In response to recent Government announcements the University is currently planning a safe, organised and phased return to some onsite activity. In the first instance the University is working to reopen buildings necessary for research activity or business-critical work that cannot be carried out remotely. Extensive work is underway in the relevant buildings, including undertaking risk assessments and implementing any necessary safety measures. The health, safety and wellbeing off all members of the University community is the University’s priority throughout this phase.

Working from home currently remains the default position for staff who can do so, until such time as onsite work can be facilitated. As such, unless staff have been working onsite already, they should continue to work remotely until they are advised further.

As staff are identified for a return to the workplace they should be contacted at the appropriate time. Any consideration on whether staff member should return to the workplace should take account of personal circumstances and safety. Institutions should refer to the Return to the Workplace Protocol for further information.

 

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 processes 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 country of nationality or other overseas ‘home’ location?

Employees will be permitted to work remotely overseas providing that they have the right to work for the University in that overseas country (either as a local national or with the relevant immigration authorisation).  This is on the basis that these are temporary measures, whilst University offices/labs are closed. It is expected that when offices re-open the employee will return to work in the UK, providing travel and visa restrictions allow this.  If the employee is not able to return immediately, these arrangements will continue, subject to regular review, until travel restrictions have eased.

All employees who are subject to these interim measures will receive a letter from the University confirming all relevant details and the work pattern will be continually monitored and reviewed over the coming weeks/months. 

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 into 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 in their country of nationality or other overseas ‘home’ location?

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 (including confirmation of their right to work for the University overseas)
  • immigration status in the UK
  • days spent (if any) working in the overseas location in the 12 months prior to this trip
  • date of travel to the overseas location

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

  • Seeks guidance from the airline/travel agent on possible travel restrictions
  • 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 and the for information on overseas travel and returning to the UK
  • registers at the UK embassies or foreign offices overseas 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
  • Checks the official travel advice from local government authorities in the overseas location
  • notify the HR Compliance Team of their change in work location, if they are subject to UK immigration controls
  • 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.

What should you do when an employee contacts you to say that they are abroad (on holiday or a work trip) and cannot travel back to the UK due to the Coronavirus outbreak?

If circumstances allow and providing the employee has the right to work for the University in the overseas location (either as a local national or with the relevant immigration authorisation), the employee can work remotely overseas until such a time that travel restrictions have eased and they are able to return to the UK.

If the employee does not have the right to work for the University in the overseas location, they would not be expected to work but should continue to be paid as normal. Where an employee is able to work overseas remotely, they will receive a letter from the University confirming all relevant details and the work pattern will be continually monitored and reviewed over the next few weeks/months. 

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, as would have been the case if they had remained in the UK.  There are potential tax and social security implications when an employee works for the University overseas, however, as it is hoped that these working arrangements will 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 then arise. Should these arrangements continue for a protracted length of time, additional liabilities may then arise and the Global Mobility Co-ordinator will discuss these with the Department at that time.    

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 or by contacting the Payroll Section, Finance Division.

If an employee is unable to return to the UK, you should contact Maria Buckman, 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 (including confirmation of their right to work for the University)
  • immigration status in the UK
  • days spent (if any) working in the overseas location in the 12 months prior to this trip
  • date of travel overseas for this trip

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

 

Recruitment

All new recruitment should be paused until the situation is more stable, unless the role is considered essential in line with the Temporary Recruitment Protocol. If a department is considering taking forward recruitment, each vacancy should be reviewed on an individual basis. For further information, recruiting managers should contact their Head of Institution or Departmental Administrator in the first instance.

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

New requirements on entering 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.

New government public health measures for all UK arrivals came into effect from 8 June 2020. These require self-isolation for 14 days, except for 'travel corridor' exemptions, which are applicable from 10 July 2020. This applies to all nationalities, and regardless of the length of time away from the UK.    

Individuals are required to:   

  • provide their journey and contact details to the government by way of an online form before they travel to the UK; and   

  • remain in self-isolation in the place they are staying for the first 14 days they are in the UK, except in limited situations, which includes arrivals from ‘travel corridors’.  

Further information and the list of countries that have been agreed as 'travel corridors' can be found at https://www.gov.uk/uk-border-control.

Given the potential impact of these provisions on the start date of employment, new starters and line managers should discuss the best way forward. Where a 14 day self-isolation period applies, new starters should aim to arrive at least 14 days before their agreed start date, where they can, providing travel and visa restrictions permit, to allow for a period of self-isolation.  

Where this is not possible, it may be necessary for staff to self-isolate for some or all of the first 14 days of their contract, during which time they should work from home if they can. 

Where an employee is self-isolating and employment will commence during this period, the necessary right to work checks can be carried out remotely. Please see guidance below or speak to the HR Compliance Team for further information.
Alternatively, it may be more appropriate to agree that they either commence work overseas (if immigration rules permit), or agree a delayed start date as appropriate.

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 may be able to work from their overseas home location for a temporary period.  This is permitted on the basis that the employee has the right to work for the University in the overseas location and that these are interim measures, which will be monitored and reviewed in line with Government guidelines. 

If the new starter is unsure whether they have the right to work in their current overseas location, they should visit: https://www.gov.uk/world for more information. 

 

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, employees 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 into 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. Employees should provide their bank details to the Payroll Section, Finance Division.

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, contact the Global Mobility Co-ordinator providing the following details:

  • Employee name 
  • Date the offer of employment was made
  • 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 (including confirmation of their right to work for the University in the overseas location)
  • Employment start date 

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 kind 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. 
  • Registers with the FCO for travel advice alerts relating to their overseas location and the UK for information on permitted travel to the UK.
  • Checks the official travel advice from local government authorities in the overseas country.

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.

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