Managing conversations with staff if they are unable or unwilling to return to campus
It may help to remind staff that our campuses have never been closed, and that staff have been coming onto campus to work throughout the lockdown period to support our students and enable important research to continue. Ensure the staff member has read recent communications from the Principal and is aware of the content outlined at the top of this guidance; that we are classed by the government as an essential activity and critical workers and that we have many students on campus who we have a duty to support.
As staff have been returning to campus, with all due safety measures in place, we are monitoring and further enhancing or altering our arrangements where required. The ongoing changes we are making and the increasing number of staff returning safely may help provide other staff with the additional assurances and confidence they need about safely returning to campus.
All staff should by now be spending a good proportion of their time working on our campuses to support our students and staff living, studying and working here. Local management teams will set expectations in relation to attendance on campus.
It is vital that there is a clear dialogue between the manager and member of staff so that concerns can be raised and addressed.
Where a staff member is unable and/or unwilling to return to campus line managers should:
- explore the precise reasons why the individual is unable and/or unwilling to attend
- explore reasonable support options and/or adjustments (see list in guidance). If your staff member is in the high or very high risk category they should re-do the Covid on-line health assessment form (if done pror to 19th July 2021) and Occupational Health will then advise what, if any, adjustments may be required.
If a staff member is unable and/or unwilling to attend campus following reasonable support and adjustments being offered and implemented, the line manager will need to carefully consider what other options can be explored to support the staff member. In such cases, the HR Adviser can provide further advice.
While it is acknowledged that some staff may want to have one or both vaccines before they return to campus, this is not something we will be able to accommodate unless Occupational Health indicate that this is a requirement for that particular individual. Staff should complete the Covid-19 Health Assessment ahead of returning to campus, which will assess their risk, and make any necessary recommendations to support a safe return.
Staff with ongoing health conditions who cannot do any work from home
Since restrictions were lifted on the 19th July 2021 Occupational Health will continue to carry out risk assessments for those in the high or very high-risk category so if you have previously been in this category and you remain concerned about working on campus you should re-do the Covid on-line health assessment form. It is important that you state on this if you have had the Covid-19 vaccination as this will significantly reduce your risk. Occupational Health will then advise what, if any, adjustments may be required. However as there is no longer a shielding requirement in place then you can return to work on campus, albeit this may be with some advice and guidance from Occupational Health
If an Occupational Health report confirms that a staff member is unable to attend work at a campus and they are not able to work remotely due to the nature of their role or because their home environment is not compatible with remote working (e.g. poor internet connection or lack of essential equipment) line managers can offer them reasonable alternatives such as other duties that fit their skill set and grade as well as work on appraisals, engaging in remote training to assist with their continuous professional development, refresher Health and Safety, Equality Diversity and Inclusion or other training, review of processes, particular project work etc.
If all options have been exhausted and there is nothing that can reasonably be done from home, advice can be taken from the HR Adviser.
Staff living with people who were formerly shielding and are unwilling to return
The requirement to formally shield ended on 31 March 2021. Please see the government guidance for those identified as clinically extremely vulnerable.
Staff who are living with people who are clinically extremely vulnerable can still attend work in accordance with the general advice and regulations set out in Guidance for Higher Education providers in March 2021. If all options have been exhausted and there is nothing that can reasonably be done from home, advice can be taken from the HR Adviser.