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Covid-19 FAQs for staff

Coronavirus FAQs for staff

General queries

How is the College coordinating the response to Covid-19?

Overall strategy for our response to the pandemic is determined by a Covid Gold group, consisting of the College Council and Chaired by the Master. Implementation of that strategy is led by a Covid Silver group, chaired by the Domestic Bursar, which features a representative from all College departments and meets weekly. The Silver group's primary task is to discuss and plan the College's operational response to maintain the health and safety of students, staff, Fellows and visitors.

Where can I find the latest information on the St John’s response to coronavirus?

Our Covid-19 Committee issues regular updates for students, staff and Fellows. They can be found on the Coronavirus Information page of our website.

St John's can confirm that it has complied with the government’s guidance on managing the risk of Covid-19  and staying Covid-19-secure.

 

Staying Covid-secure

I am on furlough leave. Do I have to take annual leave?  

We have been encouraging all staff to continue to take time off from work in the normal way as it is important for all of us to recuperate and recharge despite the current restrictions we all face. For those who are currently on furlough leave for at least half of their working time, you are asked to take at least 20% of your annual leave by Easter 2021. This will help the College to resume its normal activities later in the year. If you are on furlough leave for less than 50% of your working time, your manager will be in touch with you to discuss an appropriate amount of leave for you to take before Easter. 

As last year, the College is maintaining the rule of a maximum carry-over of five days’ leave (pro rata for part-time staff) unless a member of staff has exceptional circumstances, for example related to coronavirus, that have made this impossible. Any exceptions will require the authorisation of the relevant Head of Department and College Officer and we would only expect this to apply to a small handful of roles across the College.   

My child’s school has closed and I need to look after my child. What will happen about my pay? 

The Department for Education has updated its definition of critical workers in higher education institutions for the purpose of access to childcare. The updated guidance confirms that higher education staff who are required to deliver or to support delivery of teaching or research, and the provision of appropriate College facilities, are considered critical workers for the purposes of access to school/nursery places.  

The Department of Education has outlined that the roles that may be prioritised for accessing school places, would usually fall in four broad categories: 

1. Staff or research students responsible for research and other activities to mitigate the effects of Covid-19 and for other essential research and supporting activity necessary to meet regulatory, legal, health and safety or other ongoing requirements. 

2. Academic and teaching staff, to deliver face-to-face teaching to those students that are permitted to receive teaching on campus, or to support those students who are continuing their placements in person and cannot be supported remotely, as well as those developing or delivering resources for remote learning including where these need to be created or updated using facilities only available on the provider’s premises. 

3. Staff responsible for providing services for students who need to remain in student accommodation or in facilities which remain open for students or essential research, including catering staff, cleaners, wardens, mental health support, IT and security staff. 

4. Staff critical to the safety and security of the University estate and other business critical operations. 

If you are a critical worker and require a letter to confirm this, please contact the HR team who will arrange to provide this for you. HR will contact your Head of Department/College Officer to confirm that your role does indeed fall into the definition of a critical worker as outlined above. 

Please note that provision is ultimately at the discretion of the school/nursery who may need to prioritise access. 

If you are unable to access a school/nursery place, either because the school has prioritised other critical workers or because you do not fall within one of the four categories outlined above, you should speak to your Head of Department about other options including furlough leave or flexible working. 

I need to work on site. What is the College doing to ensure that it is safe for me to do so?

In line with the government guidance, Covid-19 risk assessments are being undertaken to ensure that we assess and minimise risk to all members of the College community and put in place measures to ensure that the College is ‘Covid-19 secure’.

These measures include enhanced cleaning of communal areas and systems to ensure social distancing can be maintained wherever possible. The College has also distributed face masks to all staff currently working on site (see separate FAQ regarding face coverings).

Your Head of Department will do a risk assessment for your specific department and this review will be shared with you and your comments sought. You may have ideas you wish to feed into this process either now or on reading the departmental review. If this is the case, please do contact your Head of Department. Your manager will also complete a brief induction with you on your return to work on the College site and part of this will include discussing the risk assessment for your area.

Heads of Department will have determined, alongside their College Officers, whose attendance at the College site is required. If you have any questions, please contact your Head of Department.

Should I wear a face covering in College?

Face coverings should be worn in all parts of the College, whether inside College buildings or moving around the College site, and this includes the Buttery, the Library, the Chapel, in corridors, stairwells, and courts. This applies to all members of St John’s College and to visitors to the College unless you have an exemption.

Face coverings provide protection for other people where it is not possible to maintain appropriate social distancing. Two washable face coverings are available for all students, and each mask comes in a resealable plastic bag and includes fitting and washing instructions. You may wish to supplement this supply with your own face coverings.

Guidance on how to wear a face covering

View the Face Coverings Policy

Can I bring guests into College? 

A comprehensive new visitor policy for St John’s has now been published which covers the rules for Fellows, students, and staff.

All of our policies are currently subject to change at any time and it is imperative that you familiarise yourself with this and other policies as the number of people onsite continues to grow ahead of the new term.

Is the Buttery open? 

The Buttery is offering an Order Ahead service, where members of the College can place a cold food order in advance and collect items the next day from the College Bar. To order ahead, everyone will need to set up a Upay account where they can select their items in advance and book time slots for collection.

The Buttery is open for breakfast on Wednesdays only between 8am and 10am, and daily for lunch from 11.30am to 2.30pm and again for dinner from 5.30pm to 8pm, currently for takeaway meals only. Staff and Fellows are encouraged to collect lunch between 11.30am and 12.30pm, and dinner between 5.30 and 6pm if possible. Saturday brunch will be served from 12.30pm-2.30pm every week. Advance booking is no longer required.

See the Buttery Updates page for full information and to learn how to open a Upay account if you wish to use the Order Ahead service.

Face coverings must be worn in the BDR and Bar when collecting food. 

The Great Gate entrance to the College is closed as are all gates at the rear of College. Entrance to the College is therefore via the Forecourt entrance in Bridge St or via Cripps Lodge. The gate by Cripps into Magdalene College is also locked.

HR Queries

I have developed symptoms of Covid-19. What should I do?

Covid-19 symptoms include a high temperature, new continuous cough, or a loss or change in your sense of smell or taste. 

If you develop any of these symptoms, you should stay at home and:

  • inform your line manager immediately and complete this form 
  • you should arrange to take a test as soon as possible (please see the staff FAQ on this below). If you have difficulty obtaining a test, you can telephone 119.
  • you should stay at home and self-isolate for at least ten days or until you receive further instructions from the Addenbrooke's Hospital Occupational Health or Infectious Diseases team following the test. 


You should inform your line manager of the test result as soon as possible. You may be required to provide evidence of the outcome of this test. 

If the test is positive, you should self-isolate at home for at least ten days, or until well for 48 hours (whichever is longer). If the test is negative, your manager will discuss with you when you can return to work.     

Where you are unwell, the College's usual sick leave and pay entitlements apply. The College’s sickness absence policy is contained in the staff handbook which is available on HR Online or you can contact HR for a copy. On your return to work, you should complete a self-certification form and send this to the HR team in the normal way.  

Covid-19 symptoms include a high temperature, new continuous cough, or a loss or change in your sense of smell or taste. 

If you develop any of these symptoms, you should stay at home and:

  • inform your line manager immediately and complete this form 
  • you should arrange to take a test as soon as possible (please see the staff FAQ on this below). If you have difficulty obtaining a test, you can telephone 119.
  • you should stay at home and self-isolate for at least ten days or until you receive further instructions from the Addenbrooke's Hospital Occupational Health or Infectious Diseases team following the test. 


You should inform your line manager of the test result as soon as possible. You may be required to provide evidence of the outcome of this test. 

If the test is positive, you should self-isolate at home for at least ten days, or until well for 48 hours (whichever is longer). If the test is negative, your manager will discuss with you when you can return to work.     

Where you are unwell, the College's usual sick leave and pay entitlements apply. The College’s sickness absence policy is contained in the staff handbook which is available on HR Online or you can contact HR for a copy. On your return to work, you should complete a self-certification form and send this to the HR team in the normal way.  

I have developed symptoms of Covid-19. Can I get a test and, if so, how?

Testing is a key part of the University’s strategy for keeping its staff, workplaces and the wider community safe. The University offers swab tests to College and University staff and students, as well as staff at Cambridge Assessment and Cambridge University Press, who have possible symptoms of Covid-19. If you have symptoms of Covid-19 you should arrange a test immediately. Tests should now be booked online via the web portal, not via the Addenbrooke’s Hospital Occupational Health phone line.

When booking, you can select to take a test at one of two locations:

  • S2 Testing Pods, Addenbrooke's Hospital – 8.30am to 5pm, Monday to Friday. These pods are only accessible by car, or bike while wearing a mask. If you are already on the Biomedical Campus, you can access the pods on foot while wearing a mask.
  • Dyson Building, Department of Engineering, Fen Causeway entrance – 8.30am to 2.45pm, Monday to Friday. Accessible by bike or foot while wearing a mask. Access by car is possible but very limited.
     

Maps showing the locations of these testing pods can be found here.

If you develop symptoms after the closure of the Pod on Friday, or any time on Saturday or Sunday, or cannot access either of these two locations, you can arrange a test at an alternative location using the NHS website.

For enquiries about what to do if you or a member of your household has symptoms of Covid-19, please visit the Stay Safe Cambridge Uni website or contact the University’s dedicated Covid-19 helpdesk by phone 01223 339514 or email covid-helpdesk@admin.cam.ac.uk. 

Symptoms which you should be aware of, and which you should act on to request a test for Covid-19, now ONLY include one or more of the following:

  • High temperature: this means a feeling of feverishness, or a measured temperature higher than 37.8C.
  • New cough: this means a new intermittent or persistent cough, or worsening of your usual cough if you have one.
  • Loss or change in your sense of taste or smell, particularly in the absence of nasal congestion.
     

Should you develop any of these symptoms, please self-isolate immediately, and notify the College using our Symptom Reporting Form. We would like students, Fellows and staff to let us know if you develop symptoms.

Anyone who has Covid-19 symptoms and has not yet returned to Cambridge should self-isolate at home and not return to College until the full 10 days of quarantine has been completed.

Self isolation guidance for staff

I fit the criteria of someone who is at increased risk of severe illness from coronavirus (Covid-19). What should I do?

If you are concerned that you may be at greater risk of serious illness from Covid-19, you should speak to your line manager. 

Those who are currently working from home should continue to do so, unless you are required to attend College for operational reasons, in which case you will be advised of this by your Head of Department.

If you are required to attend the College, prior to returning to work on site, every member of staff will have access to the risk assessment undertaken for their department so that you are aware of the general measures in place to minimise the risk of Covid-19 in the workplace.

Your line manager will then complete a separate individual risk assessment with you if you are:

  • in the extremely clinically vulnerable (*) or clinically vulnerable category;
  • have expressed concerns that you may be at greater risk of serious illness due to Covid-19; or,
  • have a member of your household who is shielding because they are extremely clinically vulnerable
     

This separate individual risk assessment form should be completed to identify and record how specific control measures will be implemented to protect you.

Once complete, this risk assessment should be reviewed regularly and updates made where applicable.

Please note, depending on the nature of your condition we may need to contact your GP at a later date for further guidance and advice.

If you do not wish to disclose your medical condition to your manager, you can contact HR.  Alternatively, you can contact the Lead Clinical Nurse in confidence for further advice.

* Please note, the Government have advised that staff who are extremely clinically vulnerable and shielding, should not come into the workplace during the lockdown period. Staff in this category should therefore work from home or, where this is not possible, can be placed on furlough leave during this period.

I live with someone who is at increased risk from coronavirus (Covid-19). What should I do?

The Government have advised that people who live in the same household as someone who is clinically extremely vulnerable should continue to attend work if they are unable to work from home, but should you have any ongoing concerns please discuss these with your line manager, following the guidance outlined above.

I need to self-isolate as someone in my household has symptoms. Will I be paid?

If you live with someone who has Covid-19 symptoms but you remain well, you must remain at home for 10 days or until a negative test result is confirmed for the person you live with. You may be required to provide evidence of the outcome of this test.

Your line manager will explore with you whether you can work from home during this period, whether you could be given alternative duties where working from home is not possible, or whether the time will be treated as sick leave (in which case you will receive sick pay in accordance with the College’s sickness absence policy). If you receive sick pay, you should complete a self-certification form on your return to work which should be sent to the HR team.  

If you go on to develop symptoms of Covid-19, you should follow the advice above.

I have come into close contact with someone who has tested positive for Covid-19. What should I do?

If you have had close contact with an individual who has tested positive for Covid-19, you should stay at home and self-isolate for 10 days. You may be required to provide further information, including evidence of the test. Further information on what constitutes a close contact is contained in Appendix 1 of the Self Isolation Guidance on HR online.

Your line manager will explore with you whether you can work from home during this period, whether you could be given alternative duties where working from home is not possible or whether the time will be treated as sick leave (in which case you will receive sick pay in accordance with the College’s sickness absence policy).  If you receive sick pay, you should complete a self-certification form on your return to work which should be sent to the HR team.  

If you go on to develop symptoms of Covid-19, you should follow the advice above.

I have been contacted by the Government’s ‘Test and Trace scheme’. What should I do?

If you are contacted by the NHS Test and Trace team, you may be asked to isolate for 10 days. Under these circumstances you should not return to the workplace, even if you have not had any symptoms of illness. You may be required to do this on more than one occasion if told to do so by the NHS. You may be required to provide evidence that you have been contacted by the NHS.

Your line manager will explore with you whether you can work from home during this period, whether you could be given alternative duties where working from home is not possible or whether the time will be treated as sick leave (in which case you will receive sick pay in accordance with the College’s sickness absence policy). If you receive sick pay, you should complete a self-certification form on your return to work which should be sent to the HR team.  

If you go on to develop symptoms of Covid-19, you should follow the advice above.

Can I work from home?

Those who are currently working from home should continue to do so until further notice, unless you are required to attend College for operational reasons, in which case you will be advised of this by your Head of Department.

If you are working from home, you need to complete a risk assessment and there are some guidance notes that you need to read which are available on HR Online.

I am on furlough leave. What does this mean?

The government introduced the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS) in light of the impact of the ongoing pandemic. Employees who are not able to work effectively from home can be placed on furlough leave with businesses then being reimbursed for a proportion of their salary costs. 

College Officers worked with their Heads of Departments to determine who from their areas should be placed on ‘furlough leave’ and these staff were contacted by their managers and received a letter with further details of the scheme.

Those placed on furlough leave continue to receive their full pay on the 20th of the month in the usual way.

Being placed on furlough leave is absolutely no reflection on the value that the College places on your work. It is a reflection of the changing work needs of the College during the Covid-19 emergency and the nature of certain roles means they cannot be effectively done from home.

The scheme has been extended until April 2021. If you are currently on furlough leave, you will remain so and your Head of Department will be in touch to advise you if and when the situation changes.

I am on furlough leave. Do I have to take annual leave?

We have been encouraging staff to take some time off as it is important for all of us to recuperate and recharge despite the current restrictions we all face. 

The College is maintaining the rule of a maximum carry-over of five days’ leave (pro rata for part-time staff) unless a member of staff has exceptional circumstances, for example related to coronavirus, that have made this impossible. Any exceptions will require the authorisation of the relevant Head of Department and College Officer and we would only expect this to apply to a small handful of roles across the College. 

My child’s school has closed and I need to look after my child. What will happen about my pay?

The most recent Government guidance advised that “support and teaching staff” in Education are “critical workers” and so, under the current guidance, should be able to continue to access childcare during any periods of restriction.

Read the guidance in full 

My child has been told by their school to self-isolate because they have had contact with someone who has tested positive for Covid-19.  Will I still get paid if I need to take time off work?

Under the current government rules for self-isolation, it is only the close contact of the person who has tested positive for Covid-19 (i.e. your child) who must self-isolate for 10 days and not the parent. We do appreciate however that this scenario does potentially present unexpected childcare issues.

  • If it is possible for the member of staff to work from home then this can be accommodated, where appropriate. Staff also have the option of taking holiday or can make up the time at a later date, if agreed by their manager, or can agree a combination of these options. 
  • The government confirmed that staff who are unable to work due to caring responsibilities may be able to be placed on furlough leave under the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme, if appropriate. Where this has been agreed, the member of staff will receive a letter with further details of the scheme.
  • For those not on furlough leave, we would hope that employees will continue to share childcare responsibilities with their partners, if they have one, so that if they are required to attend work they can continue to do so. We would also hope that this is the case for those who are working from home. We do appreciate that some flexibility may be required, particularly for those with younger children. If you have concerns, do speak to your manager.

Please note that in the event that your child goes on to develop symptoms of Covid-19, then you should self-isolate in accordance with the current rules.

Will I be getting any salary increases during 2020?

The increases to the Assistant staff pay spine, which were proposed as a result of a review into staff pay and were communicated at the staff briefing sessions last year, went ahead despite the current coronavirus pandemic and the significant loss of income suffered by the College as a result.

The changes included a 2% annual cost of living increase for Assistant staff on 1 August 2020 (or 1 May 2020 for those on Grade spine point 11 – Grade 1.2 and 2.1), an additional 2% increase across the entire pay spine on 1 October 2020 and an uplift to the grading structure which specifically benefited the majority of Grade 1-4 members of staff, also on 1 October 2020.

I travel to work on public transport. Can I still come in to work?

Where public transport travel is necessary, the government have advised that social distancing guidance must be followed and you must wear a face covering. Specific guidance can be found here: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/coronavirus-covid-19-safer-travel-guidance-for-passengers#public-transport

Staff who cannot work from home and need to travel to the College site, should instead choose to cycle, walk or drive, if possible, to minimise the number of people with whom they come into close contact.

The College has a cycle to work salary sacrifice scheme in place and we also provide access to secure cycle parking. Staff bicycles are registered with the Porters and can be parked at two conveniently accessible indoor storage facilities via a card entry system. We are also a member of Travel for Cambridgeshire (TfC) which offers a range of travel related discounts such as 10% off bicycles and accessories at certain stores. Further details can be found on HR Online.

There are a number of showers that can be used by staff who would like to cycle into work and these are located in the following areas:

  • 1 x 1st floor Forecourt Linen Room
  • 2 x Senior Guest Rooms ground floor E New Court
  • 3 x Senior Guest Rooms ground floor B New Court
  • 2 x ground floor I New Court 2 x each floor Junior Guest Rooms
     

If you wish to use a shower, please contact the Forecourt Porters’ Lodge to arrange collection of a key.

If you do not normally have a parking permit for College but wish to have one during this time, please contact Fiona Boston who will seek to allocate one to you if at all practicable.

What support is available for staff who feel anxious about family or friends who may be affected by coronavirus?

We recognise that many members of our staff may feel anxious about Covid-19 and we are keen to provide support.  The Wellbeing page on HR Online sign-posts the options of support available including access to a 24/7 advice and counselling helpline for those who are in Simplyhealth, links to self-help guides available on the University counselling service page and contact details for others who can offer wellbeing support within the College.

If staff have queries relating to Covid-19, they can contact Emma Manuel, Lead Clinical Nurse, whose contact details are available on the Wellbeing page. 

What happens if a dependant or close relative of mine dies of coronavirus?

Compassionate leave will be granted to an employee whose dependant or close relative dies from coronavirus.

The details of the Compassionate Leave policy can be found in the staff handbook which is available on HR Online or you can contact HR for a copy.

What if I have to quarantine for a period of time when I return to the UK from abroad?

You must comply with the latest Government advice regarding quarantine requirements when returning to the UK from abroad.  

If you are planning to go abroad, you should speak to your line manager to see if you can book the time off as annual leave or work from home during the quarantine period.  If you do not have enough leave or are unable to work from home, your manager may agree for you to take unpaid leave or to make up the time at a later date (or may agree a combination of these options, if this can be accommodated). If you are intending to travel abroad we advise that you carefully consider the latest Government advice concerning your destination and discuss with your line manager how you would cover any quarantine requirements in advance of your travel, bearing in mind that these may be introduced at short notice including after you have already commenced your trip abroad. 

The above will also apply should the government introduce any quarantine requirements following travel within the UK to a location that is in a localised lockdown.

How can I help?

·  Anyone who is able to help others is being encouraged to consider donating items or money to the Trussell Trust.

·  In Cambridge, food or financial donations can be made to Jimmy’s,  a charity that has been helping the homeless in the city for more than 20 years. 

·  The Red Hen Project is a small Cambridge based charity that works to support vulnerable families in the city. The charity has been providing food parcels to families in need during the lockdown.

·  Women’s Aid, a national charity, is concerned about the impact of coronavirus lockdown measures have on women and children and is encouraging donations as pressure on their services increase.

·  Supermarkets also have collection points for different charities and food banks.