Find out the latest guidance and information about the impact of COVID-19 on the University.

COVID-19: ADVICE FOR STaff, STUDENTS AND COMMUNITY
Working for RGU

COVID-19

Working for RGU

How the Coronavirus arrangements will affect how you work as RGU staff.

Latest guidance

WHAT ARE THE NEW ARRANGEMENTS FOR HOME WORKING / CAMPUS WORKING?

Recognising both the lifting of some restrictions, the expressed desire of some staff to work on campus and relevant business needs, the following practices will apply from 17 May 2021. These will remain under review as the Government continues to update its guidance.

  1. You should continue to work off campus if it is practical for you to do so.
  2. If your work can be undertaken more effectively and/or efficiently on campus, then you can be physically present, subject to agreement with your line manager. Please get in touch with your line manager if you intend to work on-campus, as we need to monitor numbers of people in buildings (bear in mind that you will no longer require an authorisation letter).
  3. The same measures, including social distancing, the wearing of masks when moving around campus, and strict hand hygiene, will remain in place, and we urge all staff to continue to follow the FACTS advice, wherever they are.
  4. Any staff coming on to campus will be required to use the RGU Check In app and should re-familiarise themselves with the Covid-19 health and safety guidance.

Will staff who are on campus have access to testing?

We can now offer regular Coronavirus testing for staff on campus and we would urge you to take up this opportunity.

Testing is voluntary and available on a repeat basis (weekly or twice weekly if preferred) and must be booked in advance. The lateral flow tests are self-administered by taking a swab sample from the back of the throat and nose. The process takes minutes and results will be sent by the NHS via text or email, normally within 90 minutes.

Anyone testing positive with a lateral flow test should self-isolate and will be asked to have their result confirmed using a PCR test. We would request that you inform your line manager as soon as possible if you receive a positive test.

The testing is only for people who do not have COVID-19 symptoms. If you are displaying symptoms or think you might have COVID-19, please seek a test via NHS Test and Protect.

For more information on community testing, please visit the NHS Grampian website.

WHAT SHOULD I DO IF I HAVE DEPENDANTS TO CARE FOR?

Now that all schools and nurseries have reopened, we should be at a point where the majority of staff who are working from home do not have caring responsibilities for dependents during work time.  If you continue to have caring responsibilities whilst you are working from home, please inform your line manager.

If there is a further local lockdown or a nursey / school closure then staff – who can work from home – will be only expected to do what they can, in the same way they did during previous lockdowns. The first thing you are encouraged to do is to speak with your line manager about how you intend to work during this period. You can be assured that your line manager will be as flexible as possible and open to any suggestions. If you are unable to fulfil your role then it is important that you explain this to your line manager so that all the options can be fully explored.

WHAT IF I AM SCHEDULED TO TEACH OR REQUIRE TO BE ON CAMPUS?

Now that restrictions are lifting, there may be times when you are required to be on campus to perform a specific task/role. Should your line manager request you to work on campus for a business-critical function or a task deemed more practical to be completed on campus, then you should be available to do so if required.

If you are unable to attend campus because you need to stay at home to care for dependants then this must be raised with your line manager as soon as possible.

If your child is sick you should follow usual arrangements as detailed in the dependants leave policy (RGyoU). If you are unable to attend due to a nursey / school closure then you must raise this with your line manager so alternative options can be explored.

I AM on the SHIELDING list or CONSIDERED CLINICALLY VULNERABLE, WILL I BE EXPECTED TO RETURN TO CAMPUS?

The shielding arrangements were suspended by the Scottish Government from 26 April 2021. This means that anyone identified as shielding/clinically vulnerable should be treated the same as their non-shielding colleagues.

We know staff who were in this position may be more worried about returning to campus. The University will deal with anyone who was previously identified as required to shield/clinically vulnerable on a case by case basis.

Upon raising your concerns regarding having to work on campus with your line manager, a HR Adviser may become involved. We will try to address your concerns and will look to provide you with information to reassure you that the campus is ‘COVID secure’ and that the University is fully adhering to Scottish Government guidelines.

In some circumstances we may arrange a remote Occupational Health referral where we will ask a qualified medical professional whether it is safe for you to return to the campus and specifically your area of work. This will be done before any work on campus is carried out.

I AM CURRENTLY LIVING WITH SOMEONE WHO IS SHIELDING OR IS REGARDED AS BEING CLINICALLY VULNERABLE, WILL I BE EXPECTED TO RETURN TO CAMPUS?

The university will continue to follow Scottish Government advice for those who were previous shielding or regarded as being clinically vulnerable. As it stands there are no specific exemptions for staff who are living with someone who falls into these categories. However we will continue to monitor the situation and provide further information and guidance as it becomes available. We understand that you will be anxious about this and you can be assured that the campus is COVID-secure and that we are adhering to Scottish Government guidelines.

HOW WILL RGU ENSURE MY HEALTH AND SAFETY WHEN I AM REQUIRED TO ATTEND CAMPUS?

The University takes the health and safety of its staff and students very seriously. The Executive and members of the University Management Group are constantly monitoring the situation and ensuring any risk to the RGU community is managed.

The university has developed a high-level risk assessment, with input from the trade unions, to consider all of the health and safety issues relating to the return to campus. A copy of the risk assessment, which includes information on the mitigating actions being taken to address the risks can be found on the Health and Safety web pages.

In addition to this, local risk assessments will have been undertaken, where appropriate, to address any specific risks associated with tasks/activities which take place in your School/Department. Where relevant, a copy of your local risk assessment/s can be obtained from your line manager. 

The Health and Safety team and Estates teams will also be available to provide advice and guidance as necessary.

If you intend to work on campus, you must notify your line manager as we need to monitor the numbers of people in buildings. If you do go onto campus then you are required to use the RGU Check In app which monitors the amount of people on campus and allows this to be at a safe level. Additionally you should re-familiarise yourself with the Covid-19 health and safety guidance

DO I REQUIRE TO WEAR A FACE COVERING ON RETURN TO THE CAMPUS?

In line with Scottish Government advice, you will be required to wear a face covering while moving or standing within any of the university buildings. This includes when using the facilities, accessing printers, retrieving stationery etc. There is no requirement to wear the face covering while outside or seated at a work station however you may wish to do so. When wearing a mask, you should wherever possible maintain social distance and avoid large gatherings.

For comfort, lecturers have the option of removing their mask when delivering a class as there will be at least two metre’s distance separating the lecturer from the nearest student. Lecturers also have the option of sitting down if they prefer.

Staff with an underlying health condition that is exacerbated by the face covering are not expected to wear one so it is important that staff don’t challenge colleagues or pass comment. Even innocent comments or questions can be hurtful if taken the wrong way.

If you are unable to wear a face covering for medical reasons then you must make your line manager aware.  We understand the need for confidentiality of health matters but in this case, it may be helpful for you to reassure your colleagues by advising then that you are not required to wear a mask. You need not divulge to others the reasons for this. The campus is COVID-secure however as a precaution you should limit the time you spend in areas with lots of people moving around. This may mean working or leaving the building at different times. You should discuss this with your line manager.

I was employed during lockdown and have not yet worked on campus, what do i do?

As a new employee your line manager is responsible for your induction to your role and the campus. You may have been in your role for a number of months but not yet worked on campus and we recognise that you may have a number of questions relating to this.

Your line manager will meet with you to discuss working on campus; this will include providing you information relating to COVID guidance and compliance on campus but also to provide you with practical information. Before you are on campus you should familiarise yourself with the COVID-19 health and safety guidance.

As a new employee we understand that you may want to know practical information such as where to park, where your School/Department is located, where your desk is, and what facilities are on campus. You should discuss this in more detail with your line manager and ask any questions if you are unsure. 


Home Working

Is there any IT guidance to help staff with home working?

A range of guidance is available to support staff with home working, including accessing outlook, desktop, voicemails and using video conferencing.

The IT Helpdesk is continuing to operate and can be contacted on ITHelpdesk@rgu.ac.uk or 01224 262777.

What mental health and wellbeing resources are available to staff?

We want to ensure that you are supported by the university whilst you work from home and on campus. It is important that you regularly communicate with your line manager and make him/her aware if you are experiencing any difficulties as soon as possible. If you are working from home, please ensure that you also regularly keep in touch  with your colleagues.

The university has excellent resources that support staff wellbeing. Lifeworks includes the employee assistance programme which includes a free and confidential telephone counselling and advisory support service which is available to all staff. There is also an on-line chat facility, and self-support resources with programmes on stress, anxiety, coping etc.

The Silvercloud resource is available to staff as well as students and offers Cognitive Behavioural Training Programmes. Each CBT programme, tailored to your specific needs, consists of 7-8 modules that can be completed in your own own time and pace.

The HR Professional Team are also available to support you with fair treatment advice if your concern is work related.

HOW DO I set up a proper work space AT HOME?

Not everyone will have a dedicated ‘home office’ space to work from however we want to make sure that you are as comfortable as possible when working remotely. The university’s occupational health & safety team can provide further information on DSE assessments and the support that is available in that regard. 

We would encourage you to try to replicate your work space set up on campus as much as possible when working from home, but recognise this may be challenging. Discuss your set up with your line manager and colleagues who may have helpful hints and tips. Take regular screen breaks, stretch and move around throughout the day. If you feel uncomfortable let your line manager know and contact the Occupational Health & Safety team.

We have adapted our maternity and nursing mothers risk assessment for home working, so if you are currently in one of these categorises please contact the HR team and they will support you with the completion of this.

Is there information governance guidance for home working?

Data protection and freedom of information legislation still applies when working from home even when using personally owned equipment. Staff should familiarise themselves with the guidance to ensure data is kept secure and ensure that the university remains compliant with data protection and freedom of information legislation.


University Business Travel

I am due to visit an affected area for study/business travel e.g. conference or course, what should I do?

In light of the rapidly changing COVID-19 situation and to manage the risk, the university will not approve any business travel out-with the UK until further notice, unless under exceptional circumstances.


Employee Absence

How do I report a sickness absence when working from home?

You should report sickness absence to your line manager on the first day of absence and continue to keep your line manager updated throughout the course of your sickness absence.

If absence is unrelated to COVID-19 and exceeds seven days then you should provide a ‘fit note’ from your GP if possible.

If your absence is a result of experiencing COVID-19 symptoms you should notify your line manager on the first day of absence and confirm the date your symptoms first appeared. You do not need to continue contacting your line manager every day, however your line manager will contact you to check how you are doing.

If you have COVID-19 or have been advised to stay at home, you can get an ‘isolation note’ by visiting NHS 111 online, rather than visiting a doctor. For COVID-19 cases this replaces the usual need to provide a ‘fit note’ after seven days of sickness absence.

What if I am currently on long-term sick leave?

If you have been absent from work through long-term sickness absence or have been recently signed off with a long-term sickness absence, you should continue to keep your line manager updated on your condition and email or text photos of your fit notes where possible. We will support you during your sickness absence as per the normal policy.

What sick pay will I be entitled to during this time?

Absences related to COVID-19 will be discounted for the purposes of calculating sick pay entitlement. You will be paid in full, regardless of your length of service if absent with COVID-19. This includes if you are self-isolating as a result of being symptomatic or you have been instructed to do so through UK/Scottish Government advice or by a medical professional.

Please note that this will not apply to the condition referred to as “Long Covid” which will be treated through our normal sickness absence procedures and entitlements.

If you are absent due to a non-COVID-19 related reason you will be entitled to your normal sick pay entitlement.

What happens if My COVID-19 vaccine appointment is during normal working hours?

The University acknowledges that there will be limited flexibility with the scheduling of the vaccine appointment. Employees should notify their line manager as soon as they receive details of their appointment so that cover (where appropriate) can be put in place. 

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