Page updated: 25 August 2020

Covid-19 Staff FAQs

Frequently asked questions about the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, for University of Worcester staff.

These FAQs take into account government guidance and University policy at this time. The University’s approach will continue to be reviewed and updated and the arrangements described in these FAQs will be subject to change.

This page also includes information on:

Please also see our Return to campus pages for additional information.

How can I best support our students?

We know that many staff will be approached by students with concerns about coronavirus. If a student raises a concern about their health please ask them to follow the advice on this page. If they have any specific questions or need additional support, they should contact firstpoint@worc.ac.uk

I wish to travel abroad for my holiday. Do I need to do anything further before I travel?

Prior to travel, you should refer to the government guidance on self-isolation requirements when arriving in, or returning to, the UK from abroad. Please note that this list is kept under review and is subject to change. //www.gov.uk/guidance/coronavirus-covid-19-travel-corridors. All staff are required to adhere to the government guidance and should not attend work on campus until they have competed the required period of self-isolation

Recognising that travel to or from any country could be affected at very short notice, prior to travelling you should discuss and agree with your manager which of following options is most appropriate in relation to your role, in case a period of self-isolation/quarantine should be required upon your return to the UK:

  • book additional days holiday to cover the self-isolation period;
  • take unpaid leave for the self-isolation period; or,
  • work from home for the self-isolation period if this is possible.

Please note that if you fail to seek prior approval and agreement from your line manager, and a subsequent period of self-isolation/quarantine is in fact required, your absence may be classed as unauthorised.

I am a member of staff who is concerned about becoming unwell in the work environment.

Please support yourself, colleagues and students by following the advice provided by Public Health England and the World Health Organization which is designed to minimise the spread of any infection. You may wish to remind and reassure colleagues and students of this advice at the start of lectures or meetings.

  • Observe good respiratory and hand hygiene, washing hands regularly.
  • Cover your mouth and nose when you sneeze or cough with a tissue or your sleeve.
  • Observe the University’s social distancing regimes and safe workplace protocols.  Follow the control measures that have been put in place in relation to your particular working environment and activity.  If you are unsure or have concerns speak to your line manager in the first instance.
  • Follow the travel and health advice from the Foreign & Commonwealth Office.

You can download the ‘Wash your hands’ PowerPoint slide which promotes good practice and include it alongside your lectures and presentations.

How does the lifting of restrictions on movement affect the University? (UPDATED 25 AUGUST)

The government continues to review restrictions on travel, businesses and venues, and this is dependent on successfully controlling the spread of the virus. 

The University is preparing to re-start in-person teaching in September, under a careful plan to Save Lives; Protect the NHS; Live; Learn. With effect from September it is envisaged that the vast majority, if not all, staff will return to working on campus for at least some of the time each week. 

Your line manager will contact you when a return to work is being planned for your area of work.  You should not return to work until contacted by your line manager.  Further information is available here.

I am at a greater risk of severe illness from Covid-19 and the official guidance advises that I consider social distancing measures. What options are available to me? (UPDATED 25 AUGUST)

Some people are clinically vulnerable, meaning they are at higher risk of severe illness from coronavirus, including those aged 70 and over, those with specific chronic pre-existing conditions and pregnant women. 

With effect from 1 August 2020 the shielding requirement was ‘paused’ and the advice was updated to adopt strict social distancing rather than full shielding measures.   In effect this means that, where it is not possible for them to work from home, with effect from 1 August onwards such individuals can return to work providing their work environment is Covid-safe. 

The University will continue to support working from home for those classified as clinically vulnerable where working from home is appropriate and in agreement with your line manager.  When a return to campus is appropriate for your area of work your line manager will discuss your individual circumstances with you – further details may be found here.

Guidance on social distancing can be found here.

You can go to work as long as the workplace is Covid-secure, but should carry on working from home wherever possible.

I have been advised to follow shielding measures what should I do? (UPDATED 25 AUGUST)

The government has issued further guidance for people who are at very high risk of severe illness from coronavirus (COVID-19) because of an underlying health condition, and for their family, friends and carers. With effect from 1 August 2020 the shielding requirement was ‘paused’ and the advice was updated to adopt strict social distancing rather than full shielding measures.

The advice remains that those people who are classified as clinically extremely vulnerable should work from home if possible. People in this category will have been notified by the NHS.

The University will continue to support working from home for those classified as clinically extremely vulnerable where working from home is appropriate and in agreement with your line manager.  When a return to campus is appropriate for your area of work your line manager will discuss your individual circumstances with you – further details may be found here.

How do shielding measures differ from the social distancing guidance for vulnerable people? (UPDATED 25 AUGUST)

Social distancing measures are steps you can take to reduce social interaction between people. This will help reduce the transmission of coronavirus (COVID-19). With effect from 1 August 2020 the shielding requirement was ‘paused’ and the advice was updated to adopt strict social distancing rather than full shielding measures.   

Strict social distancing and enhanced hygiene control measures continue to be the main way to reduce the risk of infection.

What should I do if I think that I have symptoms of Covid-19 (Coronavirus) or I have been exposed to Covid-19?

In accordance with the latest advice from Public Health England, you should self-isolate at home in line with official guidance if you have both or either of:

  • a high temperature
  • a new continuous cough

You do not need to contact NHS 111 to tell them you’re staying at home and you should follow the guidance on self-isolation.

You may also be required to stay at home and self-isolate despite having no symptoms, for example if there is a risk that you have been exposed to the virus or if you are providing care to someone who has symptoms of Covid-19.  If you are following official government medical guidance to self-isolate despite having no symptoms you must stay at home.

Who do I need to tell if I need to self-isolate due to Covid-19?

If you are following official guidance to self-isolate or you have received a letter advising you to take shielding measures or you are following social distancing guidance please contact your line manager at the earliest opportunity.

If you do not have symptoms of Covid-19 your manager will be able to discuss whether you are able to carry out all or part of your work from home. 

Please advise your manager which category you fall into (self-isolation, social distancing, shielding) the guidance that you are following and how long the recommended duration, in accordance with the government guidance.

If your school / department has local absence reporting procedures which require you to notify someone in addition to your line manager, for example, the ASU generic email, please follow this process.

If you are self isolating due to coronavirus for more than 7 days, you should notify your line manager and obtain an online self-isolation note from the:

Please also refer to the advice provided by the NHS on self isolation:

How do I report that I am receiving treatment for a confirmed case of Covid-19?

If you are receiving medical treatment and have a confirmed case of Covid-19 please report it following your normal departmental process. The absence will be treated as sickness absence in line with the University’s sickness absence policy.

I am a line manager – how do I report that a member of my team is not at work due to Covid-19?

For absence relating to Covid-19, including precautionary self-isolation, social distancing, shielding and unpaid leave, please record using your normal departmental processes in the first instance. 

The University now has a central reporting portal for absence relating to Covid-19 and your Head of School/Department has nominated the people with responsibility for reporting to the portal for your School/Department.  It is important that all staff follow your normal reporting procedures so that the designated person can report the Covid-19 related absence to the University Covid-19 portal.  You are not required to email absence@worc.ac.uk .

What will I be paid if I need to self-isolate?

If you are displaying symptoms of Covid-19 (Coronavirus) and have been advised to self-isolate you will be paid in accordance with the University’s sickness absence policy

If you are following official government medical guidance to self-isolate but you do not have symptoms of Covid-19 your line manager will be able to discuss with you whether it is possible for you to do all or some of your work from home.  If you work from home you will continue to receive normal pay.  If you are following official guidance to self-isolate and are unable to work from home you will be entitled to sick pay in accordance with the terms of your contract and the University’s sickness absence policy

Hourly paid employees will be paid for scheduled work in accordance with their contact of employment and should follow the University’s guidance on providing appropriate self certification and medical certification in addition to submitting timesheets identifying the scheduled hours as either sickness absence or self isolation/social distancing/shielding.

If you are self isolating due to coronavirus for more than 7 days, you should obtain an online self-isolation note from the:

What flexibility is available to help manage my childcare responsibilities?

As at August 2020 the Government have advised that a full return to school for all year groups, including school-based nurseries, is planned for autumn term 2020.  If you continue to experience childcare difficulties due to the closure of schools or nursery reasonable paid time off will be permitted in order for you to make arrangements for alternative childcare (1 – 2 days). You should contact your line manager in the first instance to notify them of your absence.

If a longer period is required and alternative childcare is not possible, you may be able to work from home, take annual leave or unpaid leave. Your line manager will be able to discuss these options with you. 

If you are unable to work due to caring responsibilities caused by the Covid-19 pandemic you may have been eligible for furlough leave.  The Government’s job retention scheme (furlough leave) continues to be reviewed and separate FAQs are here.  If you wish to  consider temporary alterations to your working hours to help manage caring responsibilities please speak to your line manager in the first instance.  It will also depend on the extent to which your workload can be reallocated within the department. 

Am I able to cancel my childcare vouchers with Edenred?

Yes, you can cancel your childcare vouchers, however, please be advised that under the rules of the scheme, you will not be able to re-join Edenred at a later date.

Alternatively, you can defer your voucher deductions for a specific time period and reinstate these at a time in the future, as long as the reinstatement is within 12 months of the last deduction and you have a balance remaining on your voucher account.

Please email HR detailing any changes you wish to make to your childcare vouchers.

Can I park on campus? (UPDATED 25 AUGUST)

Our car parks are now open and you can apply for permits online.

My holiday arrangements have been cancelled, can I rearrange my leave for another time?

Annual leave should be agreed in the normal way and it is expected that the majority of staff will be able to take their full leave entitlement by the end of August. Under the existing University policy, you may carry forward up to 5 days annual leave entitlement (pro rata for part time staff) from one leave year to the next, if agreed in advance with your line manager. 

If you are a member of staff who has been placed on furlough leave please refer to the relevant FAQs.

What are the arrangements for working from home? (UPDATED 25 AUGUST)

With effect from September it is envisaged that the vast majority, if not all, staff will return to working on campus for at least some of the time each week. 

It may be appropriate to carry out some of your work from home, where appropriate and in agreement with your line manager. You should discuss any questions with your line manager in the first instance.

If you are working from home and unable to work due to sickness, you should advise your line manager following the normal reporting procedures. 

We've put together some guidance and resources to support the wellbeing of those working from home.

How can I organise my work when working from home?

  • Identify in discussion with your line manager which aspects of your work are suitable for homeworking and what access to University systems is required and available. If needed, the University may be able to loan equipment on a short-term basis to support homeworking.
  • Your line manager must agree your usual start and finish times. You will be expected to attend virtual meetings, events and any training arranged by your line manager and, for example, your team or course leader.
  • To help colleagues keep in touch with you, you must provide a contact email (your usual work email address in most cases) and telephone number. You are expected to be available by telephone and email during your working hours. In addition, you should use your outlook calendar to provide information on your working arrangements and share this with your line manager.
  • You are expected to be available during working hours. If there are times when you will not be available, or you need quiet time to concentrate without being disturbed, please let your colleagues know and advise when you will be contactable.
  • Working from home might require being more aware of the need for confidentiality and GDPR requirements. Please refer to the University’s guidelines on safe practice, data protection and information security.
  • The University’s insurance policy for employer’s liability and personal accident will operate in the same way as office based employees for approved occasional home working. However, you should also consider whether you need to advise a landlord, mortgage provider and/or insurer (contents and/or buildings) that you will be working from home occasionally. 
  • In certain circumstances the University may ask you to carry out work at home that is outside your normal duties but commensurate with your role to help maintain essential services.
  • There may be occasions when you will be required to attend the workplace to support the work of your School or Department and/or the wider University. 

How can I keep in contact with colleagues when working from home?

  • Working from home, for some people, might give rise to feelings of being isolated especially if the normal work setting is as part of a close team; you may find it helpful to book regular contact with colleagues and line managers
  • Forms of contact might include email, telephone, and Skype. Having a visual contact session may be preferable to using email or phone alone.

What IT support is available to me?

IT are working with colleagues across the University to ensure we can provide the right support during the current and evolving situation.

Working remotely

The best place to go for support about how to access services and attend meetings virtually are the IT Service web pages on remote working.

You will find information about how to connect to corporate systems, access files and email, and use Microsoft Teams for collaboration and video calls. As time progresses we will be offering support to colleagues through online chat and this can be found on the standard IT Service Desk. Chat will become a key way IT can support you when working remotely but at present our focus is preparing for homeworking so chat this week will be limited.

IT support during this period

At the moment calls to the IT Service Desk number are very high.  Before getting in touch we ask that you read through our guidance on remote working and using  Microsoft Teams

Otherwise you can get in touch in the usual ways and IT will, as always, get to you as soon as they can. We only ask colleagues for patience and understanding as they prioritise those calls that allow them to pre-emptively prepare for any disruption caused by the virus. This means it may take a little longer to respond to some calls than you might otherwise expect.

Do you have any advice on GDPR?

Data Protection – Best practice while working remotely

Worcester’s commitment to the protection of data is a vital component of how we all work. This applies onsite and equally when offsite in remote locations. It’s very important to remember that when we are not in the office, and where we might be working in different ways that we still adhere to the same stringent processes that protect people and data.

 - You can access personal data while working at home, as you would do in the office, if you need this to do your job.

  • You should not share this data with any unauthorised third parties, including the people you share your home with.
  • You may print documents with personal data or confidential information to enable you to do your job, but you MUST ensure that you do not mislay it.  When you have finished using it ensure safe and secure disposal by shredding or careful cross cutting by hand.
  • Where possible ensure that you lock personal data away when not in use, or when you are absent from your home workspace.
  • Apply password protection to computers, screensavers and documents and remember to log out/close any applications when you finish working.

 - You can share data securely by:

  • Via voice calls, either phone, Skype for Business or Teams – this also allows you to stay in touch
  • Using Onedrive to share information securely
  • Using a shared folder on the O drive
  • You can use email but be mindful that anything sent by email is more vulnerable to cyber-attacks. In addition, anything you put in writing is subject to disclosure under data protection law.  We therefore recommend that you keep personal data sharing by email to a minimum and use one of the other methods listed above.

If you are using your personal device to work remotely please ensure that when accessing any University files stored in OneDrive, SharePoint or those located on the O: drive, you must not download said files to your device. Work on these from within the Microsoft Office 365 applications or your web browser and save them back to the location they are stored in.

Further advice on remote working including instructions to add the O: drive to your personal device are located on the IT Service webpages found here or you can contact the IT helpdesk on 01905 85750 for further information.

If you are working on a personal device that is used by other members of your family or household you should endeavour to have a different account on that device for your work that they do not share. Where this is not possible - such as on single account devices - be very mindful to close any browser sessions you have open that connect to Worcester before handing the device to someone else. You should also be mindful that any cached credentials would give that person access to your accounts (email etc.) and that these should be cleared before the other users access the device.

Suspected Data Breaches

Any suspected data breaches MUST be reported as soon as you become aware of them, the sooner we are made aware the better chance we have to rectify the position.

You should report any suspected data breach, as usual, to infoassurance@worc.ac.uk and for this period we also request these are also sent to h.johnstone@worc.ac.uk and gemma.harris@worc.ac.uk.

We have 72 hours to investigate incidents and report them to the ICO so your urgent action is required.

You can find more information about Data Breaches via this weblink

Information Requests

Please also ensure that you pass on any requests for data made by individuals or organisations (Subject Access Requests or Freedom of Information requests) urgently as we are obligated to respond to these within strictly prescribed deadlines.   

Please send requests to foirequests@worc.ac.uk

Further guidance can be found at: //www2.worc.ac.uk/informationassurance/information-security.html and //www2.worc.ac.uk/it/remote-working.html

For any other queries in relation to personal data and working remotely that aren’t addressed here or via the above weblinks please contact the Information Governance Officer, Gemma Harris by email to: gemma.harris@worc.ac.uk

Where can I get support and advice?

We understand that you may have concerns or anxiety in relation to the current situation.

The University's Employee Assistance Programme can provide additional advice and support.  It is available to all University staff. The programme is run by Care first and offers, among other things, a helpline with confidential, 24-hour personal assistance from experienced counsellors. The helpline number is 0800 174319. If you have any other concerns about the virus, please contact your line manager.

 

Return to on-site working (UPADATED 25 AUGUST)

You can find out about the addtional measures that have been put in place for staff and students on our return to campus page.

Is the University open as normal?

Not yet.  A phased return to working on campus has been introduced and an increasing number of staff delivering essential services have been working on campus during the summer period.  With effect from September it is envisaged that the vast majority, if not all, staff will return to working on campus for at least some of the time each week.

At this stage you should not come on to campus unless you are specifically asked to do so. Staff should work from home where appropriate and agreed in conjunction with their line manager.

To prepare for working on campus we have undertaken risk assessments,   introduced appropriate health and safety measures and developed clear guidance for staff on how to support the health and wellbeing of themselves and others when on campus.

You will be notified by your manager when work in your area is being considered for return. 

When will I know when I should return to campus to work?

Your manager will ask you to return to work when it is appropriate for you to do so.  A phased approach has been taken to ensure that sufficient safety measures, such as social distancing, was introduced and works effectively.  With effect from September it is envisaged that the vast majority, if not all, staff will return to working on campus for at least some of the time each week.

It is likely that some people will continue to work at home for some of their working week and teams may have staggered working patterns to manage numbers in offices and work spaces.  Your manager will discuss the arrangements with you before you return.

We will continue to monitor Government guidance and will update University guidance as changes occur.

Are there any special requirements when I return to work on campus?

Yes, it is important that all students and staff wear a lanyard displaying their University of Worcester identity card.  If you don’t have a lanyard please collect one from main reception at St John's campus or City campus on your first day back on campus.

All staff should maintain social distancing and follow any signing in protocols in place at the time when they return to campus.  This is for the safety of all staff on site and is particularly important should an emergency evacuation be required. 

Where can I find return to campus documentation?

The University return to campus SharePoint site provides access to a number of useful documents.  In brief the site includes: 

  • A return to campus presentation and a link to an online checklist that staff need to complete prior to their return to campus.   
  • Links to government advice and the University’s Coronavirus web pages and FAQs. 
  • Access to general guidance, completed risk assessments and good practice advice. 

 

To log in to the site use your normal University credentials.  The site will continue to develop as and when guidance changes and any changes will be highlighted through this Daily Update. For any further questions on these documents please email returntocampus@worc.ac.uk

I work in a shared work space and my colleagues work within 2 metres of me. Is this safe?

When your manager contact you about a return to work on campus they  will discuss the arrangements with you.  Your manager will arrange measures to manage appropriate distancing.  They may consider a staggered approach or rotas to reduce the number of people in the work space at any one time and may alter the layout in the office to ensure you can each sit at a safe distance from your colleagues.  You may be asked to sit at another desk to manage this.  The office will have been deep cleaned before you and colleagues return so all work spaces will be hygienic and safe to use.  

I don’t feel well – should I stay away from campus?

Before you can return to campus your manager will carry out a return to work induction and you will be asked to declare that you, and all members of your household, are symptom free.

If you have symptoms of Covid-19 you must remain at home and self-isolate in line with Government guidance, which is currently for a period of 7 days from when you first become unwell.  If you have symptoms you should book a Covid-19 test as quickly as possible.

Your self-isolation can end if your test result is negative.

If you do not have the test outcome you may end your self-isolation after 7 days if you feel better and no longer have a high temperature.  If you still have a high temperature, you must continue to self-isolate until your temperature has returned to normal.  If you only have a cough, without a high temperature, after 7 days you do not need to continue to self-isolate, as a cough can last for several weeks once the infection has gone.  

Someone I live with/in my support bubble has symptoms of Covid-19 or is recovering from Covid-19

You must also self-isolate for 14 days if someone who you live with/is in your support bubble has symptoms, is waiting for a test result or has a confirmed case of Covid-19. You should only return to work if/when they test negative for Covid-19, or the 14 days self-isolation period has ended and providing that you do not have any symptoms yourself at that stage. 

I am considered to be in a vulnerable group – should I return to campus?

When your manager contacts you to discuss a return to working on campus they will carry out a return-to-campus induction and you will be asked whether you fall into any of the groups which are categorised as higher risk.  Your manager will discuss with you what control measures are in place to protect you when you return and whether additional measures are needed.  You may be asked to continue to work from home until control measures can be put in place.  The Head of Safety Services will be able to provide your manager with advice for your individual circumstances and HR will be able to request further advice from the University’s occupational health provider if necessary.

How will I know if a colleague in the workplace has Covid-19?

If a colleague has symptoms or a diagnosis of Covid-19 and they have been in the workplace they must inform their manager of this as soon as possible.  Their manager will then inform the people who have been working alongside them during the last 14 days.  The manager will not name them (unless they have agreed they may) or give details of their health but will inform you that a colleague has symptoms/a diagnosis and advise you to self-isolate.  

Am I required to engage in NHS Test and Trace?

If you develop symptoms of Covid-19 you must self-isolate immediately.  You should inform your manager, book a Covid-19 test and engage in the NHS Test and Trace Scheme.  If you subsequently test positive for Covid-19, you will be asked to share details of people you have had close recent contact with.

Alternatively, you may be contacted by the NHS Test and Trace Service to be informed that you have been in close contact with someone who has tested positive for Covid-19.  If you have been contacted by Test and Trace, you must self-isolate as directed and not attend work.  Your manager may ask to see a copy of the communication from NHS Test and Trace. 

If you are self-isolating without symptoms, you should discuss with your manager whether you can work from home if the nature of your role allows you to do so. 

I am worried about returning to work on campus – can I continue to work from home?

When it is suitable to consider a return to working on campus your manager will talk to you about your individual circumstances.   

We are taking a careful and measured approach to a return to working on campus.  Risk assessments  will be completed and control measures will be put in place, such as social distancing, limiting the number of people in any one work/communal area, one way systems and covered outdoor space for breaks.  We understand that some people may be worried and you are encouraged to ask questions and raise any concerns with your manager in the first instance.

Will I have to return to work on campus even though I have childcare responsibilities and my child’s nursery/school is closed?

Your manager will contact you when it is time to consider a return to campus for your role.  They will discuss your personal circumstances with you and you are encouraged to raise any concerns you have.  They may consider a short term solution, such as an alternative working pattern or altered duties.  Alternatively, you may consider annual leave or unpaid leave.

 

Frequently asked questions about furlough related issues

What does furlough mean? (UPDATED - 28 JUNE)

The word furlough generally means temporary leave of absence from work.

On 20 March, the UK government launched the ‘Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme’. The Scheme allows employers to place staff on furlough leave during the coronavirus pandemic. The Scheme enables employers to access support from the government to fund the salaries of staff who have been furloughed. 

The ability to furlough employees is designed to support employers who are severely affected by coronavirus. People who get furloughed must not work for the employer during the period of furlough.

Why is the University furloughing staff?

The University’s normal operations have changed significantly since the Coronavirus outbreak. There are a number of roles at the University, all of which are extremely valuable during normal operations, which are very difficult to carry out while the current government restrictions are in place. In addition, the activity across all University sites has scaled back considerably as our students are now studying remotely.

By accessing the Government’s Job Retention Scheme, the University will be able to access much needed financial support for the payment of staff salaries at a time when there is an impact on their ability to work. To do this, the University needs to temporarily furlough the affected staff.

How will the University decide who should be furloughed and who shouldn’t? (UPDATED - 28 JUNE)

The Scheme can be applied to staff who were on the University’s PAYE payroll on or before 19 March 2020.

The decision to furlough will depend upon whether a member of staff’s normal role can be carried out remotely and whether they are able to carry out all, or a significant amount of, their duties from home. There may also be some roles where the work is still required as normal but that there is a need for fewer staff at this time.

Under the requirements of the scheme, there may be some occasions where it will not be appropriate to furlough due to the nature of funding for that role.

I am a student who also works for the University. Can I be furloughed? (UPDATED - 28 JUNE)

The University, through discussions with line managers, have identified and written to all student workers who we believe are eligible for furlough in line with the scheme guidelines. Only individuals who have been furloughed for a minimum of three weeks prior to the 30th June can now be furloughed from 1st July onwards. On that basis, if you have not already been furloughed at least once then you will not be able to be furloughed.

How will I know if my role is going to be furloughed? (UPDATED - 28 JUNE)

You will have been contacted by your line manager if your role is identified as one that is appropriate to be furloughed under the Scheme. Only individuals who have been furloughed for a minimum of three weeks prior to the 30th June can now be furloughed from 1st July onwards. On that basis, if you have not already been furloughed at least once then you will not be able to be furloughed.

What happens if I don’t want to be furloughed?

It is in the best interest of the University and all its staff to apply furlough arrangements where it is appropriate to do so.

If you have concerns about being furloughed or any individual circumstances that you wish to be taken into account, you should raise these with your line manager in the first instance.

If I am furloughed, what does this mean for my employment at the University? (UPDATED - 28 JUNE)

Being furloughed has no impact on your existing employment status at the University. Your continuous service is unaffected and at all times you will remain employed by the University. This also means that you should continue to adhere to any requirements placed on you as a member of staff, for example, in relation to confidentiality.

How long will furlough last? (UPDATED - 28 JUNE)

Prior to 1st July, the minimum amount of time that someone could be furloughed for was three weeks. From 1st July onwards however the minimum furlough period the University will apply is one week.

Initially, the Government scheme was made available until 31st May 2020, but it was subsequently extended until 30th June 2020 and then more recently until 31st October 2020.

Currently the University is considering how it may continue to use the Scheme until the end of July 2020. A decision on if and how the Scheme may be applied beyond 1st August 2020 will be taken in due course, but the University has confirmed that it will only continue to use the Scheme for as long as it is appropriate and operationally necessary to do so. 

You should be mindful that your furlough could be ended early if operationally necessary and while we would give you as much notice as possible, you may be required to return to work at short notice. 

Does being furloughed mean I’m at more risk of redundancy in the future?

No. The decision to furlough is based on the specific circumstances created by the impact of the coronavirus outbreak at this point in time on the ability for certain roles to be carried out.

What happens to my pay and other benefits? (UPDATED - 28 JUNE)

Your pay will be unaffected by being furloughed. The Government scheme will enable the University to apply for a grant to cover 80% of the pay of furloughed staff (up to a maximum of £2,500 per month, per individual) but the University has decided that it will top up employees’ pay so that they will continue to receive their pay as normal (subject to the usual deductions for tax, national insurance and pension contributions) until 31st July, which is when the University’s furlough scheme is currently due to end.

Your pay will be subject to the normal national insurance and tax deductions. Your pension arrangements will also continue as normal. 

You will continue to accrue holiday in the normal way while on Furlough Leave. Any periods of annual leave already booked prior to the commencement of your Furlough Leave will remain unaffected and will be honoured as annual leave

Annual leave should be agreed in the normal way and it is expected that the majority of staff will be able to take their full leave entitlement by the end of August. Under the existing University policy, you may carry forward up to 5 days’ annual leave entitlement (pro rata for part time staff) from one leave year to the next, if agreed in advance with your line manager. . 

What happens when furlough ends? (UPDATED - 28 JUNE)

Your manager will be in contact to discuss your return and to provide any key updates. You will be expected to return to work in accordance with your contracted hours and your existing working pattern unless you are told otherwise by your line manager.

Will I be expected to do any work while I am on furlough? (UPDATED - 28 JUNE)

With effect from 1st July 2020 the government has introduced the option of ‘flexible furlough’. This means that the University now has the option of either placing you on furlough leave full-time (as was previously required under the Scheme), or where appropriate to do so around business needs, your line manager could now ask you to return to work on a part-time basis and then furlough you for the hours for which you are not required to work e.g. if you normally work for 37 hours per week then you could potentially be ‘flexibly furloughed’ and asked to work for 20 hours per week and furloughed for the remaining 17 hours per week.

Your manager will confirm to you whether you are to be furloughed full-time or whether you are to be ‘flexibly furloughed’. The written correspondence you receive from HR will also confirm this.

Whether furloughed full-time or part-time however, it is essential that during any period of time (days or hours) that are classed as furlough leave, you should not do any work for or on behalf of the University. However, please be aware that the University may ask you to return to work at short notice if required.

Can I still access my emails? (UPDATED - 28 JUNE)

You will continue to have access to emails and IT systems whilst on furlough as we understand that you may wish to remain in contact with colleagues from a social and wellbeing perspective. However, you must ensure that you do not undertake any work during your days/hours of furlough leave, which includes refraining from reviewing or responding to emails relating to your role. 

Can I still contact my colleagues? (UPDATED - 28 JUNE)

Yes, maintaining social contacts with work colleagues is absolutely fine while you are furloughed. If using work email remember that being on furlough leave means that you can’t get involved in work-related topics during your days/hours of furlough leave.

How will the University stay in contact with me if I am furloughed?

Your manager will maintain contact with you as appropriate during any periods of furlough. At the point that you are required to return to work, your manager will discuss how best to manage your return.

Can I undertake volunteer work?

Yes, you can undertake volunteer work during furlough providing it does not provide services to or generate revenue for, or on behalf of the University.

What happens if I am ill during furlough? (UPDATED - 28 JUNE)

If you are unwell during furlough leave and your are on furlough leave full-time then you do not need to formally report this to the University.  If you are unwell when you are due to return to work or if you are required to self-isolate, you should follow the standard reporting procedures for sickness absence or self-isolation. 

If you are ‘flexibly furloughed’ however then you will need to follow the normal sickness absence reporting procedure for your department and notify your line manager of your absence in the usual way.

I am following an Apprenticeship programme as a University employee and I am taking furlough leave, what happens to the training?

The University will let your training provider know that you’re on furlough leave and they will provide you with advice about how to continue the programme using on-line resources. You should carry on studying while you’re on furlough leave.

Can I undertake any training or development activities during furlough?

You are encouraged to engage in training and development activities during furlough and to use the time to participate in a range of activities, some are listed below and more are listed on the HR webpages:

  • Learn new skills and knowledge – make use of Linked-In learning available to all staff to explore new hobbies, e.g. photography, and/or extend your IT knowledge with Microsoft on-line learning.
  • Sign up for an on-line course
  • You can register to attend any of the staff development workshops on the University staff pages; several have been converted to be delivered ‘virtually’ 

What support can I access if my wellbeing is affected when on furlough leave?

There are a range of support mechanisms available to staff to access:

  • You can use the University’s Employee Assistance Programme provided by Carefirst,  the service is free and confidential and open 24/7 //www2.worc.ac.uk/personnel/658.htm
  • Contact the staff mental health network smhn@worc.ac.uk and join one of the virtual Fika sessions.

There are other forms of support that you might find helpful, some are listed here and more can be found on the HR webpages:

Can I apply for University vacancies whilst on furlough leave?

Yes you may apply for another job whilst on furlough leave. University of Worcester job vacancies, including those restricted to University employees only, can be viewed here

If you are shortlisted for interview you will be permitted to take part in the selection process whilst on furlough leave.

 

 

Submit a question

If you have a question that hasn’t been answered here, you can submit a question through our online form. These messages come into a central helpdesk, if you have an HR related question please contact your line manager in the first instance.