This section is intended to provide guidance for Institutions on operational arrangements during the coronavirus pandemic. We are continually monitoring the situation and updating this guidance regularly. The measures and guidance here are intended to be in effect from 16 March 2020 to 30 June 2020 to cover the predicted peak period of the outbreak. This may be extended if necessary.

The University is currently in its ‘red phase’ in response to the Coronavirus pandemic. This means:

  • All University staff, except those needed for business-critical activity, are currently working from home.
  • All buildings are closed to students, although some remain open to some members of staff to maintain basic functionality and business-critical activity
  • All research undertaken on University premises has been paused, unless related to coronavirus. Special arrangements will be made to care for plants or animal that are critical to research

For detailed guidance on operational arrangements, please see the HR Guidance for Institutions

Continuity planning

In light of the current situation, Institutions should review their continuity plans to ensure these are up to date and ready to use. These plans should be appended to your Institution’s Emergency Action Plan. Reviewing the plans should help to prepare for staff absences and the need to communicate with teams while working remotely.

You should bear in mind that ‘business as usual’ might not be realistic at this time. Your contingency plans should instead identify the topmost business-critical activities and make provision for these to continue. Institutions should also identify decision-makers and provide for delegated authority in their absence.

For further guidance on continuity plans, please see the Continuity Planning Guidance. A sample plan is included on the page.

Managing the safety of staff

Employers have a duty of care to their employees under UK health and safety law.

In light of the current circumstance, the University Safety Office has developed resources to help departments manage the safety of their staff remaining on site and those required to work at home during the outbreak.

If a member of staff who should be self-isolating comes to work, you should instruct them to stay away from the workplace. If they refuse to comply, you should contact your HR Adviser immediately.

Managing remote teams

The University has produced guidance on managing your team remotely.

Reporting absences and pay arrangements

Information for Departmental Administrators and line managers on pay and recording absences can be found in the HR Guidance for Institutions.

The guidance includes information on managing coronavirus sickness absence.

Contracts of employment

Certain HR process will need to be adapted during this period. These include:

  • management of fixed-term contracts and secondments

  • confirmation of probationary periods

Departments are advised to plan ahead in order to accommodate these processes in a timely way.

If you require assistance in planning this priority work, you should contact your relevant HR School Team.

Can employees work from their overseas home location?

The current circumstances are exceptional and the University is therefore willing to support individuals working from their home location for a temporary period whilst offices are closed. This is permitted on the basis that these are temporary measures, which will be monitored and reviewed on a case by case basis over the next few weeks or months.

All employees who are subject to these temporary measures will receive a letter from the University confirming all relevant details.

Contractual arrangements

If the employee’s contract ends whilst they are outside the UK, the normal policy and procedures relating to termination/redundancy will apply.

Tax and pay arrangements

Whilst outside the UK, the employee will continue to be paid through the UK payroll subject to UK tax and NI. There are potential tax and social security implications when an employee works for the University overseas. However, as these working arrangements are hopefully a temporary measure, it is unlikely that any local tax and social security implications will arise.

Should these arrangements continue for a protracted length of time, additional liabilities may then arise. In this case, the Global Mobility Co-ordinator will discuss these with the Department.    

As an interim measure, salary can be paid in to an overseas bank account.  However, please make the individual aware that international bank transfer charges may apply, and any transfer will be subject to exchange rate fluctuation.  The employee will need to arrange any change to their bank details using the CHRIS/21 form.

What should you do when an employee makes a request to work remotely overseas?

If an employee makes a request to work remotely overseas, you should contact the Global Mobility Co-ordinator providing the following details:

  • employee name
  • type of work they will be carrying out in the overseas location (job title and basic role profile)
  • overseas location
  • nationality
  • immigration and right to work status in overseas location
  • immigration status in the UK
  • days spent (if any) working in the overseas location in the last 12 months
  • expected relocation date

Please could you ensure that anyone who is working or living overseas:

  • is following the advice from the Government and health services in the overseas location and is also consulting the UK Government and NHS advice on how to avoid catching or spreading coronavirus (COVID-19) 
  • is legally able to work and live in the overseas location (please request copies of the employee’s visa/work permits)
  • will update their address and ensure their next of kin details are stored in Employee Self Service. It may also be useful to hold copies of the employee’s passport (to be stored securely and destroyed when the employee returns to the UK) 
  • will have access to appropriate healthcare facilities, either through their own private healthcare policy or through the state healthcare system, and that this will cover any pre-existing medical conditions. The University’s Business Travel Insurance policy will not provide cover for returning home and the Insurance Section is not authorised or regulated to arrange private travel or health insurance
  • registers with the FCO for travel advice alerts relating to their overseas location.
  • registers at the overseas embassies or foreign offices to make sure that they are accounted for, added to any communication lists, and easily located if needed.  Employees can find their nearest embassy at www.gov.uk/world/embassies
  • completes a risk assessment with their Manager
  • books their travel through the University’s preferred travel provider Key travel, where possible

We recommend that you appoint an appropriate person(s) within the Department who will keep in regular contact with the employee whilst they are overseas.

Should you require any further advice contact Maria Buckman, the Global Mobility Co-ordinator.

Recruitment

All new recruitment should be deferred until the situation is more stable unless the role is absolutely essential.

If a department is considering taking forward recruitment, each vacancy should be reviewed on an individual basis, with reference to the following questions:

  • Is the role critical to business operations?
  • Is there a continuing need for the role in the short/medium term?
  • Can the recruitment be deferred for 2/3 months without significantly affecting the work?
  • Could another member(s) of staff be temporarily redeployed to fill this gap?
  • Is it possible for the role to operate effectively remotely?
  • Is the recruitment for a post which has a future start date (which is unlikely to be significantly affected by the current situation)?
  • Will there be negative consequences to University operations if the role is not filled at this time?
  • Will the current situation have a negative impact on the pool of candidates who may apply?
  • Can a fair selection process be undertaken remotely, taking into account the candidate’s personal circumstances (for example, should they have caring responsibilities)?

For roles where advertising has already commenced, we recommend that the position remains live until the closing date. Using the questions above, you should then consider whether to take the recruitment forward or to put it on hold.

You should keep candidates informed of the status of the process and revised timescales.

Impact of delaying recruitment on Tier 2 sponsorship

Where a vacancy may be eligible for sponsorship under Tier 2, current rules require that a Certificate of Sponsorship must be assigned within 12 months of the advert going live.

The Home Office are expected to publish guidance shortly to address this requirement within the context of delays to recruitment due to coronavirus.

Further details will be published once known but, in the meantime, departments should take this into consideration when making decisions, as this rule must continue to be met.

Visas and immigration

Visa compliance reporting during coronavirus

The Home Office recognises the current situation is exceptional and will not take any compliance action against employees or visitors who are unable to attend their work due to the coronavirus outbreak.   

The Home Office have confirmed to us that we will not be required to make any onward reporting to them in respect of a reportable event where affected by the coronavirus outbreak.

However, for audit purposes, where possible please continue to notify the HR Compliance Team where these events occur:

  • Any grant of unpaid leave, other than statutory leave such as maternity leave or paternity leave. Please note that periods of unpaid leave in excess of four weeks will not terminate sponsorship, where related to the coronavirus outbreak.
  • Unauthorised absences of 10 consecutive working days or more. Please note that periods of self-isolation and working from home will not be treated as unauthorised for sponsorship purposes.
  • Arriving after the expected arrival date
  • Leaving employment early, either due to dismissal or resignation. Please note, the employee must still be made a leaver on CHRIS.
  • Any changes to contractual hours
  • Any change to salary or allowances, other than increments and cost of living increases.
  • Switching immigration category inside the UK.

This is so that the individual’s file can be annotated.

Given the current situation, we appreciate that it may not always be possible to relay this information to the HR Compliance team, so it is only required where it is practical.

New starters recruited from outside of the UK

If the new starter has gained a UK visa and can travel to the UK

The UK border is currently open and flights are still operating to the UK. However, this may change at short notice. If the new starter has successfully gained a UK visa then they can still enter the country, providing there are no travel restrictions preventing this in their current location.

You will need to have a conversation with the new starter to determine if they will be able to work from home after arriving in the UK. If they will not be able to do this, you should consider if they can commence their role from their home location overseas. For more details, see the section below.

If the new starter is no longer able to enter the UK due to travel and visa restrictions

If the new starter is no longer able to relocate to the UK due travel and visa restrictions, or if they will be unable to work from home after arriving in the UK, they can work from their overseas home location for a temporary period. These arrangements will be monitored and reviewed over the coming weeks and months.

All new employees who are subject to these interim measures will receive a letter from the University confirming all relevant details, in addition to their normal UK contract of employment.

Tax and pay

Whilst outside the UK, employee will be paid through the UK payroll subject to UK tax and NI. There are potential tax and social security implications when an employee works for the University overseas. However, as these working arrangements should be a temporary measure, it is unlikely that any local tax and social security implications will arise.  Should these arrangements continue for a protracted length of time, additional liabilities may arise. If this case, the Global Mobility Co-ordinator will discuss these with the Department.

As an interim measure, salary can be paid in to an overseas bank account, however please make the individual aware that international bank transfer charges may apply, and any transfer will be subject to exchange rate fluctuation.

What do I need to do if a new starter is commencing their role overseas?

If you are aware of an individual in this situation, please could you contact the Global Mobility Co-ordinator providing the following details:

  • Employee name 
  • Type of work they will be carrying out the overseas location (job title and basic role profile) 
  • Overseas location 
  • Nationality 
  • Immigration and right to work status in overseas location 
  • Start date 

Please ensure that anyone who is working or living overseas: 

  • is following the advice from the Government and health services in the overseas location and is also consulting the UK Government and NHS advice on how to avoid catching or spreading coronavirus (COVID-19).   
  • is legally able to work and live in the overseas location (please request copies of the employee’s visa/work permits). 
  • provides you with their address and next of kin details or adds these details to ESS if they have access.  It may also be useful to hold copies of the employee’s passport (to be held securely and destroyed when the employee returns to the UK). 
  • will have access to appropriate healthcare facilities, either through their own private healthcare policy or through the state healthcare system and that this will cover any pre-existing medical conditions. 
  • completes a risk assessment with their Manager 

Please note that where the individual will be working from overseas, no Right to Work check is required. However, if they then enter the UK, you will need to follow the above process. In these circumstances, please notify the HR Compliance Team.

Should you require any further advice please contact Maria Buckman, the Global Mobility Co-ordinator.

Conducting Right to Work checks remotely

If you need to conduct a Right to Work check during this period of homeworking, on either a new or existing staff member, you should follow this procedure:

  • The individual must provide a scanned copy of their passport or visa/Biometric Residence Permit (BRP). This can be as simple as taking a photo of it and sending it to their Department. 
  • Where a visa/BRP is held, the Department should check validity as normal. If in doubt, please contact the HR Compliance Team for verification. If circumstances permit, the Department should conduct a short video call with the individual to determine they are the rightful holder. 
  • When taking a copy of the Right to Work check, where possible please sign and date/time as normal, and annotate the copy with the following wording: "Copy seen due to COVID-19. Agreed by HR Compliance". If it is not possible to annotate while working from home, please retain the email via which the Right to Work documentation was received as proof of the date and time it was received.

Please note that where the individual will be working from overseas, no Right to Work check is required. However, if they then enter the UK, you will need to follow the above process. In these circumstances, please notify the HR Compliance Team.

For all of those employed during this period, we will be required to conduct retrospective checks in the proper manner within 8 weeks of the coronavirus measures ending. Further details will be circulated in due course.

Guidance for institutions regarding TES workers

If you have TES workers on assignments in your Department, you should see the HR advice page concerning coronavirus and TES workers.

Insurance

Please be aware that the University's insurance policies do not provide cover for Business Interruption and Deterioration of Stock due to the coronavirus pandemic. This is because COVID-19 is not one of the notifiable diseases originally listed in the policy wording. This is the same throughout the insurance market.

Please see the general staff travel section for guidance on travel insurance arrangements during the coronavirus outbreak.

Managing rental property

The University is aware that many departments rent out accommodation. If this applies to you, you may find that you experience difficulties during this period if inspections or repairs are due.

The Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government has issued non-statutory guidance which addresses issues that landlords may experience when attempting to gain access to a tenant’s property and the application of health and safety obligations in the context of the coronavirus.

Landlords and tenants are encouraged to work together and take a common sense approach to repairs and routine inspections, whilst always following the government advice concerning strict separation. 

A summary of the guidance is available on the University's Insurance Section's website.

The full guidance is available from the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government's Coronavirus (COVID-19) Guidance for Landlords and Tenants (PDF).

Travel

Please see the general staff travel section for advice on:

  • travel arrangements during the outbreak, including guidance on upcoming business trips
  • travel insurance
  • general travel advice