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.

Vaccinations

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.

I have decided not to get vaccinated against Covid-19. What implications will this have for my job?

The decision as to whether to have the vaccine is a personal decision and the university is not requiring any staff member to be vaccinated as a condition of their employment.

However, your decision may have an impact on your role. For example, if you are not vaccinated you will need to continue to isolate for 10 days if you have been advised to do so by the Government’s Track and Trace Service and this may affect your ability to carry out your role, particularly if it can’t be done remotely. If you are asked to isolate you will be paid as though you are working for the first period of isolation. Any subsequent periods of isolation during which you cannot deliver your role in-person when required to do so will need to be taken from your annual leave entitlement or as unpaid leave.  

If you have not been vaccinated on the advice of a medical practitioner then you should discuss this with your line manager.

Self-isolation and quarantine

I have been diagnosed with Covid-19. What should I do?

If you are unwell, you should report your sickness absence in accordance with your School / Professional Service procedure and also inform the University's Connect and Protect service via the form available on the website.

If you feel well enough to work and are able to carry out your role remotely, you should discuss this with your manager in the first instance. If you are unable to work remotely, you will receive full pay while you are unable to attend campus. From 1st April, in line with Government guidance, if you have Covid you will need to take sick leave. 

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?

If you have had both vaccinations more than two weeks before the individual has developed symptoms then you don’t need to self-isolate. You will need to have a PCR test immediately and if this comes back as negative then you won’t need to isolate. If you test positive or develop symptoms yourself then you will need to isolate.

If you haven’t been vaccinated then 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.

 

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.

Caring responsibilities

What should I do if my child is sent home from school due to Covid (either because they have it or the school is closed due to staffing issues)?

We recognise that this is a challenging issue for families and want to support staff as much as possible. If your child doesn’t have covid we would ask you to try seek alternative childcare arrangements, where possible, to enable you to continue working. If this is not possible or if your child needs to isolate because they have Covid, and if your role can be done remotely, you should work at home as best you can. You should discuss your situation with your manager so that they can adjust deadlines or reallocate work as required. If you have a role that cannot be done remotely, then we will record you as working from home for the period that you are unable to come to work for this reason and you will continue to receive your pay as normal. We do not expect that any staff members will misuse these arrangements, but if it is found that an employee is doing so, disciplinary action may be taken.

 

Working on campus

Do I have to have a test if I am working on campus?

We are strongly encouraging staff to take a Covid test twice a week if they are attending campus to work for any duration, including colleagues who have been vaccinated.

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 oneyou 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.

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 staffinclusivitygroup@lboro.ac.uk.

Working remotely

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.

Doctoral researchers

My research involves in-person data collection, or travel outside of the UK. What should I do?

  1. Investigations involving human participants

    Human participant work is starting to recommence on campus. You should

    1. Obtain ethical approval as normal (if approval had already been given before lockdown then proceed to step 2)
    2. Produce a risk assessment for the human participant work, including Covid19 associated risks and social distancing measures and safety controls
    3. 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
    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 pgresearch@lboro.ac.uk 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 pgresearch@lboro.ac.uk 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.

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.

Managers

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.

Where can I find guidance to help inform the discussions with my staff about returning to work?

Guidance is available in this document: Returning to work on campus

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.