Last reviewed: 4 November 2020
Are there any further changes to how the University operates during national lockdown?
As confirmed by the Government, universities will continue to operate over the new national lockdown from Thursday 5 November. Our campuses, accommodation, catering outlets (takeaway service only) and student support services will remain open, including our libraries.
Following the Government’s latest guidance, we will continue teaching in the way we had planned. We will continue to follow best practice in this area in order to keep you safe. Thanks to the measures already in place, such as mandatory face masks, our QR code system and social distancing across campus, we are very pleased to report that there continues to be no evidence of the virus being transferred in teaching environments.
Further details were shared with colleagues in an all-staff email on 4 November.
What are the plans and arrangements for Semester 2?
At the moment, we are planning to deliver teaching during semester 2 in a similar way to semester 1, following a blended approach of face-to-face and online learning (together with any adaptations that may be necessary to keep everyone safe). Similarly, we anticipate that current working remotely arrangements will need to continue beyond January, in order to minimise the number of individuals on campus. However, this is a rapidly changing situation - we will keep this under review and we will update you again in December.
How is the University supporting staff through this difficult time?
We acknowledge that this has been a difficult period for colleagues, both for those on campus and those who have been working remotely since March. We will continue to do all we can to support you. You may wish to access our Employee Assistance Programme (EAP), provided by our partner Health Assured, which was recently introduced to complement the University’s existing support provision including Occupational Health. The EAP offers expert advice and compassionate guidance by phone 24/7, 365 days a year. It provides counselling, legal advice, bereavement support, general advice on medical problems and a range of information resources and self-help tools on a broad range of issues including finance, childcare, eldercare and other life issues. Further information on how you can support your wellbeing is available on our website.
I am displaying the symptoms and believe I should self isolate. Will my pay be affected?
Current government advice is to self-isolate if you have a new continuous cough, a fever or a loss of, or change in, your normal sense of taste and smell.
You should notify your line manager as soon as possible and complete the Coronavirus form. You may work from home if you feel able to do so. In any event, you will be paid your normal pay and your absence will be recorded as Special Covid-19 Leave. This means that any entitlement under the Managing absence from work due to ill health Policy won’t be affected by this absence.
For clarity, the first seven days of any absence are self-certified so there is no need to get a doctor’s certificate.
My illness continued for more than seven days. Do I need a medical certificate?
If the illness includes symptoms of Covid-19, the current advice is to contact NHS 111 online if symptoms persist or worsen and follow their advice. Do not attend a GP surgery or hospital. You should notify your line manager that your symptoms have worsened or continued and that you will not be coming to work and email email@example.com. Our current understanding is that NHS 111 will be able to issue a medical certificate after seven days. You will continue to be paid normally and this will be recorded as Special Covid-19 Leave.
If the sickness absence is for some other illness, you should follow the usual procedure set out Managing absence from work due to ill health Policy and, if necessary, contact your GP in the usual way and follow their advice.
I only started with the University recently but need to self isolate or have become ill with Covid-19. What sick pay will I receive?
If the reason for your absence is Covid-19 related, you will receive normal pay for the period you self-isolate or are advised not to work. This will be treated as Special Covid-19 Leave and will not affect any entitlement under the Managing absence from work due to ill health Policy.
I have an underlying health condition and am worried about catching coronavirus. What do I do?
Advice from the Government and NHS for people at higher/moderate risk from coronavirus, including older people, people with health conditions and pregnant women should take special precautions. Refer to People at Higher Risk from Coronavirus (NHS).
Professional services staff, unless otherwise advised, are requested to work from home until 4 January 2021. Members of staff who have been asked to return to campus will complete an Occupational Health risk assessment form [See section above].
The Government has issued advice on returning to work safely if you cannot work from home.
Should I come into work?
On 23 September, the Government announced that people should work from home wherever possible. Following the change to the UK’s coronavirus alert level, we can confirm that ‘return to campus’ risk assessments for some staff are being reviewed for those. Staff assessed as ‘very high risk’ have been asked to work from home until further notice; staff assessed as ‘high risk’ are encouraged to discuss with their line manager if they have any concerns about their current work arrangements with a view to identifying suitable workarounds.
I am fit but a member of my family has Covid-19 symptoms. What should I do?
The current government position is that if a person is displaying symptoms, they should self-isolate for 10 days and if symptoms worsen, contact NHS 111.
If a member of your household is displaying Covid-19 symptoms (raised temperature / fever and a new continuous cough, or a loss of, or change in, normal sense of taste or smell), you should follow the latest advice and the person with symptoms should self-isolate for 10 days with the remainder of the the whole household isolating for 14 days. At the end of that period, you will be expected to return to the working arrangements that have been agreed with your manager which could, for example, be working remotely.
You should notify your line manager and complete the Covid reporting form. If you are well and are able to work from home, this will be the preferred solution. If you are not able to work from home, you will be paid and this will be recorded as Special Covid-19 Leave.
As a result of the coronavirus situation I have additional caring responsibilities for a dependent adult / child and am unsure how I can manage these alongside work. What should I do?
On 30 July, VCG confirmed that it had further extended its commitment to paying full pay to all salaried staff who are employed directly by the University, even if colleagues cannot contribute fully under the current circumstances. This arrangement, previously in place until 31 July, was extended until 1 September 2020.
However, after 1 September, all colleagues will be expected to return to their normal hours, either by working remotely or on site (if they have been identified as being needed to return to campus). Colleagues who are not able to work their normal hours after this date will be expected to formally reduce their hours with an accompanying reduction in pay. In addition, from 1 September, any staff still on furlough under the job retention scheme will be paid in line with the Government scheme - the University will no longer be in a position to top up to full pay.
HR will provide support and guidance to staff affected by this and colleagues should contact their HR Business Partner Team if they wish to discuss this further.
Refer to Staff with Caring Responsibilities for the most up-to-date information
I am an Associate Lecturer. What happens to my pay?
If your specific hours have already been scheduled in, then the University will honour payment of these hours. This paid time should be used to undertake mandatory training, prepare materials for online delivery or record lectures to be put online at a later date. If your hours have not been scheduled in and if teaching is not going ahead, then, due to the extenuating circumstances, your teaching will no longer be required for this period. However, later on in the year, the University will need to reschedule teaching over a shorter time period and your services will likely be in high demand.
If my household has to self isolate, what do I do?
Government advice is if any member of the same household is displaying symptoms then you must all self isolate for 14 days. Contact your line manager and discuss if you are able to work from home. If you are unable to work from home then this will be classed as Special Covid-19 Leave and you will be paid as normal until the self isolation period is over.