Office of the President and Provost (Equality, Diversity & Inclusion)


COVID-19 Career Support Scheme Guidance


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.

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.

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. 

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.

Eligibility criteria

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

1. 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. 
2. 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.

[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 orientation

Application process

Applicants need to complete and submit a COVID-19 Career Support Scheme application form.

Please note that this includes ALL questions for each stream - you will only see the relevant questions for the stream you are applying to on the online form.

Applications are reviewed on a fortnightly basis after the published deadlines.

The application form is divided into five sections. Section one asks about contact details and current role information. Section two focuses on the reasons support is required. Section three asks specific questions in relation to the stream you are applying to. Section four asks for detailed contextual, personal information. Section five asks for equality data that will be used for monitoring and reporting purposes only.

Information provided will be used to assess the application against the eligibility criteria for the specific stream. Applicants are therefore advised to ensure that all relevant information is included. The level of personal information requested is to enable the Steering Group to target support to those with the greatest need. It is not obligatory to provide this information but doing so will strengthen the application.

Once the application has been submitted, an acknowledgment e-mail will be sent to the applicant. Applicants will be notified of the outcome, usually within 2 weeks after the application deadline. Successful applicants will be informed of the funding amount, when funds will be released and advised on next steps.  

In the first instance, applications will be reviewed by the CCSS Coordinator. If an application is complex or for a large amount or needs further consideration, it will be sent to an assessment panel consisting of members of the COVID-19 Career Support Scheme Steering Group.  

Application deadlines

5pm 19th November 2020 
5pm 3rd December 2020 
5pm 7th January 2021  
5pm 21st January 2021  
5pm 4th February 2021
5pm 18th February 2021


The scheme cannot be used to fund the following:  

- Laptops, desks or chairs. Please see existing UCL procedure and information about Display Screen Equipment (DSE) assessment  
- Costs that would normally be covered by UCL’s Reasonable Adjustment Fund or Access to Work
- Personal tuition of child dependants
- Domestic labour except where this is needed in order to provide additional support for the care of a child, elderly or disabled dependant
- Partner or legal guardian's salary costs for child dependants
- Books/toys or similar for child dependants
- Financial aid
- Food and food delivery costs
- WiFi packages
- Flights

Ordinarily it is expected that one award will be made to an individual. However, exceptionally, due to changing circumstances, if sufficiently new disadvantage satisfying the purpose and criteria of the scheme can be demonstrated, a new application from a previous or current award holder may be made. Note that successful applicants under the Equity Bridging Fund will not be eligible to apply for further funding under this scheme.

Applicants of successful award holders are expected to immediately inform the CCSS Coordinator if they receive additional funding or other financial support that reduces or eliminates their need for support from this scheme. 

Information sharing

A list of successful applicants to the scheme and the amount awarded will be provided to Faculty Directors of Operations. No personal information on why the application was successful will be shared. The purpose of sharing this information is to ensure fair and equitable distribution of resources across UCL.

Scheme streams

The COVID-19 Career Support Scheme is divided into three streams:

1. Giving Back Time
2. Equity Bridging Fund
3. Supporting Teaching, Technical, Research, Academic and Professional Services (STTRAP)

Candidates are only eligible to apply for one stream on a one-off basis.

1. Giving Back Time

This stream provides an award of up to £500 to provide a short-term boost to their work capacity by alleviating other personal pressures. The awards are paid to the applicant via payroll. The award can be used to cover short-term or one-off costs, for example additional caring related expenses over and above the applicant’s usual arrangements, or training or conference attendance that would help provide a boost to COVID-19 related lost career momentum. 

For this stream, applicants should bear in mind the following: 

- It must be outlined in the application how the payment will be used to ‘give back time’ to compensate for lost productivity. 
- Payment will be made through payroll via the applicant’s monthly salary.
- Tax and National Insurance (employee’s and employer’s) will be calculated and added to the amount allocated so that the applicant receives the full amount applied for, unless they have a student loan, in which case this will be deducted from the final payment.
- Applicants should consider if this may affect their own self-assessment tax arrangements and eligibility for benefits, such as Child Benefit.
- Applicants will be asked to provide receipts as proof that the payment was used for the purposes it was requested. Where this is not possible, a signed declaration may be submitted. Please contact the CCSS Coordinator for further information.  

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 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.

For this stream, applicants should bear in mind the following:

- Manager / PIs support is required for applications to this stream.
- Extensions to contracts may have implications for the Terms and Conditions of grant funding. It is the responsibility of the applicant’s PI to ensure that there is no conflict between an extension to contract or hours for part-time staff and the terms of a grant such as deliverable dates. 
- Applicants will be asked to specify if they have already applied for or received a no-cost or time-only extension to their grant. If an extension has been refused, it should be specified why. 
- Applicants can apply to have their employment contract extended or hours increased or that of an employee who supports their work, for example a Research Assistant or Postgraduate Teaching Assistant (PGTA) if it can be shown that this will have significant benefit for the applicant. 
- Applicants will be asked to provide contact details of their local finance or human resources (HR) officer who can process departmental transactions on UCL’s MyHR. Once funding is approved through the scheme, the local finance or HR officer will be required to request the changes to contract via MyHR and charge this to their departmental code. A monthly journal will be sent to departments to cover salary costs.
- Applicants should take into account the administrative requirements to activate these awards and apply sufficiently in advance.

3. Supporting Teaching, Technical, Research, Academic and Professional Services (STTRAP) 

Provides funds to pay for workers engaged through UniTemps 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.

The kind of activities that the worker can help with include; digitising teaching material, support with writing a grant application, the provision of administrative support for a key project, research assistance support and so forth. STTRAP cannot be used to hire workers to deliver teaching. Applicants who wish to increase the FTE of an existing Post Graduate Teaching Assistant (PGTA) should instead apply via the Equity Bridging Fund stream. 

For this stream, applicants should bear in mind the following:

- Workers being offered work through this scheme can only be offered a pay rate of G5 (£13.15p/h), Grade 6 (£15.32p/h) or Grade 7 (£18.90p/h). For reference, a generic Peer Tutor role is Grade 5, a Teaching Assistant or Research Assistant is Grade 6, and a Project Coordinator or Data Analyst is Grade 7. Costs will include Employer’s NI, pension contribution and holiday pay which is accrued on an hourly basis.
- Applicants should provide the name and email address of a potential worker known to them from whom they would like support. UniTemps UCL will then contact them directly to request registration and completion of the necessary documentation. 
- Applicants are not required to set up a Unitemps account for themselves as all administration will be undertaken centrally by the CCSS Coordinator. 
- Applicants who would like support through STTRAP but who may require more time to source a suitable assistant to assist them can still apply, and the name and email address of the worker supplied to the CCSS Coordinator subsequently or Unitemps UCL can identify suitable candidates from their database of registered workers.
- Once an applicant has been notified that they have been successful in gaining a STTRAP grant, the worker can commence the supporting activities as soon as they are registered with Unitemps UCL. 
- A maximum of 40 hours of support work will be funded. Timesheets that go over this will not be approved. It is the applicant’s responsibility to ensure compliance with the funding cap and that the worker does not complete more than the 20 or 40 hours of work agreed.
- Once the work has been completed, the worker will be required to submit a timesheet to Unitemps. Upon receipt of the timesheet, the CCSS Coordinator will check with the applicant that the work has been completed and then approve the timesheet. There will thus be a significant delay between the worker starting the work and being paid. - Right to work / Visa restrictions: These checks will be carried out by UniTemps UCL. UK Visa and Immigration conditions for student visa holders apply.
Feedback and evaluation of the scheme

Applicants will be asked to agree to provide feedback in the form of a survey as part of the evaluation scheme.

Contact details

If you require further information please contact the CCSS Coordinator Contact: C19-Career-Support-Scheme@ucl.ac.uk