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FAQs


Please refer to the University’s new webpages on working remotely.   

For questions around workstation (DSE) guidance, please refer to our new guidance.


Can I claim for any of the costs for working at home during the Covid-19 crisis?

Whilst you are required to work from home, you are able to claim tax relief from HMRC.

You can claim this tax relief for some of the bills you have to pay because you have to work at home on a regular basis.

Once the Covid-19 crisis ends, you will not be able to continue to claim tax relief if you choose to work from home.

What can I claim for?

You can only claim for things to do with your work, for example, business telephone calls or the extra cost of gas and electricity.

You cannot claim for things that you use for both private and business use, for example, rent or broadband access.

How much can I claim?

For most people the additional cost will be gas and electricity, yet apportioning these costs is tough. So instead you can, simply, claim at a standard rate. This is £6 a week (£26 a month) from 6 April 2020 and £4 a week (£18 a month) before 6 April 2020.

The impact of a £6 per week claim is the tax savings. It is a gain of £1.20 per week (about £62 per year) for basic 20% rate taxpayers (and higher for 40% rate taxpayers).

If you believe you have higher increased costs then you can claim more, but you will need evidence of the cost increases.

How do I claim the tax relief?

If you normally do a self-assessment form, you can claim on it.

For most people, however, it will simply require filling in a P87 form. This can be done through an online P87 form through your Government Gateway account, or by filling out a postal P87 form.

You claim retrospectively on expenses that you have had. So, it may be best to wait until you're back on campus or your normal place of work (or a few months anyway) then make the whole claim at once. Your tax code will likely be adjusted so that you pay less tax over the year, as opposed to you getting a direct refund.

On the P87 form you will be asked for your employer's name and PAYE reference (which you can find on your payslip or P60), and your job title. For postal P87s, you'll also need your national insurance number.

The key section for filling in is titled 'Using your home as an office' (pictured below). Assuming you're not eligible for tax relief on other work-related expenses then leave them blank.

 

Screenshot of part of the claiming tax relief form from the GOV.AC.UK website.

In the online form, there are two boxes:

  • 'Amount paid by you'. Provided you have had increased costs, just put a total amount that's equivalent to £6 per week for the period you've been working from home since 6 April 2020 (or £4 a week before 6 April 2020). You won't need to show receipts.
  • 'Amount paid to you by your employer'. In most cases you would just put £0 because Queen Mary doesn’t provide a homeworking allowance. However you should declare any approved expenses such as essential business calls made using your home telephone.

If you're claiming through the postal form, you'll need to add a 'Using your home as an office' expense manually in the 'Other expenses' section.


The majority of our staff should now be working from home. However, if you are still required to work on site and you are more vulnerable to the virus, living with someone who is likely to be more vulnerable, have any coronavirus symptoms and/or are currently sharing a house with people who have symptoms then you should work from home where possible. Please speak to your line manager about any possible tasks that can be carried out at home. 

For further information please see our latest guidance on working flexibly when you have caring or other significant responsibilities.


How can we record absence due to Covid-19 or absence due to symptoms of Covid-19? 

MyHR has been updated to enable sickness absence for Coronavirus to be recorded against the Sickness Reason Code ‘COVID19’ and then categorised as ‘Confirmed’ or ‘Unconfirmed / Displaying Symptoms’.  

  • ‘Confirmed’ should be used where a member of staff has tested positive for COVID19 and is off sick as a result. 
  • ‘Unconfirmed / Displaying Symptoms’ should be used where a member of staff is off sick as a result of symptoms of COVID19 but has not been tested to confirm.  

In either case, please also email staffhealth@qmul.ac.uk to notify them of this absence.  

Also, please notify staffhealth@qmul.ac.uk if a member of staff is self-isolating, even if symptoms are mild and they are working as normal and not ‘off sick’. 

Sickness absence for reasons unrelated to Covid-19, should continue to be managed in the normal way, including the line manager recording the absence on MyHR. 

 

Will absence due to self-isolation or coronavirus trigger a sickness absence review? 

No.

Absence due to self-isolation or coronavirus will be excluded from sickness absence triggers. Please see the Attendance Policy for further details. 

 

What is the process for reporting non-attendance due to coronavirus? 

If you need to self-isolate due to coronavirus, let your line manager know and also email staffhealth@qmul.ac.uk. 

If you do not have symptoms, your absence will be treated as special paid leave. If you are able to work from home, you should first complete the display screen risk assessment. 

If you have symptoms of the coronavirus, your absence will be treated as sickness absence and the University’s standard sickness absence reporting procedure will apply. Please see the Attendance Policy for further details. You should follow the Public Health England guidance for self-isolating at home


We have a new member of staff joining Queen Mary during this period of remote working. How will this affect their employment?  

Any new starter who joins in these circumstances would be treated as any other member of staff.  

Sick pay provisions and special leave in the case of a need for self-isolation apply from day one as do all other provisions that have been set out. 

Line managers should take a pragmatic approach and may take advice from Human Resources where necessary. 

 

I have staff whose working hours can fluctuate on a weekly basis in excess of their contracted hours. How many hours should I pay them for if the University closes and they cannot continue to work? 

Our approach is guided by our values, that is to treat all staff ethically and inclusively. 

If staff are going to suffer financially, please consider paying them based on their weekly average hours, with reference to the twelve weeks prior to the change in working pattern. 

 

I have an agency worker/member of staff paid by timesheets/member of staff on a fixed term contract. I had previously offered them work but no longer need them to carry it out. What should I do? 

Our approach is guided by our values, that is to treat all staff ethically and inclusively. 

Any pre-existing commitments should be honored.  

It may be that the nature of the work that you engaged your member of staff to undertake needs to be reviewed in light of the new circumstances, and that you need to look at offering alternative duties or forms of working. 

 

Fixed term contracts: 

You should continue to employ your member of staff for the duration of their contract.  

 

Agency staff: 

If they provide a service that you do not require, in the first instance, please speak to their employment agency directly about the contingency arrangements the agency has put in place. Agency workers are employees of the agency. 

If the agency does not have any arrangements in place, you may need to consider reducing hours, or, where necessary, ending the work arrangement with appropriate notice and paying the individual until a reasonable date, for example until the end of April 2020. 

 

Timesheet staff: 

Please submit timesheets that cover the hours you had committed to pay. See also our separate FAQ on staff on timesheets whose working hours can fluctuate.  

 

Teaching staff: 

All teaching is being moved online. Teaching staff should still be able to deliver teaching, albeit though an online approach. Schools should ensure that teaching staff are provided with advice/instructions on how to do this. 

If the programme or module in question is not being delivered online for any reason, or it is not possible for your teachers to deliver online learning, please engage with your Head of School to identify how your teachers can support our education effort in different ways. 

 


Please follow the UK government’s travel guidance for the education sector.

The Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) advises British people against all non-essential travel worldwide. This advice took immediate effect on 17 March and applies initially for a period of 30 days.

We understand this government advice may impact your annual leave plans. Please see below for some frequently asked questions about annual leave.

I have annual leave booked in the next couple of months, but I think my trip will be cancelled. Can I cancel my leave?

As your trip has been cancelled you are able to cancel your annual leave. You should cancel your leave through MyHR.

However, please do consider still taking your annual leave. It is important that staff still take breaks from work, even when working remotely.

Will staff be able carry over their annual leave to the next leave year? Or will they be able to sell their days’ annual leave?

The pandemic is expected to have a significant impact on the economy and Queen Mary. As such, we are also conscious of the need to prevent a build-up of untaken annual leave which would affect our operations next year and put additional pressure on staff to cover for their colleagues. Therefore, except in the specific circumstances outlined below, please request and take your annual leave before the end of the annual leave year (31 July 2020), in line with normal expectations. You should request your annual leave through MyHR for approval by your line manager.

If, due to business requirements, it has not been possible for a member of staff to take their leave within the 2019/2020 leave year, line managers have discretion to agree up to five days’ carry over (pro rata for part-time staff). Requests for carry over should be made in June/July (or earlier if preferred) with a view to obtaining the necessary approval, and must be formally processed on MyHR in August in line with normal procedure:

http://hr.qmul.ac.uk/procedures/leave/ann_leave/

In approving up to five days’ carry over, line managers should agree a clear plan for use of this annual leave within a reasonable timeframe.

The usual adjusted carry over procedures for those staff on maternity / shared parental leave or on long-term sickness leave (not related to Coronavirus) remain applicable. For further information, please speak to your line manager or contact your HR Advisor.

The Working Time (Coronavirus) (Amendment) Regulations 2020

The Government has amended the Working Time Regulations 1998. Where it is not reasonably practicable for a member of staff to take their outstanding annual leave within the leave year due to the effects of Coronavirus, carry over of up to 20 days’ annual leave will be permitted, (pro rata for part-time staff). Such leave must be taken within the 2020/2021 and 2021/2022 Queen Mary annual leave years.

In the vast majority of cases, it is expected that staff will be able to take their holiday entitlement within the annual leave year. Therefore, the above provision will apply to a limited number of staff and staff groups. These may include:

  • “Key Workers”, as defined by the Government, predominantly in the School of Medicine & Dentistry;
  • A limited number of staff responsible for maintaining on-campus or IT services, defined as “Queen Mary Essential Workers”;
  • Staff who have reported and logged long-term (over four weeks’) sickness absence on MyHR and via the staff health mailbox due to a confirmed or suspected case of Coronavirus.
  • Staff who have reported and logged long-term (over four weeks’) absence due to self-isolation on MyHR and via the staff health mailbox as a result of a potential Coronavirus infection.

If you believe that you fall within one of these categories and wish to carry over more than five days’ annual leave, please raise this with your line manager in the first instance and indicate how many days of your outstanding annual leave you wish to carry over. In the case of sickness absence or self-isolation, the number of days carry over may not exceed the number of days’ reported absence. Carry over will be subject to approval by the Faculty Operating Officer, Chief Operating Officer (SMD) or Chief Governance Officer.

Staff and line managers may contact their HR Advisor for information and advice regarding annual leave and carry over.


I am pregnant. When should I inform my line manager?

We recommend that staff who become pregnant during the COVID-19 pandemic inform their line manager as soon as they become aware that they are pregnant to ensure a risk assessment is completely as soon as possible.

Should I arrange a risk assessment?

Expectant mothers at all stages of pregnancy are regarded as being at risk.  All pregnant staff should therefore complete a risk assessment.  This is sent to the occupational health service who will assess to ensure sufficient systems are put in place to protect the pregnant staff member.  OH will then contact the staff member if required.

Should I continue to attend regular antenatal appointments?

Yes, the NHS advise that provided you are well it is important to attend all routine appointments.  If you do feel unwell, you are advised to consult your community midwife in order to postpone your visits for the time being.

I am a clinical member of staff. Is there anything else I need to consider?

Pregnant staff who are employed on a clinical basis are advised to consult specific guidance developed by the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists, Royal College of Midwives and Faculty of Occupational Medicine, which will be especially helpful to expectant mothers where the following circumstances apply:

  • Clinical staff at the pre-28 weeks stage concerned about working in patient centred roles;
  • Clinical staff at the pre-28 weeks stage who opt to continue providing patient centred care, and
  • Clinical staff at the post-28 weeks stage with long term health conditions.

Where can I get further information?

In addition to the specific guidance referred to above, the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists have also developed a set of frequently asked questions covering all aspects of coronavirus and pregnancy. 

Further information is also available via the World Health Organisation’s guidance.  More general advice on coronavirus and pregnancy can be accessed via the NHS website.

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