Information for staff on pay and sick pay, working from home, annual leave, international travel, accommodation, and financial hardship.

Dear colleagues,

I am writing to all staff in my capacity as Pro-Vice-Chancellor with responsibility for HR and wellbeing to give you more information on staff-related concerns arising from the COVID-19 outbreak. 

Please be assured that while we will seek to maintain as much operational continuity as possible in this difficult period, our paramount consideration is your health and wellbeing. The main thing I would ask you to do is to look after yourself, your loved ones and colleagues, and always err on the side of caution. As the Vice-Chancellor said in his message to staff and students last Friday, we will all be having to take difficult decisions over the coming weeks, and the University will support all of you in the hard choices you will need to make.

The measures outlined here are intended to have effect from today, 16 March 2020, to 30 June 2020 to cover the predicted peak period of the outbreak. However, you will all understand that we are in a period of instability, and that additional, or different, measures may be needed as circumstances change. If there are material changes, you will be kept informed by email and via the University’s coronavirus webpage ( 

These measures (and any measures that may be adopted subsequently) modify existing practices until the end of June 2020. They may be extended for a further period if necessary.

Andi Hudson, the interim Director of HR, will write to Heads of Institutions and institutional administrators to provide more detailed guidance on the operational arrangements that underpin the measures outlined here.

The costs of all the measures below will be met from a central contingency fund.

Pay and sick pay

All staff will continue to be paid. This will be the case whether you are:

  • working at home;
  • at home but unable to work (for example, the nature of your work doesn’t allow it, or you have caring responsibilities that cannot be fitted around work); or
  • a worker paid via TES or UPS, in which case you will continue to be paid for the assignment for which you have been engaged, even if it is not possible for you to complete the work because of business disruption.

If you are unable to work because of illness you will receive sick pay in the normal way (subject to usual policy on sick pay, except that you will not be required to provide a GP note if you are unwell due to COVID-19). If you are a TES or UPS worker, you may be eligible for statutory sick pay from the first day of illness. There will be no return to work interview after a period of sickness absence.

Working from home

Circumstances may arise where the University needs to ask you not to come into work and instead to work from home. We recognise that not everyone will be able to work from home (for example, because of the nature of the job, or because of caring responsibilities). As set out above, those individuals will continue to be paid as normal.

All reasonable requests to work from home (for example, so that you can help look after a dependant who has an underlying health condition, or to provide some childcare cover where normal arrangements have been disrupted) will be accommodated.

The University has drawn up a Coronavirus Homeworking Protocol which will be available today on the coronavirus webpage. This provides practical advice on homeworking arrangements and tools. Working at home over a sustained period of time can lead to feelings of isolation – please do keep in touch with your colleagues and draw on internal and external sources of support if required.

More than ever, everyone needs to support and respect each other. If you are a line manager, please be mindful of the stress that everyone is under and adjust workloads so that everyone can cope. If your Head of Institution or line manager asks you to take on some tasks that are different from those that you normally do, please be flexible. Our common goal and shared purpose must be to maintain business critical activity. Important but not time-critical work is likely to have to be postponed.

We will reimburse telephone costs incurred on University business.

Annual leave

Some staff may be asked to defer leave to enable business critical functions to continue to operate. Where this is the case, the University will pay any reasonable costs incurred as a result of the cancellation where they cannot otherwise be recovered (through travel insurance for instance).

Institutions will be asked to keep requests to staff to defer leave to the absolute minimum possible. We want staff to take time away from work to recuperate and recharge. You are therefore strongly encouraged to take all of your annual leave by the end of the leave year. Where this is not possible, a maximum of five days may be carried over into the next leave year. In absolutely exceptional circumstances, the University may make a payment in lieu of holiday. Any such payment will only be made with the approval of the Head of Institution and either the Head of School or Registrary (as applicable). 

International travel

If you are currently (16 March 2020) abroad on University business and your return is disrupted by travel restrictions, we will reimburse your reasonable additional expenses where these cannot be claimed against insurance.

Please note that reimbursement will not be available for travel commenced after this date unless the trip is essential and has been authorised as such by your Head of School or non-School Institution, the Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Institutional and International Relations (or in her absence another PVC), the Registrary or the VC as appropriate.

University accommodation

If you are living in University accommodation and your tenancy is coming to an end but you have continuing need for accommodation because you or a dependant living with you is unwell, or your travel or other plans are disrupted, we will do everything possible to extend your tenancy or to find you alternative short-term accommodation.

Financial hardship

A special fund is in the process of being established to support staff who find themselves in short-term financial hardship related to the COVID-19 outbreak. Details will be provided on the coronavirus webpage shortly.

With best wishes,


Professor Eilís Ferran, FBA

Professor of Company and Securities Law

University Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Institutional and International Relations

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