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Guidance for managers – University of Reading

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Guidance for managers

Questions

  1. Overview
  2. What should I do if a member of my team reports a positive COVID-19 test result to me?
  3. What should I do if a member of my team reports that they have symptoms of COVID-19?
  4. What is the current approach for meetings on campus or online?
  5. How should I respond if a member of staff reports that they have concerns about undertaking particular activities due to their own vulnerability?
  6. Where can I find the COVID-19 induction modules and guidance for working on campus?
  7. What do I need to consider to support my team in returning to campus?
  8. My team member says they can't work on campus because they travel to work on public transport. What can I do?
  9. One of my team members does not have any health or other vulnerabilities but is reluctant to work on campus. How should I manage this?
  10. What measures will be taken if an employee does not follow safety requirements?
  11. What should I do if I notice that a member of my team is displaying what might be COVID-19 symptoms?
  12. How do I manage a team that is split between home and campus?
  13. What approach can I take to ask employees to work at a different desk or office on campus?
  14. What things need to be considered to help employees adjust to working in a shared environment with their colleagues?
  15. How should I respond if an employee requests facilities or equipment to work from home?
  16. How do I manage people when I am asking them to do something different and they are unwilling?
  17. What do I need to consider in terms of supporting a pregnant colleague?
  18. What about colleagues who need to travel to or visit external partners or other Institutions or organisations?
  19. What other support is available to colleagues (for example, financial or welfare concerns)?
  20. Managing Stress and Anxiety - returning to work on campus

1. Overview

This guidance is intended for Line Managers to support team members returning to work on campus this autumn. Should you have any questions not covered in this guidance, please contact your HR Partner or Advisor in the first instance.

2. What should I do if a member of my team reports a positive COVID-19 test result to me?

If someone reports a positive COVID-19 result to you, please advise them to:

  • follow all government advice to self-isolate (stay at home) 
  •  follow all instructions from the NHS and engage with the Test and Trace system (including advising Test and Trace that they are connected to the University) 
  •  not return to work on campus until they have completed the self-isolation period.

If unwell and unable to work, then the staff member should use the USP1 form to report absence following our normal processes.

As a line manager, you should promptly inform your Head of School or Function and complete the online reporting form.

Even if your staff member has not been to campus, you should still use the reporting form to notify a positive case.

Providing as much information as possible at an early stage will help the University to respond quickly and protect our community. It will also enable us to liaise with external bodies such as Public Health England and local authorities to ensure that actions are effective and proportionate.

Please also contact Cleaning Services where someone has been on campus so that decisions can be taken as to whether their work-space can be closed off for a period of 72 hours before cleaning can take place.

Wider communication of a positive test within your team should not be done at this stage. Our University COVID-19 Case Management Team will work with the member of staff to identify anyone who may need to be contacted.

Please note, from Monday 16 August, the rules in England changed so that you are not legally required to self-isolate if you are contacted by NHS Test and Trace or via the NHS COVID-19 app, following close contact with someone who has COVID-19 if:

  • you have received two doses of a COVID-19 vaccine approved in the UK at least two weeks prior to contact 
  • you are not displaying any symptoms.

For more information please see Changes to self-isolation guidance - University of Reading

3. What should I do if a member of my team reports that they have symptoms of COVID-19?

If someone in your team contacts you about showing symptoms please advise them to follow all government advice to self-isolate (stay at home) and seek a PCR test as soon as possible.

If they test positive, they should let you know so you can complete the online form as outlined above.

4. What is the current approach for meetings on campus or online?

Please see Guidance for meetings 2021/22 - University of Reading

Please be sensitive to the concerns of others about meeting in person and continue to meet digitally where appropriate.

For guidance on conducting online meetings, view the Guidance for Virtual Meetings document (PDF).

5. How should I respond if a member of staff reports that they have concerns about undertaking particular activities due to their own vulnerability?

Guidance for people previously considered clinically extremely vulnerable is published on the government website.

If a colleague has very specific needs such as a disability (which may involve underlying health conditions) or may consider themselves to be vulnerable, consideration should be given to any additional risk factors that may need to be taken into account or mitigated.

This may require an additional risk assessment to be carried out which can be done with the support of HR and Occupational Health. Please speak to your HR Business Partner or Advisor if you have any queries about supporting members of your team with concerns about being vulnerable.

If you have team members on furlough leave and you do not have enough work for everyone to go back full-time immediately, you may want to consider enabling staff who are vulnerable to be the last team members to return to work.

Another option you can consider is to identify work that can be done remotely to enable them to remain working remotely rather than coming back onto site at the University. If this is outside of the work they could usually be asked to undertake, you should seek their agreement to this change.

6. Where can I find the COVID-19 induction modules and guidance for working on campus?

While the University has put in place lots of safety measures, we all have a responsibility to help keep our whole community safe. Line managers should ensure all colleagues complete two short induction modules in UoRLearn so that they understand what they need to do:

  • Generic COVID Induction Module 1- Health and Workplace Expectations. This covers our expectations of colleagues, when not to return to campus, NHS Test & Trace Service, wellbeing support, controlling workplace transmission, face coverings, and travel to and from work.
  • Generic COVID Induction Module 2- Buildings and Workspaces. This covers COVID-19 secure measures, common area plans, external areas, cleaning, emergency arrangements, and using workplace facilities.
  • Colleagues involved in face-to-face teaching will also need complete the Generic COVID Induction Module 3. This covers key information and documents, teaching activity, face coverings, responsibilities "before, during, and at the end of a teaching session", student information/expectations, and fire safety.

Line manages should also invite colleagues to take part in a local induction outlining the safety measures that have been tailored to their individual School or Function.

Key things to read

As well as the induction modules mentioned above, all colleagues should also review the following guidance before you return:

7. What do I need to consider to support my team in returning to campus?

Guidance for managers was circulated to the Leadership Group from MRT in June 2021. Please refer to this guidance and the information on this page.

There are a number of considerations to make when returning teams to campus. Some are much like when a colleague returns from a period of family leave or long-term sickness absence and others more complex and large scale. You may also have colleagues who joined your team during the period of remote working. The following questions/statements may not be relevant to all but may prompt discussion and/or assist in determining what support colleagues may require, if at all.

  • How many of my team can be in the workspace at one time? 
  • Is there adequate ventilation? (See our FAQ for further information) 
  • Did anybody cancel their car park pass? They will need to reinstate this before they return to campus. You can access the website here or email campusparking@reading.ac.uk
  • Would they like to meet on campus ahead of a return to see the COVID-safe measures put in place? 
  • Has the member of staff been furloughed? Perhaps treat this as a reintroduction to work as well as a reintroduction to campus. 
  • When are people expected to return to campus? 
  • Explain that this is a phased/transition period of return and it won't be all back at once. 
  • Initiate a rota - involve the team and be clear on what the expectation to be on campus actually is.

It is important to ensure relevant colleagues (Heads of School or Function and Health and Safety) are involved in the decision to return teams to campus and this must adhere to the guidance outlined by the government and the Major Recovery Team (MRT).

8. My team member says they can't work on campus because they travel to work on public transport. What can I do?

You should check with your team member about the other options for travel to campus and what may be preventing them from using other forms of transport. Discuss with them whether there are any factors which increase their risk and risk assess as appropriate.

If it is necessary for your team member to work on campus and there are no adjustments which have been identified via Occupational Health, then they will need to return to campus when required.

Colleagues should be advised to take into account government guidance when travelling on public transport, such as using a face covering and distancing as far as they are able to.

Line managers should listen to any concerns raised and in consultation with the individual, and with advice from their HR Partner/HR Advisor.

9. One of my team members does not have any health or other vulnerabilities but is reluctant to work on campus. How should I manage this?

It is important to understand their anxieties and concerns, but this must also be reconciled with legitimate operational requirements.

If they are required to work on campus then providing reassurance about the arrangements on campus will be key. Talk to your team member to try to understand the circumstances and their concerns. It may be that they are not fully aware of the measures that have been put in place on campus, or in their workspace to accommodate social distancing. Once you have explained what is in place, they may feel more comfortable about working on campus.

Employers cannot force employees to work if it is unsafe, but if their work requires them to return to campus and you can show that all reasonable arrangements have been put in place, the employee cannot unreasonably refuse. So you will need to be clear about the specific arrangements and that you will expect them to return and when. If further advice is needed, please speak to your HR Partner/Advisor.

10. What measures will be taken if an employee does not follow safety requirements?

All colleagues have a responsibility for their own and others welfare. We have produced a Code of Conduct (Word, 795 KB) which applies to all staff and sets out the standards of behaviour and respect we expect of all colleagues.

If concerns have been raised to you, then it is important to speak to the relevant staff in the first instance. Have a conversation to check they understand current requirements and how this is applied in the University and local setting.

If you have not already done so, run through the measures that have been set up in the workspace and building they are working in. Check if there are any areas they are not sure about. Discuss any concerns they have or other issues that may have affected their understanding of the new ways of working.

If a colleague is wilfully disregarding safety guidance and in doing so, may be putting other colleagues or students at risk, then formal disciplinary action may be appropriate. Please contact your HR Advisor or HR Partner for advice as required.

11. What should I do if I notice that a member of my team is displaying what might be COVID-19 symptoms?

You should take steps to ensure staff are adhering to the advice outlined in the current government guidelines.

12. How do I manage a team that is split between home and campus?

You may have teams which are split between working on and off site. It is important that colleagues across the team continue to feel connected with each other and with the work of your School / Function. Think about how important it is for anyone in the team to maintain traditional 'office hours' and try to develop a culture where the working hours of those working from home are easily understood by their manager and colleagues.

Adhere to the Guidance for meetings 2021/22 - University of Reading

Additional information is available to support managers to manage staff remotely - please see "Leading a Remote team" online course available via UoRLearn.

13. What approach can I take to ask employees to work at a different desk or office on campus?

For safety reasons, there may need to be some reasonable changes to the workplace. This may mean that colleagues need to work at a different desk, in a different building or on a different campus from normal. Staff should be made aware of any changes to their work location on campus prior to their return to work and provided with any relevant information relating to the change. It is reasonable for colleagues to be asked to work at a different campus at this time but allow colleagues a chance to discuss any queries they may have.

 If employees have reasonable objections to the workspace allocated on return, managers can try to accommodate other reasonable suggestions. It may not be possible to accommodate all requests where the location of the individual will result in them being unable to deliver the requirements of the role. If you have any ongoing issues or concerns please seek advice from your HR Advisor or HR Partner.

<p>14. What things need to be considered to help employees adjust to working in a shared environment with their colleagues?

Working in what may feel like a very different environment will require a level of adjustment and this will impact people in different ways. The first thing to remember is to be considerate to each other and understand that everyone will have varying concerns that may or may not be shared by others. All colleagues should be reminded of the need to abide by any local health and safety guidance for their place of work. All colleagues must ensure that they take care in personal hygiene and wash hands regularly and thoroughly. Shared equipment should be wiped down before and after use.

15. How should I respond if an employee requests facilities or equipment to work from home?

Where possible, colleagues who are working from home for short periods should continue to adapt to the circumstances and use the equipment available to them. In some circumstances we recognise that there may be health conditions or other reasons why the home workstation is not suitable for extended working from home. In these circumstances it may be helpful to refer your team member to Occupational Health who may be able to make other recommendations.

16. How do I manage people when I am asking them to do something different and they are unwilling?

It is not unreasonable to ask colleagues to do different duties as long as these are within the scope of their job and their skills and abilities.

You may find it helpful to take colleagues through why you have asked them to do something different, understanding the reason for a request is usually the best way for people to feel better about being asked. If you have ongoing concerns please contact your HR Advisor or HR Partner for advice as required.

17. What do I need to consider in terms of supporting a pregnant colleague?

Please encourage employees to review and follow the advice for pregnant employees. Coronavirus Covid-19 advice for pregnant employees.

Advice regarding all women less than 28 weeks pregnant with no underlying health conditions that place them at a greater risk of becoming severely unwell with COVID-19:

When a colleague discloses that they are pregnant you must complete the Expectant Mothers Risk Assessment Form (please refer to the Expectant Mothers Risk Assessment Guidance produced by Health & Safety Services), followed by a further review between weeks 26 and 28 weeks. You may wish to contact Occupational Health or your HR Partner for assistance to complete the risk assessment.

 If they are less than 28 weeks pregnant with no underlying health conditions that place them at greater risk then they can continue to work if the risk assessment advises it is safe to do so.

 If a cause for concern is raised as a result of the risk assessment then consideration may need to be given to moving or managing any risks. If this can't be done then consideration may need to be given to offering suitable alternative work or working arrangements.

For those who are 28 weeks pregnant or more with underlying conditions that place them at a greater risk of severe illness from Coronavirus.

 These women are being encouraged to take a precautionary approach. Although they are generally viewed to be at no more risk of contracting the virus than any other non-pregnant person who is in similar health, they have an increased risk of becoming severely unwell and of pre-term birth if they were to catch COVID-19.

 It would be prudent to discuss any workplace concerns with them. You must complete the Expectant Mothers Risk Assessment Form (please refer to the Expectant Mothers Risk Assessment Guidance produced by Health & Safety Services), followed by a further review between weeks 26 and 28 weeks. It is advised that the employee is referred to Occupational Health where appropriate. If you have questions or need further advice, please contact your HR Business Partner/Advisor. An Occupational Health referral may be appropriate

18. What about colleagues who need to travel to or visit external partners or other Institutions or organisations?

Please refer to the COVID-19 FAQs under Travel and Insurance.

19. What other support is available to colleagues (for example, financial or welfare concerns)?

You can encourage them to contact the Employee Assistance Programme - which is an independent, free, confidential support and counselling service which is run by CIC and is called Confidential Care. Confidential Care gives employees a place to turn to for support any time of day or night, 365 days a year. Support is available for whatever issues employees might be facing including financial problems, work stress, depression, marriage and relationship issues, legal concerns, coping with change, parenting issues, health issues and much more.

20. What other support is available to colleagues (for example, financial or welfare concerns)?

Returning to work on campus may feel like a source of stress for some individuals and having a discussion about the 6 key areas of work design that are known stressors can be helpful and using the Talking Tool Kit. Causes of concern:

 Addressing work stressors  
Excessive demands Discuss the issues they have and agree any changes that are feasible 
Low control Outline any area of flexibility
Poor relationships Have 1 to 1's and catch ups with team
Poor support Remind them of wellbeing resources
Unsure of role Be clear about expectations for their role and work responsibilities
Poor change management Talk through what may be different in their role as a result changing work processes or procedures 

Employees may also wish to access the Employee Assistance Programme for further information and support. This is a free and confidential service offering telephone and online information and support.

Social anxiety after lockdown

Returning to work during Covid-19

UoRLearn - online courses available for all staff to help with skills development such as workload management and organisation skills

UoRLearn- Quick reference guide for line managers

Mentoring and Coaching support for line managers - we recognise that as a line manager, supporting staff through this difficult time is challenging. Mentoring and coaching is available for line managers if this may be useful support for you during this time. Please contact peopledevelopment@reading.ac.uk for more details so you can decide if this may be useful development support for you at this time.

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