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Staff FAQs

Last updated on 9 April 2021

Under the government’s roadmap, the current advice is to stay local and to continue to work from home if you are able to do so.

These legal restrictions will apply to all University staff whether involved in teaching, research or professional services. The only exceptions are:

  • Researchers and research students who require access to specialist facilities for their work.
  • Staff required to attend the campus to deliver in-person teaching and assessments on exempted programmes 
  • PS staff who are providing vital frontline services.

More information:

You should contact your line manager if you have any questions about work priorities or arrangements. Guidance is available for managers who are requesting colleagues return to work:

There are other useful StaffNet sites covering: research, teaching, postgraduate study, travel, furlough, working from home, working on campus, students and applicants.

Colleagues should familiarise themselves with these resources. The health and wellbeing of our staff and students is our primary concern. The most important thing that you can do is to follow NHS advice on how to avoid catching or spreading coronavirus.

We understand that this is a difficult time for everyone. If you need help, please do make use of our support services including resources to support your mental health. Mental health charity Mind has also published a coronavirus guide.

We’ll continue to communicate with you and make every effort to ensure the safety of our staff and students during this period.

Useful contacts

For HR advice: Contact HRServices@manchester.ac.uk or email your HR Partner. Managers can also refer to Managers Essentials on StaffNet for information on dealing with day-to-day issues. 

For pensions advice or questions: Contact pensions@manchester.ac.uk.

Equality, Diversity and Inclusion team: Visit the Equality, Diversity and Inclusion pages.

Disability Advisory Support Service (DASS): To find out more visit the DASS pages.

Frequently Asked Questions

Pay and expenses

  • Are expenses claims still being processed?
  • Is support available to help me pay household expenses while I’m working from home?
  • My usual paid childcare is not currently available, how do I cancel or reduce my KiddiVoucher pay deductions?

Procurement

  • How do I pay for goods or services?
  • I am working in a University research facility, can I purchase goods that are essential to this research?

Contracts and recruitment

  • Can I still recruit staff?
  • I have a fixed-term contract that is coming to an end. What will happen?
  • How are probation periods for academic staff affected by the current situation?
  • How are probation periods for Professional Services staff affected by the current situation?
  • I’m leaving the university, how do I return my laptop or other IT equipment?
  • I am leaving the University, what should I do with my staff card?
  • Is overseas working allowed during lockdown?
  • Who do I contact for immigration enquiries?
  • What about my Right to Work visa?
  • Am I covered by the University's insurance arrangements whilst working from home or do I need to inform my home insurance provider?

Furlough leave

Sick leave, special leave and annual leave

  • What do I do if I have coronavirus symptoms?
  • What if I’m ill but it’s not coronavirus?
  • Is self-isolation / quarantine counted as paid sick leave or do I have to take unpaid leave?
  • What should I do if I’m struggling to balance work with childcare or other responsibilities during this time?
  • It has been difficult to conduct teaching and research due to remote working and/or caring responsibilities. Will expectations and requirements related to my workload and research/teaching quality and quantity be adjusted to take account of this?
  • Under what circumstances can I request coronavirus special leave?

Campus and facilities

For the latest information on staff operations on campus, see the campus reopening and corporate support site.

COVID-19 vaccination

Colleagues may have questions and concerns about the COVID-19 vaccination – you can find a wide range of information on the government website: Coronavirus (COVID-19) vaccine - NHS (www.nhs.uk)

  • Can I take time off work to go to my vaccine appointment?
  • What if I experience side effects after my vaccination?
  • Do I have to come back to work on campus if asked by my line manager even if I haven’t been offered the vaccine yet? 
  • If I choose not to have the vaccine will I still be expected to return to work on campus?  
  • Can my manager ask me if I’ve had the vaccine or not?  Do I have to tell them?  
  • Is the University prioritising groups of staff to receive the vaccine first?  
  • 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?

Training and development

  • I have a training course booked with Staff Learning and Development. Will this still go ahead?
  • Will I still be offered a P&DR if my manager is on furlough leave?

Academic promotions

For further information on academic promotions, read this message from HR Director, Karen Heaton.

Teaching


 

Pay and expenses

Are expenses claims still being processed?

Staff should not be incurring expenses at this time, unless they are absolutely necessary and pre-approved by a Senior Leadership Team (SLT) member or their immediate delegate.

You should either scan or take a photograph of your expenses form and receipts and submit these, along with your electronic signature and proof of SLT approval, to HRServices@manchester.ac.uk. For expenses to be processed and paid, authorising managers must send a separate email with their electronic signature for this to be validated. They will only need to do this on one occasion.

A new online expenses module is being rolled out in phases across the University. From Monday 1 June, if you work in the Department of Mathematics, Department of Computer Science, IT Services, Directorate of Human Resources or the Directorate of Finance, you will be able to submit claims through the new module via MyView. You will still need pre-approval for your expenses from an SLT member (or their immediate delegate) and to submit evidence of this through the module.

Is support available to help me pay household expenses while I’m working from home?

The University has carefully considered whether it is able to make payments to colleagues to contribute to household expenses incurred whilst working from home, such as heating, lighting, internet connection etc.  On balance the decision has been taken not to offer such payments but to encourage colleagues to consider making a claim for household expenses in the form of income tax relief through Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs (HMRC).   Details about this tax relief and how to claim it are available on the HMRC website. HMRC advises that you make one annual claim for the period you have been working from home as the refund will likely be given in the form of a tax code adjustment, so you will pay less tax over the year.  Multiple tax payers from the same address can claim this tax relief.

You can find further FAQs about working from home, including information on how to access IT and other equipment to assist you on StaffNet.

My usual paid childcare is not currently available, how do I cancel or reduce my KiddiVoucher pay deductions?

If your childcare is currently unavailable, you can temporarily pause your salary sacrifice – you do not have to contribute a minimum payment. Further information and instructions are available on our childcare vouchers page.

 

Procurement

How do I pay for goods or services?

You can find out the latest advice on our Central Procurement Office website

 

Contracts and recruitment

Can I still recruit staff?

Recruitment activity is progressing for essential roles only as approved by the Registrar, Secretary and Chief Operating Officer for Professional Services roles, and Deans for Faculty roles.  Roles which are R Funded can now be approved for recruitment following their normal Faculty process aligned to funding agreements.  Roles which are advertised will progress to the usual selection stages, however interviews and assessments will now take place online or over the telephone. Further guidance on carrying out interviews online can be found in the managers essentials.

I have a fixed-term contract that is coming to an end. What will happen?

PS colleagues on fixed-term contracts will continue to work until the end of their current contract. We expect that most contracts will not be extended beyond this point and the existing process under the Contracts of Employment Policy and Procedure will apply. Where individual consultation is required this will be done virtually. Only in rare circumstances where a role is considered to be of strategic importance to the University will extensions to fixed-term appointments be approved.

For colleagues working on externally-funded research projects, where a new award requires the appointment of a new PS staff member, recruitment should be deferred in line with the funder’s position on start and finish dates for recent awards. Where funding is in place for the extension of the fixed-term contract of an existing PS staff member, and the project is (and will continue to be) minimally disrupted by the coronavirus situation, permission will be granted more frequently. Only in very exceptional circumstances will consideration be given to extending contracts for these staff members where full funding is not in place.

How are probation periods for academic staff affected by the current situation?

For more information on probation periods for academic staff, please visit our recent StaffNet article.

How are probation periods for Professional Services staff affected by the current situation?

Probation processes for Professional Services staff are unchanged. Probation should be managed wherever possible in line with existing timetables, however contact between staff and their line manager will have to take place virtually.

In cases where staff on probation are unable to work on their objectives or undertake effective remote working during campus closure, then the probation period will be paused until such time as they can resume work on their objectives. Such arrangements should be confirmed in writing by the manager. The remaining probation period will resume as soon as reasonably practicable. In some cases it may be possible to do this whilst working from home is in place, although in others it will not be feasible until the University campus reopens.

I’m leaving the University, how do I return my laptop or other IT equipment?

If you're leaving the University, then your University computer (whether it be a laptop, desktop or other device) must be returned to IT Services. Computers should never be passed to another colleague for them to use – they must be wiped and reconfigured by IT Services before being issued to someone else. This applies to all University computers regardless of how the purchase was funded.

To submit a request to return IT equipment, login to the Support Portal and complete the following form. Alternatively please call the IT Support Centre on 0161 306 5544.

Please note that mobile phones are purchased and owned locally in Directorates, Faculties and Schools and will need to be returned via this route. If you have no alternative you can return the device to IT Services with your IT equipment.

I am leaving the University, what should I do with my staff card?

If you are leaving the University you should either destroy your staff card or post it back to HR Services, 2nd Floor, Simon Building, Brunswick Street, The University of Manchester, M13 9PL. 

Is overseas working allowed during lockdown?

Please visit our travel FAQs for information on overseas working. 

Who do I contact for immigration enquiries?

A helpline has been set up by the Home Office for international higher education staff and students if they have immigration queries related to coronavirus. The helpline can only speak to the visa holder or applicant about individual cases. If a third party wishes to speak on their behalf, they must have the visa holder’s permission.

Telephone 0800 678 1767 (Monday-Friday 9am-5pm), calls are free of charge. Email CIH@homeoffice.gov.uk

What about my Right to Work visa?

The Immigration Team in HR Services will continue to monitor current staff’s Right to Work visas and will manage any extensions that are required. Visas will also be managed for any new staff starters that have a signed contract or have a confirmed start date. No other visa management will take place during this period. More information is available at on the Government’s website.

Am I covered by the University's insurance arrangements whilst working from home or do I need to inform my home insurance provider?

The University's employer and public liability policies remain in force and are not compromised by staff having to temporarily work from home. However, while staff are working from home they are only covered by University insurance when undertaking safe admin or computer-based work. While at home, staff should not undertake any University work that involves higher risk activities such as heavy lifting, heat or chemicals. Even on campus, this kind of work requires significant controls for health and safety reasons – the home environment is not normally risk assessed or equipped to do this work safely.

If you have existing personal home and/or motor insurance, your cover will not be affected if you take part in any of the activities below. You do not need to contact your insurer to update documents or extend your cover if:

  • You are an office-based worker and need to work from home because of government advice or because you need to self-isolate
  • You have to drive to your workplace because of the impact of COVID-19
  • You are using your own car for voluntary purposes to transport medicines or groceries to support others who are impacted by COVID-19
  • Your work is critical to the national response to COVID-19 and you need to use your own car to drive to different locations for work purposes because of the impact of COVID-19

Further guidance on working safely at home is available from our Safety Services site and the working from home FAQs.

 

Sick leave, special leave and annual leave

What do I do if I have coronavirus symptoms?

If you test positive for COVID-19 or are required to self-isolate, you must complete our form

Line managers and/or staff who have a role in which they interact directly with students, should also be familiar with the reporting case protocol, and ensure that all staff under their responsibility are aware of how this process works.

What if I’m ill but it’s not coronavirus?

You should let your line manager know that you are unwell so that they can record your sickness absence in the usual way. You can find more information about taking sickness absence on StaffNet.

Is self-isolation / quarantine counted as paid sick leave or do I have to take unpaid leave?

Government and NHS guidelines require people to self-isolate/quarantine if they have coronavirus symptoms, they suspect they may have been exposed to the virus or they are waiting for a coronavirus test result, or they have recently returned from international travel.

If you are well and able to work from home, you can do so throughout any self-isolation/quarantine period.

If you cannot work from home and are self-isolating due to symptoms or suspected exposure, you should report this to your line manager in line with the reporting case protocol. You will receive full pay during this absence and it will not be counted for the purpose of any monitoring against trigger points under the Sickness Absence Policy and Procedures. Please note that staff are still required to obtain either a fit note, or an isolation note to cover the duration of their absence after the initial 7 day period of self-certification.  See the international travel section of this FAQ above for further information about self-isolation following international travel.

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 HR 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 for further detail.

It has been difficult to conduct teaching and research due to remote working and/or caring responsibilities. Will expectations and requirements related to my workload and research/teaching quality and quantity be adjusted to take account of this?

We appreciate that everyone is doing the best they can in difficult circumstances. If you believe that your ability to meet normal work expectations has been adversely affected due to lockdown and remote working, please discuss this in the first instance with your Head of Department or Division.

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 14 days of special leave 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
  • The person/people you share caring responsibilities with is a key worker, and you are therefore taking on additional caring responsibilities
  • 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 or shielding and requires additional support
  • You need to self-isolate after returning from international travel

Some staff may have already used all or some of their coronavirus special leave allowance from 2020, so the University is offering another 14 days for 2021 starting from 5 January 2021. It will not be possible to ‘roll over’ any outstanding coronavirus special leave which you did not use in 2020.   

Line managers must ensure that they discuss with their HR 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.

 

 

COVID-19 vaccination

Colleagues may have questions and concerns about the COVID-19 vaccination – you can find a wide range of information on the government website here: Coronavirus (COVID-19) vaccine - NHS (www.nhs.uk)

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.

Do I have to come back to work on campus if asked by my line manager even if I haven’t been offered the vaccine yet?

Some staff are being asked to return to work on campus according to our priority groups – you can find out more:

Staff who are clinically extremely vulnerable (CEV) or who live with someone who is CEV, are not required to work on campus, even after shielding has ended on 31 March 2021.

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.

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. 

Is the University prioritising groups of staff to receive the vaccine first? 

Unfortunately the University has no control over which groups of staff receive the vaccine first.  The government is following the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) priority groups – you can find out more about these:

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?

Yes, even when you have had your vaccination you can still pass COVID on so it’s important that staff working on campus continue to get regularly tested.  At the moment, staff are eligible for two asymptomatic COVID-19 tests per week whether you have had the vaccine or not. You can find out more:

 

 

Training and development

I have a training course booked with Staff Learning and Development. Will this still go ahead?

As many training courses and learning materials as possible will be made accessible on StaffNet for colleagues to be able to invest in developing their skill set during this period. All training events that require delegates to attend will be postponed.

Will I still be offered a P&DR if my manager is on furlough leave?

If your manager is on furlough leave, they won’t be able to carry out your P&DR until they are back at work.