The University has received numerous requests for clarification on whether the principle of “best endeavours” will apply during this period of national lockdown, and if so, how it will be defined and applied. The following guidance has therefore been developed in order to try and articulate further how the University expects the principle of “best endeavours” to be applied, noting that this period of national lockdown is markedly different to that in March 2020 when all childcare facilities were closed.
We recognise the challenges of this new national lockdown on staff; it is difficult for everyone, some more than others and for a variety of reasons – whether due to childcare concerns, mental health considerations or general anxiety about the current situation regarding COVID-19. The University is committed to being as supportive and flexible as it possibly can be in order to support staff through this difficult period, but at the same time, must ensure that such flexibility is balanced with the need to maintain the ongoing operations of the University including delivering and supporting our teaching and research, and supporting our students whether that is achieved through on campus or home working.
If a member of staff is concerned that they will struggle to fulfil their contractual hours and/or duties in their normal manner during the period of national lockdown, i.e. working their normal times/days of the week, they should speak to their line manager as soon as possible in order to discuss and arrive at a set of “agreed expectations”.
Such expectations are likely to vary between employees, dependent on different job roles, requirements and demands of the job and their home circumstances but would be predicated on expecting the majority of their work obligations to be met.
It is anticipated that there may be a need for priorities to be established as part of the agreed expectations. Such agreed expectations may also include that that work is delivered at different times of the day, or in some cases different days of the week in order to accommodate exceptional circumstances which may have arisen during lockdown. It is open to the line manager and individual to explore any other options which may be relevant, dependent on the nature and requirements of the role.
It is important that colleagues collectively work together and where necessary, are flexible in their approach to how their role might typically be fulfilled. This is a challenging time for everyone and the continued support, commitment, and dedication of staff is recognised and appreciated.