Advice for staff

On this page you will find advice and information about coronavirus (Covid-19) and its impact on how we are working as a University, from teaching online to research support, from working remotely to annual leave and postal services.

Please keep checking these pages on a regular basis as we are updating them daily.

If you can't find the answers you are looking for, speak to your line manager or email coronavirus@sheffield.ac.uk

Please also refer to:


Pay, support and processes

What happens to my pay if I have to self-isolate, have childcare resposibilities, or if I, or someone I live with, has a pre-existing health condition?

To provide immediate reassurance to you all as we face disruption, we are committed to ensuring that there is no financial detriment to staff pay as a result of the coronavirus outbreak. We will therefore continue to pay you at your normal rate if:

  • You have symptoms and need to self-isolate
  • You need to look after children or other dependents who are at home or self-isolating due to coronavirus
  • You, or someone you live with, has one of the pre-existing health conditions (such as weakened immune systems, diabetes, heart conditions and asthma), identified by Public Health England as putting you at greater risk from coronavirus

If any of these apply to you then speak to your manager to make arrangements. If you are in this position, not ill yourself and able to work from home, then please do so, although we recognise that not everyone will be able to due to the nature of their role or a lack of available facilities.

As UK schools and childcare providers have closed for most children, except for those of key workers and the most vulnerable children, we know that many colleagues may be responsible for childcare at home. If you are in this position, we understand that looking after children will limit your ability to work from home and we encourage you and your manager to be as flexible and pragmatic as possible about the amount of and type of work that can be undertaken in these circumstances.

Please be assured that during this time away from the University, you will be paid at your normal rate, whether your job allows you to work from home or not.

Our University operations include a number of business and safety critical services which must be maintained. In these service areas specific arrangements will be put in place to ensure continuity. Further details will be provided by your manager if you work in one of these areas.

If you need to self-isolate, you should inform your line manager and email coronavirus@sheffield.ac.uk to notify us that you are self-isolating.

What support is in place for casual workers?

We understand that many casual workers are concerned about the long-term implications for their income as a result of the disruption.

Please be assured that we are continuing to explore ways of minimising any impact on workers who have recently undertaken regular activity for the University and those who have work scheduled in the future, and are aiming to be in touch with them, and heads of department, with guidance week beginning 30 March 2020.

For those casual workers who have scheduled work that is able to continue, please do so and you will continue to be paid in the normal way.

Can I still book annual leave?

Yes you can. It is important that we all take time out from work, especially given the pressures caused by the current situation with coronavirus.

Please continue to book annual leave when you wish to take time off, even though you are not physically attending work at the University. Booking annual leave should be done in the normal way via myJob for approval by your line manager. The policy to carry forward any unused annual leave has not changed and is still set at five days.

What support is available for staff?

Support for staff and students

Is the University still recruiting new staff?

All recruitment activity is currently being reviewed.

The Vice-Chancellor’s Advisory Group is reviewing all the posts that are in the process of being recruited, and will make decisions on key roles that need to be prioritised and whether any can be paused or delayed.

If you have questions on this, you should speak to the HR Manager for your department.

Students and teaching

What does the move to online teaching involve?

The University had no alternative option, given the current circumstances, but to temporarily suspend face-to-face teaching from Monday 16 March 2020. This means there are no face-to-face lectures, seminars, tutorials, practicals or field courses for at least the current semester, and all teaching is moving online.

This applies to all undergraduate and postgraduate taught learning. We are working hard to transition all teaching online and we will continue to issue guidance as and when it is available.

For more information about what this means for our students, please refer to the Are my lectures, seminars or research work cancelled? FAQ on the student coronavirus advice pages.

Where can I find guidance for online teaching and learning?

As we continue our transition to online learning, please visit the Academic Programmes and Student Engagement (APSE) web pages for updated guidance for staff and guidance for students.

You can also access the APSE support online teaching webinars and one-to-one advice slots.

We ask that you have all the relevant materials available for students to access online as we anticipate it will be easier to access learning materials online locally.

You can also access our extensive digital library which is supported by online information, digital literacy tutorials and a specialist virtual advisory team ready to support you.

Why have we changed the spring semester dates?

We have changed the spring semester dates so that the current half of the spring semester ended on Friday 20 March 2020 and the second half of the spring semester will start on Monday 20 April 2020.

This change will allow relevant colleagues time to focus on making the transition to online teaching and will ensure our students are able to achieve their learning outcomes.

What's the latest information about examinations, vivas, confirmation reviews and graduations?

All formal invigilated examinations will be replaced by alternative forms of assessment. In some cases this process involves consultations with accrediting bodies to ensure that proposed changes to assessment methods are meeting the required criteria. Within this process we are prioritising graduating cohorts.

To check on the status of examinations scheduled in the coming weeks, please regularly check the timetable for updates. Students are being asked to contact their academic department/school with any questions. If they have any general enquiries you can tell them to contact exams@sheffield.ac.uk

For students who are preparing to submit their thesis and/or undertake their viva or confirmation review, the University has been cascading information throughout departments covering how these will be governed remotely, using video conferencing if required for example. Department supervisors will be able to discuss this with you and how to obtain Faculty approval, contact them in the first instance.

We are absolutely committed to ensuring that all of those expecting to graduate this year are given the opportunity to do so, and are currently working at speed to put plans in place that will allow this. We are postponing graduation ceremonies until later in the year and will be in touch again as soon as we have more details.

I have a student who has reported that they are self-isolating, what do I do?

Students should still contact their academic department in the first instance to report they are self-isolating. You should then ask students to complete this Google form, which will signpost them to the various forms of support available for them during this time.

Students who are self-isolating in the UK should be supported to be able to continue their studies by providing online resources (via Blackboard and Encore) where possible and practical if they are well enough. Should a taught student feel that the short term absence has affected their studies then they can use the extenuating circumstances process.

For any concerns or questions about student studies being disrupted, please contact Stephanie Betts or Karen Shippam in the Results and Awards team who will be able to provide advice and guidance in academic matters, which are considered on a case-by-case basis.

For any other immediate enquiries in the meantime please contact the dedicated staff support: coronavirus@sheffield.ac.uk

How do I get the most out of the digital library to support my online teaching?

Our University Library has an extensive digital library with close to a million eBooks and over 60,000 journals, supported by online information, digital literacy tutorials and a specialist virtual advisory team ready to support you.

Please contact your Faculty or Liaison Librarian to help you to identify resources for your teaching.

Further information, updates and contact details are available from the Library Teach web page.

I’ve been contacted by a commercial supplier offering free online library content, should I use this resource?

We understand that some of you have been contacted directly by commercial digital learning suppliers including; Pearson, Cengage, Kortex, BibliU offering ‘free’ online content and platforms. Our University Library team is reviewing and assessing these offers and request that you do not take up offers directly and speak with your Faculty or Liaison Librarian or the Library team first, email library@sheffield.ac.uk

Are there any changes regarding copyright at this time?

At this time, there is a strong public interest argument to be made for the temporary lifting of copyright restrictions in order to facilitate remote teaching, learning and research activity. The University Library is actively engaged in advocacy, at a national level, through representation on the UUK Copyright Negotiating and Advisory Committee and Research Libraries UK. Additionally, the Copyright and Licensing team are working remotely to answer queries, with scheduled training sessions being delivered via Blackboard Collaborate. Visit the University Copyright Hub for further information and contact details.

Research

I’m a researcher, what should I be doing?

All undergraduate and postgraduate taught learning will now be delivered online and where research programmes can be conducted remotely, PIs and PGR supervisors should be considering how they can be adapted so that the research can continue to move forward and research staff and PGRs can continue to contribute.

Qualitative research which requires face-to-face contact with participants must not continue. Researchers are encouraged to consider alternative approaches to undertaking this kind of research remotely where possible, either via telephone or video conferencing for example.

Visit the Research Services web pages to see what University support is available and for guidance from research funders.

Please also refer to the FAQ, I need access to buildings or a laboratory for my research, can I still access this facility?

I have expertise relating to coronavirus or its impacts, how can I help?

Parliament needs quick access to researchers who can provide expert insights relating to both coronavirus and the wider situation.

They are looking for any expertise relating to COVID-19 or its impacts, for example on welfare, employment, education and other key areas. They also need people who are prepared to provide expert insights to parliament, for example briefing a member of parliament, and helping respond to an enquiry.

If you can contribute, please add your details to the COVID-19 outbreak expert database, which has been set up by the UK Parliament Knowledge Exchange Unit.

Working location and information for our international colleagues

Should I be working from home?

Yes, you should be working from home now unless you are carrying out business critical work or providing essential services on campus. Access to buildings is limited to those roles.

Business critical work and essential services include some research and work to keep our campus safe - where there is a significant consequence to health, safety and welfare if the work cannot continue. We also recognise that there will be some technical equipment that will need to be maintained and cannot be shut down.

Most, if not all, colleagues working in these areas will already be aware of their business critical status and we have issued heads of department and senior colleagues with further instructions. If you have any queries, please speak with your line manager in the first instance.

Please note that there may be differences in working arrangements for AMRC staff at this time for critical roles. However, in general all AMRC staff should also work from home if their job role allows, or they haven't been notified as being a member of the essential on site staff. Please speak to your line manager if you are unsure.

I’m working from home, what do I need to know and do?

We've put together some working from home guidance pages, combining best practice guidelines, ideas and useful resources in one place. We will continue to update these pages so please keep checking back.

Some key actions are as follows:

Speak to your line manager

The first step to take is to speak to your line manager to decide how remote working will work for you and your role.

Update your contact details

You must also make sure your contact details in your University personal profile are up to date. To do this log into MUSE, select: My services / view all services / click on myJob / myTeam / e-Recruitment / select Personal Profile and add your mobile phone number and personal email address in the communication section.

Your department should also have asked you to add your contact details to any departmental incident management plans.

Take a look at the IT guidance for remote working

We encourage you to read the guidance on working remotely from home or off campus on our IT Services web pages. These pages will be updated regularly so please keep checking back for new information.

Colleagues in IT Services are working hard to provide support to anyone who needs it and have increased the capacity of the IT Service Desk on 0114 222 1111. We have also extended the capacity of the VPN network, but it will not accommodate everyone. Therefore, please only use VPN if you have specific confidentiality needs, or require access to restricted data or services. You do not need a VPN to access MUSE services such as viewing payslips and booking annual leave. For these you can use mySAPmobile - find this in view all services in MUSE.

In line with remote working procedures, you should not download confidential, or personal information to insecure devices, or your own personal devices at home.

Set up your workstation

For advice about setting up your desk at home, please read this guidance document from our Health and Safety team.

Please note, we have a small pool of laptops available to loan from our central supply. These will be prioritised for the most critical services, so please speak to your head of department in the first instance if you do not have one.

Update your email signature

To let your colleagues know how you prefer to be contacted during the working day, and to notify others when you're not working, we have created some example email signatures and out of office templates for you to use.

How can I collaborate with colleagues remotely?

IT Services has launched a new service to help you keep in touch with colleagues while working remotely.

Google Chat is a messaging platform designed for collaborative team working. It is a new version of Google Hangouts with added functionality for teams to create dedicated spaces called rooms, helping you communicate and collaborate better when working across locations.

You can create the rooms you need for your team, projects, and social groups, invite your colleagues and instantly start talking.

Google Chat can now be accessed from MUSE, or from the apps menu from any of your University Google Services.

For advice and tips to get you started with Google Chat see the IT Services pages.

I have childcare responsibilities, what does this mean for working from home?

As UK schools and childcare providers have closed for most children, except for those of key workers and the most vulnerable children, we know that many colleagues may be responsible for childcare at home. If you are in this position, we understand that looking after children will limit your ability to work from home and we encourage you and your manager to be as flexible and pragmatic as possible about the amount of and type of work that can be undertaken in these circumstances.

It is really important for you and your manager to stay in regular contact to review what work is achievable, and for you to do what you can, whilst acknowledging that care responsibilities may need to take priority. If anyone in your household is in a key role identified by the government as critical for dealing with this outbreak, your manager should also take this into account. If this applies to you, we know that you may have less flexibility.

During this time away from the University, you will be paid at your normal rate, whether your job allows you to work from home or not.

More detailed guidance about this has been shared with heads of department and managers. If you have any questions, please speak to your line manager.

I am working abroad, is there any action I need to take?

Any members of staff currently working overseas should return to the UK.

If working abroad has been signed off as essential and it is necessary to stay overseas, please forward the details of your arrangement to insurance@sheffield.ac.uk for confirmation of travel insurance cover. More information about travel insurance during the current situation can be found here.

Staff currently working overseas should follow local health advice.

If you are returning from overseas travel, you do not need to self-isolate, unless you are already showing symptoms.

See government guidance on returning travellers, and from Public Health England for more information

Can I travel internationally for work?

All non-essential staff overseas travel is cancelled.

Any essential international trips must be approved by a head of department and signed off by the faculty Vice-President. It should be considered if you can achieve the objectives by alternative means (teleconferencing, video conferencing or delaying/varying travel plans).

The University’s Department of Finance have prepared guidance on travel insurance.

If you were due to teach or train abroad, you should have taken out a University of Sheffield travel insurance policy. You’ll need to contact the insurance team in the first instance to see if the costs of the trip can be reimbursed. You can contact the team at insurance@sheffield.ac.uk or call +44 (0)114 222 1510.

If the costs of your trip can’t be covered by the insurance policy, contact the Global Opportunities team. They’ll check with the UK National Agency to see if the costs of the trip can be reimbursed through the Erasmus+ budget.

My visa is due to expire and I was expecting to leave the UK. What do I do?

Visa nationals who cannot return home due to the coronavirus pandemic will be able to extend their visa.

If you’re in the UK and your leave expires between 24 January 2020 and 31 May 2020

Your visa will be extended to 31 May 2020 if you cannot leave the UK because of travel restrictions or self-isolation related to coronavirus.

You must contact the Coronavirus Immigration Team via CIH@homeoffice.gov.uk to update your records with the Home Office if your visa is expiring.
You should provide:

  • your full name (include any middle names)
  • date of birth (dd/mm/yyyy)
  • nationality
  • your previous visa reference number
  • why you can’t go back to your home country, for example if the border has closed

The team there will let you know when your request is received and when your visa has been extended.

Many foreign nationals have found themselves unable to return home since the outbreak of coronavirus due to flight cancellations and border restrictions. The extension has been put in place to give these individuals peace of mind that they will not be penalised for overstaying their visa when the situation is out of their control due to coronavirus.

Whilst those who contact the Home Office for these visa extensions will be expected to return to their home countries as soon as possible once flight and border restrictions are lifted, no immigration enforcement action will be undertaken during this time for those who email the Home Office as outlined above.

What information is there about Tier 2 and Tier 5 visa holders?

In light of the current advice on self-isolation and social distancing, the Home Office is waiving a number of requirements on visa sponsors, such as allowing non-EU nationals to undertake their work or study from home.

The Home Office will not take any compliance action against employees or visitors who are unable to attend their work due to the coronavirus outbreak. This includes periods of self-isolation and temporary home working which do not need reporting to the Home Office.  The University should however have a record of this through line managers who should then notify Human Resources.

If you are unwell, please follow normal procedure and notify your line manager.

As a visitor to the UK will I be charged for NHS access if I need to be treated for coronavirus?

No. The government has issued guidance on NHS entitlements.

There can be no charge made to an overseas visitor for the diagnosis or treatment of coronavirus.

All overseas visitors, including anyone living in the UK without permission, should be aware that:

  • No charges apply to testing for coronavirus, even if the result is negative, or to any treatment provided for coronavirus if the result is positive or up to the point that it is negatively diagnosed. The same is true of most other infectious diseases.
  • NHS trusts have been advised that no immigration checks are required for overseas visitors that are known to be only undergoing testing or treatment for coronavirus.
Can I return to my country of nationality/permanent residence if this is not the UK?

The Foreign and Commonwealth Office has advised against all but essential international travel and the University has cancelled all non-essential overseas travel. Staff working overseas have been asked to return to the UK unless the work has been signed off as essential and necessary to do overseas.

Travelling overseas during a period of annual leave is strongly discouraged as there is a high and increasing risk of travel disruption which could prevent your return to the UK.  This could have further implications for visa nationals.

Business-critical staff

I am a business critical/essential member of staff, what do I need to know?

Please also refer to the FAQ above: Should I be working from home?

We are taking all the steps we can to protect the health and safety of staff in essential roles where working from home is not possible. We have carried out risk assessments for these roles and are following all government guidance.

If you are required to work on campus, you must ensure you carry a valid photo ID or UCard at all times.

Security Services will continue to operate a 24/7 service throughout campus and at residence locations. In case of an emergency, please contact University Security on 0114 222 4444. You can also contact the EFM helpdesk.

To support NHS workers at nearby hospitals, we have reserved all Arts Tower car parking spaces for front line NHS staff only. If your role requires you to access the main campus facilities and you have previously had card access approved for the Arts Tower car park, please use the nearest available alternative University car park. Permits are not required in this instance.

Which guidance should I follow if I work in a clinical setting?

Staff within Medicine, Dentistry and Health who have a clinical role and/or work in a clinical setting should follow the guidance issued by the NHS organisation in which they work.

NHS organisations are providing regular updates to staff, and staff are asked to follow the guidance issued by their clinical line manager. Staff should ensure that they regularly check their NHS email accounts to ensure they are up to date with the latest messages. NHS organisations and the University are closely following guidance from Public Health England, professional bodies and regulators, and their advice to date has been consistent. University HR and the Faculty Office are also in regular contact with NHS Partners.

If advice to staff becomes in any way contradictory, then please contact coronavirus@sheffield.ac.uk, who will provide advice.

What if an essential member of my team does not want to come to work because they are concerned about coronavirus?

It is expected that all staff work from home unless it is essential for you to be on campus. Please speak to your manager or team members to discuss arrangements.

The University is now operating according to its established out of hours procedures. Access to buildings is limited to critical roles.

However, as a large organisation, we have a number of roles that provide essential services to support students and research, and keep our campus safe. These roles require staff to be on campus. We will take all the steps we can to protect the health and safety of staff in these essential roles, where working from home is not possible.

If it is a member of essential services is worried, it is important you listen to the reasons for their concerns. If they have genuine concerns for their health due to a pre-existing health condition, or may be more vulnerable to infection for other reasons, we must try and resolve the concerns to protect their health and safety.

I need access to buildings or a laboratory for my research, can I still access this facility?

Research programmes should be conducted remotely where possible. Please refer to the FAQ I’m a researcher, what should I be doing?

However, we understand some research cannot be undertaken remotely and there may be a case for continuing essential research on campus, which requires access to campus facilities such as laboratories.

Decisions about which research will be able to continue during this time will be managed by individual departments, and Faculty Directors of Research and Innovation are cascading guidance to researchers and PGRs to advise on the process for this.

Should you have any questions about your research or access to research facilities during this time, contact your PI or supervisor in the first instance as soon as possible.

Do I need to review risk assessments for University activities under my control?   

You should review your risk assessments for University activities under your control. Particular consideration should be given to the impact of reduced levels of staff on campus, and the limiting of access to buildings. The Health and Safety Department have put together the following document to provide some additional considerations.

All essential activities that need to be undertaken on campus are being risk assessed by managers. This encompasses things such as safe lone working, fire evacuation and mitigating risks of COVID-19 infection through social distancing, as well as all the usual health and safety considerations that are relevant for the activity. All managers have a legal duty to consider the health and safety of their staff and students.

Campus access

Can I still access campus buildings or University services?

From 12 noon, 20 March 2020, University buildings have been closed and we are now operating our out-of-hours procedures for access to our buildings, similar to the approach we take during Christmas and for Bank Holidays. Please note, however, that there are some separate arrangements in place at the AMRC.

If you need to access a building, for example to collect belongings or equipment, you will require out-of-hours authorisation access on your UCard. To seek authorisation you first need to complete the out-of-hours training and then request the authorisation via the EFM helpdesk. This will require approval by a head of department or their delegate. Due to high demand, this may take up to 24 hours to process.

For your information, the following sites, facilities and services are currently closed in line with government guidance:

  • Sport Sheffield facilities closed from 17 March 2020. This includes the gym, pool and all bookable sports facilities.
  • All library sites closed from Wednesday 18 March 2020 with learning supported through a full range of online resources.
  • The vehicle hire service available from Central Transport has been suspended until further notice.
  • The AMRC Training Centre is also closed in line with government advice, the apprentices are returning to their companies and following the advice and guidance in place there.
    The rest of the AMRC buildings are accessible and the teams there are working on minimum staffing levels and taking into consideration social distancing guidance. Buildings are only being kept open where essential and will be reviewed as the government advice is updated.

Please note that in an effort to support NHS workers at nearby hospitals, we have taken the decision to reserve all Arts Tower car parking spaces for front line NHS staff only.

If your role requires you to access the main campus facilities and you have previously had card access approved for the Arts Tower car park, please use the nearest available alternative University car park. Permits are not required in this instance.

What happens to University post whilst the buildings are closed?

Please find arrangements for the handling of university post as of 26 March 2020:

Incoming and outgoing mail

  • Mail will be collected from the Royal Mail sorting office on Tuesday and Thursday
  • Colleagues will be able to collect their departmental mail from 5 Favel Road between 9-11am on those days only
  • They may also drop mail for franking and/or redistribution at that time
  • There will be a Royal Mail collection on those days for outgoing mail
  • Any mail not collected will be retained and placed in secure storage until normal distribution is possible

Direct departmental courier deliveries – non-specialist items

  • Colleagues expecting such items should contact the courier directly to redirect the package to their current working location

Deliveries of hazardous or specialist materials, such as temperature sensitive materials or delivery of large pieces of equipment

  • Faculties and departments expecting such deliveries should make their own arrangements for these shipments to be delivered to their own faculty stores, and only if items are essential to support critical activities
  • In the first instance, local faculty stores should be contacted to confirm their individual operating arrangements prior to any orders being placed with suppliers, especially in Medical School, Chemistry, Engineering and Animal and Plant Sciences
  • In cases where materials are anticipated but not essential, faculty colleagues must make alternative arrangements with the supplier to either suspend delivery, or revise the delivery schedule to coincide with the current arrangements of local faculty stores
Do you have any information about public transport?

Public transport in Sheffield is currently operating with reduced timetables. If you need to use public transportation, we advise you adhere to the government guidance on social distancing and try to travel at quieter times of day, or where possible use other forms of transportation.

  • Most buses are running daily services using a Saturday timetable (Sunday is normal).
  • Some bus routes are running additional early morning buses.
  • Tram routes are running to a reduced timetable. Routes will be shorter after 9pm.
  • Printed timetables and real time information screens at bus stops, tram stops and interchanges may not be showing accurate information at this time.

See the latest public transport timetable updates below:

Timetables for buses in South Yorkshire
Supertram timetables
Rail timetables

Regular updates will be communicated on Twitter at TSYalerts which is staffed daily between 8am and 6pm. Information can also be obtained by phoning Traveline on 01709 51 51 51 (open daily between 8am and 6pm) or on Typetalk for deaf or hard of hearing on 0114 272 2878.

Events

What is the current advice about hosting or attending events?

In line with government advice, all centrally planned University events between now and May have either moved online where possible or have been cancelled.

Any events being organised by faculties and departments should also be reviewed and we would recommend that they also be moved online, cancelled or postponed. We will regularly be reviewing planned future events as the situation develops.

We recognise that currently there are some recruitment open days scheduled for June and July and we will issue further guidance on these in due course.