Advice for staff

Whether you have continued to work on campus as a critical worker, you are returning to campus, or are working remotely, we are committed to supporting you and our top priority is your health and safety. Please find below key information for this period of ongoing change caused by Covid-19.

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

If you need support of any kind please do talk to your line manager or contact the staff helpline and counselling service. You can also find mental health and wellbeing support on our wellbeing web pages.

Return to campus / autumn term 2020

Our autumn term web pages are home to the latest information about how we're preparing a Covid-secure campus for staff and students, including how we're adapting our teaching and making the campus a safe place to live and sudy.

On the information for staff page you'll find the latest information about our return to campus plans for different groups of staff, important updates about safety on campus, the latest updates for colleagues involved in learning and teaching and research, support for remote working, and links to the latest all-staff emails about return to campus and autumn term planning. You'll also find a link to a shared drive housing relevant guidance documents.

Autumn term 2020 web pages

Information for staff section

University finances – including collective consultation and voluntary schemes

University finances

For an overview of our financial position and the steps we are taking to protect and improve our financial future, please visit our University finances web page. We will be updating this page over the coming weeks.

Collective consultation

A process of collective consultation is underway with our campus trade unions – UCU, UNISON, Unite and GMB. Collective consultation is a legal process that we must undertake if we are seeking to make collective changes to employment contracts, even on a temporary basis. Through a process of ongoing consultation and negotiation, we hope to be able to reach an agreement with campus trade unions on a package of measures we can take if our forecasts of significantly reduced income become a reality. The purpose of the consultation is to explore ways in which we could reduce our staff costs in the new financial year by making temporary changes to some of our terms and conditions of employment, if our financial position makes that necessary. For further information, visit our collective consultation web pages.

Voluntary schemes

We have launched a number of voluntary measures to support our long-term financial sustainability. These include a temporary reduction in working commitment, the purchase of additional annual leave, a period of unpaid leave, or an unpaid career break. For more details visit our voluntary schemes web pages.

Childcare, pay and wellbeing

Childcare and working from home

We know that many colleagues continue to take on additional childcare responsibilities 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.

We also appreciate that during the upcoming school holidays the childcare provision available throughout is likely to be very limited. It may be possible for you to balance work and childcare in a different way over the summer, without the additional pressure of providing home schooling. However, you should be sensible about what can be achieved, and continue to look after your own wellbeing.

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.

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.

Childcare and annual leave over the summer

It is important that you take a break and use annual leave over the summer. We expect that many of you will have been planning to use annual leave to look after your children anyway, even if plans for travelling for a holiday may have been cancelled. We encourage you to continue to take your planned leave, and book further if you wish to spend more time off work.

Your pay

We will 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.

Annual leave

Even though you may not be physically attending work at the University, you can and should continue to book annual leave when you wish to take time off. It’s really important that you do what you can to take care of your wellbeing and take time away from work where possible. This is especially important in the current situation, where remote working and constant access to technology, blur the home/work boundaries.Please book your leave in the normal way via myJob for approval by your line manager.

We are also temporarily increasing the amount of leave that you can request to carry forward from five to ten days, subject to approval by your manager in the normal way.

In addition, as part of a range of voluntary schemes, for the leave year 2020-21 we have increased the maximum additional annual leave that can be bought to 20 days.

Volunteering

If you have any questions about volunteering during work hours please speak to your line manager or your HR team

Casual workers

Casual workers who are able to perform their duties from home, and who are still offered work by the University, should continue to undertake this work and will be paid in the normal way.

If you're in this position and contract coronavirus, or live with someone who has, you will be paid in full for any scheduled work during your period of self isolation.

At the beginning of April the University made a commitment to support casual workers who have worked regularly for the University, but are no longer offered work, through the Government's Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme until the end of the spring semester on 13 June. Casual staff who have a written agreement for work beyond this date should contact casualworkers@sheffield.ac.uk for further advice.

Unless otherwise agreed, casual staff who have been on furlough leave up until 13 June, will no longer be classed as furloughed from this date and can therefore undertake work for the University as and when it is offered without giving prior notification to HR.

Car parking

If you are authorised to work on campus, you may park without a permit or need to pay in any open category B car park, except the Arts Tower which is currently reserved for NHS Staff. We will keep these arrangements under review and let you know when any changes are made.

For those colleagues who pay monthly for car parking permits via salary deduction, payments were suspended from 1 April 2020. (Note: We are not able to stop payments until May because of payroll deadlines. Therefore, to compensate for the month of April affected colleagues will not be charged for the first month of parking when we return to working on campus).

University mail

Incoming and outgoing mail

  • Mail will be collected from the Royal Mail sorting office on Tuesday and Thursdays
  • 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
Safety net policy / exam timetables

Given the exceptional circumstances in which exams and assessments have taken place, we took the decision to implement a safety net policy. For further information, visit the examination and assessment resources for staff web page. We also have a dedicated web page for students. This includes details about how the safety net is calculated, where the safety net policy applies, FAQs and a quick guide infographic.

To check on the status of examinations visit this timetable for updates.


Information for international colleagues:

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

If you had a visa that expired between 24 January 2020 and 31 July 2020 you were able to request an extension if you were not able to return home because of travel restrictions or self-isolation related to coronavirus (COVID-19).

On 30 July 2020 the Home Office announced individuals will no longer be able to extend their visa automatically as travel restrictions are lifting globally and individuals are now expected to take all reasonable steps to leave the UK where it is possible to do so or apply to regularise their stay in the UK.

However, to allow time to make the necessary arrangements to leave the UK, if you have a visa or leave that was due to expire between the 24 January 2020 and 31 August 2020, the Home Office guidance sets out that you will be able to stay within the UK to 31 August 2020. You do not need to contact the Home Office to tell them you are able to leave the UK during the grace period up until the 31 August.

If you intend to leave the UK but are not able to do so by 31 August 2020, you may request additional time to stay, also known as ‘exceptional indemnity’, by contacting the coronavirus immigration team (CIT). The indemnity does not grant you leave but will act as a short-term protection against any adverse action or consequences after your leave has expired.

The Coronavirus Immigration Team will provide you with further advice on what you need to do to request an indemnity. This will include providing details of the reason why you are unable to leave the UK and supporting evidence, for example, a confirmed flight ticket with a date after 31 August or confirmation of a positive coronavirus test result.

The Coronavirus Immigration Team will provide you with further advice on what you need to do to request an indemnity. This will include providing details of the reason why you are unable to leave the UK and supporting evidence, for example, a confirmed flight ticket with a date after 31 August or confirmation of a positive coronavirus test result.

We understand staff may feel anxious at this time.  Please note, the staff helpline and counselling service can be accessed up to three months after leaving the University and may provide a source of support and practical advice.

The University also has a free legal helpline hosted by immigration specialists Eversheds Sutherland to provide immigration advice to staff. It will be open for 20-minute individual appointments on Wednesdays between 12 and 2pm.

To request an appointment, please email internationalstaff@sheffield.ac.uk with the subject ‘Appointment with Eversheds Sutherland required’ and include your name and department in the email along with a preferred date and time. The appointment will be held via video call.

Am I still complying with the terms of my visa if I am working from home?

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 via line managers who should then notify Human Resources.

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 this here.

There can be no charge made to an overseas visitor for the diagnosis or treatment of coronavirus (COVID-19).

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

  • No charges apply to testing for COVID-19, even if the result is negative, or to any treatment provided for COVID-19 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 COVID-19.
Can I return to my country of nationality/permanent residence if this is not the UK?

The Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) have advised against all but essential international travel, however there are exempt destinations that no longer pose an unacceptably high risk.

The University has issued guidance on international travel and this should be considered as part of any decision making process in your department.

There remains a high risk of travel disruption which could prevent your return to the UK. This could have further implications for visa nationals. If you have a visa to work for the University you should contact your Faculty HR Team prior to travelling so that the current Home Office provisions (if any) can be considered at that time to ensure you are clear about any potential issues e.g. if your visa was to expire whilst overseas.

The Government travel advice should be followed before any travel overseas as well as the advice of the country you are travelling to.

You should also check the latest government guidance on returning travellers before making arrangements to travel overseas, and ensure your line manager is aware of that advice when they are considering your request to book annual leave.  

From 8th June there are rules in place for entering the UK. These mean you must:

  • Provide your journey and contact details up to 48 hours before you’re due to arrive in the UK
  • Not leave the place you’re staying for the first 14 days you’re in the UK except in very limited situations (known as ‘self-isolating’) unless you are returning from one of the ‘travel corridor’ countries which have been exempted from the quarantine measures with effect from 10th July.  An up to date list of travel corridor countries can be found on the government website

For staff who have chosen to take a holiday overseas, they should seek prior agreement to work from home during the self-isolation period. If working from home can not be accommodated then they should book further annual leave or take unpaid leave. Please note this may have implications for staff on tier 2 visas and advice should be sought from HR before any unpaid leave is taken.

The government guidance on how to self isolate when travelling to the UK can be found here

I am travelling to the UK from overseas.  What are the travel quarantine rules?

The COVID-19 pandemic continues to affect foreign travel plans, whether for work or leisure purposes. The advice of the Foreign & Commonwealth Office remains that British nationals should avoid all but essential international travel, and should not travel if they have COVID-19 symptoms.

From 8 June new rules were imposed at the UK border. These rules were updated on 10 July. The rules mean you must:

  • Provide your journey and contact details up to 48 hours before you’re due to arrive in the UK
  • Not leave the place you’re staying for the first 14 days you’re in the UK except in very limited situations (known as ‘self-isolating’) unless you are returning from one of the ‘travel corridor’ countries which have been exempted from the quarantine measures.  An up to date list of travel corridor countries can be found on the government website

When returning from overseas you are advised to check the latest government guidance on returning travellers, and from Public Health England for more information.  The rules are set to  be reviewed every 21 days.  More detailed information about the current rules can be found below.

If you are working from home you should still be able to do so whilst self isolating under these rules.

If you have returned to campus work, then before taking a holiday overseas you should discuss with your manager whether arrangements can be put in place for you to work from home during the period of self isolation.  In the event this can not be accommodated then  further annual leave or unpaid leave will need to be taken for the period of self isolation.

What passenger information must be supplied?

On arrival in the UK,individuals will be required to complete an online passenger locator form providing details of their journey, contact information and the address where they will be self-isolating. The list of passenger information which must be supplied includes: their passport number; travel operator and booking reference; expected date and time of arrival; the name and telephone number of an emergency contact.

This information can be completed online up to 48 hours before arrival, but evidence of completion must be retained as an Immigration Officer may request to see it. However where an individual arrives at a place staffed by Immigration Officers, they will be able to complete the form electronically on their arrival in England. Assistance will then be available for completion of the electronic form, if necessary. Completion of a new form is also required if there are any changes to the passenger information.

When is someone required to self-isolate?

From 10 July 2020 you will have to self-isolate when you arrive in England, unless:

This applies to all travel to England, by train, ferry, coach, air or any other route. If you have been to, or stopped in a country that’s not on the travel corridors exemption list you will have to self-isolate until 14 days have passed since you left that country.

Does this impact those coming as academic visitors?

It is unlikely that the University will be receiving external visitors, including for example external examiners, guest lecturers, academic visitors or sponsored researchers.  Where such visits are taking place then those individuals will be subject to the same requirements as other travellers to the UK and will be expected to isolate for 14 days unless arriving from a travel corridor country.

Whilst these requirements are in place there may be serious challenges in respect of visits to the University as in most cases such social isolation will not be possible or desirable within a business context. We recommend that any intention to visit the UK for a period shorter than 14 days is reconsidered because of this.

What practical changes can be expected at UK airports?

Entry to the UK is now an automated process for travellers who enter using the E-gates system. Whilst visa application forms now contain questions about how the traveller will self-isolate, it is not clear whether passengers will be examined about this on entry, or if there will be any follow-up checks conducted by the UK’s immigration officials to ensure these rules are being maintained (see below). Enforcing the requirements would require dramatic changes to border control, causing considerable delay.

What about travel arrangements to the self-isolation location?

On arrival to the UK, individuals are required to travel immediately to their self-isolation location, unless an overnight stay is necessary.

The Government’s advice is to travel by public transport only if there is no other option available. Face coverings are now mandatory on public transport.  

What will self-isolation mean in practice?

The Government’s guidance “Coronavirus (COVID-19): how to self-isolate when you travel to the UK” clarifies this, stating: “You cannot go out to work or school or visit public areas. You should not go shopping. If you require help buying groceries, other shopping or picking up medication, you should ask friends or relatives or order a delivery. In England, you must only exercise within your home or garden. You cannot leave your home to walk your dog. You will need to ask friends or relatives to help you with this”.

There are some limited exceptions to this, for example, if the person who is self-isolating needs urgent medical assistance or there is an emergency.

Unless the person who is self-isolating develops COVID-19 symptoms, anyone with whom they are staying (who was not also their travelling companion) will not need to self-isolate.

How will these rules be enforced?

As of 8 June, an individual may be issued with a fixed penalty notice of £100 in the first instance, for contravening the passenger information obligations. However there is scope for this penalty to be increased, incrementally, up to £3,200 for repeated or wilful failures to provide the required information. In England, if a person does not self-isolate, they can be fined £1,000, or may face further action.

The Border Force will have the power to refuse entry to non-UK citizens who do not comply with the Travel Quarantine Regulations. The Government has also said individuals could be contacted regularly during the 14-day isolation period, in addition to random spot checks taking place.

The devolved administrations are determining their own enforcement measures which will apply in Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland.

I am out of the country and currently sponsored under a Tier 2 visa. Are there any implications I need to consider e.g. the impact on my eligibility for Indefinite Leave to Remain?

You should consider the risk of travel disruption which could prevent your planned return to the UK as this could have could have further implications on:

a) your right to work in the UK if your visa was to expire whilst overseas

b) your eligibility for Indefinite Leave to Remain. Under the normal immigration rules there is a 180 day limit on absences from the UK in any continuous 12 month period of the 5 year qualifying period.

The Home Office has not provided any specific guidance at this stage on how it will treat absences from the UK that are due to the coronavirus outbreak and that exceed the requirements for Indefinite Leave to Remain applications.

Please contact your Faculty HR Adviser to discuss your specific circumstances and the current Home Office guidance can be checked at that time.

What support is available for international staff?

We understand this may be a worrying time for international staff with families across the globe. The University has sources of support for international staff including:

Is there any financial support to help international staff visa costs?

Yes, the University will reimburse the visa application cost for the main applicant for the following in country visa applications:

  • Tier 2 extension application costs
  • Tier 2 switching to Tier 2 application costs
  • Tier 4 switching to Tier 2 application costs
  • Tier 1 visa applications
  • Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR) for existing Tier 1 and Tier 2 visa holders

The University will also reimburse the Immigration Health Surcharge for the main applicant of a Tier 1 or Tier 2 visa.

Full details of the scheme and how to apply can be found here: Visa Reimbursement Scheme

The University also provides an interest free loan scheme to help reduce the financial impact of Tier 1, Tier 2 and ILR (for existing Tier 2 holders) visa application costs that are not covered by the reimbursement scheme.

The loan can be used to help spread the impact of visa application and Immigration Health Surcharge for dependents.

The Visa Loan Scheme can also be used to help spread the application costs of dependents applying for the EU Settlement Scheme while ever there is a cost for this application.

Details of the scheme and an affordability assessment can be found here: Visa Loan Scheme.

My contract is being extended will I need to apply for a new Tier 2 visa?

If your contract of employment is extended the University will issue you with a new Certificate of Sponsorship and you should still make your application for a Tier 2 visa online in the normal way.

However, UK Visa and Citizenship Application Centres (UKVCAS) and Service and Support Centres (SSCs) are operating only a limited service because of coronavirus (COVID-19) so new biometrics appointments can not currently be made.

You can start work before your visa application has been decided if:

  • You have been assigned a Certificate of Sponsorship (CoS)
  • You submitted your application before your current visa expired and the University has evidence of this
  • The job you start is the same as the one listed on your CoS

The University also has a package of financial support which you can access to recover the costs of your own application, and to help you with the costs of dependents applications.

Can I still make an application for Indefinite Leave to Remain whilst Life in the UK Test Centres are closed?

There is now a phased resumption of services from UK Visa and Citizenship Application Centres (UKVCAS), Service and Support Centres (SSCs), ‘Life in the U.K.’ and English Language test centres. Those who had made appointments previously will be rescheduled as a priority over new appointments. Anyone needing to make a new appointment will need to wait until these become available.

Please do not wait for centres to re-open before applying. It is important to submit your application whilst you still have valid leave to remain as this means you continue to be lawfully in the UK whilst waiting for an appointment. During that time the same conditions of stay will remain in force.

Whilst test centres are closed we understand the UKVI is deferring consideration of applications which require a test to be completed and applicants will be given the opportunity to submit these when available. If you are unable to book a test we would suggest that, with the application, you include evidence of the deferral of the test (this will be generated by trying to book one) and a separate letter which explains the circumstances and why the test certificate is missing from the application.

Your Faculty HR Team will ask for confirmation that your application has been made before the expiry date of your current visa to provide evidence of your ongoing right to work in the UK.

I am sponsored under Tier 2 and have been furloughed. Will this affect my immigration status?

The UKVI have issued guidance to sponsors that confirms Tier 2 staff may be placed on ‘furlough leave’ for a period of time until they are able to return to their jobs and this will have no impact on their status as long as they receive 80% of their salary or £2,500 per month, whichever is the lower.

Staff on furlough leave from the University of Sheffield are continuing to be paid 100% of their salary.

When will the UKVI resume services to enable visa applications to progress in the UK and overseas?

Application and Service Centres in the UK

UK Visa and Citizenship Application Centres (UKVACS) have started a phased resumption of services. You can check which UKVCAS centres are open.

Service and Support Centres (SSCs) are offering a reduced number of appointments because of coronavirus. As more appointments are made available UKVI will invite you to arrange an appointment by email or post.

If you have already made an appointment to attend a UKVACS or SSC that was temporarily closed the UKVI will have contacted you to let you know it has been postponed. You will be contacted when you can book a new appointment.

Your immigration status in the UK will not change as a result of you not being able to attend an appointment.

For new staff outside of the UK

There will be changes at the border because of coronavirus. Please check what you need to do before you travel.

From 8th June there are rules in place for entering the UK. These mean you must:

  • Provide your journey and contact details up to 48 hours before you’re due to arrive in the UK
  • Not leave the place you’re staying for the first 14 days you’re in the UK except in very limited situations (known as ‘self-isolating’) unless you are returning from one of the ‘travel corridor’ countries which have been exempted from the quarantine measures with effect from 10th July.  An up to date list of travel corridor countries can be found on the government website

The government guidance on how to self isolate when travelling to the UK can be found here.

Some UK Visa Application Centres (VACs) are resuming services, where local restrictions allow. For updates to the status of VACs in your country, contact:

  • TLS contact if you’re in Europe, Africa and parts of the Middle East
  • VFS global for all other countries

Ongoing global restrictions mean some UKVI services will remain closed. Contact your local VAC to find out the latest status. Where services are resuming, existing customers will be contacted.

Some English Testing Centres are also resuming services. Visit the International English Language Testing System (IELTS)’s website, the Pearson Test of English website or the LanguageCert website or contact your test centre for more information on where centres are reopening and how you can book your Secure English Language Test.

Getting your documents

Due to worldwide border, travel and public health restrictions it may not be possible to return your passport at this time. Contact the VAC where you logged your application to see if courier return is available in your location.

Where can I find more information?

You can find out more information via the following links:

Whilst they ask that customers first check the above government guidance, the UKVI has a dedicated team for customers with immigration queries related to COVID-19. This includes questions about urgent, compelling and compassionate cases:

  • Call the Home Office Coronavirus Immigration Helpline on 0800 678 1767 (open Monday to Friday, 9am to 5pm – calls are free of charge if made from within the UK); or
  • Email CIH@homeoffice.gov.uk
I am an international staff member and as part of my role 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 possible.

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 on our finance web pages.

Staff currently working overseas should follow local health advice.

It is also recommended that you:

  • Sign up for travel advice alerts from the FCO relating to your overseas location, and your normal ‘home location’, if applicable
  • Ensure you register at your local embassies/foreign offices to make sure that you are accounted for, added to any communication lists, and easily located if needed

If you are returning from overseas travel, you should follow the government guidance on returning travellers, and from Public Health England for more information.

From 8th June there are rules in place for entering the UK. These mean you must:

  • Provide your journey and contact details up to 48 hours before you’re due to arrive in the UK
  • Not leave the place you’re staying for the first 14 days you’re in the UK except in very limited situations (known as ‘self-isolating’) unless you are returning from one of the ‘travel corridor’ countries which have been exempted from the quarantine measures with effect from 10th July.  An up to date list of travel corridor countries can be found on the government website

The government guidance on how to self isolate when travelling to the UK can be found here. If staff have been overseas on University business, they will be paid in full during the self-isolation period, and encouraged to work from home.

If you have a visa to work for the University please ensure your Faculty HR Team is aware you are overseas. You should ensure you return to the UK before your current visa expires unless travel restrictions prevent this. If you think your visa could expire whilst you are out of the UK it is important you contact your Faculty HR Team so that the current Home Office provisions can be considered at that time.

The Home Office has not provided any specific guidance at this stage on how it will treat absences from the UK that are due to the coronavirus outbreak and that exceed the requirements for Indefinite Leave to Remain applications. Under the normal immigration rules there is a 180 day limit on absences from the UK in any 12 month period of the 5 year qualifying period.