Students sitting outside

Frequently asked questions for staff coming into the workplace

These are the latest responses to the questions but are likely to change over time. These were last updated on 10 January 2022.

Please also refer to the dedicated webpages on ‘moving forward’ for further information.

Update: All student-facing staff are expected to be in work as usual as well as support staff required for the effective operation of the university. Face-to-face teaching will continue as planned.

Staff in non-student facing roles should work from home, please contact your Director for advice if you have any questions about this, and note that you can return to your normal place of work if this is a better situation for you. This advice follows the government guidance set out in December and will be reviewed on 26 January.

The FAQ’s are broken down into the following sections.

  • Testing and COVID-19 symptoms/sickness/self isolation and vaccines
  • Revised practices in the workplace (e.g. hygiene and your safety)
  • PPE/face coverings
  • Staff concerns about the workplace, vulnerable people or travelling into work on public transport
  • Childcare issues
  • Travelling abroad
  • Hybrid working

Testing and COVID-19 symptoms/sickness/self-isolation and vaccines

What if I become unwell or think I may have COVID-19? 

Anyone with COVID-19 symptoms should stay at home and self-isolate immediately and follow the NHS stay at home guidance for households with possible coronavirus (COVID-19) infection.

You should book a PCR as soon as possible to confirm if you do have COVID-19 and if you test positive, continue to isolate for between 7 and 10 days depending on your situation (please visit the Government website for more information). You should let your line manager know the outcome of any test and confirm any close work contacts with them. Only if you test negative and you no longer have symptoms will you be able to return to the workplace before the end of the self-isolation period. 

What if I test positive with a rapid lateral flow (LFD) test? 

From 11 January 2022, you do not need to book a PCR test to confirm the outcome of your positive LDF test if you have no symptoms. You should stay at home and follow the NHS stay at home guidance regarding self-isolation for between 7 and 10 days depending on your situation (please visit the Government website for more information) and inform your line manager and the University’s COVID support team.

If you test positive on a LFD test and have symptoms then you should arranged a PCR test as outlined in the previous questions

Do I have to have a negative COVID test to come into the workplace?

Staff members are encouraged to take a twice weekly Lateral Flow tests (LDF) and upload the results to the government website. The university is providing rapid lateral flow test kits and you can also obtain these from local pharmacies or on-line. Please see GOV.UK for further detail.

I have had COVID vaccination/booster - do I still need to demonstrate a negative test to enter the workplace? 

Yes – you are encouraged to take a twice weekly Lateral Flow tests and upload the results to the government website as per above. This is in line with Public Health guidance

Where can I book a test? 

If you have symptoms, you can book a PCR test through the University testing centre or via the NHS

What if I have someone at home with symptoms of COVID-19? 

If someone you live with has symptoms of COVID-19 you should ensure they get a PCR test as soon as possible but you will not need to self-isolate if any of the following apply:

  • You are fully vaccinated – this means 14 days have passed since your final dose of a COVID-19 vaccine given by the NHS
  • You are under 18 years, 6 months
  • You are taking part of have taken part in a COVID-19 vaccine trial
  • You are not able to get vaccinated for medical reasons

As per government advice, you will be required to take a lateral flow test every day for 7 days. If any LDF tests are positive, you should stay at home and follow the NHS stay at home guidance regarding self-isolation and inform your line manager and the University’s COVID support team.

If none of the above apply and someone in your household becomes unwell with symptoms of coronavirus (COVID-19) then you must follow the NHS stay at home guidance and self-isolate. If the person in your household tests positive, you must continue to self-isolate for 10 days (the 10 days begin the day after the person started with symptoms or the day after they received their positive test result if they had no symptoms). If their PCR test result is negative, you may stop isolating and return to the workplace.

What if someone I have been in close contact within work develops symptoms of COVID-19? 

You will not need to self-isolate if any of the following apply:

  • You are fully vaccinated – this means 14 days have passed since your final dose of a COVID-19 vaccine given by the NHS
  • You are under 18 years, 6 months
  • You are taking part of have taken part in a COVID-19 vaccine trial
  • You are not able to get vaccinated for medical reasons

Government advice requires you to take a lateral flow test every day for 7 days. If any LDF tests are positive, you should stay at home and follow the NHS stay at home guidance regarding self-isolation and inform your line manager and the University’s COVID support team

If none of the above apply you must follow the NHS stay at home guidance and self-isolate for 10 days (the 10 days begin the day after the person started with symptoms or the day after they received their positive test result if they had no symptoms). If you are in the workplace at the time, you should go home immediately. You should work from home (if you are well) where this is possible during the self-isolation period. Your manager may give you alternative work to do from home if your normal work does not allow this. If you develop symptoms during this period, you should follow government advice and get a PCR test.

What if I have someone at home who tests positive for COVID-19? 

You will not need to self-isolate if any of the following apply:

  • You are fully vaccinated – this means 14 days have passed since your final dose of a COVID-19 vaccine given by the NHS
  • You are under 18 years, 6 months
  • You are taking part of have taken part in a COVID-19 vaccine trial
  • You are not able to get vaccinated for medical reasons

Government advice requires you to take a lateral flow test every day for 7 days. If any LDF tests are positive, you should stay at home and follow the NHS stay at home guidance regarding self-isolation and inform your line manager and the University’s COVID support team.

If none of the above apply you must follow the NHS stay at home guidance and self-isolate for 10 days (the 10 days begin the day after the person started with symptoms or the day after they received their positive test result if they had no symptoms). If you are in the workplace at the time, you should go home immediately. You should work from home (if you are well) where this is possible during the self-isolation period. Your manager may give you alternative work to do from home if your normal work does not allow this. If you develop symptoms during this period, you should follow government advice and get a PCR test.

What if someone I have been in close contact within work tests positive for COVID-19?

You will not need to self-isolate if any of the following apply:

  • You are fully vaccinated – this means 14 days have passed since your final dose of a COVID-19 vaccine given by the NHS
  • You are under 18 years, 6 months
  • You are taking part of have taken part in a COVID-19 vaccine trial
  • You are not able to get vaccinated for medical reasons

Government advice requires you to take a lateral flow test every day for 7 days. If any LDF tests are positive, you should stay at home and follow the NHS stay at home guidance regarding self-isolation and inform your line manager and the University’s COVID support team

If none of the above apply you must follow the NHS stay at home guidance and self-isolate for 10 days (the 10 days begin the day after the person started with symptoms or the day after they received their positive test result if they had no symptoms). If you are in the workplace at the time, you should go home immediately. You should work from home (if you are well) where this is possible during the self-isolation period. Your manager may give you alternative work to do from home if your normal work does not allow this. If you develop symptoms during this period, you should follow government advice and get a PCR test.

I have been contacted by the NHS Test and Trace or the NHS COVID App because I have been in close contact with someone who has tested positive for COVID-19 - what should I do? 

You will not need to self-isolate if any of the following apply:

  • You are fully vaccinated – this means 14 days have passed since your final dose of a COVID-19 vaccine given by the NHS
  • You are under 18 years, 6 months
  • You are taking part of have taken part in a COVID-19 vaccine trial
  • You are not able to get vaccinated for medical reasons

Government advice requires you to take a lateral flow test every day for 7 days. If any LDF tests are positive, you should stay at home and follow the NHS stay at home guidance regarding self-isolation and inform your line manager and the University’s COVID support team

If none of the above apply you must follow the NHS stay at home guidance and self-isolate for 10 days (the 10 days begin the day after the person started with symptoms or the day after they received their positive test result if they had no symptoms). If you are in the workplace at the time, you should go home immediately. You should work from home (if you are well) where this is possible during the self-isolation period. Your manager may give you alternative work to do from home if your normal work does not allow this. If you develop symptoms during this period, you should follow government advice and get a PCR test.

Does my manager need to record a period of self-isolation or a positive COVID test? 

In order to plan appropriately, it is important to ensure all absences from work are recorded correctly and promptly on staff InfoBase. As well as recording staff absence, we also need to be able to report numbers of staff who are testing positive for COVID and also those staff members who have to self-isolate.

If a member of staff contacts you (the line manager) to confirm that they have tested positive for COVID, you need to know if they are reporting in sick or if they are well enough and able to work from home.

If the member of staff is unwell this should be recorded as a sickness absence with the reason of COVID-19. Your Sickness Administrator will do this. 

If the employee is well enough and can work from home or is well enough to attend work but their role does not allow them to work from home, this should be recorded as Self Isolation (Positive Test). 

If the employee contacts you to confirm they are self-isolating because they have been in close contact with a person who has tested positive, this should be recorded as Self Isolation (Close Contact). This also applies to staff whose role does not allow them to work from home.

You (the line manager) can record this via:

  • Manager Self Service
  • Absence Management
  • click Action for the relevant person
  • click Book Annual Leave or Other Absence
  • add the absence details with an Absence Type of Self Isolation (Positive Test) or Self Isolation (Close Contact)

Can I get time off work to get my COVID-19 vaccine?

LJMU is keen to support all staff to get the vaccine when it is their turn. You should try to book your vaccine appointment outside of work time or at the beginning or end of the day to avoid disruption, but you will be allowed reasonable time off if required to attend this appointment.

Can I claim back booked annual leave if I have to self isolate?

Annual leave cannot be claimed back for any periods of self-isolation

Revised practices in the workplace (e.g. hygiene and your safety)

How do I know that it is safe for me to be in work and that appropriate measures have been put in place to protect me?

The university regards your health and wellbeing as a priority and has undertaken extensive measures to ensure your safety in the workplace including requiring regular testing, the requirement to wear face coverings in communal areas and during lectures and encouraging all staff members and students to receive the vaccinations If they can.

An institutional COVID-19 risk assessment has been carried out (available here) and local COVID-19 risk assessments at department/ team level have also been completed and updated.

The Estate and Facilities Management team have put in place additional cleaning stations to use whilst we are at work and supplying additional cleaning supplies in high use areas.

Whilst most of our COVID-19 signage has been removed, directional advice is in place, and as good practice, we will continue to encourage the mantra of ‘hands, face, space’ in line with current government advice.

Will there be a requirement for social distancing?

In line with current government advice, social distancing is not mandatory on campus at this point but on stairs and in crowded corridors we are asking that you keep to the left.

What if I have a medical exemption from wearing a face covering?

In line with current government advice, social distancing is not mandatory on campus at this point but we continue to encourage the practice of ‘hands, face, space’.

Is the university providing sanitiser and wipes for office use?

Yes, sanitiser will available in entrance areas, in circulation spaces and adjacent to toilets. A quantity of wipes will be available for use in offices.

My work involves face to face activity with students. What arrangements are in place to ensure my safety?

All activity on campus has been considered within local risk assessments, the mitigations and guidance within these assessments follows current government guidelines. For specific measures in your area, staff are advised to refer to their local risk assessments.

Are there any restrictions in terms of laboratories, studios, workrooms etc?

Risk assessments have been undertaken on activity undertaken in these spaces and across the University it has been identified that face covering to be worn, continue to hand sanitise, enhanced cleaning in these spaces.. Faculties may also have local controls in place based on the operation of each space.

Can I use the lifts? I work on the 4th floor and have mobility problems or I work on the 10th floor and would find it difficult to climb 10 flights of stairs every day.

Priority should be given to people with mobility problems or who would struggle to use the stairs and those transporting goods or deliveries. Although social distancing is no longer required, you should wear a face covering and be respectful of the ‘hands, face and space’ messaging

Will we still be able to use University vehicles if they are required for our job?

Yes. There is a risk assessment for the use of University vehicles that all staff will need to follow. Please ask your line manager for further information. 

Face coverings/ PPE

Am I required to wear a face covering in work or any other type of personal protective equipment?

Everyone must now wear face coverings, even when seated, when in communal spaces, such as offices, libraries, classrooms, and lecture theatres.

You may remove your mask only when seated at a single person desk or study space.  (Although on occasion you may be requested to wear your mask)

We continue to provide free face coverings at reception points and expect everyone (other than approved exemptions) to comply.  It is important that everyone in our community does this to keep us all safe and minimise the spread of infection which will help us continue face-to-face teaching.

If you have concerns about people not wearing masks please report this to your line manager.

What if I have a medical exemption from wearing a face covering?

If you have a genuine medical exemption, we are able to provide special sunflower lanyards. This will help us all respect everybody’s different circumstances. You should email HRAdvice@ljmu.ac.uk if you believe you are exempt with details of your specific circumstances.

Staff concerns about the workplace, vulnerable people or travelling into work on public transport

How do I get support and advice if I have any concerns about returning to work?

The university has undertaken extensive measures to ensure your safety in returning to work and is following government guidance in this regard, but it is important that you raise any concerns and discuss this with your line manager as they may be able to offer reassurance or support.

The university recognises that the past two years have been difficult for many and may have impacted on your mood, or you could already be suffering with anxiety or stress or feeling low and it has put together a package of support for staff. This includes a telephone support helpline; access to a Silvercloud and other day to day mental health support such as Mindfulness, Resilience and a number of short wellbeing information videos. Please click support information for further details.

Should I be in the workplace if I have previously been classified by the NHS as clinically vulnerable?

Measures that have been put in place to ensure the working environment is safe and secure for all and the current government advice that shielding is not required at this time. Therefore, staff members, who were previously advised to shield, can be in the workplace.

If you do have concerns, you should talk to your line manager to discuss the measures that are in place and they may make further adjustments if necessary. A referral can be made to the LJMU Occupational Health Team to obtain further advice about adjustments if required.

What if I am living with or caring for someone who has previously been advised by the government to shield because they are in the ‘clinically extremely vulnerable’ classification or are considered to be ‘clinically vulnerable’?

All shielding restrictions have been lifted in accordance with government guidelines and you should be safe to attend the workplace.

I can only come to work on public transport and I am anxious about travelling, can I agree to continue to work from home?

The university has determined that staff should return to the workplace and that it is safe to do so.  If you continue to have concerns, you should discuss these with your line manager who may consider exploring options, dependent on business needs, such as changing your working hours to avoid rush hour

What will happen to staff who do not follow the work-place guidance re hygiene/ wearing face coverings/ testing etc. in the workplace?

Staff will be expected to follow the guidance set out in order to protect themselves and other colleagues.  Not complying will be in breach of health and safety requirements and will be a failure to follow a reasonable management instruction and will be dealt with swiftly and accordingly. If you are concerned about this, please contact your line manager.

I am pregnant- is it safe for me to return to the workplace?

Advice from the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists and the Royal College of Midwives states that you should have a workplace risk assessment to ensure that it is safe for you to return to the workplace. Provided the assessment is positive, it is safe for pregnant staff to attend the workplace up until week 28 of pregnancy, unless they have an underlying health condition that places them at greater risk of severe illness from COVID-19. Staff members who are 28 weeks plus pregnant should work from home and not attend the workplace.

Childcare issues

Can I work from home if my child tests positive for COVID-19 (or has symptoms of COVID-19) and has to self-isolate at home?

You should ensure you follow the government guidelines for testing and self-isolation as detailed in the section above. If you have responsibility for caring for your child and they have to self-isolate, then you should inform your line manager and may work from home. If you are unable to work from home (e.g. you have scheduled face to face teaching) we will support you to work from home for the required period

Travelling abroad

What do I do if I am on holiday abroad and my return to work is delayed due to having to quarantine?

If your holiday aboard was booked before 27 November 2021 and you now have to self-isolate on return until the outcome of your day 2 test, you will not be required to book additional annual leave or unpaid leave if you cannot undertake your role from home. This is to ensure that we do not disadvantage staff who cannot benefit from hybrid working and to ensure that no one feels that they need to come into the workplace whilst awaiting their test result.

For individuals who booked annual leave after the government advice changed you would be expected to book annual leave to cover these days if you can’t work from home as this was known to you at the time of booking your holiday.

I usually travel overseas with my work - will this be allowed?

Overseas travel will be reviewed on a weekly basis from June to December 2021 – authorisation for any university activity overseas must have explicit authorisation from the Faculty PVC or ELT lead. 

Hybrid working

Is the University continuing with hybrid working?

During the pandemic, we have received consistent feedback that many of our staff would like to retain some element of homeworking in the future.  We feel that responding to this demand will support the attraction and retention of talented staff, support employee engagement and wellbeing, and our aims around inclusion and sustainability. Whilst we continue to review hybrid working to ensure that it is meeting the needs of individuals and the organization there are no plans to change this at this point.

Is there a limit on the number of days that can be worked from home/campus?

This will be agreed as per your team charter based on what works for your team and the role that you undertake. There are no set restrictions on the number of days that an individual can work from home, however; specific working from home days cannot be guaranteed as this is dependent on the needs of the team and the service.

Some teams will require cover and you may be required to attend work on particular days at the request of your line manager

How many days are most staff going to work from home?

There is no set pattern due to the diversity of roles in the university in the role and the requirement to undertake tasks which require individuals to be in the workplace. However, in areas that are moving to hybrid working the general approach is that staff members will be able to work from home on two or three days of the week and this is pro-rata for part time staff.

Staff must be available during normal hours of work and may be requested to attend campus at short-notice.

Can Flexi-time be accrued in I have a hybrid working pattern?

Yes, for the relevant grades the flexi-time system will continue. However, on days the individual is working from home they will only accrue standard working day hours.

Are there roles that won’t be able to adopt hybrid working?

Yes, there are many roles in the University that can only be undertaken when the individual is in a University building and staff members working in these roles won’t be able to work in a hybrid way. These will be clarified within your area.

Will these changes be fixed?

No, the introduction of hybrid working is on a trial basis, it is not a contractual change and will be regularly reviewed.

Can I have additional equipment to enable me to work from home?

No, as the University is not requiring individuals to work from home it will not be possible to provide additional equipment or replicating offices at an individual’s home. If this means that individuals cannot work safely from home then they will be expected to attend their usual place of work.

The only exception will be for individuals with a recognised disability under the equality act. In these circumstances’ advice from the Occupational Health department will be sought and reasonable adjustments will be made, this may include additional equipment being provided.

Will I get help towards my bills for my home if I continue to work from home?

No, the University will not contribute to household bills e.g. cost of additional heating, broadband. Individuals who do not wish to incur these additional costs are welcome to work from their usual workplaces.

However, for many staff members the reductions in other costs such as travel expenses and improvement in terms of work life balance mean that they will still choose to work from home if they are able to.

HMRC have indicated that employees can continue to claim tax relief in 2021/22 (https://www.gov.uk/tax-relief-for-employees/working-at-home) if they have had to work from home based on Government advice. It is anticipated that this tax relief will not apply in 2022/23 if individuals have approval to work from home. 

Can I work all week on campus if I want?

Yes, the University is not decreasing its buildings and offices and individuals can choose to be on campus for all of their working days, subject to any local restrictions that may be in place to enable effective social distancing.

Will there be set meeting days that are virtual?

Teams will decide what is best for their team charter for their local meetings. At an institutional level there are no set days for virtual and in person meetings.

Are all meetings going to be virtual?

No, we are trying to balance this. There is a benefit to some meetings taking place in person. Many staff members have reported that they miss the face to face interaction with their colleagues and we understand the importance of this.

Can I work from anywhere instead of home?

No, your place of work is not changing and when working from home your base should be your home, not for example a holiday cottage, an overseas property or a second home. This is because hybrid working is intended to be a informal flexible arrangement and it is recognised that there will be occasions when staff members will have to come into a University building at short notice.

Are all teams working the same as my team?

Each team will work together to create their own team charter. The same principles will be followed by all teams. However, due to the diverse nature of roles within the University one approach would not work for all areas, what may work for their team may not work for yours.

Are all teams working the same as my team?

Some roles are student facing requiring in person interaction at all times or play an essential role in maintaining the University’s estate for example. Clearly individuals working in these types of roles cannot work from home.

Can I organise my caring responsibilities around hybrid working?

Whilst working from home can support flexibility, you will be required to be available during normal working hours, the days that you work from home will change depending on your commitments and you may be required to attend the campus at short notice. Therefore, you should not base your caring commitments and responsibilities on hybrid working arrangements.

Can I still carry out a flexible working request?

Yes, flexible working requests are individual requests that you can make concerning your individual contract (e.g. if you wanted to reduce your hours).

When I am in the office will I need to bring my laptop in?

Yes, as you may need to use your laptop to attend remote meetings.

What is the car parking provision?

You will still be able to purchase daily and monthly car parking passes this has not changed.

How will the University ensure that I am able to work safely whilst at home?

The link below directs you to our webpage where you can will find the Display Screen Equipment Self-Assessment form.

If you would like further help/guidance with the set-up of your workstation, please complete the Display Screen Equipment Self-Assessment form and return to the Safety, Health and Environment Department SHE@ljmu.ac.uk.

Our health and safety team has also provided the links below as guidance regarding safe working at home:

  • The Chartered Institute of Ergonomics & Human Factors, Infographic that covers Setting up your workspace, creating the right environment, Navigating your home and Staying mentally fit. https://www.ergonomics.org.uk/common/Uploaded%20files/Publications/CIEHF-Working-from-Home-Infographic.pdf
  • The following link from Posturite provides Lighting tips to reduce eyestrain when working from home.

https://www.posturite.co.uk/blog/lighting-tips-to-reduce-eye-strain-when-working-from-home

Is the hybrid working model just for the summer or longer?

It is anticipated that hybrid working is not just a short-term approach but will instead be trialed across the institution (job role permitting) and will be reviewed on an ongoing basis.

Because it is so different, how are we making sure it is fair and transparent?

We will be carrying out ongoing Equality impact assessments across the University, we are pulling together a full picture of the team charters across the institution so we can see what is happening in each area and our team of Human Resources Business Partners work closely together to ensure that they support and advise their teams as to the principles.

If I am off sick and due to work from home, should I still call in sick?

Yes, you should continue to follow the usual sickness absence reporting procedures.

How will I know if people are in the office or working from home?

We would recommend that calendars are kept up to date so that you can easily identify who is available for example to have a discussion with on campus or email/have a teams call.

Am I entitled to the same breaks whilst working from home?

Yes and we would encourage you for your health and wellbeing to take these breaks. There is guidance and support available on health and wellbeing, which can be found here: https://www.ljmu.ac.uk/microsites/moving-forward/information-for-staff/health-and-wellbeing-staff