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Covid-19 information and updates

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faqs for staff

Docklands campus

our staff

The University of East London takes the health and safety of its students and staff very seriously. We are monitoring the situation and are in communication with public health partners. This page has FAQs directly relating to UEL staff.

UEL staff can access support from Occupational Health during office hours and our Employee Assistance Programme on 0800 389 0285, which can provide emotional support 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

If you have any concerns or queries about Covid-19, you can now access a specialist helpline by phoning 0345 053 6791. You can speak to trained, clinical staff 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

Big White Wall is an online mental health service available to all University of East London students and staff.

Teaching and learning queries

The University will continue to need to operate some essential services with a physical presence on site during this period but arrangements have been made to facilitate working from home from the 20 March for staff where this is feasible. There will be increased availability of applications to support academics and students over the next few days. 

Please discuss remote working options with your line manager first. You will need to agree in advance what work you will do and make arrangements for regular liaison and updates.    

If you have a pre-existing health condition which would make you more vulnerable if you contracted the virus, or are pregnant, or have vulnerable family members living with you, we strongly recommend that you should work from home. 

There are some roles which need to be carried out on campus and for which remote working is impractical. If you are in one of these roles you will be notified by your line manager and practical arrangements about working on campus during this period will be discussed. It is very important for you to inform your line manager if you have a pre-existing health condition, are pregnant, or have vulnerable family members living with you, so that alternative working arrangements can be agreed. 

Our campuses at USS and Stratford have now closed. We are busy transitioning all essential, face-to-face or physical University service provision to Docklands Campus only. All essential University operations will continue although the service will be re-focused to provide the equivalent provision on-line and through remote working. 

We are currently trialling approaches to remote working. All academic staff will be receiving, from their Deans of School and Directors of Education and Experience, plans for online learning. This includes Panopto and additional use of Moodle and Microsoft Teams. All staff are required to undertake Microsoft Teams training which will be used as our primary remote working platform should this become required. Details about this will be communicated by separate email and directly via line managers. 

Remote working arrangements must be agreed in advance by your line manager. You should also agree in advance what work you will do and arrangements for regular liaison and updates, (including method of communication and how often).  

You should ensure whenever practicable you are available via phone, email and other virtual communication channels and that your colleagues know the best way of contacting you.  

Make sure you are familiar with the necessary remote working technology for your job role so you can be productive and contribute to ensuring the continued smooth running of the university.  

It is important to have a regular routine, including lunch, and breaks from your screen.  

To prevent social isolation and to keep abreast of changes, do ensure that you participate in virtual meetings which will be organised on a regular basis by your school/service e.g. via Skype or Teams.  

Unless you are on authorised annual leave or are sick you should continue to work to your full capacity and be available during your core working hours.  

We recognise that you might find it difficult to work if unexpected caring responsibilities arise, or if you need to care for dependants during this period. We ask you to do whatever you are able and to consider creative solutions which allow you to work at flexible times when circumstances allow. In this situation, please ensure you keep in contact with your line manager, so they are able to plan and monitor workloads.  


During this unprecedented period, the University will need to focus available staffing on its core functions to ensure that students continue their education and for the functions of the University to remain solvent.  

The temporary move to online learning and remote working arrangements are part of the University’s strategic response to the Covid-19 situation, you may need to alter your working area to facilitate this by attending on campus and/or working from home on different duties, and where required, this will involve some rapid induction.  
To facilitate the above, car parking charges are to be waived from 16 March onwards for all staff to facilitate attendance, if needed, without reliance on public transport. Applications for access should be made to your line manager.


Self-isolating

If you are experiencing symptoms such as fever or persistent cough, have been advised by a doctor, NHS 111 or through the NHS 111 website to self-isolate, then you should follow the guidance provided. You should inform your line manager of your status and advise where the instructions originated from. 

Staff who are concerned about the current situation may receive support from either Occupational Health or can call the Employee Assistance Programme on 0800 389 0285. Further details can be found on the Health and Safety intranet pages.  

You should follow the official Government guidance regarding self-isolation. 
Under PHE guidance, you are required to self-isolate. You should report your sickness absence in accordance with your usual procedures and follow medical advice. We will maintain confidentiality in line with our legal obligations, however, we will advise any close colleagues who may be particularly vulnerable to the virus so that they can make any appropriate arrangements.
If you have sudden caring responsibilities because of Covid-19, inform your manager. The University will assume you are working remotely and maintain pay and other benefits. You should work remotely the best you able and you should check now, before any such eventuality, that you are able to do so and have received the appropriate training and instruction. 
If you are unable to work due to unexpected caring responsibilities, we will deem you to be working from home and you should follow the advice set out for staff who have been instructed to self-isolate. 

We recognise that you might find it difficult to work while caring for others. We ask you to do whatever you are able. Please ensure that you keep in contact with your manager, so they are able to plan and monitor workloads. 

Exposure to infection

If the student or colleague is on campus, follow the latest advice from the NHS regarding self-isolation. If they are seriously ill, call 999. While you wait for advice or an ambulance, find somewhere safe for the individual to sit which is at least two metres away from other people. 

If possible, find a room or area where they can be isolated behind a shut door. If possible, open a window for ventilation. The sick individual should avoid touching people, surfaces or objects, and should cover their mouth and nose with a disposable tissue when they cough or sneeze. If no tissue is available, they should cough or sneeze into the crook of their arm. People who become unwell should not be advised to go to their GP, pharmacy, urgent care or hospital. 

If the student is not on campus, advise them to self-isolate at home. 

If you think you may have been exposed via contact with another individual, please contact your line manager to discuss further arrangements. Follow the latest medical advice regarding self-isolation and monitoring symptoms. Stay at home if you have a high temperature or a new, continuous cough. Do not go to a GP surgery, pharmacy or hospital. Contact NHS 111 if you feel you cannot cope with your symptoms at home, your condition gets worse or you do not get better after seven days. 

Our students' health and wellbeing is our first priority. Self-isolation should not affect their visa, and we will work with students to ensure self-isolation impacts their studies as little as possible.  You can find more immigration and visa guidance here . 

The Home Office has set up an information source for international higher education staff and students if they have immigration queries related to coronavirus, including questions about urgent cases where a Chinese national or other visa national based in China needs to travel to the UK.

A Home Office coronavirus immigration helpline and email address is available for immigration enquiries related only to Coronavirus: Telephone: 0800 678 1767, open Monday to Friday, 9am to 5pm. Calls are free of charge. Email: CIH@homeoffice.gov.uk.

 


Events

We recognise the global impact of Covid-19 and the University of East London is taking the situation extremely seriously. We are busy cancelling or rescheduling all public events. Please check back here for updates on other major events.

International travel

The UK government has introduced guidance to deal with immigration issues as a result of the coronavirus.  

The guidance says, “Due to travel restrictions because of coronavirus some individuals may be facing uncertainty in relation to the expiry date of their current visa or leave to remain in the United Kingdom. The Home Office understands that in many cases this is because of circumstances outside of your control. 

“Most people in the UK whose immigration status is affected by the coronavirus outbreak will get an automatic extension of their visa until 31 March 2020.” 

They have said sponsors do not need to report student or employee absences related to coronavirus which they have authorised. 

Annual leave and absence

A reminder you must continue to book annual leave via iTrent as usual, whether you are working on-site or remotely. Normal carry over arrangements still apply (five days) for the year end. 
Please see the table which sets out the arrangements for payment and recording of absence. Staff members should be able to evidence non-attendance trigger reasons on request. 
The University has no plans to allow an increase in the 5 days carry over limit, other than for staff who may be temporarily assigned to, or volunteer for, key worker roles such as in critical public services eg health and social care.
In instances where staff have had to cancel their leave due to Covid-19 the University will be flexible wherever possible to support staff in postponing or re-booking their leave for a later date, however there is no obligation to approve the cancellation. There may be circumstances, because of service need, where it may not be possible to postpone blocks of annual leave that have already been approved by the University. This will be a decision for line managers, bearing in mind also that the University has a duty of care to ensure staff take regular breaks away from work during the year, regardless of whether they are able to travel or remain at home. Employees should also carefully investigate travel insurance policies as some do cover travel, affected by coronavirus.
The University has no plans to do this at this point. However, it does have the right to tell employees when to take holiday if it needs to in special circumstances. For example, if the University decided to close for a temporary period of time and required staff to use their holiday entitlement. If the University does decide to do this, it must tell staff at least twice as many days before, as the amount of days they need people to take. For example, if the University was to close for 5 days and tell staff they must use those days as holidays, it must inform staff at least 10 days before the date of the first holiday day.
We will update our FAQs as new information becomes available and we advise you to check back regularly for the latest information.
 
If you have any questions, please contact the University at: Covid19Enquiries@uel.ac.uk.