Job Retention Scheme (Furlough)

On 4 January the Prime Minister announced that people should stay at home and only leave home for limited reasons permitted in law. The University recognises that many staff have had to adapt and change their working patterns or roles as a consequence and conversations with managers should already be underway.

In the majority of cases, work can be carried out and agreed flexibly in discussions with your manager - see Guidance for staff with caring responsibilities and Managers’ guidance during Coronavirus. However, in a small number of cases, there are some staff where furloughing may be the only and appropriate option.  

Oxford Brookes approach to the Job Retention Scheme from January 2021

The University remains open and activities continue during the pandemic to ensure that we maintain excellent standards of service to all students and staff, whilst adapting and continuing our University business with Covid-19 restrictions.

This lockdown is different to the first lockdown as we have some teaching continuing on site as well as students still in residence. Consequently, some academic and support staff have to be available to carry out face-to-face teaching and keep services running on campus.

Oxford Brookes recognises that some roles will be impacted as work cannot be done from home and as a result the only option would be to place some staff on furlough. In all cases, we will look for the best solution which balances the needs of the individual and the University.

Therefore, the Vice-Chancellor’s Group has decided that the University will participate in the Job Retention Scheme again from January 2021 for groups included in the scheme (see criteria below). For those staff placed on furlough, the University will top-up the Scheme so that staff are paid at 100% of basic pay.

Criteria for staff who may be eligible for furlough

  1. People who need to shield because they are clinically extremely vulnerable
  2. Staff whose work is not needed on campus during lockdown who cannot be redeployed and who cannot work from home
  3. Carers / working parents where this can be accommodated without affecting operational delivery and all other flexible options have been explored.

In the first instance, managers will contact and have discussions with staff who cannot work from home or a member of staff can approach their manager for a conversation.

It is not expected that core-funded academic staff will be included due to the commitment to academic delivery and the need to provide high-quality teaching to students, however it may be considered in very exceptional circumstances.

It should also be borne in mind that there is no right to access the furlough scheme.

The process for placing staff on furlough

For staff shielding due to being clinically extremely vulnerable who cannot work from home and for those staff who are not required on campus during lockdown and who cannot be redeployed or work from home:
  • The manager will discuss furlough with the staff member and whether this is the best option. If so, the type of furlough will be discussed (partial or full-time) with a possible start and end date.
  • The manager will update their HR Link Team.

For carers or working parents:

The manager will have an initial conversation to explore the following options:

  1. Flexibility - changes to working hours or days, for part time staff extending the contracted hours over more days to spread the load
  2. Reduce tasks / responsibilities for a period of time or agree which activities can be left until later in the year
  3. Dependent care leave (to be used in an emergency)
  4. Annual leave or using additional annual leave carried over from last year
  5. Parental leave
  6. Temporary reduction in hours with reduced pay
  7. Unpaid leave
  8. Career break
  9. Furlough

In the first instance flexibility should be sought and other leave options considered before considering furlough. The ideal solution should be agreed that will work for the individual as well as balancing the operational needs of the University.

After discussion, the individual submits a request form selecting one of the options for their appropriate Faculty / Directorate:

The manager will then make a request to the PVC Dean/Director who will review it with support from their HR link team and make the final decision.

If agreed that furloughing is the best option, then the type of furlough will be discussed (either partial or full-time furlough) with a possible start and end date. It is not expected that many requests for full furlough will be granted due to maintaining operational effectiveness.

If agreed, the HR team will process the furlough.

For more information about how the process works, please refer to the Furlough Flow Chart.

Partial or full-time furlough

This lockdown differs to the last lockdown as furlough does not need to be applied for a minimum of three weeks. There is more flexibility and considerations for partial furlough this time.

When discussing options, partial furlough is preferable to full-time furlough where possible and suits the individual circumstances. This helps ensure there is some fairness and eases operational pressures for staff working regular hours. However, while the scheme allows for flexibility, regular patterns of partial furlough need to be established with changes allowed only once a month. This will help ease the administrative burden to apply the furlough scheme.

Whilst on furlough

The manager will keep in touch with the staff member to share any essential University updates or changes to their furlough.

Whilst on furlough, staff members should not carry out any University-related work.