Working from home

Updated 19 January 2021

We are expecting the current working arrangements to continue into next term, with the general principle being that staff and PGRs who can work effectively from home will continue to do so, coming onto campus only where that is necessary to deliver or support research, student education or the student experience, or because of another agreed reason to work on campus.

Thank you to all our staff for continuing to play your part in ensuring that University activities effectively continue during these unprecedented times.

Colleagues who are needed on campus for student facing or research activity  are required to organise their activity to spend as little time as possible on campus and  to work from home when not engaged in activity that can only be delivered on campus.

After the current national lockdown ends, social distancing requirements will remain in place to support our ongoing focus on the health, safety and wellbeing of our community. We will still need to manage the volume of people on campus and expect staff working arrangements to fall broadly into one of three categories:

  1. Staff who will be based on campus for the vast majority of their working time;
  2. Staff who will be on campus for defined activities or periods of time, but will continue to work remotely outside these periods / activities;
  3. Staff who will work remotely for the vast majority of their working time (with only exceptional access to campus).

On this page


Ways of working

Short guides that may help you are still available as is the guidance for accessing critical systems remotely.

The kind of work you can do from home includes activities you would usually carry out in an office on campus (this could include teaching preparation or marking). You should not carry out any work activities you would usually carry out in a laboratory or workshop at home – including storing or analysing samples. Read more on the Wellbeing, Safety and Health website.

If you have a disability, you should discuss your support needs with your line manager so that previous adjustments can be reviewed, any updates made, and so that new adjustments can be implemented as soon as possible.

Balancing caring responsibilities

England is facing national restrictions until at least mid-February in response to the escalating rate of COVID-19 infection across the country. As with the initial period of lockdown last year, we recognise that those with caring responsibilities are unlikely to be able to work exactly as you would from campus.

It is important to have an open and pragmatic conversation with your line manager to discuss your personal situation and to help balance caring responsibilities and work. Whilst it is expected that the majority of us will continue to work from home, there are options for some on-campus working where this is essential. You are encouraged to talk regularly and openly with your manager throughout this time as they are empowered, with the support of Heads of Schools and Services, to agree ways of working within the guidance of the University return to campus arrangements.

Please remember that the carer’s leave guidance is still available and the increased allowance of paid carer’s leave from 5 days to 10 days will continue until 31 March 2021 (pro rata for part time staff). This 10 days includes any carer’s leave already taken within the past 12-month period. Annual leave, unpaid leave and parental leave are also options that can be agreed to cover any additional caring responsibility requirements.

If you are a carer for a family member or a friend who has an illness, disability or addiction, Carers Leeds offer confidential telephone appointments. The aim of these free, 40-minute appointments is to provide a wide range of practical advice, support and information to working carers. To book a telephone appointment, please email the Equality Policy Unit. You can also contact the Carers Leeds advice line on 0113 380 4300 (Mon – Fri 9am – 5pm).

Working from home equipment and expenses

Any IT equipment that is required to work effectively from home should be pre-approved and ordered through the University IT team in line with the latest University guidance.

The University does not pay expenses or an allowance to staff who are working from home. Exceptionally, and with prior approval from your Head of School/Service (or nominee), the University will reimburse small-scale consumable expenditure and small scale expenditure on IT cabling, wireless USB devices, and headsets that are wholly necessary in fulfilling your role from home. The cost of this equipment should be no more than £40 in total.

The University will not as a general rule, reimburse the cost of IT equipment, office furniture and internet access.

If you do not have internet access at home and it is necessary for your role, please contact your line manager who will discuss options with you including other types of work you can do at home or the possibility of returning to work on campus.

Normal receipt requirements, expense claim process and authorisation routes apply.

Remote working tax relief

You can apply to HMRC to have the extra costs incurred during the period of remote working deducted from your taxable income which will lower your tax liability.

Use Form 87 for both on-line (if you have an HMRC Government Gateway account) and paper applications. You can request on-line access from HMRC.

The relevant section of the form is ‘Using your home as an office’, and you will be making a ‘Flat rate deduction’. Enter ‘the amount paid by you’ as £6 per week for the number of weeks you have been working from home; the amount paid by your employer for flat rate expenses is zero (0).

The process allows you to claim tax relief for 2019/20 (if applicable) and for the current year, 2020/21. You may prefer to wait until the remote working requirement ceases, so you can enter the total value of the claim on the 2020/21 application.

On-line and paper application forms can be accessed on the HMRC website

You might be able to claim tax relief for other remote working expenses during Covid-19, however HMRC require proof (receipts) of you incurring these costs out of your own pocket, when the amount claimed is greater than the flat rate allowance.

The University cannot support employees with personal tax computations. If you are in doubt, contact HMRC general enquires employee helpline or take independent tax advice.

IT security at home

The University is continually targeted by scams and phishing emails, but the covid-19 outbreak brings a new set of challenges and risks. Working at home, you have remote access to information without the physical protections available on campus and without the University firewalls and access controls. It is hugely important that you understand how to protect your devices and information.

What you need to do

For everyone

  • Avoid clicking on links in unsolicited emails and be wary of email attachments. Always stop and think.
  • Remember, scams aren’t just limited to email – they can come through text messages and voice calls as well.
  • Do not reveal personal or financial information in email, and do not respond to email requests for this information
  • Follow the normal data protection guidelines and save data in the appropriate location.
  • If you need to access services that are normally only available on-campus such as ESS (Employee Self Service) read the ‘How to work from home or off-campus’ page on the IT website.
  • Report your device if it is lost or stolen. If your device contains University data and is lost or stolen you should report the incident to the IT Service Desk, even if it is a personal device.

At home

  • Think about your location. Is your computer safe from theft? Could other people see confidential University data?
  • Make sure your wi-fi is password protected and you have changed the default password.

If you are using your own personal device

  • Use Office 365 to access your email and the Office apps such as OneDrive and Teams to help you work. However, remember you must manage University data in accordance with the Information Protection Policy and Data Protection guidelines.
  • If you are sharing a device, you must set up separate user accounts on it before accessing University data.
  • Make sure you have anti-virus software installed and keep it up to date and install operating system updates (eg for Microsoft Windows).
  • Make sure you have switched security features on, for example using a PIN, password or fingerprint access.
  • Enable a lock screen on your devices and set them to lock the screen after no more than five minutes of inactivity.

Zoom
If you are using Zoom be aware that there has been a rise of ‘Zoom bombing’ attacks. This is when online Zoom meetings have been crashed and interrupted by unwanted participants. Read Keeping your Zoom meeting safe, on the IT website, to help prevent your meeting from being disrupted.

Useful websites
Use trusted sources—such as the NHS or government websites —for up-to-date, fact-based information about covid-19. Be aware of sites offering ‘cures’ or apps claiming to give virus updates.

Training and guidance

LinkedIn Learning and other online training platforms offer courses which will help you use systems for working remotely.

If you have not used LinkedIn Learning before, have a look at the IT quick start page.

We have gathered tips and advice on the systems available.

Training sessions are being provided to help staff prepare for online teaching using the technologies available.

Systems to support working from home

Refer to the working from home advice.  We also have guidance for accessing critical systems remotely.

  • Check you have access to a webcam, speakers and microphone on your devices at home for conference/video conference calls. Consider using a headset with a microphone to improve the quality of online conversations. Check your home computer equipment, including broadband and WiFi.
  • Use Office365 online to access key apps such as Word, PowerPoint, Excel, Teams, if you don’t have them installed on devices at home.
  • You can install Office365 apps on your smartphone, if available, so you can receive notifications and chat easily with your colleagues, and students, via Microsoft Teams.
  • Read our advice on health and safety while working remotely.
  • Read more about systems for teaching online.
  • Access this free course on how to work effectively and collaboratively with your team, when working remotely.
  • If you are worried you may be missing emails (including updates on coronavirus), check your clutter folder. Find out how to manage and switch off clutter

Advice on systems

General advice on working from home is available on the IT website and there is also guidance on key systems.

Data protection and information security