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Coronavirus (COVID-19)


Information for staff


Dignity and respect

Leeds Beckett University is proud to be a diverse and inclusive global community.

We realise that there is the possibility that current events may cause an increase in incidents of racial harassment, aggression or abuse which some students and colleagues might face. This is completely unacceptable.

There is no place for behaviour which undermines the dignity and human rights of other members of the community. We have a zero tolerance approach to racial harassment, aggression or abuse.

We encourage anyone experiencing or witnessing inappropriate behaviour to report it to the University, so that action can be taken. You can find out more by reading our Dignity at Work Policy or, if you feel you need support, you can directly contact Human Resources.

HR policy and guidance

Government instructions to employers to help mitigate the impact of the global pandemic on public health and the economy through social distancing and infection control have forced us to make fundamental changes to our workplace. These changes mean we can continue to provide services to our stakeholders, continue to provide employment to our colleagues, and help protect the health of students, colleagues and the wider community.

In advising colleagues and managers we will be sympathetic and flexible in seeking to support individuals during challenging circumstances. The guidance and policies set out below have been drawn up with the support of our recognised Trades Unions. 

This guidance takes precedence over the university’s other published policies, until the university advises otherwise. This is a fast-changing situation and we shall be keeping our policies and guidance under regular review.

Guidance for Managers

As we prepare for the reopening of our campuses, colleagues within your teams may turn to you as their manager with questions and concerns relating to how this may impact them individually.

We have therefore created a Covid-19 managers guide that will help support you to exercise your judgement as a manager and make decisions that are consistent with the wider University approach, while at the same time taking account of local circumstances and individual needs.

Annual Leave and Compassionate Leave

Plus Icon Accrual and Carry Over of Annual Leave

It’s important that all colleagues continue to take regular periods of annual leave. The expectation is that colleagues will take their leave entitlement in the current leave year.

If colleagues have any concerns around taking annual leave, then they should speak to their line manager about how their annual leave may be scheduled.

The usual policy is that colleagues can carry forward up to 5 days’ (pro-rata) untaken leave to the next leave year. These days of annual leave must be taken by a specified date, which is dependent on the date on which the annual leave year ends.

If you are unwell with symptoms of Covid-19 during booked annual leave, colleagues may carry forward up to 5 days (pro-rata) accrued untaken leave to the next leave year. These days can be taken at any time during the next leave year, with the usual line manager agreement process.

If colleagues are unable to take planned leave:

  • at the request of your line manager, because you need to cover someone else’s role due to reasons related to Covid-19 and there are no other reasonable options available; or
  • as a result of the four-week extension to all deadlines originally due or set between Monday 23 March and the end of the assessment period for your particular subject or School;

then up to 10 days’ (pro-rata) untaken leave may be carried forward to the next leave year. These days can be taken at any time during the next leave year, with the usual line manager agreement process.

Plus Icon Cancelling Planned Holidays

Some colleagues may not be able to take planned holidays away from home this year. However, it is important that colleagues still take regular leave even if they are unable to get away, as this will allow appropriate rest and recuperation.  

Rather than cancelling annual leave, colleagues should speak to their line manager about how they might schedule their annual leave over the coming months.

Line managers are able to delete any untaken annual leave in iTrent and can follow guidance on how to transfer holiday entitlement and delete untaken holiday (available on the Management Information, iTrent self-service webpage).

Plus Icon Returning to work following overseas holiday
The Government has issued guidance about overseas travel and return to the UK which aims to restrict the spread of coronavirus and keep us all safe. Colleagues holidaying outside of the UK are advised to consult the Foreign & Commonwealth Office webpages and Government webpages about travel corridors and self-isolation prior to travel. Where self-isolation is likely to be required on return to the UK, colleagues should discuss and agree their working arrangements during self-isolation with their manager prior to travel.
Plus Icon Compassionate / Bereavement Leave
The Time Off for Public Duties and Special Leave Policy is available on the HR Policies A-Z . This includes provisions to take time off for compassionate, bereavement or domestic emergency reasons.

Flexible working

Government instructions to employers require all colleagues to adjust the way that we work. These adjustments are for our own personal health and wellbeing and to make our contributions in our roles meaningful. This will require some of us to work from home during the pandemic, for some or all of our working time.

Up to this point, the university has taken a formal approach to considering flexible working requests and the default place of work has been on campus. Now is the time to change this approach and embrace a more informal approach to create the best working environment for colleagues to contribute in helping the university run its operations effectively.

Conversations about flexible working will focus on fairness, transparency, open mindedness and two-way flexibility, with colleagues trusted to give their best. New policies and principles on informally agreeing flexible working, and working from home, will be available on this webpage shortly.

Ways of working

Plus Icon What should I do if I am affected by nursery, pre-school or school closures/re-openings?

Whilst nurseries, pre-schools and certain year groups at schools could re-open on 1 June 2020, you may decide to keep your child at home or you may have a child who does not fall into that year group.  Should this be the case, we will take a flexible approach. If you are unable to work from home to carry out all or part of your usual role, then you should discuss this with your line manager so they are aware of when you are likely to be available and what activities you are able to carry out from home.

Whilst the University will support you in this situation as much as reasonably possible, you are also expected to make reasonable personal arrangements to accommodate the requirement to provide care, such as sharing this with a partner and/or working for parts of the day. If you have any questions or concerns about this please speak to your line manager, who will contact the Employee Relations team at EmployeeRelationsTeam@leedsbeckett.ac.uk for further advice, as required.

Our Human Resources homepage has further information that you may find useful when trying to work from home in a flexible way, such as looking after your own mental health and wellbeing. Government guidance can be found o the Government website.

 

Plus Icon What should I do if I must care for friends, family or neighbours during my usual working hours?

We will take a sympathetic, flexible and generous approach to all situations where colleagues must take time out of their usual working hours to support friends, family and neighbours during the virus pandemic period. If your caring duties are likely to significantly impact your ability to carry out your work duties, then you should speak to your manager to agree arrangements.

Plus Icon I am unable to work from home and my role is not in the ‘essential roles’ category, so I have volunteered to support the NHS. If I take time away from work to carry out these volunteering activities will I still be paid?

Yes, you will continue to be paid and thank you for volunteering your time in this way. Please speak to your manager as soon as possible about this. Also, try to provide your manager with as much notice as reasonably possible regarding the days/weeks that you will be away from work.

Even if you can work from home, but your manager agrees in advance to you being released from your role for a reasonable period of time to carry out volunteering activities for the NHS, you will continue to be paid.

Sickness absence

Plus Icon Colleagues with symptoms of Covid-19 or a Covid-19 diagnosis

Anyone who displays symptoms of Covid-19, however mild, must stay at home in accordance with the Public Health England (PHE) guidance.

If you are unfit to work due to a diagnosis of Covid-19 or Covid-19 symptoms, and you are absent from work for a period in excess of seven days, you should ensure that you obtain certification for your absence as soon as possible. You may not be able to obtain a Fit Note for your absence, however the NHS can provide you with an ‘isolation note’, which you can obtain via NHS 111.

An NHS isolation note will cover you in the following circumstances:

  • If you have symptoms of coronavirus
  • If you live with someone who has symptoms of coronavirus
  • If you are in a support bubble with someone who has symptoms of coronavirus
  • If you have been told to self-isolate by a test and trace service
Plus Icon Colleagues with household members who have Covid-19 symptoms

If a member of your household has Covid-19 symptoms, you must follow the PHE stay at home guidance and inform your line manager as soon as possible. If you do not have symptoms and are able to work from home, you should discuss this with your line manager who will instruct you on your duties during your period of self-isolation. If you are not able to work from home, you should still stay at home in accordance with the guidance.  

Colleagues will not be financially disadvantaged if they are not able to work during self-isolation.  

Line Managers should follow the steps regarding ‘other absence’ outlined in the guide on how to put absence related to Coronavirus into iTrent.

self isolation graphic

You must inform your line manager on the first day of any period of absence, explaining why you are absent and how long you expect to be absent for – in keeping with the relevant PHE/NHS guidance provided at that time.  

Where colleagues are absent due to a confirmed diagnosis of Covid-19 or because they have Covid-19 related symptoms, it will not count towards their absence thresholds.

Line managers should follow the normal absence recording procedures. Please see the following guide on how to put absence related to Covid-19 into iTrent.

Colleagues with difficulties in returning to campus

Although most colleagues will continue to work remotely for most of the time, as our campuses fully reopen in September 2020 some colleagues will return to work on campus. If you anticipate difficulties or have concerns about returning to work on campus, (for example if you or a family member are more vulnerable to Covid-19 or you use a busy public transport route), please discuss your concerns with your manager so that appropriate support/adjustments can be provided. More information, including risk assessments, is provided on the ‘Working Safely on Campus’ webpage.

Furlough

All colleagues, and managers of colleagues, who are currently furloughed have been provided with advice and guidance in relation to this. Should colleagues require any further support, they should contact the Employee Relations Team (employeerelationsteam@leedsbeckett.ac.uk).

Employee relations casework

As working from home becomes the new normal, there may be new or ongoing employee relations cases which need to be addressed, for example, grievances, disciplinary matters or attendance management processes. In these circumstances, line managers should contact the named HR Adviser for their School or Service, and appropriate advice can be provided.

Personal responsibility

As we reopen our campuses from September, we all need to play our part in slowing the spread of Covid-19, and to protect our community. The 2020/21 academic year will be and will feel very different from what we have been used to and familiar with.

Although we are experiencing unprecedented constraints on our day to day lives, both within and outside of work, and heightened worry for ourselves, our family and friends, colleagues are still expected to continue to treat each other with respect, tolerance and dignity at all times. This includes postings on social media (guidance is available in the Social Media Policy)

More information about what colleagues on campus should do to maintain the health of our community is provided on the ‘Working Safely on Campus’ section of the microsite.

Performance and Development Review (PDR)

We are mindful of the impact that Covid-19 has had on individuals and teams across our organisation, the complexity of this and the number of competing challenges that people are dealing with. We’re therefore suggesting that colleagues approach PDR discussions in a flexible way that works for them. It may be that conversations happen slightly later in the extended cycle, or that priorities and objectives are more focussed on the immediate and short term. People may also choose to have shorter, more regular ‘check-ins’ as opposed to a longer ‘one-off’ discussion. Our guiding principle is that PDR discussions between individuals and their manager take place in a way that suits both parties.  

To enable effective remote PDR discussions, we have added to our package of resources and support. This includes live webinar sessions scheduled throughout the cycle together with a range of online resources for both colleagues and managers.  

Further information and guidance can be found on the PDR webpage. Guidance on staying connected and supporting your team and colleagues is also provided on the ‘Wellbeing and Mental Health’ section of the microsite.

Recruitment

The Vice Chancellor has confirmed that we will not recruit to vacant colleagues posts. There will be only a handful of exceptions to this, where filling the vacancy is essential for us to deliver core services during 2020/21.

For the filling of essential vacancies, managers should complete VRP documentation as normal but include additional justification for the filling of the vacancy and the financial impact on the School/Service budget (e.g. external funding).  

Short-listing meetings and interviews (including presentations, where appropriate) will take place remotely via Skype (or similar platforms approved by the university). Advice about remote recruitment and/or testing is available from the HR Services Team (HRservicesteam@leedsbeckett.ac.uk) or Natalie Smallwood (HR Recruitment Adviser).

Managers should make verbal offers as normal, but these will be subject to a right to work check in addition to other conditions such as satisfactory references, pre-employment health check, probation etc. The HR Services team will arrange for a remote right to work check for the successful candidate.

Managers will need to plan for remotely inducting new colleagues. Further information is available on the ‘Training and Development’ section of the microsite. There is also a new starter webpage (which includes a PODcast).

The Recruitment and Selection webpages also provide more information.

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