Support for colleagues working during lockdown
05 Jan 2021
Critical worker status, Coronavirus Special Leave, flexible working and furlough leave are options available to colleagues
You will have received a message from Nancy outlining how the national lockdown will affect our University over the coming weeks. I wanted to share with you the support and guidance on offer to help us with working during this lockdown, especially if you have caring or home schooling responsibilities.
Critical workers: We have been informed by the Department for Education that higher education workers are classified as critical workers and may be able to continue to send their children to school where they are required to attend work or work from home to support the welfare, wellbeing and teaching of students. You are advised to speak to your child’s school to clarify what arrangements they have in place. If your school asks you for evidence that you work at the University your staff identity card should suffice, however we also have a letter available which you can ask your line manager to provide for you.
Flexible working options: The closure of schools means that many staff will be home schooling or need to balance work commitments with childcare. If you are struggling, please talk to your line manager about whether flexible working arrangements can be put in place to help you – these could be anything from changing your working hours or days, compressing your hours or reducing your hours – see our Flexible Working Policy for further detail.
Coronavirus Special Leave: We continue to offer a range of support for staff with caring responsibilities including 14 days of Coronavirus Special Leave in addition to our usual Special Leave allowance. Some staff may have already used all or some of their Coronavirus Special Leave allowance from 2020, so I’m pleased to confirm that we will be offering another 14 days of Coronavirus Special Leave for 2021 starting from 5 January 2021. Unfortunately it will not be possible to ‘roll over’ any outstanding Coronavirus Special Leave which you didn’t use in 2020.
Furlough leave: We will continue to use the government’s Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS) and furlough leave for those staff who are unable to carry out their work from home. We have a dedicated CJRS StaffNet site which gives further information and guidance about furlough leave. Line managers are being asked to identify those staff to be placed on furlough leave whether that’s on a full-time or part-time basis. To be eligible for furlough colleagues need to have worked at the University since 30 October 2020 and the University will continue to top up to 100% the salary of any member of staff placed on furlough leave.
Furlough leave is also available for colleagues who are unable to carry out their work from home due to childcare responsibilities, if the other support provisions outlined above are not sufficient. You should discuss this option with your line manager. Agency workers can be furloughed provided they are paid through PAYE. Agency workers will usually be on the payroll of the agency, rather than the University, therefore, it is the agency that will put them on furlough.
I appreciate that this new lockdown may be challenging for colleagues and would encourage you to talk to your line manager or HR Partner if you have concerns or questions. There are also various FAQs for colleagues on StaffNet. This is not the start to 2021 that any of us would have wanted, but thank you for your ongoing commitment and hard work during these testing times.
Director of Human Resources