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Update on phased return

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A message from Parveen Yaqoob, co-chair of the Major Recovery Team, on the roadmap for  phased return, annual leave changes and Covid19 risk-reduction measures:

Dear colleagues,

I hope you are safe and well. Following Elizabeth McCrum and Julian Park’s message about plans for Teaching and Learning for the 2020/21 academic year, I am writing to update you on other steps we are taking to prepare ourselves for the autumn term.

Over the past few weeks, colleagues across the University have been considering government guidelines and developing plans for a phased return to campus work. Our focus is on creating a safe and productive environment for teaching, learning, research and other activity for our colleagues and our students.

This roadmap sets out the initial four stages of a phased return and key activities within each stage, which will be supported by the work of many teams across the University, in both Functions and in Schools. The phases may progress at different times in different areas and we will not progress to the next stage unless we are confident that doing so will not raise unacceptable risks for our community.

As you are aware, our ways of working will continue to be different for some time to come. The roadmap reflects how we are preparing for the new academic year with the ongoing social distancing requirements and other restrictions in place.  This note on COVID19 risk-reduction measures provides more detail and guidance on how you can tailor arrangements in your own area to reduce the risk of transmission of COVID19. Please familiarise yourself with the document and keep checking it on a regular basis, as we will continue to review and update it. It will be important at all stages that implementation is subject to local risk assessments to ensure that all steps taken to phase our return are appropriate to specific buildings, activities and facilities.

I am aware that you may have questions around how a phased return will work in your own particular circumstances; for example, what happens if you need to shield at home, if your children have not been able to return to school, or if your childcare provider has not resumed operations. The Major Recovery Team is committed to managing the phased return with these considerations in mind. More information will be provided in our FAQs as government guidance develops, and your Head of School or Function will ensure more tailored information is provided relating to your specific role and activities. If you have any queries or concerns, you should speak to your line manager in the first instance.

For now, it is important to understand that any return to campus will be gradual and highly dependent on external circumstances. While some colleagues will soon be able to return to campus, many of us should continue to work from home for some time yet – either partly or fully. I would like to draw your attention to some advice on healthy working from home:

 

  • Health & Safety Advice – Please take time to set up your home workstation properly, for your comfort and safety. Our Health & Safety team has put together this poster and information on DSE assessment that you may find useful.
  • Wellbeing – This is more important than ever. The Wellbeing section of the University website has a lot of helpful information – including guides and webinars from a broad range of sources and a link to our Employee Assistance Programme.
  • Annual Leave – Taking some days off will help us maintain focus as we work remotely over a long period of time. Please book any time off as usual, but if you are unable to use up your leave, the University Executive Board has approved some changes to carrying forward of leave from this year. You can find more information in this Staff Portal article.
  • Reporting a concern: If you have any concerns about a health and safety issue, you can either contact your line manager or use this form.

 

And finally, you may be aware that the HMRC will consider claims for work-related expenses from employees working at home due to COVID-19 if their usual workplace is closed. This might include business telephone calls or the extra cost of gas and electricity. This can be claimed as tax relief only; the University is unable to contribute towards this cost. You can find more information on the HMRC website.

We will continue to develop our plans over the next few weeks and share details with you regularly. If you have any questions or concerns in the meantime, please share them with the Major Response Team through communications@reading.ac.uk.

Kind regards,

Parveen

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