Advice for staff

Latest information

Updated Thursday 28 May

  • New FAQs and updates to existing ones have been made to the information for international colleagues section. This includes support available to colleagues, visa guidance in relation to working from home and information about accessing NHS services.
  • Updates have also been added to the working remotely section to the FAQs, I am working abroad, is there any action I need to take? and Can I travel internationally for work?

Updated Thursday 21 May

  • A new set of FAQs about plans for teaching in 2020-21 has been added.

Updated Monday 18 May

  • A new set of FAQs about University finances has been added.
  • Updated information has been added to the recovery planning FAQs. Please note that this includes the important reminder that for the time being access to campus remains restricted to people identified as critical workers.

On this page you will find advice and information about coronavirus (Covid-19) and its impact on how we are working as a University.

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:


Plans for teaching in 2020-21

How will we deliver learning and teaching from September?

As we expect social distancing measures to be in place for several months, we are considering a range of options for how we can best deliver our courses from the autumn.

With this in mind, we are planning on the basis that traditional large taught sessions, for example lectures, will be replaced by digital delivery. We anticipate that teaching face-to-face in smaller groups will be possible, and these will need to be appropriately adapted to ensure social distancing is maintained.

Work is underway to determine suitable approaches to ensure we can deliver our high quality teaching and learning experience in a safe and appropriate way. As part of this work we are looking at how we determine the criteria required to have face-to-face teaching sessions, and covering considerations that are particularly important for subjects that rely on practical teaching and field trips.

We will keep staff, returning and prospective students updated as our plans progress.

When will further information be available so that I can start making arrangements?

We appreciate that detailed guidance is vital for your planning and we are aiming to release further details in due course.

We will continue to keep you updated when we have more details about our approach for learning and teaching from September, what this may look like for particular courses, and how this fits with our overall recovery planning and your safe return to work on campus.

We are also working with Covid-19 planning groups across the Sheffield City region to ensure we have the latest thinking on what measures may be in place, understand the alert level and its implications, and how critical infrastructure may be operating as staff and students safely return to campus.

How will the combination of face-to-face and digital delivery impact on teaching / the student experience?

Our key strength in attracting students is our reputation for research-led programmes designed by experts in their field and delivered by highly competent teams. We have already seen the adaptability of our teaching staff, professional service teams and, of course, our students, in switching to a digital learning experience and that gives us confidence that the same innovative and creative approaches to learning will deliver high quality courses in a blended digital/face-to-face environment.

To support staff to maintain the highest standards of teaching, the Elevate team is preparing a comprehensive package of support to help staff plan for remote and blended teaching in September. This will include a mixture of online resources, 1:1/small group support sessions, and webinars to give staff the tools, knowledge and confidence to teach in different ways while maintaining quality and student connectedness.

This approach will be more challenging for some programmes than others, are you considering different approaches for different areas?

Some programmes will naturally lend themselves to online or blended delivery more easily than others. It is recognised that for some programmes, such as those with significant elements of laboratory or practical teaching, the restrictions that are likely to be in place in September will pose particular challenges.

Similarly, for programmes that attract high numbers of overseas students there may be a need for some departments to deliver teaching to students based remotely at the same time as to students based in Sheffield (recognising that some countries may not permit travel to the UK for the start of term). We know that there will be no one-size-fits-all solution and will work with departments to plan for these challenges.

What health and safety measures will be in place for any face-to-face teaching on campus?

Plans for face-to-face teaching will be considered as part of our wider recovery planning and our priority will be the safety and wellbeing of our staff and students. We are looking at how different groups of colleagues might safely return to work on campus at the appropriate times and in line with government guidelines.

As further guidance is released, we are working through a range of considerations - including room set ups, entry and exit routes, travel restrictions and PPE requirements - which are complex and interlinked. In order to allow for a safe and responsible return to campus, we will need to consider the implications of local decisions / needs in the context of the wider campus. These plans are being drawn up and we will share further details with you in due course.

What have our prospective and returning students been told about these plans?

We are contacting prospective home undergraduate, home postgraduate and international students to outline our planning for September and have prepared a new set of student FAQs on this topic.

We will also be directing applicants to our Explore Sheffield web pages: https://www.sheffield.ac.uk/study/explore where they can find out more about what’s in store and what makes the Sheffield experience so special.

We are also sharing the plans with our returning students and asking them for feedback on their experiences of digital learning so far. We can then use this feedback to help inform our approach.

University finances

What is the University’s current financial position?

As is the case for all universities, the Covid-19 pandemic has had a significant impact on both our current income and our financial forecasts for the next academic year.

Since we closed University buildings in March, we have lost over £10 million in income from student residences, conferences, catering and sports activities. We have also seen some pauses in research income from funders.

While these losses are significant, from the measures we have already taken, the University has been able to manage them well and it is our projections for next year that need greater attention.

What are our financial projections for the next academic year?

Our latest financial forecasts show that, prior to Covid-19, we expected to receive £780 million of income during the next academic year. This would be made up of £346 million of course fees, £87 million of funding council grants, £238 million of research grant income and £110 million of other income. Of the £346 million of course fees, £177 million relates to international student fees.

Although we are receiving an encouraging level of international student applications, we are aware that the Covid-19 pandemic may impact on a student’s ability to travel to the UK for study, which may in turn affect their decisions. There is also a risk that some home students may choose to defer study as a result of the pandemic.

If these students are not on campus we will also see reductions to residential, catering and sports income. Although actual recruitment in September may differ from these figures, they do show the large amount of income at risk.

Has the University looked at different financial scenarios for the next academic term?

Yes, we have looked at two potential recruitment scenarios.

Firstly - no international students study at the University, broadly the same as only 50 per cent of total tuition fees received. This results in a £162 million reduction in cash received.

Secondly – 50 per cent of the international intake and 25 per cent of the Home/EU new intake are not recruited. This results in £70 million reduction to our cash received.

In addition to these income reductions we would also see a loss of income from residences, catering and sports activities.

What steps has the University taken to improve its financial position so far?

Due to the high level of uncertainty and potentially high value of this potential loss of income, we have introduced a number of immediate measures to build our cash balances as much as possible.

These include:

  • All new staff posts or extensions to existing staff contracts will be reviewed and approved by a new Recruitment Advisory Panel chaired by the Deputy Vice-Chancellor.
  • Non-pay expenditure is restricted to essential spend only. We have a task and finish group working on guidance for colleagues which will be available at the end of this month. Until this guidance is released please only commit expenditure if it is absolutely essential and essential that it is required now.
  • Capital projects have been paused and are restricted to projects with contractual obligations only.
  • We have reviewed and made changes to our reward and recognition process for 2020. More information will be shared with you soon.
  • We are accessing available government support through the Job Retention Scheme, advance payments from the Student Loans Company, and the Quality Research payments. We are keeping under review the need to apply for the Covid-19 Corporate Financing Facility, a scheme to help large businesses affected by coronavirus (Covid-19) through the purchase of their short-term debt. This is not an immediate requirement for us as we have a revolving credit facility already in place.
  • We are looking at the areas where we can increase student numbers by up to five per cent as part of the conditions announced around the new cap on student recruitment for 2020-21.
  • We are also engaging with the government around the opportunities for further support for crucial research.

Alongside this, we will start to prepare further actions that could be taken to mitigate a £100 million shortfall in income. This work is being progressed and we will keep you informed as plans develop.

How can I help support the University to achieve a sustainable financial position?

It is really important that in all that you do that you consider what is and isn’t essential to spend. Your efforts to do this so far are really appreciated; please continue as this will make a significant difference.

Depending on your role, you can also help by supporting key activities such as developing the best online education possible, creating a safe campus and letting students know how committed we are to their education, development and graduate opportunities. Acting as advocates and promoting the University in the best possible way will help to maintain our position as a globally-leading university.

There has already been a fantastic effort from colleagues across the University to develop and deliver student recruitment activity online. We really must continue to prioritise this work given the potential high loss of income in this area.

Recovery planning

Can I return to campus?

Not at this time. Access to buidlings remains restricted to those people who have been identified as carrying out business critical work or providing essential services on campus. This includes 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. It also relates to the maintance of some technical equipment that cannot be shut down. 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. Please also read the business-critical staff section below.

Please note however that for the Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre (AMRC) and Nuclear Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre (NAMRC), specific guidance is in place for work on projects which are supporting critical supply chains in the manufacturing sector. A small group of staff at the NAMRC began returning to work from 11 May. This is part of a phased approach to reopening facilities and adheres to government guidelines for the manufacturing sector. A similar approach will be taken at the AMRC. Thorough risk assessments are in place.

The government has said that people can begin to return to work if they cannot work from home, what does this mean for me?

On Sunday 10 May, the Prime Minister Boris Johnson outlined the government’s plans and next steps to the UK’s response to the coronavirus pandemic. He said that if you can't work from home you could return to your normal place of work, if it is safe to do so. However, for the time being University guidance remains unchanged and only people who have been identified as critical workers should be coming to campus.

What plans are in place for a safe return to working on campus?

We have started to work through the practicalities around recovery planning, looking at how different groups of colleagues might safely return to work on campus at the appropriate times and in line with government guidelines. All decisions we take around any return to working on campus will be guided by the following key principles:

  • All staff who are able to work from home should continue to do so.
  • The safety and wellbeing of our staff is paramount, and we will follow the government's 'Covid-19 secure' guidelines to protect people and create a safe place to work.
  • We will seek to have as few people as possible on campus, while still operating safely.
  • We will be guided by our shared values of inclusivity, collegiality, fairness and compassion, taking into account childcare, other responsibilities and personal factors.
  • Any research activity restarting on campus will be compliant with the framework being developed.

Research and lab work

For those who are unable to work from home, and in particular for some research and lab work that has been severely impacted by the pandemic, we are urgently looking at suitable approaches to allow a phased return.

We have also set up a new sub-group of the Covid-19 Incident Management Team to establish a framework for undertaking research activity safely and with due consideration to diversity and wellbeing.

In addition, Professors Sue Hartley, Vice-President for Research, and Dave Petley, Vice-President for Innovation, are developing a set of strategic organisational research priorities to inform in what order we should consider restarting such research. This prioritisation will then be applied at a faculty level to establish which specific research activity we should seek to restart and when. Where facilities and laboratories can open safely, we will enable a considered and phased approach to facilitate this.

Working remotely

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:

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.

If you experience problems with home broadband providers, try reducing simultaneous streaming of content, for example a video call at the same time as streaming TV programmes. This may help.

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.

Will the University cover the costs associated with working from home?

We recognise that the change to widespread working from home may lead to some concerns regarding associated expenses. Many colleagues will be using their own home equipment to access University services, and we are very grateful for your flexibility in these challenging times.

In general, most people are taking a pragmatic approach to expenses with an understanding they are not currently needing to pay out travel costs, and that their existing home arrangements for broadband, mobile phone plans etc are adequate to accommodate the University work they are now carrying out from home.

If you do not have the equipment you need to work from home, such as IT equipment or office equipment that you use at work as a result of a DSE assessment, you should discuss this with your line manager in the first instance. They may be able to make arrangements to purchase the equipment you need (in liaison with IT Services) or to arrange for it to be sent to you. You must not go to the campus to collect items from your office without following the process outlined in this document from Health & Safety.

If you find yourself in particular financial hardship and are struggling with any extra expenses incurred due to home working please speak with your line manager. They will be able to explore the option of temporary financial support to cover any additional work-related expenses that would not have been incurred under normal circumstances.

Expenses should only be used for equipment and supplies and should not be used to cover costs such as phone, broadband and utility bills.

HMRC does allow employees to claim tax relief on the expenses of working from home if they are required by their employer. Details of how to claim.

How can I collaborate with colleagues remotely?

IT Services has pages with information on how to hold virtual meetings.

Google Meet is the online collaboration tool recommended by the University that supports remote working (e.g. online meetings/video conferencing/screen sharing). A URL link to join Google Meet is automatically included with any Google Calendar Event you create.

Please note when arranging a Google Meet we recommend making your calendar event private, as this will ensure the link will only be seen by invitees, otherwise anyone who can access your diary can attend the meeting.

To maintain privacy please ensure you are comfortable with the background view those attending virtual meetings will have of your surroundings, e.g pictures, books, or items that might release personal or confidential information you would not want to share.

Zoom is not a recommended or supported collaboration tool you are advised to switch to Google Meet, see our pages with advice about using Zoom.

Google Chat is the 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. It can 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 see the IT Services pages.

Advice on information security

We are seeing a rise in sophisticated attacks targeting the higher education sector, playing on the fear and uncertainty surrounding the coronavirus pandemic.

To ensure we all have the skills and awareness to work safely, we now offer a short course on cyber safety that is regularly updated to include information about current threats and provides advice on how to stay safe from attackers which we strongly recommend you complete.

It is important to protect yourself, information, and your devices. You can find out more, verify information on any suspicious emails and get support on our working safely from home web 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 have a disability which is making working from home challenging, what should I do?

If you have a disability, mental or physical, the disruption caused by the requirement to work from home may be significant and be causing you a greater deal of anxiety than it may do for others. Please speak to your line manager to discuss any reasonable adjustments and additional support you feel you may need.

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 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.

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.

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 your faculty vice-president. Consideration should be given to whether or not you can achieve the objectives by alternative means (teleconferencing, video conferencing or delaying/varying travel plans).

Finance has 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 email the team at insurance@sheffield.ac.uk or call 0114 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.

Staff who have a visa to work for the University should seek advice in advance from their Faculty HR Team about any implications of international travel.

Furloughing

What does furlough mean?

Furlough in the United States refers to a form of temporary leave from employment due to special circumstances. The UK’s Chancellor utilised this term when confirming the arrangements to support employers during the Coronavirus pandemic.

The government Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (JRS) enables employers whose operations are very significantly affected by the pandemic to apply for a grant to cover a proportion of their employees’ wages during the crisis.

Why is the University furloughing staff?

Although as a University we remain open and are delivering many of our services in new and innovative ways, there are parts of the University which have been very significantly affected and have temporarily closed or reduced operations due to the pandemic and the lockdown measures currently in place.

These roles are all very valuable to the University, but the ability to carry them out has been temporarily but heavily impacted, which are the type of circumstances the JRS was introduced to address. The University is furloughing modest numbers of staff in these specific circumstances in order to support our financial position in light of the potential impact of the current crisis on student recruitment.

How has the University selected who to furlough?

We have carefully considered the terms of the scheme, the specific guidance which relates to our sector, and gathered input from departments and services on which roles may be eligible. All four of the below criteria need to apply in order for a role to be eligible for furlough:

  1. Work in an area where there has been a reduction in income or temporary cessation of funding due to the coronavirus pandemic.
  2. Work in a role that is not directly funded by public funding.
  3. Be unable to perform any work at home and/or perform a role that is not currently required or for which there is a reduced requirement.
  4. Will not be expected to undertake any work for the University until the lockdown ceases.
What happens if I don’t want to be furloughed?

The decision to take temporary furlough leave is a voluntary one and will not be imposed upon anyone. However, being able to claim back a proportion of the salary costs of those staff who are furloughed from the Government will help support the University’s longer-term financial health.

What does this mean for my employment at the University?

You remain employed by the University at all times while furloughed and your contract will be temporarily changed to reflect the fact that you are formally placed on furlough leave. You cannot undertake any work under the JRS, although you will keep receiving your full pay and the University will continue to pay its employer contributions into your pension. There are no other changes to the terms and conditions of your employment.

Does this mean that my role is redundant?

No. The decision to furlough roles is due to the immediate operational and financial challenges caused by the pandemic and is a short-term arrangement.

Does this mean my role is more likely to be made redundant in the future?

No. Your job security is unaffected by any decisions made now about which roles may be eligible for furlough.

Can I do any work while I’m furloughed?

No. You cannot do any work for the University while you are furloughed, or volunteer for duties such as Open Days which would benefit the University. This is a requirement of the government scheme.

Can I stay in touch with work colleagues?

Yes, please do maintain social contacts with work colleagues if you would like to.

How long is the furlough period?

The minimum amount of time that someone can be furloughed for is three weeks. The government’s scheme currently runs until 30 June 2020, although it could be extended. If you are furloughed you will receive written confirmation of the initial duration. Bear in mind that if necessary for operational reasons, the end date of the furlough could be brought forward at relatively short notice.

What happens at the end of the furlough period?

You will be expected to return to work on your contracted hours and your existing working pattern. Details will be confirmed prior to the furlough period ending and are clearly closely linked to the government’s position at that time on social distancing and working locations etc. We will give as much notice as we can of any change, but please be mindful that the situation regarding social distancing and lockdown has been changing rapidly at points in this crisis.

How does furlough affect my annual leave?

You will continue to accrue annual leave while you are furloughed. The position on taking annual leave remains the same as throughout the coronavirus pandemic - you should continue to use your annual leave and will not be able to carry forward more than the equivalent of a week’s annual leave into the 2020/21 leave year. We understand that because the University is topping up furlough pay to 100%, annual leave may not feel any different to furlough leave in the current circumstances. However, we are still encouraging furloughed staff to use their annual leave in this leave year, in the same way as people who are able to continue working.

Although the government has eased the restrictions on carry-over of statutory leave, this is aimed at key workers who are unable to take their leave due to their work in tackling the coronavirus pandemic. This will not apply to the majority of University staff, who remain able to take their leave, albeit they are not able to go away.

Can I undertake training during furlough leave?

Yes, government guidance says you can undertake training as long as you are not providing services or generating revenue for the University or any company linked to your employer.

Can apprentices continue their training?

Yes, apprentices can continue with their training. The Government is encouraging providers to deliver training to apprentices remotely and via e-learning as far as is possible, and this is the University’s expectation. If online provision was not possible, full consideration would first need to be given to health and safety issues including the risk assessments in place, individual risk factors and social distancing being maintained at all times.

I have been furloughed initially until the end of June. What happens from July?

The University has furloughed groups of staff until the initial end date of the scheme at the end of June. The Government announced on 13 May that the scheme will be extended on its current terms until the end of July, so depending on business needs at the time, the furlough arrangements may be extended until then. The Government is revising the scheme for the period August to October and we are expecting full guidance by the end of May. The University will consider its continued use of the scheme at that point.

What if the terms of the furlough scheme change later?

If the terms of the scheme change at a later date, and you are already on furlough leave, then we will write to you again, setting out the changes and inviting you to agree to the revised proposal. As with the current furlough leave terms, this will be entirely voluntary.

What happens if I become ill while I’m furloughed?

Please notify your manager if you are unwell in the usual way, and in particular if you are needing to self-isolate due to having coronavirus yourself, or because someone in your household has the virus. Depending on the circumstances, you may be able to remain furloughed, or move to being in receipt of your sick pay entitlements.

What happens to my pay?

There is no change to your pay, which the University will continue to administer as usual. The Government scheme funds up to 80 per cent of furloughed workers pay up to a maximum of £2,500 per month. However, the University has undertaken to fund the balance to continue paying you at 100 per cent. The benefit to the University is in being able to access a grant which covers 80 percent of the pay for furloughed workers.

What happens to my pension?

Both the pension contributions you make yourself, and the employer contributions the University makes on your behalf, are unaffected by furlough leave.

How will the University stay in touch with me while I am furloughed?

Your manager will maintain contact with you as appropriate/agreed during the furlough period and work with you about arrangements when it’s time to return.

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.

Volunteering

Can I volunteer during my work hours?

We are proud of how our staff and students have responded to the crisis and while we are generally supportive of our staff helping their community, this must not impact their ability to carry out their work commitments. The University remains open and we continue to deliver our services, albeit remotely for most. However, in these unprecedented times we are keen to be as flexible as we can to accommodate other responsibilities and commitments that you may have. If you are keen to volunteer and would need to do so at specific times, please have a discussion with your line manager in the first instance, to discuss how this would fit with your work commitments.

Can I volunteer while furloughed?

Yes - you can work and/or volunteer for other organisations while furloughed. However, you cannot carry out any paid or unpaid work for the University.

How can I volunteer to support the city-wide scheme that the University is part of?

Working closely with local organisations, such as Voluntary Action Sheffield, the Council and other City Partners, we are also looking to facilitate our support for locally where it is needed most. This includes offering volunteers from the University to carry out key services that may be under pressure as a result of the crisis.

Services across the city are currently coping well, but we are putting plans in place to respond quickly to future requests. As a first step, please complete this Google Form if you are interested in supporting the local response if needed. Registering your interest does not guarantee volunteering activities under this particular City wide scheme but should suitable opportunities arise you will be contacted with more information.

Emergency Volunteering Scheme

The Coronavirus Act 2020 introduced a new statutory emergency volunteering leave. The Act sets out provisions to allow workers to take unpaid leave in order to volunteer in relevant health and social care authorities.

What is Emergency Volunteering Leave (EVL)?

A Statutory right for individuals to take Emergency Volunteering Leave if they have specific health and social care skills in order to help support essential health and social care services. (It is not yet known when when this legislation will come into force.)

Who is entitled to take emergency volunteering leave?

Staff who have been certified with an ‘emergency volunteering certificate’ also known as an ‘EVC’ by an appropriate authority (the NHS Commissioning Board, Department Of Health or a local authority) to act as an emergency volunteer in health or social care can take emergency volunteering leave.

I volunteer or plan to volunteer in my own time. Does this apply to me?

No, this emergency volunteering leave only applies to staff who need to take time off for their volunteering commitments and are in receipt of the emergency volunteering certificate.

How much notice to my employer should I give?

You must give at least three working days advance notice in writing to your Head of Department and provide a copy of the emergency volunteering certificate to your Faculty or Professional Services HR Manager/Adviser.

How can emergency volunteering leave be taken?

It can be taken in blocks of two, three or four weeks and employees can take one period of leave in each ‘ volunteering period’. Initially as part of the EVL scheme employees are able to undertake one 16 week volunteering period, this may be extended if required.

Are emergency volunteers entitled to paid leave?

No, the right to Emergency Volunteering Leave is statutory unpaid leave. However The University of Sheffield is committed to supporting staff who have volunteered under this scheme and will continue to pay staff who undertake EVL and have submitted a copy of the necessary certification.

Will it affect my Contract at the University?

During a period of emergency volunteering leave, staff remain entitled to the benefit of all their terms and conditions of employment including pension which would have applied if they had not been absent. Staff will continue to accrue annual leave and should continue to take this during any period of volunteering where possible.

Will it affect my Pension?

No, your pension contributions will remain the same for the duration of any emergency volunteering leave.

Pay, recruitment and fixed-term contracts

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

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

For information about working from home, see the working location section below.

What is happening with strike pay deductions?

In February we agreed with the University and College Union (UCU) that strike pay deductions for the 14 days of action from 20 February to 13 March would be spread over March, April and May 2020. Please visit our industrial action FAQs for more information. Clearly, circumstances have changed significantly since this decision was made and we would like to start by thanking everyone for all the work that is being done in response to this unprecedented situation.

Nationally, UCU continues to call on its members to take action short of a strike (ASOS) until the end of April, in recognition that the disputes remain unresolved.

Whilst acknowledging that the disputes continue at a national level, we have appealed to our local branch to consider a cessation of the ASOS here in Sheffield to ensure that our collective efforts can be focused on ensuring that we are best able to withstand the challenges that we face now and those which lie ahead. In return for doing so we have offered to spread the remaining strike pay deductions, up to nine days, depending on participation, over the remaining four months of this financial year, April: two days, May: two days, June: two days and July: three days.

Unfortunately, UCU has advised us that, having considered our offer, they are not prepared to call off the ASOS and so the prevailing agreement with UCU will continue.

Deductions for the first five days of strike action (20-26 February) have continued in the March 2020 payroll as the processing had been completed prior to us having to vacate the University campus and run the payroll remotely. Further deductions, as agreed with UCU, will be made as follows; four days in April and five days in May payrolls.

Is the University still recruiting new staff?

Given the present uncertainty over the impact of coronavirus on future student recruitment, we have reviewed all pending staff recruitment activity to ensure that only essential recruitment activity proceeds. We are also introducing a new approvals process through which any proposed staff recruitment will be considered. Details of this process will be communicated to Heads of Department and managers and, if you have a role that you wish to recruit to, they will support you in managing the new approval process.

What is the process for Right to Work checks?

The Home Office have temporarily adjusted the right to work check process due to coronavirus to make it easier for employers to carry them out in these exceptional circumstances where:

  • Interviews may have been carried out remotely preventing the right to work check at that time
  • New staff may be self-isolating
  • Social distancing and/or home working arrangements make a face to face check impossible.

Further guidance on the process can be found on our recruitment web pages.

How can we arrange computer access for a new starter?

A computer account for new starters can be requested by their manager by completing a request form. The form can be found in IT Service Desk (self-service) on MUSE, select 'Service request (forms)' and you should find the 'New starters form'.

The form cannot be completed by the new starter themselves. The new starters form can also be used if a staff member is moving from one department to another.

What plans are in place for staff on fixed-term contracts?

We are aware of the contracts due to expire in the next few months and will be working with the relevant departments as a matter of urgency to review these roles and determine whether an extension should be applied. Decisions will be made on a case-by-case basis. For further information about your position, please contact your line manager in the first instance.

Annual leave

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 may not be physically attending work at the University. Booking annual leave should be done in the normal way via myJob for approval by your line manager. At the discretion of your Head of Department, you may be able to carry forward up to 5 days of unused annual leave (pro-rata for part-time staff).

The government has eased restrictions on the carry-over of statutory leave, can I now carry forward more than a week’s annual leave?

In general, no, you will not be able to carry forward more than the equivalent of a week’s annual leave into the 2020/21 leave year.

Although the government has eased the restrictions on carry-over of statutory leave, this is aimed at key workers who are unable to take their leave due to their work in tackling the coronavirus epidemic. The government has specified that the carry-over applies 'where it is not reasonably practicable for a worker to take some, or all, of the holiday to which they are entitled to, due to the coronavirus.' This will not apply to the majority of University staff, who remain able to take their leave, albeit they are not able to go away.

However, if you are unable to take your leave because you are a key worker, for example you are a clinical academic and have increased your hours working with the NHS and doing so prevents you being able to take time out from work on annual leave, then you should speak to your manager about leave carry over. HR will need to be informed of any agreements you reach.

For all other staff we would like to stress the importance of taking time away from work, especially during these challenging times, to look after your own physical and mental wellbeing.

Can I cancel annual leave that I have already booked?

You can ask your manager whether you can cancel your pre-booked annual leave, however it is unlikely that they will be able to agree to your request. We understand that many colleagues may have had to alter their plans and are now unable to use the annual leave they have booked for its original purpose. However, managers need to ensure that all their staff are able to use their annual leave during the current year and may not be able to accommodate individuals accruing large amounts of annual leave which may be difficult to approve later in the leave year.

Can I cancel unpaid leave that I have already booked?

You can ask your manager whether you can cancel unpaid leave, however they may be unable to agree to your request if you are at home and unable to work remotely.

I purchased additional leave. Can I cancel it?

If you have applied for up to five days additional leave between 1 April 2020 and 30 September 2020 you do have the option to withdraw you application as it hasn’t yet been processed by payroll. If you wish to do so, you must notify HR by 8 April.

Unfortunately, if you applied for up to ten days between 1 October 2019 and 30 September 2020, it is not possible to withdraw or cancel the additional leave you have yet to use. As a salary sacrifice agreement, this is subject to HMRC rules and therefore we are unable to refund for untaken leave.

In such circumstances, if you have been unable to take your additional leave in this leave year you can request to carry it forward to the next leave year. If your manager agrees to this then the amount of additional leave the you can purchase in the 2020-21 leave year must be balanced with the additional leave carried forward, with the two in combination not exceeding ten days, pro-rata for part-time colleagues.

Can the University be more flexible in its approach to annual leave and carry forward?

It is incredibly important that people take care of their wellbeing and take time away from work. We therefore want everyone to take annual leave during this difficult period and would encourage you all to switch off from work when on annual leave. This is especially important in the current situation, where remote working and constant access to technology, blur the home/work boundaries.

We are equally mindful about large amounts of annual leave being accrued to be taken later in the year. This will potentially be difficult to accommodate in the context of increased absence levels, and it may not be possible for managers to agree to leave requests as they need to prioritise service delivery and balance requests for all colleagues. It's therefore important to spread annual leave over the remainder of the leave year to ensure everyone can use their leave and have the time off they need.

Casual workers

I can work from home and continue to be offered work, should I carry on?

Yes, 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.

I have worked regularly for the University but am no longer being offered work, what support is available?

Eligibility for the Government's Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme

Casual workers who have worked regularly for the University, but are no longer offered work, will be eligible to apply to be designated as furloughed workers under the Government's Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme.

If you have been a regular casual worker for the University, you will be contacted via email over the next couple of weeks with further details. If you have not received an email by 15 April 2020, please email casualworkers@sheffield.ac.uk and we will reply as soon as possible.

By regular workers, we mean people who have been paid by the University for work in December 2019, January and February 2020 or January, February and March 2020. We know that staff who deliver casual teaching are unlikely to have worked in January and that's why we're including people who worked in December and February.

It is up to you whether you choose to apply to to the scheme. In reaching a decision you should consider how the payment may impact upon other sources of your income, for example if you are accessing Universal Credit.

How much will I be paid if I am designated as a furloughed worker?

If you have written confirmation of work that is no longer offered, the University will pay you in full for the work that was previously offered. Many casual workers will not have written confirmation of future work. In such cases, your payment will depend on your previous earnings. For non-contracted workers the Government Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme requires the monthly payment to be calculated using the greater of either the previous earnings in the corresponding month 12 months ago, for example for April a worker would be paid their earnings from the previous April, or an average of their earnings over the past 12 months.

The Government will pay a grant to employers of 80 per cent of the earnings for staff and workers furloughed under the scheme. The University has the option to top up this payment and will therefore do so.

Can I work if I am furloughed?

You cannot work at the University if you have been designated as furloughed. If you wish to continue working for the University then you cannot be classified as furloughed and will not be eligible to receive the monthly payment.

Can I apply to be furloughed even if there is work available to me?

No. The Government Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme is only available to workers who have lost their income as a result of the coronavirus. Those workers who have been offered work should still undertake it and are not eligible for the scheme because, provided they undertake the work, their income has not been affected.

How will being a furloughed worker affect auto enrolment into a pension?

To help you save more for your retirement, the University is required by law to automatically enrol everyone who meets certain criteria into a workplace pension scheme. This applies to those:

  • Who are not already in a workplace pension scheme at the University
  • Are aged between 22 and the state pension age
  • Are paid at least £833.33 (before tax) per month and
  • Work, or usually work, in the UK

Due to the variable nature of work undertaken by casual workers, the University applies a period of postponement before formally assessing eligibility for automatic enrolment for a period of three months from the date of first becoming eligible.

If you fulfil the above criteria and have previously been notified of postponement, we will enrol you into the relevant pension scheme and will write to you. If in that month you do not fulfil the above criteria, we will not enrol you into a pension scheme.

We will continue to assess you on a monthly basis and should you meet the eligibility criteria at a future date, we will automatically enrol you into the appropriate scheme dependent on your grade. You continue to have the right to join a pension scheme at the University at any time.

I do not qualify as a regular worker but was expecting to work later this term - will I be paid?

If the work is still offered then you can undertake it and will be paid. If the work is no longer offered but you have a written confirmation of the hours that had been offered then you will be paid for these.

However, if you don’t have any written confirmation, the work is no longer offered, and you do not qualify as a regular worker. You therefore won’t be paid or be eligible to be classified as a furloughed worker under the Government's Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme.

Students and teaching

Where can I find more information about the University’s safety net policy for exams and assessments?

Given the exceptional circumstances in which exams and assessments are taking place, we have taken the decision to implement a safety net policy, which will recognise the value of marks students have already achieved up to March 2020 for assessed work. This means that no student who passes the year will receive an average mark or overall degree class lower than their current overall mark or degree class.

The purpose of the safety net policy is to help to ensure fairness. It will also provide reassurance to students who have been affected by the impact of the coronavirus that their progress will not be unduly affected.

Since we announced our safety net policy for all exams and assessments held in the spring/summer semester we have been developing further guidance and supporting resources for staff and students.

For colleagues, this includes how the policy works with our different cohorts of students, information around the exams, assessments and the results process and a series of FAQs. 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 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 please ask them to email: 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.

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.

Can we refund the enhanced element of fees paid by students to cover field trip costs?

The cost of cancelled field trips can be refunded to Postgraduate Taught students where:

  • field trips were charged as an additional payment (separate from tuition fees), the payment should be repaid to the student
  • field trips were included in the tuition fee and cannot be mitigated by alternative learning methods - the costs of the field trip element are identified by departments and the cost per student repaid

Please contact the Student Fees Team for more information on how to effect the refund.

The cost of cancelled field trips will not be refunded where field trip costs were included in the tuition fee and the cancellation is being mitigated by alternative learning methods.

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.

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 has been actively engaged in advocacy, at a national level, through representation on the UUK Copyright Negotiating and Advisory Committee, and Research Libraries UK.

The UUK Committee has recently negotiated a relaxation of the extent limits outlined in the Copyright Licensing Agency Higher Education Licence. The Library is exploring how these temporary terms can assist remote teaching.

The Copyright and Licensing team continue to work remotely to answer queries, with scheduled training sessions being delivered via Blackboard Collaborate. Visit the University Library copyright homepage for up-to-date information and contact details.

What is the impact on my Library Resource List in Blackboard?

Our priority is to provide as much of your recommended reading electronically as possible to support the delivery of online teaching.

Use of Library Resource Lists in Blackboard ensures students have a single point of access to recommended digital content for their modules. The Library has identified where digital versions of print material are available and updated all Semester 2 lists on your behalf.

Where digital versions are not available, all colleagues with published resource lists are advised to review their lists and consider adding alternative digital material that is available via StarPlus.

We now invite colleagues to review and update their resource lists as a matter of urgency and, where possible, add alternative digital material already available via StarPlus.

In some cases it is possible to obtain digitised copies of print materials, under the terms of the CLA licence and we are also here to help you to identify alternatives. Talk to the librarian for your department if you have any questions about the provision of reading for your students.

You can also visit the University Library's Teach webpage for further information about the resource lists.

Research

How are we maintaining a focus on research during the pandemic?

Even though on-campus research is largely paused, we have continued to submit research applications and receive research grants. Our research staff and students have continued to maintain our institution’s impressive focus on research, including contributing to the essential Covid-19 research efforts.

When might we be able to resume campus-based research?

For research and lab work that has been severely impacted by the pandemic, we are urgently looking at suitable approaches to allow a phased return.

We have set up a new sub-group of the Covid-19 Incident Management Team to establish a framework for undertaking research activity safely and with due consideration to diversity and wellbeing.

In addition, Professors Sue Hartley, Vice-President for Research, and Dave Petley, Vice-President for Innovation, are developing a set of strategic organisational research priorities to inform in what order we should consider restarting such research. This prioritisation will then be applied at a faculty level to establish which specific research activity we should seek to restart and when. Where facilities and laboratories can open safely, we will enable a considered and phased approach to facilitate this.

See also What plans are in place for a safe return to working on campus?

Research colleagues may also refer to the emails, Covid-19 research update: 12 May 2020 and Update on plans to manage the return to campus for research: 26 May 2020, from Professor Sue Hartley

Until we resume on-campus research, what is happening with research programmes?

Until we are in a position to start a phased return, research programmes should continue to be adapted and conducted remotely where possible.

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.

At the University, the coronavirus: our research and innovation web pages detail how staff and students from across the University are working to mitigate the effects of coronavirus on society with a rapid response through research, collaboration and volunteering. Please email mediateam@sheffield.ac.uk with any relevant research.


Information for international colleagues

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.

The Home Office had previously put provisions in place for those whose visas expired between 24th January and 31st May. This has now been extended until 31st July 2020.

If you’re in the UK and your leave expires before 31 July 2020 you must update your records with the Coronavirus Immigration Team (CIT) if your visa is expiring and you were not planning to stay in the UK.

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

The Home Office has also confirmed that: ‘If you have already had your visa extended to 31 May 2020 your visa will be extended automatically to 31 July 2020. You will be expected to return to your home country as soon as it is safe and possible to do so’.

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.

This concession would appear to be intended for those who cannot otherwise extend or switch to another category in the usual way and who did not intend, or were not eligible, to remain in the UK long term were it not for the ongoing pandemic.

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 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. 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.

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

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 and 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?

UK Visa and Citizenship Application Centres (UKVCAS) are currently operating only a limited service whilst Service and Support Centres (SSCs), ‘Life in the U.K.’ and English Language test centres are temporarily closed because of coronavirus (COVID-19).

However you should still apply for indefinite leave to remain when you normally qualify for this, and before your current leave to remain expires.

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. 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.

As UKVCAS centres are currently closed biometrics appointments can not be made. 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.

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

Some UK Visa and Citizenship Application Centres (UKVACS) will reopen for existing customers on 1 June 2020. You can check which UKVCAS centres are open.

Service and Support Centres (SSCs) are temporarily closed because of coronavirus (COVID-19).

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.

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

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.

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.

Business-critical staff

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

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.

Please also ensure you follow the latest government guidelines on travel, avoiding public transport wherever possible.

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.

I need written confirmation of my business critical status for school/childcare purposes, can you help?

Under the terms of government issued guidance, staff considered to be business critical/essential workers may be eligible for access to school/childcare provision.

If you require written confirmation of your business critical/essential worker status for the purpose of accessing school/childcare provision or any other support available, please contact Lorraine Sweeney, HR Advisor at l.sweeney@sheffield.ac.uk

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 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 Until we resume on-campus research, what is happening with research programmes?

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.

Events, campus access, parking, post and public transport

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.

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 NAMRC and 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.

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.

Do I still have to pay for my car parking permit?

From 1 April 2020, we are suspending payments for car parking permits for those colleagues who currently pay monthly via salary deduction.

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.

What happens to University post whilst the buildings are closed?

Please find arrangements for the handling of university post as from the 20 April 2020

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
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.