Students sitting outside

Frequently asked questions for staff returning to the workplace

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

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

The university regards your health and wellbeing as priority and has undertaken extensive measures to ensure your safety in returning to work including, regular testing and the wearing of face coverings in communal areas. An institutional Covid-19 risk assessment has been carried out 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 we are taking away the majority of our covid signage, 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.

Our team of marshals will remain on site until August. For the start of term we have Student Advocates and their role will be to meet and greet staff and students, to provide guidance on site and to help people re-orientate around the buildings.

Will social distancing continue?

The government has removed the legal requirement for social distancing but the University expects all staff/students to take responsibility and where appropriate keep your distance and we will continue to encourage the practice of ‘hands, face, space’.

Will I be able to work at my own desk when I return to work?

You will be assigned a desk to use when you are in the office and due to the potential for spreading the virus. Hot-desking facilities will be suspended. Wipes have been made available locally for you to wipe down your allocated desk before use.

In shared office space individuals will need to exercise judgement to limit contact with other people’s equipment e.g. not answering a colleague’s phone.

Will other staff be allowed to enter offices?

Arrangements will be determined locally for this, but where staff do enter other offices, face coverings should be worn and appropriate hand hygiene maintained.

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.

Can we use meeting rooms?

Yes, but appropriate measures should be taken to ensure we follow the ‘hand, face and space’ messaging and that appropriate ventilation and regular cleaning can be maintained.

I am concerned about the hygiene in the kitchen/brew station areas. Will there be rules on eating in the office and preparing food?

Before handling of communal items in the kitchen such as kettles, fridges etc. all staff should wash their hands for at least 20 seconds.

Staff should bring in prepared food for lunchtime in sealed containers and their own cutlery and crockery for use in the office. They are to take responsibility for cleaning and storing these at home and not in the communal kitchens. Staff should not bring in food or drink to share with colleagues.

Will there be any catering facilities on site?

Catering outlets will be open on selected sites and we will be operating a cashless campus and all payment must be with cards. Vending machines remain cashless.

Will we have access to the water stations?

If you wish to get water from a drinking fountain or tap, you can use disposable cups where available or refill bottles, but should take care that the bottle does not make contact with the tap.

Will I be able to use the photocopiers/ printers?

Yes, alcohol wipes will be available adjacent to photocopiers. Photocopier buttons are to be cleaned prior to use by the user with the alcohol wipes provided.

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 particular area, staff are advised to refer to their local risk assessments.

Are there any restrictions on congregation outside teaching areas, i.e. large venue teaching such as takes place in Marybone LT?

There are no restrictions on congregation outside teaching areas. Public health advice suggests it is for individuals to make their own decisions whether they wish to ‘congregate’ in any given space. It’s similar to supermarkets/shops in that if you enter a store and you feel uncomfortable as its too busy (in your view), you either find a quiet space, or walk away/out of the store. For teaching purposes, this simply may mean you hold back until others have gone in first. There will be other mitigations too (face coverings, enhanced cleaning, hand gel etc.)

Are there any special arrangements in terms of ingress and egress from teaching spaces?

None are required. We are removing directional signage and one-way systems and replacing these with ‘hands, face, space’ messaging. Estates will monitor circulation spaces and head count in buildings and advise if there are any particular hot spots of concern.

A list of rooms with poor or no ventilation has already been provided. Are there any other restrictions in terms of teaching spaces?

No, apart from the requirements already stated to wear face coverings and the ‘hand, face, space’ messaging.

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

Nothing other than wear a face covering, continue to hand sanitise, enhanced cleaning, etc. Faculties may have local controls based on the operation of each space.

Are there any restrictions to be applied to the use of the library, e.g. is a booking arrangement to remain in place?

No bookings will be necessary from 19th July. We will revert to pre-covid requirements where students could book a study room but nothing else. We are advising students that they do not have to wear a face covering when seated in the library.

Will there continue to be special arrangements when using the toilets to ensure social distancing?

Social distancing is no longer required, however you should continue to wear face coverings when in communal areas such as toilets and maintain hand hygiene.

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.

I’m worried about the air conditioning. What will the University be doing to ensure that air handling/conditioning conforms to the required standards to keep us safe.

Air conditioning will be turned off in buildings that have it. Recirculating ventilation will be turned off or put to external source only and turned to maximum flow.

I work in a building where there are very few windows. Is this a safe environment?

Recirculating ventilation will be turned off or put to external source only and turned to maximum flow. Windows should be opened wherever possible.

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.

Can we handle post or packages?

Coronaviruses are thought to be spread most often by respiratory droplets. Although the virus can survive for a short period on some surfaces, it is unlikely to be spread from domestic or international mail, products or packaging. However, it may be possible that people can get Covid-19 by touching a surface or object that has the virus on it and then touching their own mouth, nose, or possibly their eyes.

In line with continued Health and Government guidance, we advise colleagues that good hand hygiene is the first and most important line of defence when handing mail, products or packaging.

Will visitors be allowed into LJMU buildings?

No social events, general visitors or external film crews are permitted on site from June to September whilst we prepare the university for the start of the next academic year. Requests to invite research participants and commercial partners on site must be approved by the relevant PVC with appropriate protocols in place.

Face coverings/PPE

With the relaxing of government guidelines, will I still be required to wear a face covering in work or any other type of personal protective equipment?

Face coverings must still be worn on campus whilst in all communal spaces, such as libraries, lecture and seminar rooms, labs, studios, social spaces, corridors and toilets. Face coverings are not mandatory whilst in individual study spaces or at desks, but staff may wear them if they prefer.

There are some roles or activities that it has been identified, through risk assessment, require PPE for them to be undertaken safely. The individuals being asked to undertake these roles will be informed that PPE should be used and this will be provided by the university.

We have a stock of reusable LJMU face coverings will be available at receptions for students and staff.

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 returning to or travelling to 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 your concerns and discuss this with your line manager as they may be able to offer reassurance or support.

The university recognises that the past year has 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.

Do I still have to return to the workplace if I have previously been classified by the NHS as clinically vulnerable?

The expectation is that all staff will be able to return to campus as the government has lifted restrictions on vulnerable groups and the university has ensured appropriate measures are in place to ensure the working environment is safe and secure for all.

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 have not had my vaccine yet, am I safe to return to the workplace?

Government advice has determined that it is safe for all to return to the workplace with effect from 19 July 2021 and the university has in place a range of measures to ensure the environment is safe.

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 government guidance states that it is safe for all to return to work with effect from 19th July 2021. 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 regarding 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.

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

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

With effect from 21 June 2021, staff members are encouraged to take a twice weekly Lateral Flow tests (LFD) and upload the results to the government website. The university will not be providing test kits but you can obtain rapid lateral flow tests (LFD) from local pharmacies or on-line. Please see GOV.UK for further detail.

I have had one or both Covid vaccinations - do I still need to demonstrate a negative test to enter the workplace?

Yes - you must continue to demonstrate a negative test to enter the workplace as per above. This is in line with Public Health guidance.

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

You should stay at home, self-isolate immediately and book a PCR test as soon as possible, you can book a test via the University’s testing centre. If the PCR test is positive, you should follow the NHS stay at home guidance regarding self-isolation, and inform the University’s COVID support team.

If your PCR test is negative (and you have had this test within two days of your positive rapid lateral flow test), you can return to work as long as you have no symptoms. You should let your line manager know the outcome of any test.

Do I need to record/upload a positive Covid test result (either lateral flow (LFD) or PCR)?

Yes, you should upload the test result in Staff Infobase via Employee Self Service using the instructions below:

  • LJMU Employee Self Service / Upload Covid Test
  • Click the Calendar button and choose date the test was issued
  • Click in the ‘File’ button then click ‘Browse’, you can then choose the correct file and click ‘Open’, this attaches the document and then click ‘Submit’

If you are unwell and are unable to upload your test result, your line manager can do this on your behalf in LJMU Manager Self-Service via “Documents of Record”.

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 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 10 full days from the date of your first symptoms. 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 have someone at home with symptoms of Covid-19?

As of the 16 August, the rules regarding self-isolation changed. After this date if someone you live with has symptoms of COVID-19, or has tested positive for COVID-19, you will not need to self isolate if any of the following apply:

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

Government advice is for all individuals who have been in close contact to get a PCR test, even if they don’t have symptoms. 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 following a PCR test, 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 with in work develops symptoms of Covid?

Any member of staff who experiences Covid-19 symptoms should follow the NHS stay at home guidance for households with possible coronavirus (COVID-19) infection and arrange for a PCR test.

If you’re fully vaccinated, aged under 18 years 6 months, taking part in a COVID-19 vaccination trial or unable to get vaccinated then you do not need to self-isolate, however, you should get a PCR test. However, if none of these apply and you have been in close contact with that member of staff (for example, the contact was less than 1m and face coverings were not in place) within the previous 48 hours from when their symptoms began, you will be asked to self-isolate until the outcome of the test is known.

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

As of the 16 August 2021, the rules regarding self isolation changed and you will not require you to self-isolate if you’re fully vaccinated, aged 18 years 6 months and under, have taken part in a COVID-19 vaccine trial or are unable to get vaccinated. You should get a PCR test even if you do not have symptoms. If none of these apply to you, you should follow the advice you have been given to self-isolate, (the 10 days begins 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 with in work tests positive for Covid?

As of the 16 August 2021, the rules regarding self isolation changed and you will not require you to self-isolate if you’re fully vaccinated, aged 18 years 6 months and under, have taken part in a COVID-19 vaccine trial or are unable to get vaccinated. You should get a PCR test even if you do not have symptoms. If none of these apply to you, you should follow the advice you have been given to self-isolate at home and not return to the workplace in line with the stay at home guidance. 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 should inform your line manager and share the communication you have received. As of the 16 August 2021 NHS Test and Trace will not require you to self-isolate if you’re fully vaccinated, aged 18 years 6 months and under, have taken part in a COVID-19 vaccine trial or are unable to get vaccinated. You should get a PCR test even if you do not have symptoms. If none of these apply to you, you should follow the advice you have been given to self-isolate, (the 10 days begins 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.

Do I need to record a period of self-isolation?

If you receive instructions to self-isolate (either because you have tested positive for Covid or you have been in in close contact with someone who has tested positive) you should inform your line manager and they should record this in LJMU Manager Self-Service under Absence Management and select “Self or Imposed Isolation”. However if you are self-isolating and are unable to work (because you have tested positive and are feeling unwell), your manager should record this in the usual way under sickness absence, with the reason recorded as “covid”.

Can I get time off work to get my Covid 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.

Childcare issues

What should I do if my child tests positive for Covid-19 following a lateral flow test?

You must follow the NHS stay at home guidance and self-isolate for the required period. You should inform your line manager and 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.

Your child should take a PCR test as soon as possible. If the PCR test is taken within the 2 days following the positive lateral flow test result, and is negative, it overrides the lateral flow test and your child can return to school or college, as long as they don’t have COVID-19 symptoms and you will no longer be required to self-isolate.

What if my child is sent home from school with symptoms of Covid-19 and is asked to self-isolate?

You should follow the NHS stay at home guidance and self-isolate for the required period. Your child should take a PCR test as soon as possible. If the PCR test is taken within the 2 days following the positive lateral flow test result, and is negative, it overrides the lateral flow test and your child can return to school or college, as long as they don’t have COVID-19 symptoms and you will no longer be required to self-isolate.

This same advice would apply if you are living with anyone with Covid-19 symptoms.

What if my child is told to self-isolate by the NHS Test and Trace?

Government advice currently states that those who live with a person who has been advised to self-isolate do not need to self-isolate themselves unless the person they live with has symptoms of Covid-19 and you are therefore able to attend the workplace. If you are responsible for caring for your child, you should inform your line manager and 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.

This same advice would apply if you are living with anyone with Covid-19 symptoms.

Travelling abroad

I am planning to go abroad but government advice confirms I need to quarantine on my return - what should I do?

You will be required to book annual leave (or accrued flexitime where appropriate) for the period of quarantine and this should be requested/ booked in advance of you taking your leave.

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

Why is the University introducing 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.

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 will not be guaranteed/agreed as working from home 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 as some jobs can be undertaken from home and so individuals who do not wish to can continue to work from home. 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 by an individual when they are in University buildings 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, hybrid working is a flexible option and as the University is no longer 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 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?

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.

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 flexible informal 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?

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 at SHE@ljmu.ac.uk.

Our health and safety team has also provided the links below as guidance regarding safe working at 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 on our Moving Forward microsite.

Vulnerable/pregnant staff

Do I still have to return to the workplace if I have previously been classified by the NHS as clinically vulnerable?

The expectation is that all staff will be able to return to campus as the government has lifted restrictions on vulnerable groups and the university has ensured appropriate measures are in place to ensure the working environment is safe and secure for all.

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

Advice from the Royal College of Obstetricians & 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. On the basis of a positive assessment, 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. For staff who are 28 weeks plus pregnant should work from home and not attend the workplace.