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COVID-19 FAQ: General

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Topics covered: Post-Covid-19 Response Programme; annual leave; childcare vouchers; support for children/young adults.

Questions

What are the University's plans around the Christmas holidays?

The government has said that the four-week lockdown in England is aimed at driving down case numbers, with the aim that this will allow people to travel more safely for the Christmas break.

The government has published updated guidance outlining how universities can facilitate students to travel should they wish to return home for Christmas . We are currently reviewing this guidance in detail and will update staff and students with our plans as soon as possible. This will involve mass COVID-19 testing for students. The guidance indicates that this may need to be prioritised, so the University has already submitted an expression of interest in taking part, and we are awaiting a specific response.

What is the Post-COVID-19 Response Programme?

The COVID-19 crisis has created upheavals in every aspect of the way we live and work. For the higher education sector, the financial impact of the pandemic far exceeds that of existing challenges, like income shortfalls due to inflationary pressures, a demographic dip, and static Home Undergraduate fees.

The Post-COVID-19 Response Programme aims to urgently address the most pressing issues brought on by the pandemic, including financial stability, optimisation of services and operations, and future sustainability.  Please see these FAQS for full details.  

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What is the University's position on annual leave?

The University Executive Board has agreed a change to the current annual leave policy. The amount of leave that colleagues can carry forward to the 2020/21 leave year increases from five days to a maximum of ten days, or the pro-rata equivalent of two working weeks. Please note that the system will not be automatically updated - any holiday carried over will have to be manually added.

The change only applies to the 2020/21 academic year, and will allow colleagues the use the carried forward leave at any time up until 30 September 2021. The revised arrangements for carry forward will also apply to colleagues who have been on furlough leave.

Colleagues who have taken a period of furlough leave will be required to manage their leave arrangements to ensure that they take some of their annual leave during or around the period of furlough leave. 

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So should I book leave as normal?

Yes, leave should be booked in the usual way through Employee Self Service and agreed in advance with line managers.

It is important that all of us book and take annual leave to allow ourselves a break and to relax away from the demands of work helps us maintain our focus as we work remotely over a longer period of time.

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Can I make changes to my childcare vouchers while the schools are closed?

Yes, you can. Our childcare vouchers are provided by Computershare Voucher Services. If you are signed up to the scheme and manage your account online, you can manage your childcare voucher account online at computersharevoucherservices.com, or email parent@computershare.co.uk

You can reduce or stop your childcare voucher payments. The minimum value you can reduce your payments to is £10 per month. If you wish to stop your payments, you must restart and receive a voucher within 12 months to maintain your eligibility. Any changes to your childcare vouchers should be made online by the end of each month and will take effect the following month. In exceptional circumstances, please email d.cox@reading.ac.uk. For further FAQs relating to childcare vouchers, please see the HR Childcare+ webpage.

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I am a parent or carer. Is there any advice for children/young people with worries about COVID-19?

It is understandable that some children and young people feel anxious and worried about what is going on.

This is a normal response to a situation many may not have experienced before. Emerging Minds, a research network that our University is part of, has put together a helpful guide for parents and carers on Supporting children and young people with worries about Coronavirus (COVID-19). The guide pulls together some of the existing advice and weblinks that colleagues may find useful.

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