FAQs for staff

Page last updated: Monday 5 October 2020, 10:00

This page is being regularly updated to reflect the latest advice from the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO), World Health Organisation (WHO) Public Health England (PHE) and other sources including local partners. 

This page contains information including:

 

Questions for staff

Further FAQs relating to coronavirus symptoms, self-isolating and the test and trace process are available here


1) Questions relating to health and wellbeing UPDATED - 17 September 10:00

What should I do if I become unwell at work?
If you become unwell at work with coronavirus symptoms you should inform your manager as soon as possible and go home.  You should also arrange to have a test for coronavirus as soon as possible and inform your manager of the result.  If you should test positive you will be asked to provide information on where you have been in the workplace and (as far as you are able) who you have been in contact with. 

You should obtain an isolation note: https://111.nhs.uk/isolation-note/ unless you are well enough to work from home in which case one is not required. 

Further information about how to book a test if you have coronavirus symptoms is available on the NHS website

Further FAQs relating to coronavirus symptoms, self-isolating and the test and trace process are available here. 

I have an underlying health condition and I am worried about attending work – what should I do?

Prior to returning to the campus to work you should have a discussion with your line manager who can discuss measures with you which will support your return to work, together with any mitigating actions which may be required such as staggered start and end times etc. 

I have several health conditions which don’t seem to be accounted for on the government’s advice – what should I do?
If you are affected by a number of different underlying health conditions you may need advice from Occupational Health.  Your Line Manager or Supervisor can arrange this for you.

What support is there for staff who are worried about their wellbeing and Covid-19? 
The University wellbeing services – Workplace Wellness provides a 24/7 helpline for immediate emotional support, debt management services, general advice and information. The helpline access number is: 0800 1116 387.  

In addition the University’s wellbeing services are available remotely for Employee Advice and Listening, Citizens Advice, Disability and Occupational Health Management Referral appointments. 

The charity, Mind, has provided information and support in relation to coronavirus and your wellbeing.

Are Occupational Health appointments still available to staff?
Occupational Health clinical appointments (for vaccines, blood tests and health surveillance) are now available.   Staff who are due for health surveillance will be recalled initially and then those who had appointments postponed will be contacted with a new appointment date.

I was previously shielding, do I have to come back to campus?
Shielding has been paused by the Government since 1 August 2020.  The advice for those previously shielding is that you can go back to your workplace (if you cannot work from home), as long as the business is “Covid-safe” in line with government guidelines (which the University has followed).  You should discuss any return to work with your line manager.  There are some staff who had previously been shielding who have been able to work from home during restricted campus operations and it may be appropriate that they continue to do so for the time being.

I am worried about returning to campus because I think I am at a higher risk from Covid-19, what should I do?
The University is looking at ways of supporting staff who may be at higher risk of serious illness if they contract Covid-19, those for example from certain ethnic groups, older males, those with a high BMI, or those with diabetes.  Your line manager will discuss your return with you and this will give you an opportunity to discuss any concerns.  They can discuss measures to support your return and will complete a Covid-19 Return to Campus Discussion form which has been designed for use during the current period. Occupational Health can assist with an assessment if managers require help and HR advice is also available.  

Does the University require employees who have an underlying health condition to come onto campus?
If you are asked to attend campus you should have a conversation with your manager before you return.  This will give you an opportunity to raise any concerns.  The University is working hard to follow all HSE and Government advice about adapting the workplace to ensure it is as safe as possible for employees to return. It may be possible to put in place further adjustments such as staggered start and end times and/or continued working from home arrangements.  Your manager will discuss these and complete a specific Covid-19 Return to Campus Discussion form which has been designed for use during the current period. Occupational Health can assist with an assessment if managers require help and HR advice is also available. 

Do employees who are self-isolating need to receive a self-isolation note from the government?
Those self-isolating can obtain a self-isolation note.  You will be self-isolating if you or someone in your household, or in your support bubble has symptoms of coronavirus, or if you have been advised via the new test and trace system (or via the University’s Test, Trace, Protect system) that you have been in close contact with someone who has tested positive for coronavirus.   After discussion with your line manager, if you are able and well enough to work at home you should do so and in this scenario you will not be required to obtain a self-isolation note.     

I’m pregnant, what is the risk related to Covid-19?
Whilst being pregnant can change the way your body responds to viral and other infections, all the available evidence to date suggests that pregnant women are at no greater risk of becoming seriously unwell than other healthy adults if they get coronavirus.  For further information see: https://www.tommys.org/pregnancy-information/im-pregnant/pregnancy-and-coronavirus-information-pregnant-women

I’m pregnant.  Are there circumstances where I would have a greater risk of severe illness if I become infected with the coronavirus, and should I work from home?
Some pregnant women are at greater risk of becoming seriously unwell with coronavirus infection, these women includes those who are: 

  • Greater than 28 weeks gestation
  • Pregnant women from Black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) backgrounds
  • Women over the age of 35
  • Women who are overweight or obese
  • Women who have pre-existing underlying medical conditions, such as high blood pressure and diabetes

 You should raise this with your line manager at your earliest convenience so that they can arrange an assessment with Occupational Health - see https://intranet.birmingham.ac.uk/hr/wellbeing/index.aspx for the relevant referral form.

What general advice would help me minimise my risk of catching Covid-19?

  • Wash hands regularly with soap and water for a minimum of 20 seconds.
  • Coughs and sneezes should be covered with a tissue and disposed of immediately (into your elbow if no tissue) followed by the washing of hands.
  • Wear a face-covering while on public transport (this is now a mandatory requirement) and inside buildings on campus where it is difficult to maintain social distancing. Maintain social distancing (of 2 metres) when greeting others, this includes avoiding shaking hands.
  • If working on campus, bring in your own refreshments.
  • If you are provided with PPE for any reason, including working in closer proximity than 2m, this should be worn and the information on putting on and taking off this PPE must be followed.
  • When using toilets, close the lid before flushing 

2) Questions relating to sick pay UPDATED - 17 September 10:00

Will I be paid whilst I am self-isolating?
The University will continue to pay people who are self-isolating due to the following reasons, but this will be ketp under constant review:

  • Self-isolating due to testing positive for Covid-19
  • Self-isolating due to having symptoms of Covid-19
  • Self-isolating due to household member having symptoms of Covid-19
  • Self-isolating following notification by NHS Test and Trace
  • Self-isolating following notification by University Test, Trace and Protect

You should obtain a self-isolation note here. However, after discussion with your line manager, if you are able and well enough to work at home you should do so and in this scenario you will not be required to obtain a self-isolation note.

If a member of staff is self-isolating for any reasons other than those listed above, further advice should be sought from HR.

Will any Covid-19 related absence count towards my sick pay entitlement?
No, Covid-19 related absence will not count towards University sick pay entitlement but the University will keep this under constant review.

I am employed on Support Staff terms and conditions of employment and I am still on probation. Do I qualify for Sick Pay? 
Yes, although this situation will be reviewed on an ongoing basis. This is due to the fact that it seems probable that the country will be dealing with the coronavirus on a long term basis and absences for coronavirus may become “normal” rather than “exceptional”.

Will employees need to provide a fit note (sick note) for coronavirus-related absence?
Yes, from 14 September 2020 we will expect you to obtain a note  for coronavirus-related absences available here  However, after discussion with your line manager, if you are able and well enough to work at home you should do so and in this scenario you will not be required to obtain a self-isolation note.

I am due to start working at the University and have been told to self-isolate – will I still get paid?
Yes, your employment with the University will be effective from the date specified in your contract of employment. However you should liaise with your line manager to ensure that your details (and in particular your bank account details) are entered onto University systems to ensure payment can take place.  You should obtain a note for the absence available here  . However, after discussion with your line manager, if you are able and well enough to work at home you should do so and in this scenario you will not be required to obtain a self-isolation note.

How do I record my sickness absence related to Covid-19?
Please do not record this sickness absence in Core Systems. 
Instead you should advise your line manager of any Covid-19 related sickness absence and they will inform their designated point of contact. The University will be required to report to government bodies on absence related to Covid-19 so it is important this information is fed through in a timely manner.

Do I need to notify my manager if my reason for absence changes? 
Yes, if your Covid-19 related reason for absence changes because you have tested negative or positive you will need to contact your line manager and inform them of the change.  If you have attended the workplace in the last 48 hours prior to developing symptoms or being tested you will be asked to provide information on where you have been and (as far as you are able) who you have been in contact with.

The NHS Test and Trace service will also ask you to share information about your recent close contacts.

Do I need to contact my manager each day?
No, you are not required to contact your line manager every day but you should keep in contact frequently to keep them updated on your situation. It is advised that you and your line manager agree how frequently you will maintain contact during your absence.

What should I do if I cannot get in contact with my line manager?
If you are unable to contact your line manager you should contact another designated contact or your HR Adviser.

Should I report absence related to Covid-19 even if I am not due to work on that day?
Yes, you should inform your line manager of any Covid-19 related absence even if you are not due to work for some or all of that period. 

How should I report sickness absence that is unrelated to Covid-19?
If you have any sickness absence unrelated to Covid-19 symptoms and you are unable to work, please report this as you normally would to your line manager who can then record this on Core Systems. Please also continue to advise your line manager if you are unable to work for any reason whether or not it is Covid-19 related. 

3) Questions relating to payslips UPDATED - 28 August, 10:00

I cannot access my payslip online and have a query about my pay. What should I do?
If you cannot access your payslip online, please check your bank account in the first instance to see whether your pay is as expected. If you have any concerns regarding your pay or think it appears incorrect, you can raise a query on the Payroll IT service desk.  If you don’t have access to the internet at home, you can call +44 (0)121 414 3030 to speak to a member of the Payroll team.  If your call cannot be answered, please leave a voicemail and a member of the Payroll team will contact you as soon as they can. 

4) Questions relating to employees working from home UPDATED - 28 August, 10:00

I am self-isolating – will I be asked to undertake work from home?
This depends on whether or not you feel well. If you are feeling well and self-isolating for precautionary reasons it is expected that where possible all efforts should be made for you to undertake some work remotely. This should be agreed between you and your line manager on a case by case basis.

5) Questions relating to employees taking leave to look after a dependent as a result of Covid-19 UPDATED - 17 September 10:00

I am struggling to fulfil my contractual hours/duties.
From the time we had a national lockdown the University has operated a “best endeavours” policy.  This recognised that people may not have been able to fulfil all their contractual obligations due to a variety of reasons, but primarily due to needing to be available for childcare and/or home schooling.  There is a need, now, to ensure that all staff can contribute to returning to campus and (re)creating our campus community, and in particular offer our usual excellent support for the student experience.  From 14 September, therefore, all staff will be expected to fulfil their contractual hours/duties as required (whether that is on campus, working remotely, or a blend of the two).  Staff should discuss this with their line manager and agree how and when their duties will be carried out.  Where a member of staff cannot fulfil their duties other options may include annual leave, unpaid leave, flexibly working their hours, and a reduction in working hours on a temporary or permanent basis.  

Do I need to take dependants’ leave if I am unable to work due to caring for a dependant?
Dependants’ leave is a right to take reasonable unpaid leave to deal with an emergency.  However in order to assist with the potential for issues to arise during the Autumn Term the University has agreed on an exceptional basis, that staff may take up to a total of two paid days leave during the Autumn term only to deal with an emergency related to their dependants.  For example, should a school close for a deep clean, you could use one of the days to cover that. 

At the moment I am combining remote working with caring responsibilities and would struggle to come to campus to work - will I be able to continue to work from home?
The University recognises that many staff have caring responsibilities and will seek to support staff by being as flexible as possible with working hours/days whilst ensuring that the University’s overall operations are not impacted by this and that the University can continue to strive towards limiting the impact of Covid-19 by starting to operate as normally as possible, as quickly as possible. From 14 September, therefore, all staff will be expected to fulfil their contractual hours/duties as required (whether that is on campus, working remotely, or a blend of the two).  Staff should discuss this with their line manager and agree how and when their duties will be carried out.  Where a member of staff cannot fulfil their duties other options may include annual leave, unpaid leave, flexibly working their hours, and a reduction in working hours on a temporary or permanent basis.  

6) Questions relating to school, childcare and support bubbles UPDATED - 5 October, 10:00

My child has been advised to self-isolate as a result of being in a school/early years childcare bubble. What does this mean?

If you have a child who is sent home due to being in a school/early years childcare bubble where someone in the bubble has tested positive your child will need to stay at home and self-isolate for 14 days.   Your child’s school/early years setting is likely to give you advice on this point but this is because it can take several days following contact with an infected person before an individual develops symptoms or the virus can be detected.  Your child should stay at home, including exercising within the home or garden (if you have one).

You should only book a test for your child if he/she also develops symptoms of coronavirus. There is no requirement or need to book a test if your child is self-isolating and does not have symptoms.

If my child is self-isolating as a result of being in a school/early years childcare bubble, do I and the rest of my household need to self-isolate?

If your child does not have symptoms, other people living in the household do not need to self-isolate but should continue to follow the general guidance.

If, however, your child does go on to develop symptoms, you should book a test for them as soon as possible.   All of your household members will need to begin self-isolating at home as soon as the symptoms appear and should continue to self-isolate until the test results are received.

Government advice does recognise how difficult it may be to follow social distancing advice when living with children but you should follow the social distancing guidance to the best of your ability.  Similarly, if any household members have significant conditions such as learning disabilities, autism or serious mental illness, please follow social distancing guidance to the best of your ability, while keeping yourself and those close to you safe and well, ideally in line with any existing care plans.

If you live with clinically vulnerable people or clinically extremely vulnerable people, the household member(s) self-isolating should stay away from them as much as possible, following this guidance. For the clinically extremely vulnerable please follow the shielding guidance.

I am due to work on campus, but my child has been advised to self-isolate. Do I need to attend work?

If you have a child who is required to self-isolate because of a school/class/early years childcare setting closure you should try and make alternative arrangements for the care of your child in order to cover any required presence on campus.  Where possible and agreed, you may be able to work from home for the remaining period.  Where you cannot work from home, please discuss the situation with your line manager to discuss and agree whether any alternative working arrangements can be put in place so that you can fulfil your contractual requirements, whilst also balancing the need to care for your child if no other care arrangements can be put in place.

If your child is self-isolating because they themselves are displaying symptoms of coronavirus, you and the rest of the household should immediately self-isolate and book a test for your child as soon as possible. If your role enables you to work from home and you are well enough to do so, you should undertake work remotely, agreed between you and your line manager. Where you cannot work from home you should obtain a self-isolation note.

What is a support bubble?

A support bubble is a close support network between a household with only one adult in the home (known as a single-adult household) and one other household of any size. Once you form a support bubble, you should not change who is in your bubble. Further information about support bubbles can be found in the guidance for making a support bubble with another household.

Once you’re in a support bubble, you can think of yourself as being in a single household with people from the other household. It means you can have close contact with that household as if they were members of your own household. 

What is a childcare bubble?

The introduction of childcare bubbles was announced by the Government on 21 September 2020.

A childcare bubble is where someone in one household can provide informal (i.e. unpaid and unregistered) childcare to a child aged 13 or under in another household. This must occur on an exclusive basis – i.e. it should always be the same two households. The Government recommends that a childcare support bubble is formed with another household which lives locally wherever possible. This will help to prevent the virus spreading from an area where there might be a higher rate of infection to one where the rates may be lower.

You can continue to use early years and childcare settings, including childminders and providers offering before or after school clubs or other out-of-school settings for children. You can also continue to employ nannies – see guidance on working safely in other people’s homes.

Children of parents who are separated can continue to move between households.

I live in an area of local restrictions. Are support and/or childcare bubbles allowed?

In areas of local restrictions, where households may be banned from mixing, there is an exemption to the effect that the following people can provide childcare support in private homes and gardens:

  • Registered childcare providers, including nannies
  • People who are in your support bubble
  • People who are in your childcare support bubble

However, friends or family who do not live with you and who are not part of a support or childcare bubble you have formed, must not visit your home to help with childcare, in areas of local restrictions.

As the situation with Covid-19 changes so rapidly, please ensure that you check the relevant restrictions where you are living in case there are any announcements that support and/or childcare bubbles are no longer exempt from inter household mixing.

7) Questions relating to employees taking annual leave UPDATED - 28 August, 10:00

Can I carry over unused annual leave to the next annual leave year?
The University has taken the decision, that on an exceptional basis, for the current annual leave year, we will increase the amount of annual leave that can be carried over from 5 days to 10 days. Ordinarily staff must take leave that is carried forward within the first 3 months of the start of the next holiday year, however on an exceptional basis, this period has been extended to 12 months for the 2020/21 holiday year.

I have bought additional annual leave which I cannot now use. What will happen to this?
Any bought additional annual leave which is unable to be taken in the current annual leave year, will be carried over on an exceptional basis to the next annual leave year. 

8) Questions relating to government advice on social distancing and self-isolation UPDATED - 17 September 10:00

Where can I find out more about social distancing?
Further information regarding social distancing is available on the government website.

Where can I find out more about self-isolation?
Further information regarding self-isolation is available on the government website and specific FAQs are detailed in the Test, Trace and Protect area of the University’s Covid-19 website, accessible here.

English is not my first language, where can I find translated information?
The government has a dedicated webpage where full, up to date information can be found regarding Covid-19 which has been translated into many languages.

9) Questions relating to Dubai UPDATED - 19 March, 15:00

I am a member of staff based at the UoB Dubai campus, does this all apply to me?
The UK and Dubai campus are working closely together but the in country situation is different. For up to date information on Dubai, please go to the Dubai FAQs.

10) Questions relating to sponsored employees/researchers under Tiers 2 and 5 UPDATED - 17 September 10:00

I am a new/existing staff member and will be entering/returning to the UK. Do I need to self-isolate? 
From 8 June, there have been new rules in place for entering the UK because of Covid-19 (coronavirus). The rules are for residents and visitors. When these rules are in place, you will:

  • need to provide your journey and contact details when you travel to the UK
  • not be allowed to leave the place you’re staying for the first 14 days you’re in the UK except in very limited situations (known as ‘self-isolating’)

You do not need to do these things now. But you should check the latest public health advice on coronavirus before you travel, or if you’ve just arrived in the UK.

For further information and the latest government advice on travelling to the UK please access the Visas and Immigration guidance

I wish to return to my home country – what implications does this have on my visa?
We may need to report this to the Home Office and/or withdraw sponsorship. Please contact the HR Immigration Team via the HR Service Portal for further guidance.

I am a sponsored worker and have an absence due to Covid-19 (coronavirus) – will this affect my visa?
The Home Office latest guidance confirms that it will not take enforcement action against sponsors who continue to sponsor workers absent due to coronavirus. Such authorised absences do not need to be reported to the UKVI – that could be due to illness, self-isolation or inability to travel due to travel restrictions. Please inform your line manager and the HR Immigration Team via the HR Service Portal of any absences, so that a record can be kept for UKVI audit purposes.

I am a visa holder in the UK and my leave expires between 24 January 2020 and 31 July 2020?
If you had a visa that expired between 24 January 2020 and 31 July 2020 you were able to request an extension if you were not able to return home because of travel restrictions or self-isolation related to coronavirus (Covid-19).

Now travel restrictions are lifting globally you will no longer be able to extend your visa automatically on this basis and you are expected to take all reasonable steps to leave the UK where it is possible to do so or apply to regularise your stay in the UK.

For further information and the latest Home Office position in relation to this please access the Covid-19 immigration guidance

If you have any immigration queries related to coronavirus, please email the Coronavirus Immigration Help Centre. Please note your email must be in English. 

11) Questions relating to apprenticeships UPDATED - 22 September 12:00

I am an apprentice – does the employee guidance apply to me?
Yes, as an apprentice you are an employee of the University and therefore the FAQs for employees refer to you.

Will my one to ones with the Apprenticeship Scheme Manager continue?
At least until the Christmas break, one to ones with the Apprenticeship Scheme Manager will not take place face to face. However, alternative arrangements have be made via teams. Please do your best to attend these meetings and update the Apprenticeship Scheme Manager if you are not able to attend.

What will happen to my off the job training?
All of our providers are now set up for remote delivery of your training. This should now be set up or you have details of when it will be set up by. If you do not have this information please contact the Apprenticeship Scheme Manager.

Because apprenticeship off the job training must then link in with what you do in the workplace there may still be a requirement for some apprentices to take a break in learning. Should this be required the Apprenticeship Scheme Manager will discuss this with you. If you feel that due to the circumstances you need a break in learning please discuss this with your line manager and the Apprenticeship Scheme Manager.

The Apprenticeship Scheme Manager will continue to pass on information to managers and apprentices as and when this is available.

Is my assessor permitted to visit me on campus?
Please follow the steps below before arranging any meetings on campus with your assessor.

Step one:
Determine whether the visit needs to be face to face, or can it be done remotely (via skype, Zoom, Teams etc.) Until at least January remotely would be the preference. Please liaise with the apprentice and line manager to arrange.

Step two:
If it is deemed that a face to face meeting is essential:

  • Can the meeting take place outdoors on campus where social distancing of 2m can be maintained? If so, please liaise directly with the apprentice and line manager to arrange. Clearly this may prove difficult as we head into winter.
  • Could the apprentice attend the college, if so please discuss with the apprentice and line manager and send me the relevant risk assessment from the college.

Step three:
If this visit must take place in the apprentice’s building on campus:

  • Agree date / time of visit with apprentice and line manager.
  • Line manager to discuss and agree meeting in advance with the building manager.
  • Building risk assessment to be sent to the assessor in advance.
  • Assessor to be met at the entrance by the apprentice and escorted to the relevant room, maintaining social distancing with appropriate mitigations if necessary. (Room should stay within new capacity).
  • Line manager to provide information on building/campus induction for the assessor prior to the visit.
  • Assessor to be aware that in all buildings if 2m social distancing cannot be maintained then face coverings need to be worn (unless assessor is exempt from wearing one).

What will happen to my end point assessment?
Any delay to this will be determined with your training provider and is under regular review on a case by case basis. The government have introduced a number of flexibilities to enable end point assessment to take place remotely and your training provider will discuss this with you no later than four months before the end of your apprenticeship.

How will I continue to get experience in the workplace?
If you are not back on campus regularly, please continue to engage with your line manager in the first instance about what you can do to support the team during the restricted opening of campus and ensure you check your email regularly.

I am an apprentice and have been furloughed. Do I have to go on a break in learning?
This will depend upon the course you are studying and will be determined on a case by case basis with your training provider, line manager and Apprenticeship Scheme Manager.

If you are not on a break in learning but are furloughed you are permitted to continue with any off the job training that does not have a direct benefit to the University. You may also continue to receive one to ones with the Apprenticeship Scheme Manager so long as these only focus on your wellbeing and off the job training.

12) Questions relating to Worklink UPDATED - 19 March, 15:00

Where can I find out more about Worklink queries related to Coronavirus? 
Worklink have a separate set of FAQs relating to contractual queries for their workers, which are available on the Worklink section

13) Questions relating to Furlough UPDATED - 17 September 10:00

I am an employee who has been furloughed. What is the impact of this on my contract and terms and conditions of employment?
You remain an employee of the University and there is no change to your terms and conditions of employment during the furlough period.

How long will furlough last? 
The length of your furlough period will be detailed in your letter confirming the arrangement. If there is any change to your furlough period, you will receive a further letter.

What pay will I receive whilst being furloughed?
Staff will continue to receive 100% of their regular pay through the payroll.  The University will reclaim 80% of your regular pay from the government. 

What comprises regular pay?
Regular pay includes your basic salary, and where applicable Compulsory Guaranteed Overtime and/or Compulsory Guaranteed Shift Pay. Your pay will be subject to the normal deductions for tax and national insurance and your pension contributions.

Can I still take annual leave whilst on furlough?
Yes, you can still take annual leave whilst you are furloughed. Please ensure that your line manager is aware if there are any periods whilst you are on furlough that you will be on annual leave.

What can I do whilst furloughed?
Whilst furloughed you cannot undertake any work for the University. Whilst furloughed, it is for you to decide how to spend your time.

Can I work for another employer?
Under the terms of the CJRS, there is nothing to prevent someone who has been furloughed from seeking secondary employment. However, as you remain an employee of the University and bound by your terms and conditions of employment, should you wish to seek secondary employment, you can only do so by complying with any authorisation process set out in your terms and conditions of employment. You must discuss and agree this with your Line Manager.

Can I undertake training whilst furloughed?
Yes, you can undertake some self-directed training whilst being furloughed eg. you could access LinkedIn learning.  However you cannot undertake any University directed training.

Can I volunteer whilst furloughed?
Yes, you can undertake volunteering whilst being furloughed.

14) Questions relating to this year's academic promotion round UPDATED - 28 August, 10:00

What changes have been made to this year's academic promotion round?We are keen to align our academic titles with those typically adopted worldwide (and increasingly so by institutions within the UK).  As such, we intend to introduce the titles of Assistant Professor and Associate Professor to replace Lecturer and Senior Lecturer respectively - from September 2021.  We have also decided to withdraw the title of Reader for new appointees from September 2021. The Reader title will only be retained for existing Readers and a final opportunity to apply for a Readership will be afforded during the 2020 academic promotions round.   

In addition, the current situation may have hampered some academic colleagues’ ability to prepare their cases for promotion, and, as a result, we have decided to extend the window in which applications can be submitted. The relevant submission dates for all promotions applications (including SL/SRF, Reader, Professor and banding/rebanding) will be announced in colleges in due course. 

Despite the delayed submissions date, we will work to conclude the process within the normal timescale as best we can.  The University understands that the impact of current circumstances can, for some, extend far beyond simply a delay in writing the application and we remain committed to ensuring equality of opportunity for all as outlined in our promotion guidance.

Whilst this guidance does not specifically address the issue of Covid-19, it provides an appropriate framework to enable applications to be assessed.  Thus, if any staff feel that their application has been considerably impacted by the current events, they are strongly encouraged to include an Individual Circumstances element on to their application detailing any circumstances which have affected the application and outlining the impact that these may have had. 

For any questions, please contact your line manager or HR Business Partner.

15) Questions relating to pay negotiations, discretionary pay schemes and salary increments UPDATED - 28 August, 10:00

Will I receive my contractual increment this year?
The University has committed to pay the contractual increments for eligible staff due in either August or October.

Will pay negotiations continue this year?
Given the uncertainties for the next financial year, the University will not be in a position to discuss pay with the support staff unions until late summer at the earliest, and the unions have agreed with this timetable.  At national level negotiators (as instructed by their member Universities) have not been able to offer an uplift the Academic and Academic-related payscales in 2021.  The University will continue to honour incremental pay rises.   

Will other discretionary pay schemes go ahead this year?
The University will not be able to make any announcement about discretionary pay schemes until the early autumn 2020 at the earliest. 

16) Questions relating to travelling abroad for business UPDATED - 28 August, 11:00

Am I able to travel abroad on University business?
You should follow the current guidance provided by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO).   If still deemed necessary, your trip should be signed off at Head of College or Senior Officer level.  You should be aware of the rules relating to quarantine when arriving back in the UK and therefore should discuss with your manager the impact of the quarantine rules on your ability to fulfil your role and agree how this will be managed on your return.

17) Questions relating to travelling abroad for personal reasons UPDATED - 28 August, 11:00

Am I able to travel abroad for personal reasons?
The government’s current advice is that only essential international travel should be undertaken.  However, travel to some countries is exempted from that advice. You should take note of this and not travel to a country which is not exempt unless that travel is essential.  If you need to travel to a country which is not exempt you should discuss the impact of the quarantine rules with your manager and HR in advance so you can agree how you will fulfil your role on your return. 

I am on holiday abroad and the UK has just announced the need to quarantine on my return.
Where the advice changes part way through a holiday abroad and you will need to self-isolate on your return you should follow that advice.  Members of your household do not need to self-isolate unless they travelled on the holiday as well or they develop symptoms of coronavirus.  This period will be paid at full pay.  If you can work at home during quarantine you should do so. 

18) Questions relating to face coverings UPDATED - 28 September, 10:00

The reasons for using face coverings
Coronavirus (COVID-19) usually spreads by droplets from coughs, sneezes and speaking. These droplets can also be picked up from surfaces, if you touch a surface and then your face without washing your hands first. This is why social distancing, regular hand hygiene, and covering coughs and sneezes is so important in controlling the spread of the virus1 along with “good ventilation of indoor spaces” which “will dilute and remove virus in the air.3

The best available scientific evidence is that, when used correctly, wearing a face covering may reduce the spread of coronavirus droplets in certain circumstances, helping to protect others.1

Because face coverings are mainly intended to protect others, not the wearer, from coronavirus (COVID-19) they are not a replacement for social distancing and regular hand washing.1

What is a face covering?
A face covering is something which safely covers the nose and mouth. The University will be providing a washable, branded face covering to every member of staff and student when they return to campus and you can buy reusable or single-use face coverings.2 You may also use a scarf, bandana, religious garment or hand-made cloth covering but these must securely fit round the side of the face.1

Face coverings are not classified as PPE (personal protective equipment) which is used in a limited number of settings to protect wearers against hazards and risks1, such as in clinical settings, like a hospital, or in a small handful of other roles, for example, occupational health clinical services and for first aiders.2

Face coverings are instead largely intended to protect others, not the wearer, against the spread of infection because they cover the nose and mouth, which are the main confirmed sources of transmission of virus that causes coronavirus infection (COVID-19).1

Cloth face coverings are likely to have some benefit in reducing the risk of aerosol transmission3

What is a face visor?
Clear visors cover the face (and typically provides a barrier between the wearer and others from respiratory droplets caused by sneezing, coughing or speaking). They should cover the forehead, extend below the chin, and wrap around the side of the face. Both disposable and re-usable visors are available.4

Face shields/visors are likely to be effective at protecting the wearer from exposure to large droplets, and unlike face coverings also provide protection for exposure through the eyes”.

“Face shields/visors are unlikely to be an effective control for aerosol transmission”. 3  

 

It is important to note that face coverings/visors referred to in the Guidance on Covid-adapted teaching for 2020-21 represent one of the many mitigations measures that are in place for teaching. However, they are NOT PPE in this context. Both face coverings and visors are provided and it is up to the individual to decide whether to wear either a face covering or a visor (or indeed both).

For further information please see the links below:

  1. https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/face-coverings-when-to-wear-one-and-how-to-make-your-own/face-coverings-when-to-wear-one-and-how-to-make-your-own
  2. https://intranet.birmingham.ac.uk/staff/documents/staff/campus/21241-%e2%80%93-Social-distancing-general-guidance-%e2%80%93-A4-AW2-accessible.pdf
  3. https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/907587/s0643-nervtag-emg-role-aerosol-transmission-covid-19-sage-48.pdf
  4. https://www.gov.uk/guidance/working-safely-during-coronavirus-covid-19/close-contact-services

 

Questions for line managers

1) Questions relating to return to campus conversations UPDATED - 17 September 10:00

What should I do if during a return to campus discussion, the staff member raises EDI related concerns?
It is important that any concerns regarding a return to working on campus, whatever those concerns may be related to or arise from, are discussed between the line manager and staff member. The return to campus discussion provides a confidential framework where both parties can talk through any concerns and put in place mitigating actions or measures where appropriate and agreed.

The line manager plays a key role in providing information and reassurance to the member of staff in order to facilitate and assist a return to the workplace. Further support is available from HR and Occupational Health (for any health related concerns).

The Return to Work Guidance outlines the role of the manager and sets out a number of groups of staff who may have concerns about the return to working on campus.  It also sets out the considerations that should be taken into account so is a good source of information for managers.

There are generic measures which it may be helpful to implement in order to assist a return to working on campus, which may be helpful in addressing a number of concerns:

  • Follow the Return to Work Guidance in respect of groups identified
  • Be vigilant in supporting a Covid-safe workplace
  • Where possible, allow flexibility in working hours – this may be requested for a variety of reasons, for example, caring responsibilities, travelling limitations or to allow time for prayer
  • Discuss and where appropriate, have a blended approach to presence on campus during Autumn term – and review
  • Identify any other reasonable measures you can put in place with your member of staff
  • Allow staff to take the exceptional two days’ paid dependants’ leave in Autumn Term if they need it
  • Review existing PEEPs and reasonable adjustments agreements – change as appropriate
  • Note the University continues to support staff through full pay in situations such as local lockdowns, and with full sick pay if they contract Covid-19
  • Flag up to staff that we now have the Sunflower scheme if they wish to do so. However, please note that this is not mandatory and there are some staff who are unable to wear a covering, who may choose not to wear a sunflower lanyard

If there are specific concerns which will not be addressed by the measures mentioned above, advice and guidance should be sought from HR who can work with both the line manager and staff member in order to try and facilitate a return to working on campus.

2) Questions relating to sick pay and payment for members of staff during self-isolation UPDATED - 19 March, 15:00

Please refer to the sick pay section outlined in the staff FAQs.  

3) Questions relating to recording staff sickness absence relating to Covid-19 UPDATED - 08 June, 11:00

Will absence from work be recorded?
Yes the University will need to keep a record of absence related to Covid-19, including absences related to self-isolation, where the individual is unable or too unwell to work from home. However absences related to the virus will be discounted for the purposes of absence management, however, this position will be kept under ongoing review.

How do I record Covid-19 related absence for members of staff in my team?
Please do not record this absence in Core Systems.
 Instead you should provide this information to the designated point of contact within your College/Department as soon as possible. The University will be required to report to government bodies on absence related to Covid-19 so it is important this information is fed through in a timely manner.

What is the key information I need to collect if a member of staff contacts me to report a Covid-19 related absence?
If the individual is not well enough to work, or cannot work from home, please ensure that the HR Covid-19 Absence Tracker is completed. If a staff member reports that they have symptoms of Covid-19, please ensure that the Line Manager guide for managing suspected cases is adhered to.

Do I need to report changes in the reason for absence? 
Yes, if the Covid-19 related reason for absence changes because of suspected or confirmed coronavirus you need to report this to your designated point of contact as soon as possible.  

4) Questions relating to wellbeing UPDATED - 19 March, 15:00

For questions relating to wellbeing and those members of staff with underlying health conditions, please refer to the Wellbeing section of the staff FAQs.

5) Questions relating to recruitment UPDATED - 17 September 10:00

How can new starters access Core Systems?
Core Systems can be accessed via remote access here: http://uobcore.bham.ac.uk

All Canvas training can be accessed here: https://canvas.bham.ac.uk/courses/30113

I have a new recruitment requirement - how do I obtain approval?
Due to the current Covid-19 situation, all Professional Services (Central and College) vacancies, and posts currently in the recruitment process, have been placed on hold.

All recruitment requests are to be submitted for review to your College Post Approval Group or your Senior Officer for professional services.

Types of vacancy
All vacancies are covered by this; open-ended posts, fixed term appointments, temporary/agency staff, secondments (new or extensions), acting up-arrangements, core or externally funded, irrespective of grade. 

Approval Process:
Professional Services roles
Exceptionally, a case may be made to proceed with recruitment if the post is:
1.       critical to managing the Covid-19 emergency
2.       critical to the University’s recovery from Covid-19.

All requests for appointments are to be considered by the Head of Budget Centre against the criteria above and submitted to the Registrar and Secretary for final approval, and the request should also detail the total cost of the appointment.  If approved the decision will be communicated by the Registrar and Secretary to the HR and Finance Business Partners for action.

For College based Professional Services roles, the request, following CPAG consideration, should be submitted by the College Director of Operations for approval by the Academic Registrar with subsequent submission to the Registrar and Secretary for approval if appropriate.

Academic Posts
All new core funded posts should be presented to CPAG in the usual manner, and if approved by CPAG, will require approval from the Provost via the Head of College.

All (wholly) externally funded Academic posts can proceed as usual.  But please do so with some caution as the global environment may change the position for some of our funding bodies – you can proceed but should do so where there is confidence that the money will follow.

I have already made a verbal offer to a candidate and they have accepted, can a formal offer be issued?
The University aims to honour all offers of employment already made.

For recruitment that is currently in progress verbal offers should not be made unless confirmed approval for the recruitment to continue has been received.

How do I complete right to work checks if by Skype?
Right to work documentation can be accepted as a scanned copy fully verified (sign and dated), follow up procedures will be implemented to ensure original documentation is obtained when possible.

Will there be a delay with pre-employment checks?
The majority of pre-employment checks are conducted online and these should continue as normal.

For roles where face to face appointments or ID is required for verification such as occupational health clinics or DBS, risk assessments should be utilised in these circumstances and will be monitored by the recruitment team.

6) Questions relating to Worklink UPDATED - 19 March, 15:00

 Please refer to the Worklink section for further details.

7) Questions relating to annual leave UPDATED - 08 June, 11:00

Please refer to the annual leave section of the staff FAQs for further details.

8) Questions relating to supporting staff returning to campus UPDATED - 17 September 10:00

What can I do to support my staff returning to work on campus?
The University is required to take reasonably practicable steps to protect staff and therefore you should ask your staff who are returning if they have any concerns and the Return to Campus Discussion form should be completed. This will detail any agreed adjustments to their work, working pattern, or working environment.  If the individual  does have concerns, these should be discussed and any mitigating actions agreed and recorded.  If the individual was previously shielding, they should be referred to Occupational Health prior to returning to work on campus. Occupational Health can assist with an assessment if managers require help. Assistance is also available from your HR Advisory team.

What is my role in supporting my staff back to working on campus?
You have an important role in discussing the return to working on campus with your staff before they return. This is so that you can identify whether staff have concerns about returning, particularly where these are linked to health issues which may raise their level of risk. Where there is a potential of increased risk you also have an important role in identifying and documenting the plan to mitigate these risks, by discussing and agreeing these with your member of staff.

How do I have the conversation with staff returning to work on campus?
You will need to give staff time to express their feelings about returning to campus. Some staff will have faced their own health issues during the pandemic, or bereavement amongst friends or family.  Staff who have underlying health conditions or who are from an ethnic minority background or who are older may feel particularly anxious about a return. Therefore, a sensitive conversation which gives staff time to talk and for you to listen is particularly important. Open questions such as “how have you been during the lockdown” and “how are you feeling about returning to work on campus” may help kickstart the conversation. The key is asking how they are, whether they have any anxieties and discussing how these may be overcome. You should also be aware that their anxieties may lie beyond themselves and be for their family or friends, or others who they live with.

Questions relating to phased campus reopening

1) How will campus reopening affect me? UPDATED - 28 August, 11:00

The campus reopening programme is working to reopen buildings in a safe, prioritised and controlled manner.  The majority of buildings will be open by 14 September 2020. 

2) Do I need written authorisation to be allowed on campus? UPDATED - 17 September 10:00

Your line manager will write or email you with a letter advising you of your planned return to campus. You will be asked to watch and complete the online training module on social distancing before you return to campus and will be required to watch the return to campus video before you return.

3) Can I come on to campus to have a meeting with someone who is working back on campus? UPDATED - 17 September 10:00

No, not at the moment.  Only those staff who are authorised to be on campus to work during the current Phase of operations are allowed on campus. For the time being you will have to continue with virtual meetings on Zoom or Microsoft Teams.

4) What is being done to ensure campus complies with government regulations? UPDATED - 03 July, 13:00

As set out in the Campus Reopening Framework, there are a number of ‘readiness essentials’ that must be met to allow a building to open. These will include pre-return inspections on water systems, fire alarms, ventilation and air conditioning as well as health and safety checks, checks on building reception points, lifts, restocking of consumables and a review of receipt of deliveries and visitor policies etc. to ensure that the building is safe to reopen. There must also be a social distancing plan developed for each building – informed by a building-specific risk assessment that considers access, flow and traffic patterns for the building (both internal and external), signs and floor markings may need to be installed as well as a focus on the reduction of the touchpoints within the building on doors. All of this will be supported by increased and documented cleaning/sanitisation.

5) How will you make sure staff who are on campus are safe? UPDATED - 03 July, 13:00

The University will conduct individual building risk assessments before each building on campus reopens and then will conduct risk assessments on an ongoing basis. As part of these assessments, the University has taken into account Government guidance in respect of measures which should be adopted in different workplace settings and the University has put in place measures to ensure that staff feel as safe and protected as they possibly can whilst on campus. It is recognised that the workplace after lockdown will look considerably different to that prior to lockdown in March 2020 and that this is likely to be unsettling for staff initially. The University will continue to review the measures it has put in place and change or amend these as necessary to ensure that campus is as safe a place as possible for the whole University community. To assure staff on their safe return to campus there is a wealth of information – return to work videos, campus social distancing arrangements etc. on the staff intranet.

6) Will I have to wear a face mask/face covering on campus? UPDATED - 17 September 10:00

As an additional measure to support a safe return to campus the University will be providing every member of staff and every student with a washable, branded, face covering when they return to campus in September. We have taken advice from colleagues in MDS on this issue and followed their guidance on the type of face covering. A very helpful video on how to use face coverings by Professor KK Cheng can be found here.

While the use of face coverings when outside is a personal choice, the wearing of face coverings is mandated in all buildings (including teaching spaces) where 2 metre distancing is not possible,

There are some buildings/locations (such as labs and corridors) where 1m+ social distancing means face coverings would be required as one of a number of important mitigating factors. In these circumstances, the requirement to wear face coverings as a mitigation will be determined as part of the local risk and health and safety plan for the building in question and this requirement will be communicated to the staff, students and visitors that use those buildings. We will continue to monitor government guidance on face coverings and update this policy as appropriate.

7) What social distancing measures are being put in place on campus? UPDATED - 17 September 10:00

The University is putting in place the following measures to enforce social distancing as much as possible: changing entry and exit points of buildings to manage the flow of people accessing buildings; marking 2m intervals in heavily used thoroughfares, ensuring desks are spaced 2m apart and also restricting the number of people in the workplace at any one time.  It is likely that many of the homeworking arrangements in existence now will remain in existence in some form for the foreseeable future. Information regarding the University approach to social distancing can be found on the staff intranet.

8) How will the University make sure that shared spaces like kitchens, toilets, stairs and lifts are safe for staff to use? UPDATED - 03 July, 13:00

The University will ensure that shared spaces are cleaned thoroughly and regularly throughout the day. Furthermore, hand sanitiser and cleaning wipes will be available, should staff wish to clean any surfaces themselves prior to using them. These spaces will form part of the building risk assessment and the social distancing arrangements that are implemented before buildings reopen.

9) I am shielding, do I have to come back to campus? UPDATED - 03 July, 13:00

Please see questions in section relating to Health and Wellbeing. 

10) I live with or care for someone who is shielding, do I have to come back to campus? UPDATED - 03 July, 13:00

Please see questions in section relating to Health and Wellbeing. 

11) I am not shielding (have not received a letter from the government) but I am worried about returning to campus because I think I am at a higher risk from Covid-19? UPDATED - 03 July, 13:00

Please see questions in section relating to Health and Wellbeing. 

12) I rely on public transport to travel to campus and am anxious about having to catch the bus/train to get to work. UPDATED - 03 July, 13:00

Please speak to your line manager in the first instance. The University will support staff wherever possible to try travelling at different times of the day to avoid peak hours and to ensure that staff are as comfortable as they can be using public transport. Information regarding public transport and social distancing measures etc. will be updated on the staff intranet site.

13) Do employees who are self-isolating have a letter from the government? UPDATED - 03 July, 13:00

Please see questions in the section relating to Health and Wellbeing. 

14) Does the University require employees who have an underlying health condition to come onto campus? UPDATED - 03 July, 13:00

Please see questions in the section relating to Health and Wellbeing. 

15) Will the University still pay sick pay whilst an employee is self-isolating? UPDATED - 28 August, 11:00

Please see section relating to sick pay.

16) Will Covid-19 related absence count towards University sick pay entitlement? UPDATED - 28 August, 11:00

Please see section relating to sick pay.

17) Will Support Staff on probation get sick pay if they're on Covid-19 related sick leave? UPDATED - 28 August, 10:30

Please see section relating to sick pay.

18) Will employees need to provide a fit note (sick note) for coronavirus related absence? UPDATED - 17 September 10:00

Please see section relating to sick pay.

19) What’s happening with campus parking charges and how will I get a refund? UPDATED - 05 June, 13:00

From the 1 June, campus parking charges have been reinstated for those staff returning to campus as part of the phased reopening. Those staff who have had a salary deduction but have not been authorised to come onto campus since Restricted Operations will eligible for a refund. We will share more information about how to get that refund as soon as possible.

20) What measures can the University take to help my return to campus? UPDATED - 07 July, 17:00

Managers can agree arrangements such as: 

  • Work being organised to limit the number of work contacts staff will have during the day
  • Staggering start and end times to reduce footfall at the start and end of the working day
  • Relocating workplace
  • Walking or cycling to work (and possibly adjusting hours to accommodate this)
  • Avoiding common areas such as kitchens
  • Encouraging the use of face coverings inside of inside buildings where it is difficult to maintain social distancing. There are some buildings/locations (such as labs and corridors) where 1m+ social distancing means face coverings would be required as one of a number of important mitigating factors
  • Reducing the size of the group you usually work in
  • Providing a single office as appropriate 

21) What do I do if my child is sent home from school in a class or year ‘bubble’ and I don’t have other childcare?UPDATED - 17 September 10:00

If a member of staff has a child who is required to self-isolate because of a school/class closure we would expect them to try to make alternative arrangements in order to cover any required presence on campus and to work from home, if possible, for the remaining period.  

Colleges

Professional Services