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Last updated 07 April 2020


Furlough – FAQs for Staff

The Government have announced a package of support measures to help business during the economic crisis created by Coronavirus. An important part of the package is the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (or ‘Furlough Leave’). Furlough Leave is a temporary leave of absence for economic reasons and is designed to protect the incomes of employees. The University is accessing this scheme to help ensure its longer-term financial sustainability as a result of the Coronavirus.  Please refer to the frequently asked questions below for further information:

What does furlough mean and why is the University furloughing staff?

The word furlough generally means temporary leave of absence from work. There are a number of roles at the University, which are not possible to carry out when we have been asked to work from home as a result of the Coronavirus outbreak. In addition, the activity on our campuses has scaled back considerably as students are now studying remotely. The Government has launched a scheme to help employers reclaim the cost of employing staff who are unable to work and in order to access it, the University needs to furlough those affected staff.

How will I know if my role is being furloughed?

If your role is being furloughed you will receive a letter from the University sent via your work email account or via another method as appropriate, which will confirm the details of this arrangement and the initial duration of your furlough period. These letters will be phased as the University works through this process for different areas and letters will be sent out during April and May.

What happens to my pay when I am furloughed?

Your pay will be unaffected by being furloughed. The Government scheme will enable the University to apply for a grant to cover 80% of the pay of furloughed staff (up to a maximum of £2,500 per month, per individual) but the University has made a commitment to ‘top-up’ the remaining 20% so that staff will continue to receive their contractual pay as normal.

What does this mean for my employment with the University?

Being furloughed has no detrimental impact on your terms and conditions of employment.

What happens to my pension when I am furloughed?

Your pension contributions will continue during the furlough period and the University will maintain the employer contributions.

What happens to my annual leave when I am furloughed?

You will continue to accrue annual leave while you are furloughed. The recent guidance issued to staff on taking annual leave during the Coronavirus situation will continue to apply to furloughed staff. You may view the guidance here.

Can I do any work for the University while I am furloughed?

You will not be able to do any work for the University while you are furloughed.

What happens if I am ill when I am furloughed?

You will be required to inform your line manager in line with normal sickness absence reporting procedures.

Will someone stay in touch with me when I am on furlough?

Your manager will maintain contact with you as appropriate during any periods of furlough.

Can I keep in touch with my work colleagues and manager when I am furloughed?

You should keep in contact with your line manager while you are furloughed and it is fine to maintain social contact with work colleagues during this period. You will be required to provide your line manager with your up-to-date contact details.

Can I use my work laptop?

If you have a work laptop, you may still use it to stay in touch with people or undertake any training activity but you must not use it to carry out any work for the University.

Can I volunteer whilst I am furloughed?

If you are furloughed you cannot work for your employer during this period, but you can volunteer to help with the Coronavirus effort (subject to public health guidance and University procedures), as long as you are not manufacturing, creating or providing goods or services that generate revenue for the University.

How long will furlough last?

The minimum amount of time that someone can be furloughed for is three weeks and currently the Government scheme is available until 31st May 2020, although it may be extended. Your letter will confirm the initial duration of your furlough period. However, you should be mindful that your furlough could be either extended or ended earlier if operationally necessary.

Last updated 02 April 2020


We recognise that the coronavirus outbreak is unprecedented and are therefore implementing measures to keep staff updated.  The University considers the safety, health and well-being of our staff and students as the upmost priority. We are monitoring the situation and please check this website regularly to keep up to date with latest advice. 

For staff related queries not covered by these FAQs please email Cyfathrebu-Communications@uwtsd.ac.uk

Student related queries should be directed to the Hwb hwb@uwtsd.ac.uk


Important information for staff

Can I continue to attend work?

Business critical roles as defined by the University will be the only roles permitted to be on campus and those role holders will be notified. It is imperative that all staff must not continue to attend work unless the University has notified you that your role is business critical. We may move towards requiring more staff in business critical roles to support the NHS, for example by opening up parts of our campuses or for the purposes of health related research activity.

If I am required to attend work, how will I be protected?

In line with the most recent government guidance we will require staff to observe social distancing and will put in place supportive measures as appropriate.

What do I need to do if I have been identified as a Business Critical worker and I have received a letter?

Staff who are identified as business critical have been issued with a letter authorising them to attend work. Please carry a copy of this letter (either electronic or hard copy) with you if you are required to attend work along with your University Security Pass and another form of Identification, for example, your Driving License. It is imperative that all staff must not access campus unless they have a letter of authority issued by the University. If you have any questions please contact humanresources@uwtsd.ac.uk 


General questions

What action is the University taking?

The University continues to monitor the situation and be guided by Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO), Public Health Wales (PHW) and Public Health England (PHE) advice. The University has suspended the delivery of all face to face teaching with immediate effect and has also, in line with the most recent Government advice put in place measures to enable staff where possible to work from home.

The University is monitoring PHW and PHE guidelines about prevention and spread of coronavirus.  The University has revised its cleaning programme to include the provision of hand sanitiser gels in key locations and posters to offer guidance on hand washing.

How is the University dealing with communications and decision making during this time?

A clear communication framework has been established to enable the senior management team to respond to the rapidly changing context and to address all the issues that may arise. Separate groups have been established involving the Provosts, Deans, Registrar and Heads of Professional Units to meet electronically each morning.  Issues raised each day are considered by the full Senior Directorate by late morning. This daily pattern will continue for the foreseeable future. You will be kept informed of key decisions taken via the Staff Frequently Asked Questions which will be revised and updated regularly. If, however, you have any further queries please email Cyfathrebu-Communications@uwtsd.ac.uk.  Student queries should be directed to the Hwb add email hwb@uwtsd.ac.uk

What will happen to Graduation ceremonies this year?

Here is a message that has been distributed to students today (20 March 2020):

It is with regret that we have decided to postpone our 2020 summer graduation ceremonies. We appreciate this news will be disappointing, but we can assure you that this decision has not been taken lightly. We truly regret the inconvenience caused but, after careful consideration, our primary concern is the health and wellbeing of our students, their guests and our staff – especially in such uncertain and challenging times.

We will need to review the current situation carefully and will provide further information as soon as the circumstances change and it becomes possible to reschedule the ceremonies. We will keep you informed of any developments on our FAQs and will contact all students who were eligible to attend July’s ceremonies with the new arrangements. We look forward to the opportunity to celebrate with you on a future occasion.

The postponement of the ceremonies should not mean that it will not be possible for you to complete your programme and graduate this summer. The University is currently reviewing its regulations and, where necessary, modifying your assessment tasks in order to enable you to complete your award as soon as possible.

When you qualify for an award, we will make sure we get your award documents (award certificate and final transcript) to you as soon as possible.


Pay

I am unable to carry out my normal role from home, will I continue to be paid

Your normal salary will continue to be paid whether or not you are able to carry out your role at home. Where practicable, you may be asked to undertake other work commensurate with your Grade.

I am a casual / hourly paid worker, will I continue to be paid?

Yes, you will continue to be paid and the University is currently considering the detail. Further information on this will follow at the earliest opportunity.

Will the University be opening the process for regrading?

It is the University’s intention to take this process forward in the fullness of time, however in the current situation we need to secure a more business as usual context and we will most likely review the position at some point after the Easter break.


Working Arrangements

Do my flexible working arrangements continue during this period?

Any formal flexible working arrangements will continue. Where staff have additional caring responsibilities they are advised to discuss temporary variations with their line manager as necessary. For the avoidance of any doubt, local flexitime practices are suspended during this period.


Caring responsibilities

I have unexpected caring responsibilities as a result of the closure of a nursery/school/day centre or other care facility.

If you are unable to work due to unexpected caring responsibilities, you should inform your line manager of the situation. Please keep in close contact with your manager during this period so that they are able to plan and monitor workloads. Your line manager will work closely with you to assess if your work pattern and workload needs to change in line with your caring responsibilities. You will continue to be paid.


Annual leave

What do I do about my annual leave?

Staff who have annual leave booked or were planning to take annual leave should continue to take this as planned. Given the anticipated duration of this current situation, it will not be operationally viable for all staff to take annual leave at the same time when we return to a campus based work environment. Managers will be asked to ensure annual leave is taken and appropriately managed during this time in line with established policies to manage annual leave during the recognised holiday year.  Please refer to the guidance for staff on taking annual leave here

What are the University closure days over Easter?

The University closure day has been scheduled for Tuesday 14th April 2020. In recognition of all the hard work and commitment shown by staff during this unprecedented time, the Vice-Chancellor has authorised a further discretionary University closure day for staff on Wednesday 15th April 2020.

I work in London or Birmingham and I am scheduled to work over Easter, so how does this work for me?

We recognise that academic terms are different for our London and Birmingham based staff, therefore the Vice-Chancellor has authorised a further discretionary leave day as a gesture of goodwill and thanks. Alternative arrangements can be made with your line manager for you to take this additional time at a later date.

I have already booked annual leave for the discretionary additional University closure day on 15th April 2020, what do I do?

If you have already booked this day as annual leave you will be able to reclaim it back by cancelling the leave on MyView.

I work part-time, how will the discretionary additional University closure day affect me?

For those staff that work part-time, in discussion with your line manager you will be able to make alternative arrangements as necessary.

I have been scheduled to work on the discretionary additional University closure day on 15th April 2020, what will happen?

For those of you who will be required to work, alternative arrangements can be made with your line manager for you to take this additional time at a later date.


Volunteering

I would like to volunteer, what do I do?

The University is keen to do anything we can at this challenging time to support the NHS and our wider communities. We are already engaged with and supporting the NHS in a number of ways to help them fulfil their public obligations. The nature of the help and support is being co-ordinated at an institutional level. Further information will follow shortly to provide a framework for individuals to request time off to volunteer.


Social Distancing

What is the latest advice if I have a new continuous cough or a high temperature?

You must also follow the published government guidance for households with possible coronavirus infections which is regularly updated here:  https://phw.nhs.wales/topics/latest-information-on-novel-coronavirus-covid-19/stay-at-home-if-you-think-you-have-coronavirus-self-isolation/

Please keep in contact with your line manager and inform them if you get sick.

I have an underlying health condition, I am over 70 or I am pregnant and I am concerned about my health – should I attend work?

If you are a staff member and you have an underlying health condition that could put you at increased risk, or you are over 70 or pregnant you must not attend work. Please ensure you contact your line manager immediately to  discuss matters.

You should also follow the government’s latest guidance on social distancing for vulnerable people, accessed here: https://phw.nhs.wales/topics/latest-information-on-novel-coronavirus-covid-19/

Please keep your line manager informed so that they are aware of your circumstances.

Someone in my household who I live with has an underlying health condition, should I continue to attend work on campus?

No, you should not attend work on campus. You should work from home where this is practically possible. You should also follow the government’s latest guidance on social distancing for vulnerable people, accessed here: https://phw.nhs.wales/topics/latest-information-on-novel-coronavirus-covid-19/

Please keep your line manager informed so that they are aware of your circumstances.

I have been absent from working for more than 7 days with coronavirus symptoms but am unable to get a fit note from my GP or other medical professionals.

We recognise that it may be difficult for colleagues to obtain fit notes to cover their absence beyond 7 days in line with usual procedures due to the pressures on the NHS and/or the requirement to self-isolate. If you find yourself in this situation, you should contact your line manager and advise them of the situation. The University will adopt a sympathetic approach in such circumstances.


Working from Home

How can I prepare myself to be able to work from home?

Please refer to the University’s temporary working from home policy published on MyDay accessed here

Our Information Technology & Systems (IT&S) team have produced a dedicated site containing relevant information regarding accessing IT Services whilst working from home.

Resources on working remotely during this unprecedented period have been collated herePlease use your normal IT log-in when you sign in to Moodle to access the resources and contact staff.development@uwtsd.ac.uk if you experience any difficulty with access. Please do get in touch with us at staff.development@uwtsd.ac.uk if you have ideas or suggestions for additional resources or topics you would like to see included.

How do I access UWTSD IT Services off campus?

IT&S have provided further information and guidance on working from home on their dedicated site. This provides information for you on how to obtain access to key IT systems you need to work from home.

If you need any further advice or support please visit the IT Service Desk pages for contact information, or visit https://www.uwtsd.ac.uk/its/ for more general information on the IT Services offered.

Health & Safety tips for working from home

Working from home is maybe something you have done previously or maybe something you have never done or very infrequently. To support all colleagues now working from home detailed below are some practical health and safety tips.

If you have not already done so, complete the on-line Working with Computers training course. This will provide colleagues with guidance on setting up and using a workstation primarily at work but in conjunction with the advice below at home as well.

Home Workstation set up

  • Where you have been provided with specialist equipment as a part of a Reasonable Adjustments Display Screen Equipment risk assessment then you should arrange with your line manager the provision of these at home. Agreement regarding being permitted to taking home IT equipment must be made with your line manager initially and in line with the IT process communicated previously and which can be found here.
  • Always try to work at a table or desk as this will allow you to adopt a better posture. Do not work off your lap or whilst sitting on a sofa or a bed.
  • If you have an adjustable office chair at home please use this. If you do not have access to an adjustable chair then it will not be practicable to provide all colleagues with these whilst they work at home. In using a non-adjustable chair at home, however, you can make sure your lower back is supported by using a folded towel or cushion between your back and the backrest of the chair. Similarly cushions can be used to raise your seating position so you can keep arms at right angles and your forearms horizontal working from a table or desk. This ensures you keep your wrists in a neutral position, not excessively flexed up or down.
  • If you have or can obtain from your office a laptop or tablet stand, use this to raise your screen. If you do not have one of these, raise your laptop / tablet up as best you can using books or something equivalent. You may not achieve the ideal position but aim to raise your laptop / tablet by a minimum of 15 cm. Your eyes should naturally hit the top third of your screen when you are looking straight ahead. Even a small height adjustment should help. The goal is to avoid dropping your head as much as possible to try and avoid neck and shoulder strain.
  • If you are raising up your laptop / tablet use an external keyboard and mouse so that you are not working with your arms too high. The provision, at home, of wireless mouse / keyboard sets available within work should be discussed with your line manager in line with the link provided above. If you can’t attach an external mouse and keyboard, leave your laptop in place on the table rather than raising it up but you must take more breaks. See below for more information on taking breaks and exercises.
  • Ensure your working area has good lighting and ventilation in particular.
  • Ensure any electrical equipment you use, either from work or your own, is in good condition and safe to use ie do not overload sockets or daisy chain extension leads

Wellbeing

Regardless of your workstation set up, the best way to look after your health and wellbeing whilst working at home, is to take regular breaks and to move around as much as possible. The more ‘makeshift’ your set-up, the more important it is for you to get up regularly and move around.

If you have a good home office set-up, take a break for 5-10 minutes every hour. For other set-ups take a break every 15-20 minutes.

Here are some tips to help you to move more:

  • Stand up every time you use the phone
  • Try and do more activities away from the screen e.g. reading paperwork
  • Set up a break / exercise / tea break reminder on your phone
  • Carry out workstation exercises  such as those explained by Posturite ® here

Remember to keep hydrated and drink water and eat healthy snacks.

Your line manager will stay in contact with you but also remember you can ring them as well as speaking with your team and colleagues regularly.  

General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and working from home.

Introduction

In these difficult times, remote working is the recommendation however it presents both significant benefits but also potential risks.  Whilst staff may have remote access to information held on secure campus servers, this is without the physical protections available on site and the protections provided afforded to the network by firewalls and access controls.  There is also a much greater risk of unauthorised access to, and loss or destruction of, data whilst working in this way.

Does the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) apply if I am working from home?

Yes, if you are processing any identifiable personal data of any living individual as part of your directed duties then this must be done is accordance with GDPR, this includes paper based data.

What should I do when I am working from home?

When working from home you must ensure that that your computer is properly protected with the latest anti-virus and anti-malware software installed.  Do not write down your Username and Password so that they are easier to remember. 

Do not to leave the screen on when you are no longer using the computer as this could allow sensitive data to be seen by others.  Where possible you should use a secure connection such as a Direct Access, VPN or Citrix (if provided) to access and save files. 

When you have finished working make sure that you fully close down all applications that you have been using, especially the secure connection that you might have previously established.

Where should I work from when I am working from home?

You should ensure that you maintain a similar level of privacy whilst working from home to that which you would when working in your own work space.  You should ensure that your screen is not visible to anyone else at all times where possible. 

I need to send a file which contains personal data to another member of staff, what should I do?

Rather than sending the data file it would be better to use an application such as Microsoft OneDrive or Teams to provide access to the file in-situ.  If you cannot do this, do not send the data file to a personal email address as this would be considered a data breach and ensure that the file is encrypted before it is sent. 

What should I do if I receive an email that includes an attachment which includes Personal Data?

Before opening any file you must be certain that it has been sent from a genuine source.  Special care should be taken to ensure that when the data is no longer required it is deleted from your local device.  This includes any files that have been saved automatically as part of the download process.

I suspect a Data Breach has occurred whilst I have been working from home, what should I do?

If you suspect a data breach has occurred whilst you are working from home you should report the suspected data breach to your Data Protection Officer.   The suspected data breach will then be investigated and you are likely to be contacted again during the investigation for further information. 


 Health, safety and well-being 

How should I take care of my own health?

The WHO’s standard recommendations for the public provides useful advice to reduce exposure to and transmission of the coronavirus, including basic hand and respiratory hygiene:

  • Frequently clean hands by using alcohol-based hand rub or soap and water;
  • When coughing and sneezing cover mouth and nose with flexed elbow or tissue – throw tissue away immediately and wash hands;
  • Avoid close contact with anyone who has fever and cough.

We will continue to monitor the situation as things develop and we will ask line managers to work with individuals who are attending work on campus. We recognise that they are in a different position to those who can work in a more isolated way and we will ask line managers to work with the individuals to agree how they can be best protected. We will deal with this sympathetically, on a case-by-case basis, considering individual circumstances.

How should I take care of my own well-being?

You might be worried about coronavirus and how it could affect your life. This may include being asked to stay at home or avoiding other people. This might feel difficult, but there are many things you can try that could help your wellbeing during this period and Mind have produced some useful resources here: https://www.mind.org.uk/information-support/coronavirus-and-your-wellbeing/

In partnership with the Student’s Union you can also access Big White Wall, a free 24/7 online resource that offers mental health well-being support.  The service provides professional support, with oversight by trained counsellors.  All you need to register is your UWTSD email address and you then choose an anonymous username to access the support. Visit bigwhitewall.com.

Resources on well-being and self-care during this unprecedented period have been collated herePlease use your normal IT log-in when you sign in to Moodle to access the resources and contact staff.development@uwtsd.ac.uk if you have experience any difficulty with access. Please do get in touch with us at staff.development@uwtsd.ac.uk if you have ideas or suggestions for additional resources or topics you would like to see included.


Car Parking

Will I be charged for parking during this period?

The University will not be charging staff for car-parking during the period that staff are not working on campus as a result of the coronavirus outbreak across the UK. However, please can we request that staff do not cancel their direct debit for April as we look into this process.  This will also apply to business critical workers who may be required to attend campus.


Immigration

I have a visa to live and work in the UK and I am worried about the impact of my absence from work due to the coronavirus on my immigration status

The UK government has introduced emergency measures to deal with immigration issues because of the coronavirus. If you have any queries, please contact the Human Resources team humanresources@uwtsd.ac.uk who will be able to give you the most up to date information.

UK Government Guidance - extension to expiry date of current visas or leave to remain in UK

The UK Government has set up a Coronavirus Immigration Helpline. Telephone: 0800 678 1767 (Monday to Friday, 9am to 5pm) Calls are free of charge. Email: CIH@homeoffice.gov.uk