in line with Government guidelines as a precautionary measure.
Given the current policy on not testing for the condition in the general population, no assumption can be made that the individual has the coronavirus. Despite this, we do recognise that other members of the University may be concerned or anxious if they have been in contact with colleagues who are now self-isolating. We are continuing to be guided by public health policy which states that there is no reason for others to self-isolate unless they start to exhibit symptoms. The aim of this policy is to balance the pressure on the NHS, individual safety and the need for organisations to keep operating. If you have any concerns or need further advice, contact your HR Business Partner.
Q. Will the University pay my additional costs for working from home?
A. We recognise that working from home requires a number of adjustments, both physical and mental. While the current public health advice doesn’t have any fixed timeframes, it is possible that we may need to work differently for several months, so getting these adjustments right is important. It is possible that you may occur some additional costs when working from home such as phone and utilities. Of course, you may also be making a saving by not travelling into work and being able to prepare meals during the day at home. Our policy is that we will not make any extra routine payments to cover working from home, but if there is a particularly extraordinary additional cost faced by a member of staff which causes significant hardship, a claim can be made through the expenses system. You are reminded that you should not incur any significant expense on the assumption this will be reimbursed, so you should always check in advance.