Updated 21 May 2020
Working from home
Only essential services and activities are now being delivered on campus (observing the principle of social distancing).
All staff supporting essential services will be informed of this by their manager. See the essential workers page for further information.
As a general rule, staff and students will not be able to access University buildings (including their own offices). See the campus service updates page for details.
The University will continue to keep the situation under review in line with government advice
It is important to take a break from work activity, particularly with the additional pressures caused by coronavirus and as the University leave year runs until 30 September, it is reasonably practicable for the majority of staff to take all their annual leave by this date. Therefore our normal annual leave policy applies and leave should be booked in the normal way.
There may be some staff, such as the Critical Activity Team members (those members of staff who have been authorised to remain on campus to ensure that the University’s essential services continue), who are unable to take their leave by the end of the leave year. In such cases and on an exceptional basis, the carry forward of leave will be approved.
The University closure dates also still apply so we also strongly encourage you to take a break from your work activity during these dates.
We also recognise that many of you may have your normal holiday arrangements cancelled or postponed due to the unprecedented conditions. However, it is still important to take a break from work and so we would encourage you to still take the period of leave.
If you wish to, you should make a request to cancel annual leave with your Head of School/Service (or nominee) who will make a decision based on individual circumstances.
The University’s usual staff sickness absence policies and pay entitlements continue to apply.
The University accepts that current circumstances are exceptional, and will not therefore require the production of a Fit Note.
However you must notify your manager on the first day of sickness, keep in contact with your Head of School/Service during your period of illness and confirm when you become fit and well.
To enable staff to advise us in a timely manner about any sickness absence or self-isolation absence relating to Coronavirus/Covid 19, from week commencing 6 April we are asking you to report via the HR Self Service system (ESS). This will allow us to provide appropriate support and advice for your wellbeing. Absence not related to Covid-19 should continue to be reported in the normal way. View guidance for line managers and staff.
IT have developed a virtual windows desktop that removes the need to access ESS via Desktop Anywhere. This will be available from early in the week commencing 6th April. Access the virtual desktop and sign in with your email@example.com . There are full instructions on the IT website. Although this service will support a much greater number of concurrent users please remember to log out once you have finished what you need to do. If you are unable to access HR Self Service for any reason please email firstname.lastname@example.org, copying your manager, with details of the issue and your absence.
If you have been ill due to Coronavirus/Covid-19, before resuming work after a period of absence you will be required by your Head of School/Service to complete a return to work form confirming that you have complied with the Public Health England and NHS guidelines and are fit and well to return.
If you are on sick leave and you have a period of annual leave booked, and you have followed the notification process, the period of illness will be recorded as sickness absence rather than annual leave. When you are better, please notify your manager and complete the return to work form. If your period of sick leave ends before the date that your holiday was due to end, you will move onto annual leave for the remaining period.
If you become sick when you are taking annual leave you need follow the notification process above. The period during which you are ill will be treated as sickness absence and you will be entitled to claim back your annual leave for those days. When you are better, please notify your manager and complete the return to work form. If your period of sick leave ends before the date that your holiday was due to end, you will move onto annual leave for the remaining period.
The information below aims to help colleagues understand how they will be paid in these circumstances.
The Government Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme
To support employers to deal with the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Government introduced the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme. The Scheme enables employers to reclaim the cost of employing staff who are unable to work at home as a result of the outbreak. Under the scheme, an employer can place staff on temporary “Furlough Leave” for at least three weeks if, for example, they are not required to work, or are unable to work for reasons relating to the impact of the pandemic.
We have carefully considered the Job Retention Scheme and have taken the decision that it does apply to some roles within the University. The decision to furlough roles is not in any way related to the value that the University places on the role. It is determined by whether the role can be undertaken from home or not, and the source of funding, in accordance with the eligibility for the Government scheme.
Line managers (or in some cases members of the HR team) are in the process of contacting colleagues who are going to be furloughed on an individual basis to ensure they have all of the information required. After this phone call, staff will then be sent a letter confirming the arrangements. During the period of Furlough Leave, individuals will be paid normal pay, and individuals and the University will continue to make normal pension contributions. There will be no change to terms and conditions of service.
We are considering whether there are other roles which can be furloughed but no decision has been made yet. Furlough only applies to you if you have been contacted directly by your manager or the HR team.
Staff on short term contracts (i.e. from one day, up to three months)
Where work has already been formally scheduled and agreed via a contract, in these exceptional circumstances payment will be made as if the work has been undertaken even if the activity is now cancelled, or if it is not possible to carry out the work at home.
If you are carrying out the work at home and you become unwell you must inform your line manager (or equivalent) that you are on sick leave and then follow the University procedures for reporting. You will be paid for work as if the work has been undertaken. The University accepts that current circumstances are exceptional, and will not therefore require the production of a Fit Note. When you are well and you resume working you should complete the return to work form.
Staff paid hourly
If you have core hours to work each week but your pay varies according to the number of additional hours that you work, where home working is not possible you will receive pay which will be calculated using the average number of hours you worked in the previous 13-week period. For anyone who has not worked for 13 weeks in total, this reference period will be adjusted accordingly.
Staff with a Worker Agreement (sometimes referred to as an SS4 Agreement)
If you can undertake this work from home then you should do so. If formally scheduled and agreed work is cancelled, or you cannot undertake the work from home, as these are exceptional circumstances, payment will be made. The payment will be based on the hours that you were formally scheduled to work.
If you become ill with coronavirus symptoms you should follow the Government advice and the normal university process for reporting sickness absence. Providing you have complied with the reporting requirements you will be paid during your absence. If you do not have regular hours, the payment will be based on the hours that you were formally scheduled to work. Alternatively, if you work a regular number of hours each week, pay will be calculated using the average number of hours you worked in the previous 13-week period. For anyone who has not worked for 13 weeks in total, this reference period will be adjusted accordingly.
Anyone who becomes ill with coronavirus symptoms should follow the Government advice and stay at home. You must follow the normal process for reporting sickness absence. Providing you have complied with the reporting requirements, in these exceptional circumstances, normal sick pay arrangements will apply (these should be clear in the contract you have with your agency).
PGR Teaching Assistants/Demonstrators who were formally scheduled to deliver classes that have been cancelled will receive pay as if those classes took place.
If you have been asked to deliver scheduled classes online you will be paid for this work. Payment will not be linked to, or dependent on, the level of student engagement.
It is expected that Module Leaders and members of academic staff will prepare the majority of online resources. In exceptional circumstances, the Head of School may agree that you can undertake some of this work from home. Where that is the case, you will be paid at the usual hourly preparation rate for this type of teaching.
If home working has been agreed but you become ill with coronavirus symptoms, you should report absences to the relevant Module Leader, or via any local procedure that has been put in place. In these exceptional circumstances, you will receive normal payment for any activity that has been formally agreed by the Head of School.
2020-21 pay round
HE pay is negotiated at a national level. This year’s negotiating round on pay for 2020-21 was due to begin on 31 March 2020.
UCEA and the joint trade unions (EIS, GMB, UCU, UNISON and Unite), as the parties to JNCHES, issued a Joint Statement on 23 March 2020 confirming that negotiations on this year’s pay round have been delayed for the foreseeable future.
This decision was reached as the parties understand that the current threat posed by the Covid-19 is unprecedented and is impacting the ability to conduct normal operations for many organisations, including both HEIs and unions. It is a unique situation which shall not set a precedent for future negotiating rounds.
This information will be updated when more is known about next steps nationally.
Reward schemes and promotions
Given the as yet unknown impact of the coronavirus pandemic, we have looked at some of our key standard University HR processes and devised principles of approach which should apply during this exceptional period.
Our intention throughout this time is to live by the principles of trust, care, support and respect, committed to in March by the Vice-Chancellor on behalf of the University.
The Reward Schemes are University of Leeds policy which usually run as an annual process. The University’s Promotions process usually runs throughout the year. These have currently been paused while we seek to better understand the implications of the pandemic.