The following links and FAQs provide guidance to staff and institutions in order that they can manage working arrangements in light of the impact of Coronavirus (COVID-19). We are continually monitoring the situation and updating this guidance regularly.

These measures and guidance are intended to have effect from 16 March 2020 to 30 June 2020 to cover the predicted peak period of the outbreak. They may be extended for a further period if necessary.

The University has now moved into its 'red' phase in response to the Coronavirus pandemic. As such, all University staff, except those needed for business-critical activity, are working from home since Friday 20 March.

As of 5pm on Friday 20 March all University buildings closed to students. Some buildings remain open to some members of staff to maintain basic functionality and business-critical activity. Where research can be done remotely, this should continue. However, unless it is related to COVID-19 (including vaccinations, testing, public health and patient care), all research undertaken on University premises will need to be paused. Special arrangements will be made to care for plants or animals that are critical to research.

In order to facilitate remote working, the University has developed the following:

Staff

Q. Should I be working from home?

The University has now moved into its “red” phase in response to the Coronavirus pandemic. As such, we are asking all University staff, except those needed for business-critical activity, to be working from home from by 5:00 pm on Friday 20 March.

Q. What if it isn’t possible for me to perform my normal duties from home?

The University has now moved into its “red” phase in response to the Coronavirus pandemic. As such, we are asking all University staff, except those needed for business-critical activity, to be working from home from by 5:00 pm on Friday 20 March.

You should discuss with your line manager to what extent your normal duties can be carried out at home. In some cases, this will not be possible and you may be asked to undertake alternative duties in the circumstances, provided the request is reasonable and within your capabilities.

If your line manager agrees that it is not possible for you to undertake your normal or any alternative duties from home, then you will be granted paid leave until the position changes and working can be facilitated.  The expectation during paid leave is that you will be contactable by your team to assist with queries and undertake work where practicable.

Departments are requested to keep a record of homeworking and paid leave arrangements. No reporting through CHRIS is currently required.

Q. What if I have been diagnosed with Coronavirus (COVID-19) or have the symptoms?

If you have been diagnosed with Coronavirus (COVID-19) or have developed the symptoms, you should follow the University’s standard sickness absence reporting procedure. Please see the Sickness Absence Policy for further details.  You should refrain from work in order to facilitate your recovery and your absence will be treated a sick leave.

Q. What if I am needed for business-critical activity?

If you are needed for business-critical activity, your department will contact you.

If you are unable to attend the University’s premises because you have been diagnosed with Coronavirus (COVID-19) or are symptomatic, you must tell your department without delay and should remain at home.

Your absence will be treated as sick leave and the University’s standard sickness absence reporting procedure will apply.

If you are asymptomatic but have been advised to self-isolate by your GP or Public Health England, you will not be required to attend our premises for business-critical activity and may either work from home (if there are duties which you can carry out remotely) or take paid leave (see Q. What if it isn’t possible for me to perform my normal duties from home? for details on paid leave).

The department will arrange alternative cover for the business-critical activities.

Q. If I am working from home, will I continue to be paid as normal?

Yes, you will be paid as normal.

Q. Can I take annual leave at the moment?

Yes, you are expected to continue to make annual leave requests in the usual way during this period. You should use all remaining annual leave by the end of the leave year. It is important to take time to recuperate and recharge, particularly at the present time.

Q. I am working from home, what technical support is available for me?

Please see the University’s Coronavirus (COVID-19) Homeworking Protocol for guidance on how to facilitate remote working.

In particular, the University-wide roll-out of Microsoft Teams has been brought forward to help staff operate remotely.  See the Microsoft Teams Hub for how to use Teams. 

The University has prepared simple one-page guides on the use of Microsoft Office 365, Microsoft Teams and other useful remote working tools.

Q. How do I stay safe online?

Please be mindful of the threat posed by malicious or scam emails that you may be receive in the coming weeks, relating to coronavirus (COVID-19).

If you do receive an unexpected email, even if it appears to be from someone you know, please treat it with caution or simply delete it. University Information Services (UIS) will endeavour to provide directions for accessing services on its webpages.

If an email is asking you to provide personal or financial details, even in a roundabout manner, it most likely a scam. It is fine to reject any requests, the University will not pressure you into performing these actions in haste, only criminals do that. 

You may report malicious emails to spam@uis.cam.ac.uk or contact your IT Support staff for advice.

Q. How can I manage the effects of homeworking?

We recognise that homeworking over a sustained period of time can lead to feelings of isolation. Homeworkers are encouraged to keep in regular contact with their teams. Please see the University's Coronavirus (COVID-19) Homeworking Protocol for further advice and links to the resources section. See also guidance on health and wellbeing during this period.

Q. I am working from home, am I covered by University insurance?

The University’s Public Liability Insurance policy covers staff during their normal course of work, including working from home.

The Employers’ Liability Insurance policy applies in the same way as if the employee was working at their usual place of work. All University business activities need to be risk assessed and the risks mitigated where possible, this is why all staff have been asked to complete the home working risk assessment form.

The Operational Property Insurance policy applies to equipment temporarily removed from University premises (with certain sublimits). However, the excess under this policy is £1,000 each every claim which increases to £2,500 each every claim in case of theft with no forcible entry to or exit from buildings; therefore smaller claims (eg those involving a single lower range laptop) would not be covered.

The University’s insurance does not cover employees’ personal property in their own home.

As long as there is only “office work” being done from home (not eg scientific experiments); a typical home insurance policy should allow for this. However, staff working from home for anything other than on an ad hoc basis would need to inform their insurer as a requirement of their policy.

Q. What if I find myself in financial difficulty as a direct result of the Coronavirus outbreak?

The University acknowledges that these are exceptional circumstances and is committed to putting measures in place to ensure that no employee is financially disadvantaged. A hardship loan is currently being set up to support employees who find themselves in short-term financial hardship and details will be provided on these webpages as soon as possible.

Q. What if I am a TES worker?

If you have a current assignment, you should speak with your line manager to see if it is practicable for you to work from home during this period and let the TES office know. If it is not possible to work from home in the circumstances, you will continue to be paid as normal until the end of your assignment. Departments should not arrange any new non-essential worker assignments until further notice.

If you are diagnosed or have symptoms of Coronavirus (COVID-19), you will be entitled to Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) provided that you satisfy the qualifying conditions - see the rules on eligibility. The Government has announced that emergency legislation will be brought into force during this exceptional period to make SSP applicable from the first day of illness. When the details of this legislation are released we will update this page.

Any booked assignments, which have not yet commenced should go ahead as planned and the provisions above will apply.

Further FAQs for TES workers

FAQs for institutions

Please note that these provisions do not apply to temporary workers engaged through external agencies; those workers should contact their agency for details around support.

Q. What if I am a UPS worker?

If you have a current assignment, you should speak with your line manager to see if it is practicable for you to work from home during this period.  Hourly paid teachers are encouraged to consider virtual means to deliver lessons where practicable. If it’s not possible to work from home in the circumstances you will continue to be paid until the end of your assignment.  Departments should not arrange any new non-essential worker assignments until further notice.

If you are diagnosed or have symptoms of Coronavirus (COVID-19), you will be entitled to Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) provided that you satisfy the qualifying conditions - see the rules on eligibility. The Government has announced that emergency legislation will be brought in during this exceptional period of the coronavirus to make SSP applicable from the first day of illness. When the details of this legislation are released we will update this page.

Any booked assignments which have not yet commenced should go ahead as planned and the provisions above will apply.

Q. What if I am on a zero hours contract?

If you have agreed hours of working with your line manager, you should discuss if it is practicable for you to work from home.  Please see the University’s Coronavirus Homeworking Protocol. If it not practicable to work from home then your absence will be treated as paid leave by reason of Coronavirus  (see Q What if it isn’t possible for me to perform my normal duties from home? for details on paid leave). Where hours have not yet been agreed, it may be necessary for departments to calculate average hours to reflect your typical working week.

If you are diagnosed or have developed symptoms of Coronavirus (COVID-19) your absence will be treated as sick leave and you will receive sick pay in line with the Sickness Absence Policy.

Q. What support is available if I am feeling anxious about family or friends who may be affected by the virus?

We recognise that many members of our community have family, friends and loved ones in impacted areas and our priority is to support you during this time.

The University staff counselling services are available, if you feel that you need some additional support during this period. Please find out more from the University Staff Counselling Service.

Q. I am living in University staff accommodation. Will this be affected?

In situations where tenants cannot move out due to the coronavirus outbreak, the University will extend their tenancy for a short period where possible, provided that the property has not already been re-let.

In situations where tenants cannot move into their allocated property due to the coronavirus outbreak, but who have already committed to the tenancy (deposit, initial rent paid), the tenant will remain liable for rent and bills until the property is re-let.  However the University will do its utmost to minimize the costs.

In situations where the property has already been let, but the tenant is self-isolating, we will aim to offer an alternative property to the incoming tenant.

If the tenant is chooses not to vacate as a result of flight cancellations or whatever circumstance, and the property has already been re-let, the University will endeavour to offer alternative suggestions for accommodation.

Q. What support is available if I am feeling anxious about the coronavirus outbreak?

We recognise that many of us will be deeply anxious about our health, both physical and mental, and that of our loved ones. The University is doing, and will continue to do, all it can to support members of the University collegiate community during this time. Please see the University’s guidance on looking after your wellbeing and mental health during the coronavirus outbreak, which includes advice and sources of support.

Q. I’m a member of staff working abroad – who should I be keeping in touch with?

  • You should ensure that you keep in regular contact with your usual contact (DA, Manager, PI) within the department, confirming: 
  • Current location 
  • Details of any family members living with you overseas 
  • Future travel plans 
  • Important medical details and emergency contact/next of kin details (it may also be useful to provide copies of your passports) 
  • Availability of local support and supplies 
  • Options for continuation of the agreed work/living pattern, change to work pattern, return to the home country.  Please note than any changes to existing work patterns or residency may have tax, social security and/or immigration implications. Should this arise, the University will provide support and advice to departments.

Following these discussions, your normal departmental contact will follow up with the wider department if necessary, the HR Schools team and the Global Mobility Co-ordinator so that the appropriate advice and support can be provided. 

It is also recommended that you:

  • Register with the FCO for travel advice alerts relating to your overseas location, and your normal ‘home location’ if applicable. 
  • Ensure you register at your local embassies/foreign offices/etc. to make sure that you are accounted for, added to any communication lists, and easily located if needed.

Q. Can I volunteer at this time?

The University recognises that many staff will be able to work effectively from home. If it is not practicable for you  to carry out your normal duties from home, your line manager may ask you to undertake alternative duties, including special projects. Whilst the needs of the University must take priority in such discussions, you may ask your line manager to consider allowing you to use your working time to volunteer for the community, so long as you are well and have no symptoms.

More than 2.2 million people aged 75 and over live alone in Great Britain (ONS). Over the next 14+ weeks many of these people will be self-isolating and contact from volunteers will be critically important. The University is keen to support local residents in our community during this time. There are likely to be many opportunities to volunteer, either with a recognised charity or with local community groups that are being established.

For advice on volunteering during the Coronavirus outbreak, details of local volunteer centres or to register as an NHS Volunteer Responder, please refer to the National Council for Voluntary Organisations.

Family

Q. What if the schools are closed and I have to look after my children?

If you are working from home, you may have unplanned caring responsibilities for dependants during this period (eg due to school, nursery or nursing home closures). In these circumstances, we expect staff and line managers to exercise flexibility and understanding in order to accommodate this unusual situation.

Where possible, consideration should be given to flexible working arrangements around your caring responsibilities, for instance, altered working hours and/or patterns. We recognise that this will be dependent on your personal circumstances and may not be possible in some cases. Any proposed new working arrangements should be discussed with your line manager to determine the practicalities.

If your line manager agrees that it is not practicable for you to carry out your normal duties from home you may be asked to undertake alternative duties wherever reasonably practicable and within your capabilities, in which case you will receive normal pay. 

If working from home is not practicable your absence will be treated as paid leave by reason of coronavirus.

Employees may also be entitled to take emergency leave (see the University’s Special Leave Policy for details on eligibility). You may also wish to take the opportunity to request annual leave at this time.

Q. What if I have to look after a dependant who has coronavirus?

If you are working from home, you may have unplanned caring responsibilities for dependants with Coronavirus. In these circumstances, we expect staff and line managers to exercise flexibility and understanding in order to accommodate this unusual situation.

Where possible, consideration should be given to flexible working arrangements around your caring responsibilities, for instance, altered working hours and/or patterns. We recognise that this will be dependent on your post and personal circumstances and may not be possible in all cases. Any proposed new working arrangements should be discussed with your line manager to determine the practicalities.

If your line manager agrees that it is not practicable for you to carry out your normal duties from home you may be asked to undertake alternative duties wherever reasonably practicable and within your capabilities, in which case you will receive normal pay. 

If working from home is not practicable your absence will be treated as paid leave by reason of coronavirus.

Employees may also be entitled to take emergency leave (see the University’s Special Leave Policy for details on eligibility). You may also wish to take the opportunity to request annual leave at this time.

For institutions

Q. As a Departmental Administrator or line manager, how do I report staff absence?

Please see the details in the pay and recording absence section of the Coronavirus (COVID-19) HR Guidance for Institutions.

Q. Can a head of department or institution stop someone who should be self-isolating from attending work?

In light of the employer’s duty of care to other employees under UK health and safety law, you are aware that a staff member has been advised by a medical practitioner or under Public Health England/NHS guidance to self-isolate, and comes to work, they should be instructed to stay away from the workplace. A member of staff who refuses to comply with such an instruction is likely to be in breach of the duty of trust and confidence owed to their employer, as well as their individual duty under health and safety law to take care of themselves and colleagues. If heads of institutions find themselves in this position they should contact their HR Adviser immediately.

Q. What should staff who have responsibility for continuity plans be doing?

Institutions should review their continuity plans to ensure these are up to date and ready to use. This should help to prepare for staff absences and the need to communicate with teams and work remotely. Contingency plans should identify the topmost business-critical activities (bearing in mind that ‘business as usual’ might not be realistic) and make provision for these to continue. Institutions should also identify decision-makers and provide for delegated authority in their absence. Guidance on continuity plans, which should be appended to the Institution’s Emergency Action Plan. A sample plan is included.

Q. Can claims be made for Business Interruption under the University's insurance policies?

Any claim relating to Business Interruption as a result of this outbreak would not be covered.

Q. Can claims be made for Deterioration of Stock under the University's insurance policies?

Any claim relating to Deterioration of Stock as a result of this outbreak would not be covered as there is no Business Interruption cover.

Q. What should departments do about recruitment plans?

You should postpone any new non-essential recruitment activity.

However, departments should not postpone any agreed start dates; they may need to manage any induction process remotely.

Q. How should departments manage fixed-term contracts, probationary periods and other HR processes during this period?

Certain HR processes will need to be adapted during this period, for instance, the management of fixed-term contracts and secondments which are due to end, and the confirmation of probation. Departments are advised to plan ahead of time in order to accommodate these processes in a timely way and with the assistance of remote working facilities.

Departments should contact their relevant HR School Teams for assistance in planning this priority work.

Q. An individual has been recruited to start work in the UK in the next few months, but they are no longer able to enter the country due to travel and visa restrictions, can they commence the role from their home location overseas?

The current circumstances are exceptional and the University is therefore willing to support individuals working from their overseas home location for a temporary period, if they are unable to relocate to the UK to start work as planned due to travel restrictions, as a result of the International health emergency.  This is permitted on the basis that these are interim measures, which will be monitored and reviewed over the next few weeks/months.

All 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.

Whilst outside the UK, employee will be paid through the UK payroll subject to UK tax and NI, as would have been the case if they were working in the UK as originally planned.  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 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.

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 

Should you require any further advice please contact Maria Buckman, the Global Mobility Co-ordinator: globalmobility@admin.cam.ac.uk.

Q. An employee has asked if they can return to their ‘home’ overseas to work remotely whilst the offices are closed. Will this be supported?

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 interim measures, which will be monitored and reviewed on a case by case basis over the next few weeks/months. 

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

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

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 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.

If an employee makes a request to work remotely overseas, please could you 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 
  • Duration, eg 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 ESS. 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/foreign offices/etc to make sure that they are accounted for, added to any communication lists, and easily located if needed.  Employees can find their nearest embassy using this website: 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 please contact Maria Buckman, the Global Mobility Co-ordinator: globalmobility@admin.cam.ac.uk.