Frequently asked questions
Last updated on 25 February 2022
More advice and support is available in our coronavirus staff FAQs.
Guidance for managers
- Safe return guidance for managers
- Managers guidance for supporting staff to return to campus working
- Guidance for staff with caring responsibilities
- How will I know if I am required to return to work?
- Do I have to return to work even if I'm struggling with childcare/caring responsibilities?
- Do I have to return to work if someone I live with is considered 'high-risk' (previously known as 'clinically extremely vulnerable)?
- I do not have a known underlying health condition, however I am concerned about my general wellbeing and returning to work. What support is available?
- I am classed as 'high-risk' (previously known as clinically extremely vulnerable.) Can I return to campus?
- Is there advice on travelling to and from campus?
- Is any provision being made to risk assess BAME staff?
- Will there be social distancing in place?
- Do I need to wear a face covering on campus?
- Will face coverings be provided?
- Why don't we have temperature screening on campus?
- Is there guidance available on managing COVID-19 cases on campus?
- I am a University employee working at a non-University site, do I still have to return to my workplace?
- I need to move furniture or arrange for items to be disposed of, who do I contact?
- I still have questions, who do I speak to?
- How do I generate a QR code?
- If I carry on working from home, can I collect items from campus to help me do this?
- What kind of items can I take home?
- Can I buy items and equipment if I can’t get access to pick things up from campus?
- Where can I find more advice about effectively working from home?
- Can I access University car parks to come and pick up items from my office on campus?
- I'm a member of staff and need to request a University laptop - what do I do?
- I'm trying to balance work with caring responsibilities. What support is available?
- What are the main things I need to understand about the risk of COVID-19?
- What first aid measures are currently in place at the University?
- Can I speak to my GP if I am uncertain about my health and whether I can return to work?
- What should I do if I’m struggling to balance work with childcare or other responsibilities during this time?
- Under what circumstances can I request coronavirus special leave?
- What do I need to do to reduce my risk of infection and the risk of infection to others?
- What should I do if I am anxious and uncomfortable about returning to the workplace?
- What cleaning and ventilation protocols will be on place on campus?
- Should I continue to take COVID-19 tests?
- How are we using the SafeZone app?
- What should I do if there is a fire alarm?
- What should I do if I discover a fire on campus?
- What should I do if the fire alarm sounds?
- What should I do if I think I may have difficulty evacuating a building in the event of an emergency?
- I am concerned that my work environment or the work activity in which I am are involved in may be unsafe. What should I do?
- Can I take time off work to go to my vaccine appointment?
- What if I experience side effects after my vaccination?
- If I choose not to have the vaccine will I still be expected to return to work on campus?
- I cannot have the vaccine for health reasons - what support is available?
- Can my manager ask me if I’ve had the vaccine or not? Do I have to tell them?
- I’ve been contacted about my vaccine appointment but I’m being asked to pay for it – is that right?
- I’m currently recruiting for a new member of staff - can I ask candidates at interview if they have had the vaccine?
- If I’ve had the vaccine do I still need to get regularly tested for COVID-19 if I’m working on campus?
- Do I need to self-isolate if I’m fully vaccinated and have been identified as a close contact of someone with COVID-19?
How will I know if I am required to come back to work?
Your line manager will speak with you to outline what this involves and when you will be expected to return. Guidance is available at:
Do I have to return to work even if I'm struggling with childcare/caring responsibilities?
In these unprecedented times the University recognises that staff may struggle to carry out their role within normal working hours on their return to work. If you have been given notice that you are required to return, however feel that you may struggle to do so due to your personal circumstances, then please speak to you manager in the first instance.
There are a variety of options available to support all members of staff who may be struggling to manage their work-life balance due to personal circumstance. These options include but are not limited to: utilising coronavirus special leave, taking annual leave, requesting unpaid parental leave, agreeing a temporary change to your shift pattern which may allow you to work outside of core hours for example, or reducing your hours.
When considering the options available, it may be necessary for line managers to ask staff for further details around their personal circumstances, and we would ask staff for their co-operation when discussing any concerns they have.
Do I have to return to work on campus if someone I live with is considered 'high-risk' (previously known as clinically extremely vulnerable)?
If a member of your household is considered ‘high-risk’ you should discuss any concerns you may have about working on campus with your line manager.
I do not have a known underlying health condition, however, I am concerned about my general wellbeing and returning to work. What support is available?
We recognise that this is a difficult time for many individuals for a variety of reasons, and the requirement to return to work may exacerbate these feelings. Please speak to your line manager in the first instance to talk through your concerns and understand what steps have been put in place to ready the campus for your return. In addition, staff are also encouraged to make use of the wellbeing resources available on StaffNet.
I am classed as 'high-risk' (previously clinically extremely vulnerable.) Can I return to campus?
An approach consistent with recent government advice has been adopted, which no longer instructs people to work from home. This includes those who had previously been shielding or considered ‘clinically extremely vulnerable’, now known as ‘high-risk’.
To support you in your return you can discuss your individual circumstances with your Line Manager, who can also use the simple ALAMA ‘COVID age’ risk stratification tool as part of a risk-assessed approach. This tool is updated regularly by the Society of Occupational Medicine in line with emerging evidence.
If your 'COVID age’ is calculated to be more than 70 then with your consent your line manager can also refer you to the University’s Occupational Health Service for further support.
Is there advice on travelling to and from campus?
Yes, please see our travel FAQS.
Is any provision being made to risk assess BAME staff?
BAME people may be at higher risk from COVID-19, please discuss any concerns you have about your return to work with your line manager.
The legal requirement for social distancing is no longer in place.
Do I need to wear a face covering on campus?
We encourage everyone to continue to wear a face covering while moving around indoors on campus. There will be some areas where you will be required to wear a face covering as part of local risk assessments, such as small crowded spaces.
Will face coverings be provided?
Single-use face coverings will be available from University buildings.
Why don't we have temperature screening on campus?
Temperature checking is considered an ineffective means of screening for COVID-19 for several reasons. Symptomless COVID-19 infections (often referred to as asymptomatic) often make up a large percentage of positive cases. Even if you have symptoms, you will not always have a temperature. Infected individuals may be in the incubation period. Checks can provide false reassurance and thus may reduce compliance with other more effective measures such as social distancing, face coverings and good hand hygiene.
Is there guidance available on managing COVID-19 cases on campus?
Visit our report a case page for information on what to do. Please ensure all positive COVID-19 tests or self-isolation are reported.
I am a University employee working at a non-University site, do I still have to return to my workplace?
Our University is piloting hybrid working, more information on this can be found on StaffNet. Those who hold honorary contracts with the NHS or other employers should follow that employer’s local guidance.
I need to move furniture or arrange for items to be disposed of, who do I contact?
If you need to move or dispose of furniture, equipment or general waste having returned to campus or as part of ‘resetting’ spaces that have been setup for social-distancing, please read our short guide and complete the request form. It should then be sent to Helen Collier who will triage the request.
I still have questions, who do I speak to?
If staff have any questions, or concerns about returning to work, they should raise them with their line manager or People Partner.
How do I generate a QR code?
You can create and print a QR code for your area on the UK Government website, which can then be used with the NHS COVID-19 app:
- Local email addresses and phone numbers should be used at both stages when creating the code and printing the poster
- To find out the exact postcode of your building, find it on Google maps, and right click. The address and postcode will appear in a box on the left hand side of your screen
Once a notification is received from the NHS that a positive case has been linked to the QR code, an email should be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Are there resources to help me work effectively if I continue to work from home?
For guidance and support while you continue to work from home, please visit our Frequently Asked Questions on working from home.
I'm trying to balance work with caring responsibilities. What support is available?
There are a number of options available. These are explained in the Frequently Asked Questions on working from home.
What are the main things I need to understand about the risk of COVID-19?
- COVID-19 is a highly infectious and potentially fatal disease. This is a serious but a manageable risk.
- The impact of the disease is highly variable. Infected individuals may not necessarily show any signs of the disease but may still be able to pass it to others
- Some people are more vulnerable and have a higher risk of severe disease. It is important that such individuals are not exposed to any unnecessary risks. Some individuals with no obvious underlying risk factors may also develop severe disease.
- It appears to be primarily spread by respiratory droplets and possibly aerosols, and also contact with surfaces on which the respiratory droplets fall or have been contact with contaminated surfaces (e.g. hands). Respiratory droplets can spread widely when sneezing or coughing. Infection can occur through nose, mouth or eyes. It is important to maintain social distancing and strict hygiene measures such as frequent handwashing/sanitising hands.
- Handwashing with soap for at least 20 second according to NHS guidance (NHS Handwashing Guidance) is effective in reducing the risk of transmission. Hand sanitisers (with at least 60% alcohol content) should be used where handwashing is not possible.
- Normal surgical facemasks/face coverings reduce risk of transmission by limiting spread of respiratory droplets and aerosols. We strongly recommend the continued wearing of face-coverings whilst moving around indoors on campus. They should not be generally used as a substitute for social distancing.
There may be reduced First Aid coverage on campus, familiarise yourself with the first aid procedures outlined in the risk assessment for the work you are doing before you start work. Please use the following principles if you have an accident, but don’t put yourself at any risk of harm.
- If the situation is life-threatening call (9)999 to request an ambulance and then contact Campus Security.
- For minor injuries, please self-treat using supplies from first aid boxes and ensure supplies are replenished.
- If you do need first aid assistance, normal processes should be followed. Contact a first aider who will assess you whilst observing social distancing guidelines. They will give self-treatment advice. They will only break those guidelines if they deem it essential.
- If further assistance is required call 111 for advice. You will be automatically redirected to the ambulance service by 111 call handlers if necessary.
- If you are still concerned following the accident you should seek further medical advice from your GP surgery, a walk-in centre or NHS 111.
- If you have an accident, you should report it as you normally would and ensure that the completed accident form is sent electronically to email@example.com
Can I speak to my GP if I am uncertain about my health and whether I can return to work?
Yes. We encourage you to discuss your health with your GP or another relevant health professional if you are not sure of how your health may impact on your ability to start work.
What should I do if I’m struggling to balance work with childcare or other responsibilities during this time?
We recognise that during this unprecedented time, situations may arise which result in you struggling to work your normal working pattern or commit to a full day of work. This might include childcare or other caring responsibilities.
A guidance note is available: Guidance for staff with caring responsibilities.
If you just need an occasional day of leave to balance your responsibilities or deal with a coronavirus-related emergency, you can request coronavirus special leave – please refer to the question below titled 'Under what circumstances can I request coronavirus special leave'.
If the situation is ongoing, talk to your line manager about what temporary arrangements could be put in place to help you. For example, changing your working hours or days, compressing your hours, reducing your hours or split shifts. See our Flexible Working Policy and information on hybrid working for further detail.
Under what circumstances can I request coronavirus special leave?
Coronavirus special leave has been agreed to supplement our current Special Leave policy. This allows staff to apply for up to an additional 15 days of special leave during the calendar year 2022 due to a coronavirus-related emergency, which you can take as full or half days. Circumstances when staff may apply for this additional leave include:
- You and the person/people you share caring responsibilities with both work full-time, and are trying to balance working and caring responsibilities between you
- You are a single parent/guardian/carer and have no other external support
- The person/people you share caring responsibilities with is ill and unable to support with shared care
- A family member you live with is self-isolating and requires additional support
- You need to self-isolate after returning from international travel on University business.
Some staff may have already used all or some of their coronavirus special leave allowance from 2021, so the University is offering another 15 days for 2022 starting from 4 January 2022. It will not be possible to ‘roll over’ any outstanding coronavirus special leave which you did not use in 2021.
Line managers must ensure that they discuss with their People and OD Partner any requests for coronavirus special leave, to ensure a fair and consistent approach is being applied. Taking coronavirus special leave will not affect your ability to apply for other special leave. However please bear in mind that these policies are subject to ongoing review.
What should I do if I am anxious and uncomfortable about returning to the workplace?
We appreciate and recognise that even in circumstances where colleagues are not classed as extremely vulnerable or vulnerable, some will be anxious about returning to work. In these circumstances, discuss these concerns with your manager. They will be able to explain in detail the measures that are being taken to safeguard colleagues generally and the particular measures being put in place in your specific workplace and/or for your specific onsite work (e.g. small group teaching).
What cleaning and ventilation protocols will be on place on campus?
The Directorate of Estates and Facilities, and Safety Services have published detailed information on cleaning, and FAQs on how our campus buildings will be ventilated as more staff and students occupy campus.
This is part of a comprehensive set of measures which are being introduced along with guidance for staff and students to ensure we all minimise the risk of COVID-19.
It is important that colleagues and students play their part in cleaning, maintaining social distancing and following instructions for the use of buildings to ensure that they minimise the risk of infection to themselves and others.
Should I continue to take COVID-19 tests?
You are not required to continue asymptomatic testing twice a week any longer.
Please continue to report if you are symptomatic, isolating or test positive using our online survey. It will help us to monitor the situation and make any necessary changes to keep everyone safe.
How are we using the SafeZone app?
The SafeZone app allows staff and students to contact our COVID-19 helpline to ask any questions, report concerns and get advice on how to report a positive COVID-19 test. It also allows you to contact our Security team directly if you are in an immediate emergency or require first aid.
- Individuals are responsible for ensuring they leave a building quickly, safely and calmly.
- Evacuate the building by following the nearest fire exit signs. In some cases, these may be temporary signs. If operating equipment at the time of the alarm, ensure it is left in a safe condition before leaving.
- Temporary one-way systems may be disregarded during an emergency, if necessary, to evacuate safely.
- During the evacuation, try to maintain a physical distance of two metres wherever possible from any other person in corridors, stairwells, lobbies and all other areas.
- Observe the areas you pass through. Encourage others to leave the building if they have not already started to make their way to a fire exit.
- While leaving the building try to avoid touching any surfaces such as door handles etc
- Move away from the building and remain at the designated fire assembly point, maintaining a physical distance of two metres from other people. Note: If social distancing cannot be maintained at the fire assembly point due to the volume of people gathering, individuals are urged to disperse away from the building and to return to the fire assembly point after 20 minutes.
- Campus Security or a Fire Evacuation Marshall will inform you when it is safe to re-enter the building.
- When re-entering the building, try to maintain a physical distance of two metres wherever possible. Do not crowd entrances or corridors. Where practical, use stairs rather than queue for lifts. Follow all instructions in place when inside the building.
I am concerned that my work environment or the work activity in which I am are involved in may be unsafe. What should I do?
If you have any safety concerns, please see our step-by-step guide to resolution and reporting.
Colleagues may have questions and concerns about the COVID-19 vaccination – you can find a wide range of information on the government website:
Can I take time off work to go to my vaccine appointment?
If you choose to have the vaccine you can take paid time off work to attend your appointment where it is not possible to schedule an appointment outside your working hours. If your appointment falls during working hours please let your line manager know in the way you normally would when attending any other medical appointment.
What if I experience side effects after my vaccination?
Some people experience side-effects after having the vaccine. If you suffer side-effects which mean that you’re unable to work, please notify your line manager if you have attended your vaccine appointment during your usual working hours and are feeling too unwell to return to work following your vaccine. Note to managers: if a colleague reports illness before 10am (or within the first hour of their shift) that day should be recorded as a full day of sickness; if they report in between 10am and 3pm (or after the first hour of their shift and before their normal return from lunch) that should be recorded as a half day of sickness absence; if they report after 3pm this should not be counted as sickness absence for that day.
If side effects continue beyond the day you received your vaccine then any further time off would be recorded as Sickness Absence in the usual way.
If I choose not to have the vaccine will I still be expected to return to work on campus?
It’s your personal choice as to whether to have the vaccine or not. Whatever you choose, you will be expected to return to work on campus as requested by your line manager according to our Guidance for staff returning to work on campus.
I cannot have the vaccine for health reasons - what support is available?
Occupational Health are keen to support staff returning to campus. We appreciate that there are some circumstances – albeit rare - in which individuals might not be able to have their COVID-19 vaccine e.g. they have a risk of severe allergic reaction due to underlying polyethylene glycol or polysorbate allergy.
To support an inclusive return to campus, clinicians from Occupational Health are happy to provide all staff with the opportunity to discuss any concerns and to go through relevant COVID-19 risk stratification tools with them. Where appropriate, this might also include an actual review of their campus work space to determine if any additional individual risk mitigation actions above the standard COVID security measures (i.e. social distancing, improved ventilation etc) needs to be considered.
Can my manager ask me if I’ve had the vaccine or not? Do I have to tell them?
Whilst your line manager can ask you if you have had the vaccine, you are not obliged to answer, although you are encouraged to do so. The University will not be recording or holding any data about which staff have had the vaccine.
I’ve been contacted about my vaccine appointment but I’m being asked to pay for it – is that right?
No. The vaccine is being offered to everyone free of charge. If you receive contact from someone offering the vaccine in return for payment or your bank details it is a scam. The NHS is using texts to contact people about their appointment as follows:
- The text will come from 'NHSvaccine';
- The link to book your vaccine will take you to the NHS.uk website - once you have clicked the link check in your mobile browser that the URL is correct;
- The vaccine is free of charge. If the link takes you to a page to input payment details, it is a SCAM;
- You will never be asked to prove your identity by sending copies of personal documents.
I’m currently recruiting for a new member of staff - can I ask candidates at interview if they have had the vaccine?
No, you should not ask candidates whether they have had the vaccine or not.
If I’ve had the vaccine do I still need to get regularly tested for COVID-19 if I’m working on campus?
Universal free testing for COVID-19 is no longer available and so we do not expect colleagues to test regularly for COVID-19.
Do I need to self-isolate if I’m fully vaccinated and have been identified as a close contact of someone with COVID-19?
If you have been in household contact with someone who has Covid but are asymptomatic then you do not have to isolate and can continue to work. If you are able to work from home you may choose to self-isolate for a period of 5 days to reduce the risk to other people.