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COVID-19 Career Support Scheme Summary

The UCL COVID-19 Career Support Scheme (CCSS) is an equity and inclusion-based response to the understanding that the pandemic has impacted individuals in our community differently.

For some, it may have exacerbated existing social or career-related inequalities or created new ones.

The purpose of the scheme is to mitigate adverse impact caused by the pandemic that results in lost work productivity that may cause longer term career harm without additional support from UCL.

Applicants must be able to state how the support provided through this scheme will provide a short-term boost to regaining any lost career momentum that has been caused by the pandemic.

The scheme has three streams and applicants should choose the most appropriate for their circumstances:

  1. Giving Back Time – this stream gives successful applicants a payment of up to £500 to provide a short-term boost to their work capacity by alleviating other personal pressures. For example, an award could be used to pay for additional child-related expenses over and above usual arrangements thereby ‘giving back time’ to the recipient. 
  2. Equity Bridging Fund – provides substantial grants of up to £10,000 (averaging £5,000) to support award holders with their work. This can be through salary costs via extensions to contracts or increasing hours for part-time staff if required and applies to any staff group. For researchers, priority will be given to those who have not received any COVID-19 mitigation support.
  3. Supporting Teaching, Technical, Research, Academic and Professional Services (STTRAP) – provides funds to pay for workers engaged through UniTemps at UCL to support UCL staff with their work. Applicants can apply for either 20 or 40 hours of support. Payments and administration will be managed centrally.

Funding through the COVID-19 Career Support Scheme can be used to mitigate past adverse impact or potential anticipated future adverse impact so long as these satisfy the purpose of the scheme.


Eligibility Criteria

The scheme is open to any member of staff[1] who can meet both of the following criteria:

  • COVID-19 related disruption to work has been exacerbated by equity and inclusion-related circumstances. ‘Equity and inclusion-related circumstances’, refers to the purpose of the scheme which seeks to support parents and carers, or staff who can show a connection between the detriment they have experienced and the protected characteristics under the Equality Act 2010[2]. Other personal circumstances will be considered if there are compelling compassionate grounds for support from UCL through this scheme. For example, this could be separation from usual support due to COVID-19 travel restrictions resulting in increased caring responsibilities, or significant bereavement, meaning the loss of an immediate family member or multiple close family members.
  • The disruption may have a meaningful career detriment over the longer-term without additional support from UCL. ‘Meaningful career detriment’ will include staff who may be at greater risk of not securing another contract, staff who may have missed out on significant career advancement opportunities or those who may demonstrate lost career momentum. Staff on open-ended contracts are eligible to apply, but they must be able to summarise how a short-term loss to productivity will create damage to their career over the longer-term.

Please note that the scheme is not a general hardship fund. Applicants must demonstrate that they meet the above criteria.

Where appropriate, applicants may be directed to other sources of support, such as the reasonable adjustment fund for disability, Access to Work, Workplace Health and Care First, UCL’s employee assistance programme.


A needs-based approach

The scheme initially aims to distribute £500,000. Awards will be prioritised for staff who can demonstrate significant potential harm to their longer-term career advancement due to COVID-19 related disruption to work that has been exacerbated by equity and inclusion-related circumstances. In addition to satisfying the purpose and eligibility criteria outlined above, further consideration will be given to those on lower incomes, contracts that are fixed-term or open-ended with grant end dates.

Prioritisation of applications will also take into account the likely impact of the award in mitigating the adverse career disadvantage. For example, if there is no clear explanation of how the monetary support will provide a short-term boost to career momentum, an application is unlikely to be successful.

The application form includes some personal questions around the applicant’s current circumstances (see Privacy Notice). This information is requested to enable the Steering Group to target support to those with greatest need. It is not obligatory to provide this information but doing so will strengthen the application.

The take up and distribution of the scheme will be monitored and analysed on an anonymised basis to identify the characteristics of applicants and beneficiaries and to enable UCL to take an evidence-based approach to supporting staff in a fair and equitable way in the future.


Factors to consider

Applicants are asked to specify the extent of disruption to their work and the equity and inclusion-related circumstances that caused this; and to describe how support will mitigate adverse impact caused by the pandemic that may cause longer term harm to their career.

Those applying for the Equity Bridging Fund, which can provide extension to contract or increased hours for part-time staff, are required to demonstrate support for their application from their PI or line manager.

Specific guidance relating to each stream of the scheme is provided.


The scheme cannot be used to fund:


Operation of the scheme and timelines

Applications to the scheme open on Thursday 5th November. The deadlines for receipt of applications are:

5pm 19th November 2020

5pm 3rd December 2020

5pm 7th January 2021

5pm 21st January 2021

5pm 4th February 2021

5pm 18th February 2021

Applications are reviewed by the CCSS Coordinator and funding decisions made by the UCL COVID-19 Career Support Scheme Steering Group. Awards may be made at a lower value than requested.

CCSS Contact: C19-Career-Support-Scheme@ucl.ac.uk


[1] This includes probationers, those on fixed term contracts, part-time staff, but not those who are not UCL employees, NHS staff, Unitemps or agency workers.

[2] age, disability, gender reassignment, marriage and civil partnership, pregnancy and maternity, race, religion or belief, sex, sexual orientatio