Staff frequently asked questions
Answers to some of the most frequently asked questions for staff and doctoral researchers.
The University recognises that the coronavirus outbreak is unprecedented and therefore special, non-contractual measures are being implemented to support staff and workers with the various circumstances that may arise as a result of the outbreak.
The University reserves the right to alter the arrangements contained in these FAQs as required. You are encouraged to check this website regularly in order to keep up to date with latest advice. If you have any queries that are not covered by the FAQs, please contact your manager or HR Partner in the first instance.
The University does not tolerate any forms of discrimination or harassment and wishes to remind all staff, workers and students that any such behaviour as a result of coronavirus is equally not acceptable.
Will the university make me have a vaccine?
We will not be making it compulsory for staff to have a vaccine but we do strongly encourage staff to have it. If you are given a vaccination appointment during your normal working day, you may take reasonable time off to travel to and from the vaccination centre. You will not be required to make up this time. We would ask, however, that you inform your manager or supervisor of your appointment as soon as you can, so that they can make the necessary arrangements to cover your work if appropriate. If you are able to book your own appointment, please try to book it at the beginning or end of your working day to avoid disruption as much as possible.
Although we want to encourage staff to have the vaccine, we also recognise that it is a matter of personal choice. We will not tolerate any negative behaviour towards any member of staff who chooses not to have a vaccine. Regardless of whether or not you have had a vaccine, we will expect everyone to continue complying with the social distancing rules and testing requirements.
Self-isolation and quarantine
I have been diagnosed with Covid-19. What should I do?
You should notify the University’s Connect and Protect service that you have tested positive. If you are unwell you should report your sickness absence in accordance with your School / Professional Service procedure. If you are well and able to work you should work from home as best you can. If you have been working on campus, we will ensure that we maintain confidentiality in line with our legal obligations, however, we will advise close colleagues who may be particularly vulnerable to the virus so that they can make any appropriate arrangements.
I have started displaying symptoms of Covid-19. What do I need to do?
You should self-isolate immediately. Get tested as soon as possible, contact the University’s Connect and Protect service, and inform your line manager that you are self-isolating. If you feel well, you should work remotely to the best of your abilities. If you are ill and unable to work, you should report your sickness normally.
I live with, or have had close contact with someone who is displaying symptoms of Covid-19. What do I need to do?
You should self-isolate immediately and not return to campus until the individual has been tested and had results back. Close contact is defined here. During this period, you should work remotely to the best of your abilities. There is no need for anyone you have had contact with to self-isolate, unless they have had close contact with the same individual.
If their test comes back positive, you must continue to self-isolate for the remainder of the 10-day period which started when the symptoms of the person you live with started. Do not book a test and you do not need to notify the University’s Connect and Protect service unless you begin to display symptoms yourself.
If you do develop symptoms in this 10-day period, you must self-isolate for 10 days from when you started showing symptoms. Book a test and contact the University’s Connect & Protect service. Inform your line manager that you are having to self-isolate for a further 10 days. If you feel well, you should continue to work remotely to the best of your abilities. If you are ill, you need to report your sickness normally.
Please see the Government website for further information.
I have been advised by the UK’s Track and Trace service / the NHS app that I need to self-isolate, what do I need to do?
You must self-isolate as required and inform your line manager that you are isolating. If you are well enough, you should work remotely to the best of your abilities and will be deemed not to be taking sick leave.
I have unexpected caring responsibilities as a result of a self-isolation occurrence. What should I do?
We know that colleagues will do the best they can to balance their work commitments with caring responsibilities, and will seek to make arrangements that allow them to continue work to the best of their abilities, whilst supporting those they care for. Prioritise teaching or student facing activities where possible and have a conversation with your line manager on how this can be best achieved.
Please speak to your line manager or discipline lead in the first instance. Guidance can also be sought from the University’s Connect and Protect team.
What happens if I have to quarantine following a holiday or travel abroad?
If you decide to travel abroad and have to quarantine on your return to the UK, you will be expected to take annual leave or unpaid leave for this period. You should discuss your travel plans with your line manager in order to obtain permission for the extended annual leave or unpaid leave before you travel. If you are able to work from home for all or part of the period, this can be agreed with your line manager before you travel. If you are required to attend the campus to work, e.g. to deliver teaching, you must ensure that any travel plans you have allow you to have completed any quarantine period before the work is scheduled to commence.
Working on campus
Do I have to have a test if I am working on campus?
We are strongly encouraging staff to have at least one Covid test each week if they are attending campus to work for any duration, including colleagues who have been vaccinated. If your lateral flow test is positive, you will need to take a confirmatory PCR test.
We recognise that there may be situations which make it difficult for some people to have a test. The following list provides examples of reasons why a staff member may be exempted from having a test:
- Having a positive covid test in the preceding 90 days
- A medical condition that means the way of testing (throat and nose) would cause serious discomfort or pain
- A mental health condition that means the way of testing (throat and nose) would cause harm or distress
If you have access to home tests, e.g. through your child’s school, you may be able to use these instead of attending the test centre.
Please discuss any reservations you might have about having tests with your manager so that they can support and advise you appropriately. However, if someone refuses to be tested without reasonable grounds for doing so, we may consider taking formal action against them as we believe that the testing programme is an important part of the university’s response to managing cases on campus.
Can I take a test off-campus instead?
If you would prefer to take a test at an alternative centre to the University one, you can do so. You can collect testing kits from the Testing Centre.
Should you choose to do this instead, we encourage you to take one test per week as stated above and ensure you log your results via the NHS app and via the University app. Please also keep a copy of your test result in case you should need it.
When will I know when I should return to the campus to work?
Your manager will speak to you about returning when it is appropriate for you to do so. Different colleagues will return at different times, with many staff blending working on campus and working from home. Managers will be putting rotas in place to enable shared workspaces to operate at a lower capacity than normal.
What safety measures have been put in place to make working on campus safe?
A range of health and safety measures are in place across campus to help everyone stay as safe as possible. See the Working Safely on Campus section for further details. We want everyone on our campuses to feel safe whatever they are doing, and you have a part to play too. Respect our social distancing requirements. Wash your hands thoroughly and frequently. Wear a face covering when required.
Why am I being required to wear a face covering and comply with social distancing requirements when the Government has relaxed them?
Although the Government has relaxed many of the restrictions put in place in response to the pandemic, we have reviewed our arrangements and risk assessments and concluded that we will be retaining the requirement to wear face coverings and most of the social distancing practices as a way of keeping the campus safe. We therefore expect all members of the university and all visitors to the university to comply with these arrangements.
Our face covering policy is available online.
I’ve taken equipment home while I’ve been working off campus – what do I do if I’m now splitting my time between campus and home?
Many colleagues are likely to have a period of dual location working, where they spend part of their week working from home and part working on campus. Having two workplaces may give rise to the need for additional equipment in order to make your workstation practical and safe. Where you are working across two locations the following should be taken into consideration prior to requesting additional equipment.
- Decide with your line manager where most of your work will be undertaken. This is, for this period, your primary workplace and in most instances, you should have your IT equipment set up here.
- Undertake a DSE assessment on your secondary workstation and identify any equipment that is not practical to transfer between locations.
- Consider whether equipment is available by sitting at a colleague’s desk. Shared desks should be kept clear and cleaned using cleaning materials provided (note that there is minimal risk from sharing office chairs. Further guidance on cleaning is available here.
- If specialist furniture is required (such as a chair or desk), or you use a desktop computer then one workplace needs to be selected to be properly equipped (dependent on circumstance this is likely to be on campus).
- If additional IT equipment is required, following your DSE assessment and discussion with your line manager, then this should be requested through the IT service desk. IT Services will support you in understanding your DSE requirements and will seek to reallocate spare stock across campus before procuring any new equipment. In most cases, equipment required will not directly replicate workstations across two locations (for example a docking station is likely only required at your primary workplace).
I have a disability, where can I seek support?
You can speak to your line manager. Alternatively you can obtain support from the University’s Occupational Health service.
You may also find it helpful to speak with colleagues from the Staff Inclusivity Group (supporting those who have a physical and hidden disability) who are available to offer support and signposting for all staff who have concerns and anxieties about returning to campus. Email email@example.com.
Can I work from home full time?
All eligible employees have the right to ask their employer to consider their proposal for flexible working conditions, which includes working from home. It is very unlikely that permanently working from home will be suitable in the University’s context regardless of how well it may have worked during the pandemic. However, working from home for a proportion of time may be acceptable and even beneficial. Please talk discuss this with your line manager. Information on the University’s flexible working policy is available on the HR website.
I am nervous about returning to campus or I would like to delay returning to work on campus. What should I do?
We recognise that there are many reasons why people may feel anxious or apprehensive about returning to work on campus. Please ensure that you discuss your concerns (and any personal circumstances) with your line manager.
Experiencing campus before activity levels build further may be a good way to phase a return. However, it is important that everyone gets used to being back on campus and we really want to ensure that we do this in a way that is as supportive as possible.
When can I return to campus?
You should plan to return to one of our campuses as soon you are able in order to fulfil the demands of the research programme, and in order to participate in the research culture of your School. We would usually expect you to be living within a reasonable commuting distance to one of our campuses, so that the distance / cost of travel does not impede you coming in regularly.
Before you visit campus, you are required to take a free and rapid Covid-19 lateral flow test. This will help us to avoid importing cases of Covid onto our campuses. You can book a test via the Connect and Protect form.
If you are a Student visa holder currently based outside of the UK and working remotely you should have received an email from the Doctoral College asking for your plans for returning to the UK. There will be some flexibly to offer remote registration beyond the start of the new academic year 2021/2022 but also an expectation that you plan to return to the UK as soon as you can. If you wish to discuss your circumstances in more detail please contact firstname.lastname@example.org
My research involves in-person data collection, or travel outside of the UK. What should I do?
Investigations involving human participants
Human participant work is starting to recommence on campus. You should
- Obtain ethical approval as normal (if approval had already been given before lockdown then proceed to step 2)
- Produce a risk assessment for the human participant work, including Covid19 associated risks and social distancing measures and safety controls
- All human participant work that can be carried out virtually MUST not be carried out in person (for example questionnaires) during National Lockdown/Tier 3 and 4
- Once step 1 and 2 have been approved, the approval is made by the Dean of the School
- These risk assessments need to be produced for all human participant research even if the work is classed as low risk such as carrying out questionnaires, surveys and where necessary one-to-ones.
- Risk assessments should be signed off by your School Safety Officer.
For low level human participant work just involving questionnaires, interviews etc the generic risk assessment template can be used.
For all other human participant work, the normal biological or School laboratory risk assessment will need to be used.
Travel outside of the UK
Doctoral researchers who wish to travel against FCO advice in order to conduct research outside of the UK will be required to complete a disclaimer. If this applies please email email@example.com for further information.
Can I travel outside of the UK to conduct fieldwork?
Doctoral researchers who wish to travel against FCO advice in order to conduct research outside of the UK will be required to complete a disclaimer. If this applies please email firstname.lastname@example.org for further information.
How will my progression be affected?
Doctoral researchers across our community have experienced disruption to normal working practices since the first lockdown. We have encouraged you to work with your supervisors to mitigate such disruption by reorganising tasks or adjusting your research programme wherever possible. To date, we have seen a range of creative and innovative solutions deployed so your research programme can progress to its original schedule.
If your personal circumstances, including caring responsibilities, or the nature of your research, mean that you have not been able to change your project plan or you feel that your progression has been significantly impacted by the pandemic, you may submit a mitigating circumstances form at the time of your next progression review board.
How will my stipend be affected?
If you are in receipt of a stipend and actively registered, the University will continue to pay your stipend. We have a small number of funded stipend extensions available for the 2021/2022 academic year for those who are completing R3 and have faced COVID disruption. Further details can be found on the Doctoral College website.
How will I complete my viva or submit my thesis?
We are able to offer vivas via video-conference or face to face. If your viva is approaching, you are advised to discuss your preference with your supervisors in the first instance. Schools have been issued with further guidance on conducting vivas which you may also find useful when considering your options.
We are only accepting electronic thesis submissions until further notice. Please contact the Doctoral College Office to discuss further.
Can I continue to take part in Doctoral College workshops and events?
Doctoral College workshops and events will be available through a number of routes, which will include online classes, on-demand resources, and face-to-face workshops and events. Face-to-face workshops and events will be undertaken subject to and in accordance with the University’s health and safety guidance as at the scheduled time of the event. Please see our training and events page for full details and links to the relevant resources.
What should I do if my supervisors fall ill?
If both your primary and secondary supervisor fall ill, or you are unable to contact them for a period of more than a week, please let your DDP or School administrator know so that we can check on everyone’s wellbeing.
The Doctoral College Office and Loughborough Doctoral College remain operational, albeit working largely remotely, therefore you should ideally contact us via the usual channels. Due to the volume of enquiries we are receiving there may be some delay in our response, and we ask for your patience.
Can I have a face-to-face supervision meeting?
- Given you should work from home if you are able to do so and should only come to campus if you cannot conduct your research activities off-site, online supervision is advisable at the current time.
- Continue to discuss how supervision takes place with your supervisors and be respectful of others’ wishes. Familiarise yourself with the University guidance on ‘How to say when it’s not OK’
- Although face-to-face supervision is not advisable during this third lockdown, the University is not prohibiting it if is conducted in a Covid secure way under current social distancing and health and safety advice.
- It is important to remember that online/virtual supervision meetings should be recorded in the same way as face-to-face meetings.
I am a doctoral researcher in financial hardship, what should I do?
If you are experiencing financial difficulty we encourage you to contact the Student Advice and Support Service for an appointment.
They can assist you in ensuring you are receiving all the statutory support that they may be entitled to, which in some cases will include doctoral loans or welfare benefits. They can also signpost you to relevant charitable trusts, help address debts, and if required, assist with your budgeting for the year.
They can also advise as to whether you may be eligible for support from the University’s hardship fund.
If you are a UK or EU student living in England, you may be eligible to apply for a UK Government doctoral loan to support the cost of your studies (up to £27,265in the 2021/22 academic year). The loan is suitable for full-time and part-time postgraduate research students undertaking programmes lasting up to eight years. Loan repayments will begin after you have completed your programme and have an annual income of over £21,000. Students from Wales also have access to government funding for postgraduate study.
I have additional caring responsibilities as a result of a closure of a nursery/school/day centre or other care facility and will struggle to work productively during lockdown. What should I do?
If your dependent is unwell with COVID or required to self-isolate we recognise that you might find it very difficult to work while caring for dependents, and we ask that you to do whatever you are able to do. If you are in receipt of a stipend and continue to work on your PhD this will be maintained, at the full rate, throughout the lockdown period.
Please ensure that you keep in close contact with your supervisors during this period. If you feel you are not able to continue with your research, you should discuss this with them as soon as possible. You may wish to submit a mitigating circumstances form at the next progression board if you feel your circumstances have been exceptional and there has been significant disruption to your PhD.
I have an employee or worker who has contracted the virus. What should I do?
Normal sickness absence reporting procedures apply here if the person is unwell and unable to work remotely. You may want to ensure that you have reminded all colleagues of the procedure.
You will need to consider how to communicate with the individual’s colleagues while maintaining confidentiality. Please discuss this with your HR Partner.
I have a member of staff who is refusing to come onto campus, but I need them to attend work. What should I do?
As the University is now fully open, it’s important to be clear at the outset that there may be occasions when people need to attend work.
In this situation, you should seek to establish whether there are any reasons why the individual is reluctant to attend campus, e.g. an undisclosed medical condition. If no such reason is identified, then you’ll need to explain to the individual that they are expected to attend campus and the reasons why. If they continue to refuse, you should seek the advice of your HR Partner.
I am concerned that an employee/worker is abusing the special and relaxed arrangements for working from home or obtaining medical fit notes. What should I do?
We very much hope that this isn’t the case but if you do have concerns, please contact your HR Partner to discuss them and agree appropriate action.
What do I need to do to ensure the safe working of my team as they return to campus?
The University has produced a Social Distancing Guidance document that you should read. Schools and Services have a range of checks and procedures to put in place in their facilities; your Operations Manager will be able to advise you about these.
I have a member of staff who wants to continue to work from home permanently. What do I do?
All eligible employees have the right to ask their employer to consider their proposal for flexible working conditions, which includes working from home. It is very unlikely that permanently working from home will be suitable in the University’s context. However, working from home for a proportion of time may be acceptable and even beneficial. Please talk to your HR Partner for further advice. Information on the University’s flexible working policy is available on the HR website.