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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 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 2021/22 leave year increases from five days to a maximum of eight days, or the pro-rata equivalent. 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 2021/22 academic year, and will allow colleagues the use the carried forward leave at any time up until 30 September 2022. 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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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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Where can I find the COVID induction modules and guidance for working on campus?

While the University is putting in place lots of safety measures, we all have a responsibility to help keep our whole community safe. Before working on campus, please complete two short induction modules in UoRLearn so that you understand what you 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.

You will also be invited to take part in a local induction outlining the safety measures that have been tailored to your individual School or Function. Details will be shared by your Head of School/Function, or your local Health & Safety Co-ordinator.

Key things to read

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

  • Corporate-level risk assessment(PDF): setting out the main steps being taken to minimise risks of COVID-19 on campus and who is responsible for managing these, to be supplemented by local risk assessments for specific activities.
  • Safety Note 76 Social Distancing (PDF): download the latest campus social distancing guidance.
  • Safety Note 78 (PDF): download guidance on planning for COVID-19 social distancing within teaching, learning & assessment activities
  • COVID-19 FAQS: browse any topics relevant to you and your role (we are updating these frequently).

If you have any queries, please speak to your line manager in the first instance.

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What guidance and resources do you have for working remotely? 

Please visit our guidance and resources for working remotely page for more information.

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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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