Guide for Line Managers
Note (January 2021) - Due to the current national lockdown period, only essential work is being carried out on campus and the default position for the majority of staff is to work from home. Those who were previously shielding and/or those who live with someone who was previously shielding should also stay at home and seek further advice from their line manager in the first instance.
This guide was created in late 2020 during the ‘phased reopening’ period and whilst it does not apply in full in the context of the national lockdown, it has been retained for reference in exceptional cases and/or planning purposes ahead of any future reopening/return to campus.
Further information is available via the Coronavirus Information Portal and FAQs are also available via the HR Webpages. Please also see the Scottish Government website for the latest national information.
The University continues to follow the advice of the Scottish Government. See the Scottish Government website for the latest information. Heads of School/Research Institutes/Services and their management teams will be expected to assume responsibility for ensuring any return to campus activities are in line with the latest Government guidance and the agreed over-arching Principles. It will be for us to ensure this guidance is appropriately applied and will importantly require us to effectively communicate and engage in dialogues with our colleagues to support a seamless return to campus based working in a phased and planned way whilst ensuring the health, safety and wellbeing of our people.
During this period of unprecedented change, colleagues may experience a range of challenges and anxieties both generally and, for some in particular, around the prospect of returning to campus or indeed to continuing to work remotely for an extended period of time.
Heads of School/Research Institute/Service will have responsibility for the general oversight of plans in their respective areas, with line managers leading on implementation as locally directed. We will therefore play a key role in maintaining open, supportive and sensitive dialogue with our teams to understand individual circumstances and preferences and make decisions which balance individual needs with the business imperative of enabling a smooth transition back to campus working and the long term strategic and operational interests of the University.
This guide is designed to assist Heads of School, Directors of Research Institute, Directors of Service and line managers with planning all returns to campus, for individuals or teams.
This guidance and the process steps outlined below provide the approach to be followed:
- Consider the working context of your particular unit
- Identify those priorities and activities that require to resume on campus and when
- Carry out the relevant COVID-19 risk assessment(s) relevant to your unit considering the various complexities of your areas of responsibility. This may also include carrying out individual 'vulnerable person COVID-19 risk assessments' where required, such as in the case of individuals who were previously shielding or are otherwise identified as vulnerable.
- Identify when particular roles/ individuals will return to campus and consider the associated implications given the nature of particular job roles and individual employee circumstances
- Create an implementation plan
- Communicate and prepare accordingly
- Ongoing management
Step 1: Consider the context of your particular unit
As part of planning any return to working on campus, it is important to be aware of the wider context and up-to-date information.
The University’s over-arching Guide for managers will frame our approach throughout all phases of the recovery period. These principles outline the broad range of measures that will be taken throughout the return transition and will unify efforts across the organisation to resume activities on campus.
There are a number of key considerations which will shape the wider context and the transition back to working on Campus:
- The latest advice from the Scottish Government and the NHS
- University-wide principles on returning to campus
- Preparing for restarting research activities on campus - information for Researchers
- The Campus Management Plan
- The University-level COVID-19 risk assessment and individual roles and responsibilities around carrying out/implementing risk assessments and their identified actions or controls.
Step 2: Identify priorities and activities that need to be carried out on campus
Within this understanding of the wider context, including the latest national advice, University-level plans and direction will influence particular priorities and areas or work (and the key activities) that will need to be carried out in order to fully enable the operational running of the University.
The initial focus at this stage should be on prioritising the key activities required, and accordingly should not focus on specific people (covered at Step 4) but instead should focus attention on:
- The high-level priorities (aligned to relevant University or unit-level plans)
- The key activities/work* needed to deliver on these priorities
- The nature of the work and the ease of establishing safety and physical distancing requirements
- The level of disruption to the university if the work is not carried out (or not carried out on campus)
- The amount/volume of work required (including phasing if applicable)
- The timings of that work
- The duration of the work
- The location and available facilities/equipment to carry out the work
*The University must limit on-campus research activities to ‘essential research’ only in line with current Government restrictions.
Researchers should consider the following questions before conducting research on campus:
- Is it essential that specific research activities are taken forward?
- Can we delay the start of new experiments or activities?
- Can we limit the amount of time staff spend on campus?
- Can we limit the number of staff required to be on campus on particular days?
The health and safety of staff will remain the top priority at all times.
In lab-based areas, Principal Investigators and Supervisors will be asked to document details of their essential research (including names and number of people on campus) and share this with Heads of Schools and Directors of Research Institutes to create a record of activities that will take place.
More generally, researchers are asked to use their good judgement and where in doubt to seek a second opinion from their Head of School or Director of RI who can discuss with Jane Townson (MVLS), Neil Bowering (COSE), Sharon McGregor (COSS) or Liz Broe (College of Arts) if further clarity is required.
With an understanding of the priorities and key activities, it is imperative that step 3 is then followed to ensure appropriate risk assessments are carried out.
It may be appropriate at this early stage to hold early dialogue with the relevant Trade Unions to notify them of initial plans and considerations. This initial dialogue should then be maintained as appropriate through the subsequent steps outlined below.
Step 3: Carry out the relevant COVID-19 risk assessment(s) considering the various complexities of your areas of responsibility
It is the responsibility of each School/Research Institute/Service to devise the best approach to ensuring safety in their local area and to plan and implement any identified workplace changes/adaptations.
Responsibilities in each College and in University Services will be as follows:
- Each College/US will have a business partner within the University Estates & Buildings Team to support their preparations for return.
- Schools/Research Institutes/Services will then identify a local lead contact in their area to work with Estates & Buildings to develop and implement local priorities and plans.
- The local lead contact will develop a locally managed COVID-19 risk assessment (see below) for each building that will be signed off by Estates & Buildings.
- Line Managers/ PIs will also conduct a separate COVID-19 risk assessment for individual /areas and activities in consultation with Estates & Buildings
- Colleges will coordinate across School/Research Institutes to ensure that interdependencies are considered. Likewise, senior leaders within University Services should also coordinate to ensure that overlaps are considered between related or similar services, or across services who share the same space.
The purpose of risk assessment is to help identify the significant risks of a unit’s work to ensure that control measures are in place to protect people against harm, so far as is reasonably practicable. Risk assessment doesn’t have to be complex for simple activities, and you don’t have to be a health and safety professional to do a risk assessment.
However, it is important to understand the difference between hazard and risk. A hazard is anything which has the potential to cause harm. The risk is a combination of two factors:
- the likelihood that anyone will be exposed to the harm posed by that hazard and
- the consequences of that harm to the person(s) exposed.
There are 5 key steps which must be completed in turn:
Step 1 Identify the hazards
Step 2 Decide who might be harmed and how
Step 3 Evaluate the risks and decide on precautions
Step 4 Record your findings and implement them
Step 5 Review your risk assessment and update if necessary
Further information on the general principles of risk assessment is accessible on the Safety and Environmental Protection Service (SEPS) webpages.
Risk assessments can be at an area/generic level or an individual level (e.g. for those identified as vulnerable) and can be accessed on the Safety and Environmental Protection Service (SEPS) COVID Resource Centre.
This template takes into account the current government guidance, guidance from HSE and the University’s Campus Recovery Plan and principles for a return to work on campus. If you need any advice on risk assessments and controls then please first contact your local safety coordinator who is there to advise you on all aspects of health and safety. Managers and safety coordinators can obtain more detailed advice where necessary from SEPS.
The full Campus Management Plan can also be accessed here.
Step 4: Identify when particular roles and individuals will return to campus and consider the associated implications.
Note - Due to the current national lockdown period, only essential work is being carried out on campus and the default position for the majority of staff is to work from home. Those who were previously shielding and/or those who live with someone who was previously shielding should also stay at home and seek further advice from their line manager in the first instance.
This guide was created in late 2020 during the ‘phased reopening’ period and whilst it does not apply in full in the context of the national lockdown, it has been retained for reference in exceptional instances and/or future planning purposes ahead of any future reopening/return to campus.
Having completed the previous steps, attention should subsequently turn to identifying who will return to campus to deliver these identified activities, in line with the relevant risk assessments. The process to be followed can be viewed across five key steps:
- Identifying the work requirements and available skills/workforce
- Understanding individual circumstances (health/vulnerability, caring etc)
- Understanding individual preferences (e.g. modes of travel, working hours etc)
- Decide who will return (and when)
- Notifying return / flexible furlough / end of furlough
1. Identifying the work requirements and available workforce/skills
- Based on Steps 1 to 3 above, refer to the work priorities and key activities that need to be delivered within the wider context and considering the specific COVID-19 risk assessments.
- Model the work requirements against the available workforce/skills to understand the range of options to cover these requirements.
2. Understanding individual circumstances
- Hold open, supportive and sensitive conversations to build a more specific understanding of individual circumstances that may need to be considered as part of any return to campus (see Guidance on holding return to campus conversations for more information) (this step may be combined with ‘Understanding individual preferences’ below, regarding capturing preferences for returning):
a. A facility has been created for individuals to securely record personal circumstances/preferences they wish to have considered as we return to campus on CoreHR. Any information recorded will be stored securely in line with the HR Privacy Notice. More information can be found in the Business Process - Return to Campus in Portal document.
b. Refer to any information individuals may have added to their Core HR record in advance of holding conversations, keeping in mind the potentially sensitive nature of this information and handling it in line with the relevant privacy notice.
c. Identify which colleagues:
i. Are in roles which can be delivered remotely (default position)
ii. Were previously shielding (i.e. previously received a letter from the NHS/GP deeming them as extremely clinically vulnerable) before shielding was 'paused' on 1st August 2020.
iii. Are in an otherwise known vulnerable or higher risk group (i.e. over 70, from a Black, Asian or Minority Ethnic (BAME) background, pregnant or have an underlying medical condition)
iv. Live with someone who is shielding
v. Have childcare or caring commitments (due to the impact of COVID, such as school/nursery closures)
3. Understanding individual preferences
- As per point 2 above (and the two steps may be combined in one conversation), hold open, supportive and sensitive conversations (see for more information) to build a more specific understanding of individual preferences around returning, that may need to be considered as part of any return to campus:
a. Individuals have been given the facility to record personal circumstances/preferences relating to COVID-19 and the return to Campus in the Core HR system. Any information recorded will be stored securely in line with the HR Privacy Notice.
b. Identify individual preferences around the return to campus (this may be in the same conversation as above), such as:
i. Travel preferences/options (e.g. cycling, walking, car/parking)
ii. Shift patterns, start/finish times, staggered/flexible hours
iii. Availability to work around childcare/caring requirements
iv. Particular duties (if applicable)
4. Decide who will return (and when)
- Based on the information obtained through steps 1 to 4, decide on which staff will return to working on Campus, where and when. The following points may guide the decision:
a. Those who can work from home should continue to do so
b. Those who were previously shielding (i.e. identified as extremely clinically vulnerable) should work from home if possible. If not, the latest Government advice is that it is expected that the vast majority of individuals who were previously asked to shield can now return to work, providing appropriate safety measures have been put in place to both assess the risk of becoming infected with coronavirus and to take steps to reduce any such risk. In line with this, the University has developed a bespoke individual vulnerable person COVID-19 risk assessment to be carried out in all such cases in addition to the area/generic risk assessment. If a return is essential for operational reasons, this should be planned and managed subject to the use of the relevant risk assessments and the application of appropriate restrictions/risk mitigation and with due consideration to any identified personal preferences.
The Job Retention Scheme remains a potential option at this time for those who are already furloughed as a result of previously shielding.
c. Those who are in an otherwise vulnerable group (e.g. due to age, ethnicity, pregnancy or underlying medical reasons) should work from home if possible. If remote working is not possible and a return is essential for operational reasons, this should be planned and managed subject to carrying out an individual vulnerable person COVID-19 risk assessment (in addition to the area/generic risk assessment) and the subsequent application of appropriate restrictions/risk mitigation and with due consideration to any identified personal preferences.
d. Those who live with someone who was previously shielding (i.e. live with someone who is extremely clinically vulnerable) should work from home if possible. If remote working is not possible and a return is essential for operational reasons, this can be planned and managed subject to relevant area/generic risk assessment and application of appropriate restrictions/risk mitigation and with due consideration to any identified personal preferences.
e. Those who have had normal childcare or caring arrangements impacted by COVID-19 should work from home if possible. If remote working is not possible and a return is essential for operational reasons, this can be planned and managed subject to relevant area/generic risk assessment and application of appropriate restrictions/risk mitigation and with due consideration to any identified personal preferences. This position will evolve in the coming weeks as the Scottish Government provide further clarity on timescales for restoring childcare/care provisions.
f. Those who have general concerns about returning to (or travelling to) work on campus should identify those concerns in order that they can be explored and addressed. If remote working is not possible and a return is essential for operational reasons, this can be planned and managed subject to relevant area/generic risk assessment and application of appropriate restrictions/risk mitigation and with due consideration to any identified personal preferences and/or concerns raised.
5. Notify return / flexible furlough / end of furlough
- With a decision taken on which colleagues will return to work on campus, communication should be sent as appropriate by email to notify of the return. This may include notification to end furlough where it applies to an individual placed on furlough leave or alternatively, the return may be part-time utilising the ‘flexible furlough’ provisions of the Governments Job Retention Scheme (further details can be found on the Job Retention Scheme portal).
The communication should cover:
a. Notification of the return to campus
b. The date of return
c. The location of the return
d. Details of any specific arrangements (subject to review) such as working patterns, parking arrangements
e. Links to any relevant information such as risk assessments, support materials to support the individual in understanding the steps taken to keep them safe at work
f. Specific instructions for their return, covering any re-induction, health and safety instructions, protocols to follow, location to report to etc.
2. In any instances where an individual refuses to return to work, advice should be sought in the first instance from the relevant local HR Team.
Step 5: Create an implementation plan
Step 5: Create an implementation plan
On completion of steps 1-4, an implementation plan should then be created.
The plan should comprehensively outline the key steps and considerations involved in managing a safe and successful transition back to campus for all individuals/teams involved. It should outline:
- Relevant working arrangements, rotas, shift patterns that will be in place
- Any workspace design/adaptations required to maintain social distancing
- Operating procedures / Safe systems of work that will be in place
- Any training requirements (e.g. on new protocols, new systems of work) required on return
- Roles and responsibilities for managing or overseeing the implementation
- Any associated timescales
- Any resource requirements or dependencies
Step 6: Communicate and prepare accordingly
On completion of the implementation plans, these should be shared as far as possible with the staff involved in order to seek their views and to allow an opportunity to discuss and manage any concerns they may have prior to the commencement of any return to campus.
Contact should be maintained with those identified to return to keep them up to date of any developments and changes which may impact their return.
It is recommended that staff are inducted on new safety arrangements prior to returning to campus. An online induction resource will be available to support this from early July. Other identified training may be carried out in advance of any physical return to Campus and this should be progressed if at all possible.
Step 7: Ongoing management
Over the coming weeks and months, the situation will remain fluid and dynamic. Government advice will continue to evolve and consequently University plans and priorities may follow around this. Attention should continue to be paid to all of the factors identified in the steps above and plans reviewed as necessary.
Risk assessments should also be revisited as and when required and individual circumstances and/or preferences may also be subject to change.
Continuous monitoring and adaptation will be essential in order to ensure that any work on campus remains safe, secure and compliant.