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Staff FAQs

Last updated on 3 November 2020

As we carry out the phased re-opening of campus, more colleagues are now being asked to return to work on campus or return from furlough leave.  Please 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 including:

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 Togetherall. 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

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 want to interview job candidates who are based overseas, should I still invite them?
  • An interview candidate has booked travel but has been forced to cancel due to COVID-19. Can they still be reimbursed under the interview expenses policy?
  • 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?
  • How do I hand in my resignation?
  • 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?
  • How do I request annual leave?
  • What are the arrangements for the Christmas and New Year closure period this year?
  • The additional University closure days over the Christmas and New Year period fall on days/a day I don’t work.  What should I do?
  • I’m a member of staff who has to work over the Christmas and New Year period.  Can I take time off in lieu at a later date?
  • Can I cancel or change annual leave days I've already booked?

Campus and facilities

For further information on access during this closure period, campus reopening, the new academic year and guidance on staff returning to work, see the campus management site.

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

 

Useful contacts

For HR advice: HR Services will scale back operations during this period, prioritising activities relating to processing payroll and ensuring all current staff hold a Right to Work visa. The HR Services reception in the Simon Building will not be open – if you have enquiries please 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 / questions: This team will be operating on a reduced basis. To contact them email pensions@manchester.ac.uk.

Equality, Diversity and Inclusion team: These teams will be operating on a reduced basis. To contact them visit the Equality, Diversity and Inclusion pages.

Disability Advisory Support Service (DASS): This team is currently working from home. They are carrying out appointments via video call or phone, and are responding to voicemails and emails. To find out more visit the DASS pages.

 

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?

We have updated guidance on purchasing and payment of goods and services during this period. This must be complied with – it applies to all members of the University and its subsidiaries including all staff, students and other associated individuals.

Only orders for essential services and supplies are to be purchased until further notice. In some cases, orders will also be allowed if they enable essential work to continue off-campus. The iProcurement system will be available only for these orders.

Requisitions in either case must be pre-approved by a Senior Leadership Team member or their immediate delegate, or they will not be converted into a Purchase Order (PO) or issued to the supplier.

In exceptional circumstances, SLT has agreed that consideration may be given for goods to be delivered to a personal home address. DO NOT arrange this yourself and do not ask for an exception unless the member of SLT or their delegate has pre-approved a case for so doing. Any request for home delivery must also be accompanied by a completed checklist and documentation.

I am working in a University research facility, can I purchase goods that are essential to this research?

As some research operations begin to re-open a new purchasing procedure has been put in place to enable staff working in these facilities to purchase essential goods only. For further information, click here to visit the research FAQ.

 

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 want to interview job candidates who are based overseas, should I still invite them?

This will depend on where the candidate is based. Both the University and the candidate must follow the latest travel advice, Public Health England Advice, and advice available in the country where the candidate is based. We recommend that managers use Skype/video call interviews wherever possible for the foreseeable future. See our managers' essentials page for a how-to guide on setting up video call interviews.

An interview candidate has booked travel but has been forced to cancel due to COVID-19. Can they still be reimbursed under the interview expenses policy?

If they have booked in good faith and can provide details of why they have been unable to travel, we will reimburse. Claims will be dealt with on a case-by-case basis and should be sent to hrservices@manchester.ac.uk. We recommend that managers use Skype/video call interviews wherever possible for the foreseeable future. See our managers' essentials page for a how-to guide on setting up video call interviews.

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.

How do I hand in my resignation?

Resignations should continue to be sent to line managers and copied into HR Services to be processed. Staff leaving the University should return equipment at a time that is safe and appropriate for them to do so. This is likely to be when non-essential facilities have been re-opened.

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

From Friday 31 July, IT Services are running a drop-off service on campus so staff members leaving the University can return any IT equipment they have at home. You will have to book an appointment in advance so that we can run the service in a safe and socially distanced way.

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?

Currently some UoM staff are working from an overseas base until travel restrictions are lifted and they can relocate to the UK. Everyone in this circumstance should complete the Staff Working Abroad Form (OW1) so we have a record of these instances and can assess any potential risks.

This form was not originally designed for this situation, so some of the questions may not fit well with your circumstances. Please complete it as best you can – make sure your answers relate to the anticipated period of time that you’ll be working overseas and make it clear this is a consequence of the COVID-19 crisis.

As a result of working overseas, there may be overseas income tax and social security consequences for the individual (and possibly the department). For the period that you are working overseas for the University, you should submit a tax return to your local tax office declaring this income. If you are taxed in the UK and overseas on the same income, it may be possible to claim for double taxation relief on your tax returns.

The University expects that you will return to the UK once travel restrictions have been lifted. If you intend to stay overseas longer then you must discuss this immediately with your line manager. There may be additional costs involved if the appointment is carried on outside the UK in the medium to long term.

If you are doing certain types of research or online teaching from overseas, or you are sharing information with a colleague who is currently based overseas, export controls may apply. For further information, see the export control FAQs.

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?

It is imperative that, in order to manage and minimise the spread of COVID-19 and support the NHS Test and Trace programme, all staff must adhere to a standard University-wide process which has been agreed for handling reports of positive COVID-19 staff and student cases or individuals required to self-isolate.

Staff have access to a number of COVID-19 support resources and in line with this, should inform their line manager if they have tested positive or are self-isolating.

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.

If you just need an occasional day’s leave to balance your responsibilities or deal with a coronavirus-related emergency, you can request coronavirus special leave – see the next question for further details.

If the situation is ongoing, talk to your line manager about what temporary arrangements could be put in place to help you. There are several options available:

  • Changing your working hours or days, compressing your hours, reducing your hours or split shifts – see our Flexible Working Policy for further detail.
  • Voluntarily applying for a temporary reduction of hours (with corresponding reduction in salary) via the University’s voluntary measures. This is open to applications from all staff until 31 July 2020.

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

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.

How do I request annual leave?

The usual process for requesting annual leave still applies during this time. Please ensure that you give as much notice as possible of your proposed holiday dates.  If you work part-time, you should continue to use the online annual leave calculator to calculate your annual leave. This has been adjusted to account of the additional closures days over the Christmas and New Year period.

What are the arrangements for the Christmas and New Year closure period this year?

In recognition of the exceptional hard work from colleagues the University Christmas closure period will be extended this year.  Our University will close at the end of Friday, 18 December 2020 and reopen on Monday, 4 January 2021. 

Monday, 21 December to Thursday, 24 December; and Tuesday, 29 Thursday to Thursday, 31 December will be classed as University closure days and you will not need to take them as annual leave.  Friday, 25 December, Monday, 28 December and Friday, 1 January 2021 are Bank Holidays. 

The online annual leave calculator has been adjusted to account of the additional closures days and Bank Holidays over the Christmas and New Year period.

The additional University closure days over the Christmas and New Year period fall on days/a day I don’t work.  What should I do?

The dates 21-24 and 29-31 December 2020 are treated as closure days, therefore there is no entitlement to substitute these days as leave if any fall on a non-working day.

I’m a member of staff who has to work over the Christmas and New Year period.  Can I take time off in lieu at a later date?

We are very grateful to colleagues who continue to work over this period to keep vital services open. If you’re asked to work on a closure day or Bank Holiday you will be able to take the time off in lieu at a later date as agreed with your manager.

Can I cancel or change annual leave days that I’ve already booked?

If you would like to cancel or change planned leave, please speak to your line manager. They may allow you to cancel or change annual leave days that you have already booked. However this will depend on circumstances and may not be possible if (for example) they have arranged cover for you, organised workloads on the basis that you would be on leave, or a large number of staff in your team are building up holiday they have not yet taken.

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.