Coronavirus (COVID-19) advice and guidance for staff

Although this page is being regularly updated, we are aware that the situation is evolving rapidly. The latest information for the public is available on the NHS website.

View a summary of the latest government guidance on staying alert and away from others.


Latest updates


Frequently asked questions for staff

General information for staff

Is the University closed?

Since 23 March, the majority of buildings and a number of our services on both the Liverpool and London campuses are closed and, where possible, services have moved entirely online.

Receptions are largely closed and we are not accepting visitors at this time.

Face-to-face classes have been replaced with online teaching and our focus is to ensure that students are able to continue to progress at the same rate they would on campus.

Following the Prime Minister’s announcement on 10 May, there will be no immediate change to the way we have been operating on and off campus over recent weeks, and all staff who have been working from home should continue to do so for the time being.

We recognise there are colleagues who have worked on campus throughout the lockdown, many of whom are sustaining vital on campus services and undertaking research into COVID-19, and we are hugely grateful to them for all their work.

For staff still working on campus, car parking is now free of charge (barriers will remain down so swipe access will be required) for those who are able to drive, as a preference to using public transport.

When will the University reopen?

It is clear that the Government’s recovery process will be a gradual one over a period of months, and there is potential for restrictions to be both reduced or increased, depending on the extent to which COVID-19 continues to spread.

The reopening of campus will happen on a phased basis once both Government guidance indicates it is appropriate and we are able to implement suitable measures around social distancing and hygiene. Staff and student safety and wellbeing remains our highest priority and we are considering very carefully how we can maintain this on campus through social distancing, enhanced cleaning and a wide range of other measures.

What action is the University taking?

Like all universities, we have plans in place for a range of different situations and a senior team continues to meet regularly to assess any national and international developments and actions that need to be taken in relation to COVID-19.

We are also issuing regular communications for students and staff.

How will students be assessed?

In view of COVID-19 and the move of all teaching and learning off-campus, we have reviewed our examination arrangements for the Semester 2 exam and summer resit period. Unless advised otherwise then they have been told not expect to attend any formal examinations in Liverpool.

All students on taught programmes should have received a communication from their Departments/School with finalised details of their assessments. We have also established a set of University-wide principles that have been approved and which are designed to ensure a degree of consistency across modules and programmes.

The full list of assessment principles for students is available on the student FAQ pages, and you can also view the staff guidance on these principles.

How is the University supporting students with upcoming assessments?

A ‘safety net’ approach to determining students’ overall marks has been introduced for the 2019/20 academic year.

At its heart this approach means that, providing a student attains a minimum pass mark overall for the year, calculated from all their completed assessments in 19/20 including those they still need to complete, then we will calculate two overall marks for them as follows:

  1. Their overall average for all assessments in 2019/20, and
  2. Their overall average for assessments Examination Boards designated as unaffected by the move to online teaching or industrial action

The higher of these two averages will be used for progression and degree classification purposes. We believe that this is a fair way forward and means no student will be unduly disadvantaged by the present situation.

There is now much work to be done to operationalise this new policy. A team including representatives from Schools (including Chairs of Boards of Examiners), AQSD, SAS and the APVCEs is working hard to develop comprehensive guidance for students, Schools and Departments. We hope this will be complete shortly.

Your health and wellbeing

What is the advice if I feel unwell?

The NHS advises you to use the 111 online coronavirus service if you have any of the following symptoms:

  • a high temperature – this means you feel hot to touch on your chest or back (you do not need to measure your temperature)
  • a new, continuous cough – this means coughing a lot for more than an hour, or 3 or more coughing episodes in 24 hours (if you usually have a cough, it may be worse than usual)
  • a loss or change to your sense of smell or taste – this means you’ve noticed you cannot smell or taste anything, or things smell or taste different to normal

Please do not go to a GP surgery, pharmacy or hospital.

If, as a result of the advice received, you are required to stay at home for 7 days, please let your line manager know. Please also update us if the NHS takes the decision to test you.

The NHS advice is that anyone living with someone with symptoms should stay at home for 14 days from the day the first person got symptoms.

Staff who need to self-isolate for 14 days because they are living with someone with symptoms should let their line manager know. Please also update us if the NHS takes the decision to test you.

Please also use the NHS 111 online coronavirus service if:

  • you feel you cannot cope with your symptoms at home
  • your condition gets worse
  • your symptoms do not get better after 7 days

What precautions can I take?

For all our staff and students in the UK, in line with the latest government advice, we would ask you to follow these ‘stay alert’ and social distancing guidelines to protect your own health and that of others. This means:

  • stay at home as much as possible
  • work from home if you can
  • limit contact with other people
  • keep your distance if you go out (2 metres apart where possible)
  • wash your hands regularly

Use the NHS website for further information.

I am required to self-isolate.  What do I need to do, how should this be recorded, and will I get paid?

If you are amongst the limited number of staff members who are not currently working from home and you are required to self-isolate, you should contact your manager to let them know that you will be absent from work, the reason for this and the duration of time you believe you will not be attending work. You may be called by a colleague at the University to clarify or check certain details about your self-isolation, including the advice you have received from NHS 111.

Absence owing to a requirement to self-isolate will not count as sickness absence (a reporting code for self-isolation has been introduced into CoreHR) and you will continue to receive your normal pay. Either you or your manager need to record your absence in CoreHR.

You will appreciate that these are highly unusual circumstances and with potentially high numbers of colleagues absent either owing to self-isolation or illness, we need to work together to continue the functioning of the University. You may therefore be contacted by a colleague at the University to establish what work you can undertake while you are in self-isolation. We would expect all colleagues who have to self-isolate to undertake work for the University, either in relation to their existing role or to undertake other work that could be reasonably expected, unless they are unwell.

If, during the period of self-isolation, you become ill, you (or if this is not possible then a friend or relative) should report this to the University in accordance with the normal sickness notification procedure. Your absence will then be counted as sickness absence.

If you are working from home already and the need to self-isolate arises, you should let your manager know the circumstances around your needing to self-isolate, but as long as you are well, you can continue to work from home as before and do not need to record that you are self-isolating.

Working from home

Should I work from home?

Further to the Prime Minister’s announcement on 10 May, there will be no immediate change to the way we have been operating on and off campus over recent weeks.

Colleagues who have been working from home should continue to do so and, for many staff, this may continue for a considerable length of time.

For staff who remain on campus, we have additional Health and Safety guidance.

I’m worried about how to carry out my job from home

Although the majority of staff are now working from home, we recognise some people may be unable to carry out their normal duties in this period.  We would ask that staff members in this position do what they can, and we would like all staff to be assured that they will continue to be paid during this time.

How do I set myself/my team up to work from home?

All staff working from home should review the following resources; technical advice from CSD, IT starter kit, and detailed guidance from HR.

Please can all colleagues also remember to provide your manager with up-to-date contact details (preferably a mobile number) and please continue to check the university website for updates, in particular our FAQ pages.

As it has now become clear that many staff will be required to work from home for some time, we now require colleagues to undertake formal DSE self-assessments. The DSE self-assessment form can be found here.

For those with traditional DSE, the first few sections of the form should be completed. Section 6.4 should be completed if you are currently using a mobile device such as a laptop, tablet or similar device.  If after completion you are happy with your workstation and working conditions we would recommend you simply keep your self-assessment locally and review it regularly.

The Safety Adviser’s Office have uploaded guidance on working from home.

Please note, this guidance is primarily intended to provide guidance for healthy and effective working from home in normal circumstances.  Whilst the contents are applicable to most circumstances, it is recognised that some of the specific details may not apply during emergency homeworking arising from the COVID-19 outbreak, such as in respect of availability to be contacted during normal office hours.

For managers: The Academy have developed a suite of new materials, specifically designed to support leaders at every level with different aspects of managing and supporting staff whilst working remotely.

Can I purchase equipment to use for home-working?

Yes. The University is aware that not everyone’s working environment will be ideal and to assist with the assessment and improving working conditions, a sum of up to £120 has been made available to purchase a chair if required. It should be noted that the £120 spend is inclusive of delivery charge and VAT. When purchasing a chair, staff should note that it should meet the following design standards:

  • the work chair shall be stable and allow the operator or user to adopt a comfortable position
  • the seat shall be adjustable in height
  • the seat back shall be adjustable in both height and tilt

Where self-assessments have resulted in purchases being made, the assessment should be shared with the staff member’s line manager.

If possible, chairs should be ordered via University approved furniture suppliers – full details on the Procurement webpages). However, it is acceptable to identify an alternative source, providing this meets the required standard.

Staff should either ask a departmental purchase card holder to order the chair or purchase your own chair and claim reimbursement via the standard expenses process choosing the option ‘incidental expenses working from home’ for expense type. 

For smaller DSE items such as document holders, wrist rests, etc. and less than £20 in total, these can be ordered online or bought locally and reimbursements claimed via expenses. Additionally, where colleagues need to purchase office ‘consumables’ (e.g. pens, paper, stapler) then the facility to claim reimbursement through expenses also exists.

For whatever reason, if there is a requirement to purchase smaller DSE items (or office items) above £20 these should be pre-approved by your line manager.

Further information can be found at https://www.liverpool.ac.uk/intranet/safety/coronavirus-covid-19/

How can I record and upload lectures when working off-campus?

Staff can use Stream Capture to record lectures from home.

If you already have Stream Capture downloaded to your home-working device, please follow these instructions.

If you haven’t already downloaded Stream Capture, please follow these instructions first:

  1. Download and Install Open Broadcaster System (OBS) software, further instructions on how to do this at: https://liverpool.service-now.com/sp?id=kb_article&sysparm_article=KB0011768
  2. Once you’ve downloaded the OBS software, installed it, and recorded your lecture, you can upload it to Stream, see: https://liverpool.service-now.com/sp?id=kb_article&sysparm_article=KB0011537
  3. Finally, associate your recording with a VITAL module, see: https://www.liverpool.ac.uk/csd/stream-capture/integration-with-vital/#non-stream-capture-video.

If you have any issues please contact the CSD Service Desk.

Do I need to record working from home on CoreHR?

Ordinarily you would be expected to record working from home on CoreHR if this is an exception from your normal place of work.  However, during the widespread emergency homeworking arising from COVID-19, you will not be expected to do so, where working from home has become the default position for your team.  If you are in doubt about whether you need to record working from home on CoreHR or not, please check with your line manager.

Travel

Can I travel overseas for work?

We have taken the decision to require all staff to cancel any business travel overseas until the end of May and not to make any further bookings until further notice.

Research and impact

What are the implications of COVID-19 for my research and impact work?

Please see the new Research Support Office COVID microsite where we will upload key documents relevant to the impact of COVID-19 on research.

What is happening with the Research Excellence Framework (REF)?

Research England have now confirmed that the Research Excellence Framework (REF) exercise has been put on hold until further notice.  The submission deadline of 27 November 2020 will no longer apply, and institutions will be informed of a new submission deadline no later than eight months in advance.  The REF staff census date of 31 July 2020 remains unchanged. View further information.

Other

Will the University be using the ‘furlough’ scheme?

Yes, plans are underway for how we can apply the Government’s Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS), or ‘furlough’ scheme at the University.

We are focused on supporting our employees and maintaining salaries during this period of uncertainty and participating in the furlough scheme will enable the University to access an element of financial support for roles or activities that cannot be undertaken or delivered in the current circumstances. This is a period of paid leave during which individuals remain employees of the University, ready to resume work when their role becomes active again.

Any member of staff selected for furlough will continue to receive 100% salary and the University will also continue to pay full pension contributions for any periods of furlough. The salaries of employees on furlough will continue to be subject to the normal Income Tax, National Insurance contributions and any other deductions. Employees will continue to accrue pension; all pension benefits will remain unchanged and continuity of service will be protected.

Work is underway, with managers, to establish which roles the scheme will apply to. If your role is identified as being suitable either because you cannot undertake your role at home or you have primary caring responsibilities which mean that you cannot work and your role is not directly funded from public monies, you will receive formal written confirmation about the details of your proposed furloughed status in the next few weeks.

Please see these detailed FAQs for further information about the scheme.

I had been engaged to (or, I had engaged a person to) carry out work for the University on a casual or zero hours basis, but now that work has been cancelled as a result of COVID-19.  What is my position?

Full, detailed guidance is available at: https://www.liverpool.ac.uk/intranet/hr/payroll/casual-and-zero-hour/ 

What is happening with University events?

We have taken the decision to postpone or cancel all of the University’s public events until further notice and we will provide a further update in due course.

Can I get a refund on my Sport Liverpool membership?

Following the closure of all University of Liverpool sports facilities, we have stopped taking direct debit payments for those members who pay via this method. If this is the case, you don’t need to do anything. The Sport Liverpool team are handling all membership and payment enquiries for those members who have pre-paid in advance. Please contact them directly at sfc@liverpool.ac.uk

I’ve booked annual leave off later this year but my holiday has been cancelled.  Can I claim the time back?

If a pre-booked holiday has been cancelled and you wish to cancel your annual leave (and work instead), you should discuss this with your manager. Ordinarily, where work is available for you to do, you would be allowed to cancel the annual leave and work instead. The University urges staff to ensure they use their annual leave entitlement to ensure they have a proper break(s) from work during this challenging and stressful period, and staff members should note they will only be able to carry over additional leave beyond the normal five days in exceptional circumstances.

Can I carry over any leave into the next holiday year?

In usual times, the University’s policy is that all colleagues have the option to carry over up to five days’ annual leave into the next holiday year.

These are, however, extraordinary times and colleagues across the University are working hard to address the challenges we now face as an organisation. While staff are encouraged to take their leave entitlement to have some time away, the University recognises that for some, it might not be possible, despite everyone’s best efforts and intentions, to take all of their leave entitlement.

Although the default position remains that up to five days annual leave can be carried forward, if you are concerned that you absolutely cannot take all your remaining leave entitlement, you should have an early discussion with your line manager to assess whether it is essential you carry over more of their annual leave entitlement than the policy currently allows. Discretion to allow carry over of additional annual leave entitlement will rest with the relevant Dean or Director who must be satisfied that this is the appropriate option.