Page created: 7 July 2020. Page updated: 9 July 2020.

Return to on-site working FAQs

Frequently asked questions about issues related to returning to on-site working, for University of Worcester staff.

These FAQs take into account government guidance and University policy at this time. The University’s approach will continue to be reviewed and updated and the arrangements described in these FAQs will be subject to change.

Is the University open as normal again?

Not yet.  You should not come on to campus unless you are specifically asked to do so. Staff should work from home where appropriate and agreed in conjunction with their line manager

We have continued to provide a small number of essential services on campus during the lockdown period and only staff needed to deliver these services have continued to work on site. 

In line with Government’s latest measures, we will commence a phased return over the next few months. During July and August we will reintroduce more working on site, where it makes sense to do so.  Before this can happen, we will need to ensure that the appropriate risk assessments are undertaken, that appropriate health and safety measures are in place and that staff have received clear guidance on how to support the health and wellbeing of themselves and others when on campus.

You will be notified by your manager when work in your area is being considered for return. 

Can I pop in to collect something from my office or to meet with a colleague?

No. You should not arrange to meet colleagues or come onto campus to work unless you have been specifically asked to do so by your manager.

If you need to collect something from your office you must arrange for an authorised visit by contacting the Assistant Director of Estates, Tom Taylor.

When will I know when I should return to campus to work?

Your manager will ask you to return to work when it is appropriate for you to do so.  A phased approach will be taken to ensure that sufficient safety measures, such as social distancing, can be introduced and work effectively.  It is likely that some people will continue to work at home for a period; teams may have staggered returns and/or staggered working hours to manage numbers in offices and work spaces.  Your manager will discuss the arrangements with you before you return.

We will continue to monitor Government guidance and will update University guidance as changes occur.

When my manager asks me to return to work on campus how will I know if it is safe to do so?

We are in the process of completing a range of risk assessments to ensure that risks are managed effectively.  Risk assessments  will be conducted for the building you work in and the type of activity you are involved in.  Various checks and procedures will be put in place to make the environment safer, for example enhanced cleaning regimes, additional hand-washing stations and social distancing protocols.  Your manager will also carry out a return-to-campus induction with you so that your personal circumstances can be taken into account.   You are encouraged to discuss any concerns you have with your manager and to update them if your circumstances change.

You should also continue to follow the existing advice from the NHS to maintain good hand, respiratory and personal hygiene:

  • Frequently clean your hands, for at least 20 seconds, using soap and water or an alcohol-based hand rub
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What is the best way to travel to work when I return to work on campus? (NEW - 9 JULY)

You are encouraged to follow the relevant government guidance on safer travel, including when using  public transport.  Current guidance suggests that if at all possible you should consider walking or cycling or if you need to drive to work the advice is to use your own vehicle and travel alone.  If this is not possible there is specific guidance on car sharing and public transport which you are encouraged to follow. 

What should I do to protect my own health and safety?

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Health and safety requirements are likely to change in line with Government guidance and University updates will be provided through the University Daily Staff Update or other specific communications.   We all have a duty to keep up to date with the latest information and requirements concerning health and safety. 

What should I do if I have concerns about the health and safety measures in place?

If managers or employees have concerns about any aspect of health and safety, they must raise these with their line manager in the first instance.  Their line manager can take further advice from the University’s Head of Safety Services if required.

Will I be asked to maintain social distancing when I return to campus?

Yes.  All colleagues will be required to maintain social distancing on campus.  This includes indoor and outdoor spaces, in offices and other work spaces, in communal areas and walkways.  Where possible we will organise one-way walking in corridors and stairways to manage social distancing.  We will also limit the number of people on campus and in specific working and communal spaces. Social distancing protocols will be explained in your back-to-campus induction, on signage and in campus reoccupation guidance.

I work in a customer facing role – what measures will be put in place to protect me?

Visible social distancing measures are being put in place across campus.  Clear signage and queuing systems will be used to ensure that safe distances are maintained between you and your customers.  Where suitable, Perspex shielding and barriers will be considered to manage distancing.  Safe maximum capacities will be identified for each workspace and managers will monitor and regulate numbers of people in any one area.  Workspaces will be designed for optimum social distancing and will be clearly marked out.  Additional handwashing stations and hand sanitiser will be available for all staff and students, as well as sanitiser wipes for workstations and equipment.

I work in a shared work space and my colleagues work within 2 metres of me. Is this safe?

At the moment staff should work from home where appropriate and agreed in conjunction with their line manager however if you are asked to return to work on campus your manager will discuss the arrangements with you.  Your manager will arrange measures to manage appropriate distancing.  They may consider a staggered approach or rotas to reduce the number of people in the work space at any one time and may alter the layout in the office to ensure you can each sit at a safe distance from your colleagues.  You may be asked to sit at another desk to manage this.  The office will have been deep cleaned before you and colleagues return so all work spaces will be hygienic and safe to use.  

What is being done to make sure that communal areas such as toilets and kitchens are safe? (UPDATED - 9 JULY)

All communal areas will be subject to enhanced cleaning regimes.  All staff will be encouraged to wash their hands for at least 20 seconds, in line with Government guidance, when they enter or leave the workspace, and when entering communal areas. 

Entry to communal areas will be restricted to one person at a time.  Protocols to restrict entry to multi-occupancy toilets to one user at a time will be introduced.

All staff will be should bring their own crockery and cutlery and take it home to wash rather than use communal washing facilities. To reduce the risk of cross infection staff should not share kitchen equipment like microwaves or toasters.  

Is the University going to provide face coverings and PPE for use on campus? (UPDATED - 9 JULY)

Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) relates to the provision of protective equipment (face mask, respirators, gloves, overalls etc.).  We are in the process of carrying out risk assessments to identify where PPE is necessary for specific work activities. 

We appreciate that some people would prefer to wear some form of face covering or gloves.  Where a risk assessment has concluded that PPE is needed this will be provided to those affected.   Your manager will be able to discuss whether the activities you undertake on campus or your personal circumstances require PPE or not and may take further advice from the Head of Safety Services if required.

Government guidance suggests that face coverings are useful to protect others from the user if the user has symptoms.  Face coverings on their own do not provide an adequate level of protection to the user and PPE should always be used in conjunction with other control measures.  

For the majority of our staff the primary method of reducing the spread of the virus on campus will be through social distancing, enhanced cleaning and staff observing good hygiene practice.  

If you prefer to wear a face covering whilst working on campus you may do so provided its use does not place you, or others at greater risk.

I don’t feel well – should I stay away from campus?

Before you can return to campus your manager will carry out a return to work induction and you will be asked to declare that you, and all members of your household, are symptom free.

If you have symptoms of Covid-19 you must remain at home and self-isolate in line with Government guidance, which is currently for a period of 7 days from when you first become unwell.  If you have symptoms you should book a Covid-19 test as quickly as possible.

Your self-isolation can end if your test result is negative.

If you do not have the test outcome you may end your self-isolation after 7 days if you feel better and no longer have a high temperature.  If you still have a high temperature, you must continue to self-isolate until your temperature has returned to normal.  If you only have a cough, without a high temperature, after 7 days you do not need to continue to self-isolate, as a cough can last for several weeks once the infection has gone.  

Someone I live with/in my support bubble has symptoms of Covid-19 / is recovering from Covid-19

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I am considered to be in a vulnerable group – should I return to campus?

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How will I know if a colleague in the workplace has Covid-19?

If a colleague has symptoms or a diagnosis of Covid-19 and they have been in the workplace they must inform their manager of this as soon as possible.  Their manager will then inform the people who have been working alongside them during the last 14 days.  The manager will not name them (unless they have agreed they may) or give details of their health but will inform you that a colleague has symptoms/a diagnosis and advise you to self-isolate.  

Am I required to engage in NHS Test and Trace?

If you develop symptoms of Covid-19 you must self-isolate immediately.  You should inform your manager, book a Covid-19 test and engage in the NHS Test and Trace Scheme.  If you subsequently test positive for Covid-19, you will be asked to share details of people you have had close recent contact with.

Alternatively, you may be contacted by the NHS Test and Trace Service to be informed that you have been in close contact with someone who has tested positive for Covid-19.  If you have been contacted by Test and Trace, you must self-isolate as directed and not attend work.  Your manager may ask to see a copy of the communication from NHS Test and Trace. 

If you are self-isolating without symptoms, you should discuss with your manager whether you can work from home if the nature of your role allows you to do so. 

I am worried about returning to work on campus – can I continue to work from home? (UPDATED - 9 JULY)

Staff should work from home where appropriate and in agreement with their line manager  When it is suitable to consider a return to work your manager will talk to you about your individual circumstances.   Your manager will take into account relevant Government advice to shield* which may mean that you are not asked to return to campus yet, and will continue to work from home.  If you cannot work from home your manager may discuss alternative work which can be completed from home, or if this is not suitable they will advise you whether you are eligible for furlough leave or sick leave.  Your manager will continue to review these arrangements as Government advice changes.

*Advice for those classified as clinically vulnerable/clinically extremely vulnerable has relaxed from 6th July and from 1st August the current arrangements for shielding is likely to be paused.

We are taking a careful and measured approach to a return to working on campus.  Risk assessments are in the process of being completed and control measures put in place, such as social distancing, limiting the number of people in any one work/communal area, one way systems and covered outdoor space for breaks.  We understand that some people may be worried and you are encouraged to ask questions and raise any concerns with your manager in the first instance.

My work can’t be carried out at home and I’m worried about a return to campus as I have an underlying health condition / I live with someone who is at higher risk due to an underlying health condition.

When it is suitable to consider a return to work your manager will talk to you about your individual circumstances.  You are encouraged to tell your manager if you are in a category of people at higher risk.  The categories include health condition, age, ethnicity and pregnancy and you are encouraged to engage in the risk assessment so that your manager can make appropriate arrangements for your work.  If sufficient control measures cannot be put in place your manager will discuss with you whether alternative work is available, or if you are eligible for furlough leave or sick leave.

Will I have to return to work on campus even though I have childcare responsibilities and my child’s nursery/school is closed?

Your manager will contact you when it is time to consider a return to campus for your role.  They will discuss your personal circumstances with you and you are encouraged to raise any concerns you have.  They may consider a short term solution, such as an alternative working pattern or altered duties.  If this isn’t possible they may consider furlough leave if you are eligible.  Alternatively you may consider annual leave or unpaid leave.

I am able to work from home but I really want to return to work on campus – can I come back to work on campus now?

No, not yet.  We are currently organising measures to protect staff on campus and it is important that you do not return until these are in place.  Colleagues are working hard to prepare the campus, ensuring sufficient cleaning stations are available, clear signage is in place for social distancing, appropriate capacity is measured and risk assessments are carried out for all buildings and activities.  

If there is an urgent need for you to visit the campus you should contact your line manager in the first instance and if they support your request you should arrange an authorised visit with the Assistant Director of Estates – Security & Operations, Tom Taylor. 

We appreciate that some colleagues are keen to return to campus on a more permanent basis however it is important that we manage a return in a structured way and you should not return until your manager contacts you to ask you to return.