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Leave and absences related to coronavirus

Information on how to report leave and absences related to the coronavirus, and FAQS on sickness absence, eligibility for special leave and annual leave.

Reporting leave and absence 

How to update MyHR

In the guides below please see a series of illustrated screenshots which explain how to:

  • Register sickness as a result of Coronavirus/ Covid-19 symptoms as paid leave
  • Approve, decline or request information about a request for paid leave for sickness absence related to Coronavirus/ Covid-19
  • Request special leave for Coronavirus/ Covid-19 reasons
  • Approve, decline or request information about a request for Covid-19-related special leave
  • Request carer’s leave in order to manage additional caring responsibilities during the current pandemic
  • Approve, decline or request information about a request for carer’s leave


Please note, anyone on furlough leave will have this recorded on their behalf on MyHR by HR Services.

Information for managers and administrators

View a step by step guide on how to manage and report absences related to the outbreak of coronavirus.
 

Frequently asked questions

Sickness absence

If I am unwell and unable to work as a result of having COVID-19-related symptoms, do I need to tell UCL?

Any member of UCL staff (not on furlough leave) who is unwell and is experiencing symptoms which indicate a need to self-isolate, should tell their line manager by email or phone. They should also complete the Workplace Health form and make sure that their sickness absence is registered under the ‘Sick leave related to Coronavirus’ category within paid leave on MyHR. See Guide A for employee self-service for a step-by-step guide on how to do this.

If I’m off sick with COVID-19-related symptoms, will this prompt sickness/ absence management procedures to be started?

Any sick leave taken as a result of someone experiencing COVID-19 symptoms will not trigger the usual Sickness Absence Procedure unless the sickness absence lasts more than four weeks or 20 working days in total (pro-rata for part-time staff). Where four or more weeks’ absence occurs, the usual Sickness Absence Procedure should be followed.

If I’m off sick because of Covid-19, can my pay be reduced as a result?

Pay deductions (dependent on length of service) will not be made unless the Sickness Absence Procedure has been triggered as a result of the employee concerned being off work with COVID-19-related symptoms for more than four weeks or 20 working days in total (pro-rata for part-time staff). If this occurs, a reduction in pay will be triggered depending upon the length of service of the employee.

If I caught COVID-19 some time ago but am experiencing continuing symptoms during my recovery, will I be expected to come back to work?

Those who continue to experience symptoms as a result of acquiring COVID-19 will be fully supported by UCL. The University will not expect anyone to return to work who is not well enough.

Individuals experiencing these symptoms, sometimes known as ‘long COVID’, will have any long-term absence recorded using the usual Sickness Absence Procedure. Anyone who is able to return to work but who needs reasonable adjustments including flexible working arrangements, as a result of continuing COVID-19 symptoms, should discuss their requirements with their line manager. If the reasonable adjustments are likely to last for more than three months, they should use the procedure for establishing an Agreement of Consistent Treatment in order to identify and agree any necessary adjustments.

Where this may aid the return to work of anyone experiencing ‘long COVID’, managers should use the COVID-19 manager’s health assessment tool to assist with this process. Where necessary, individuals should be referred to Workplace Health for a workplace assessment. 

What if I am off sick for reasons not related to COVID-19? Has anything changed?

Anyone not on furlough leave who needs to take sick leave for reasons unrelated to COVID-19, should follow the principles set out in the UCL Sickness Absence Policy. All such absences should be recorded in the usual way on MyHR under the appropriate category.

Continuing to work remotely

If I am working remotely, how will my pay be affected?

If you have to base yourself off-campus and are working remotely, you will be paid as normal. This situation will continue until further notice, provided that your job can be carried out off-campus.

If I am not unwell, can I be asked to return to working on campus?

If the nature of your work means that you need to work on campus, your line manager will ensure that the environment in which you are expected to work is suitable and safe for you to do so. If suitable and safe arrangements cannot be made for you to undertake your job on campus, every effort will be made to identify suitable alternative work activity for you to undertake remotely.

What if I am unable to work remotely due to the nature of my home environment?

If your home environment is unsuitable for remote working, you should discuss this with your line manager and every effort will be made to accommodate requests to return to working on campus or elsewhere.

If you or someone you manage cannot be accommodated but cannot work from home, the person affected may be entitled to request ‘paid special leave’. For more details see the Guide for employee self-service and the Guide on how to manage and report absences related to the outbreak of coronavirus.

What if I am at a higher risk of catching COVID-19 but fall outside the group described by the Government as ‘clinically extremely vulnerable’?

Staff at increased risk from COVID-19 who have been asked to return to campus, should in the main be safe to do so, as a range of social distancing measures and other safety precautions are now in place. Anyone in this group of staff with concerns about returning to campus should, in the first instance, raise and seek to resolve these with their line manager.

If staff declare an underlying health issue or remain concerned about another factor (e.g. age, ethnicity, BMI) that may affect their own risk of getting seriously ill from coronavirus, managers should use the COVID-19 manager’s health assessment tool to evaluate any potential enhanced risk faced by the employee concerned.

Where enhanced risk is identified as a consequence of conducting an assessment, if any identified risks cannot be mitigated locally, managers should complete a Workplace Health referral form. Under these circumstances, Workplace Health will provide advice on fitness to work onsite and further information on mitigating risk.

What if I fall within the group described as ‘clinically extremely vulnerable’?

Government guidance changed in August and those who it defines as ‘clinically extremely vulnerable’ no longer have to shield and can, if they wish, go to work although the advice states that they should “carry on working from home wherever possible”. If you are in this group you will be supported to work remotely where possible and may be assigned other duties. You will be expected to work from home; undertake alternative duties which can be carried out remotely or remain on furlough until 31 October. If you are unable to work from home, or are not eligible for furlough, you will exceptionally be allowed to remain at home on full pay until Monday 4 January 2021. You will not be asked to return to normal working onsite before 4January 2021. This situation will be kept under review.

Line managers should now commence undertaking risk assessments for return to onsite working and an individual health risk assessment for those who have been identified as being ‘clinically extremely vulnerable’. This will provide a framework to enable individuals to return to campus now, if they wish to, or to return to campus on 4 January (if current government guidelines still stand). Reasonable adjustments may need to be put in place to allow individuals who fall into the group described as ‘clinically extremely vulnerable’ to travel to campus and work as safely as possible. For example, individuals may need flexible working hours to avoid the rush hour or to be assigned back-office work to avoid contact with too many people.

What if I am shielding someone who is described as ‘clinically extremely vulnerable’?

If it is necessary that you undertake your work on UCL premises due to the nature of your job, you may be required to do so even if you are living with someone who has been identified as being ‘clinically extremely vulnerable’ by the NHS. This is because government guidance changed in August and now indicates that those in this group are no longer required to shield.

What if I have additional caring responsibilities during the current Covid-19 outbreak, as a result of the schools being closed and needing to support or shield an older or disabled person?

Staff may need to work at different times of the day or request a reduction in their working hours if they have additional caring responsibilities or are shielding someone as a result of the current outbreak. Any such agreed changes in working hours and patterns will not result in a reduction in pay if this is because of the current outbreak.

Anyone who is shielding and self-isolating for 12 weeks on NHS advice, will be supported to work remotely but will not be asked to return to normal working whilst they are doing so.

Those with additional child or other caring responsibilities may also request to use carer’s leave, if these responsibilities mean that they are unable to work from home. Managers and administrators should use their discretion and flexibility in agreeing with the employee concerned, an appropriate period of carer’s leave. Please note that during the current outbreak, the maximum five day period for carer’s leave within a twelve month period does not apply. In addition, all such authorised carer’s leave will be paid.

For information on how to submit and respond to all such requests, see our guides for managers, administrators and employee self-service

Annual leave 

Should I continue to take my annual leave during the current outbreak?

Please continue to take your annual leave as planned, even if you are working remotely or on furlough leave. We want to make sure our staff are well-rested and can still achieve a good work-life balance.

For information on how to submit a request, see the MyHR webpages

However, please be aware of the implications of quarantine if you choose to travel abroad

The Government has eased restrictions on the carry-over of statutory leave, can I now carry forward more than five days’ annual leave?

You should continue to take your annual leave as planned, even if you are working remotely or on furlough leave and are unable to take a holiday in the traditional way. UCL wants to make sure that staff are well-rested and can still achieve a good work-life balance.

In recognition of the additional pressures placed upon staff during the current period, UCL has relaxed the rules concerning the amount of leave that can be carried over to next year’s allocation. The University has increased the maximum number of days that can be carried forward from this annual leave period to the next, from five to seven days or 51.1 hours  (pro-rata for part-time staff). This applies to all staff, whether working remotely, on campus or placed on furlough leave.

All such leave carried over should be used within the next leave year. Staff who are restricted in the amount of annual leave they are able to take before 1st October because they are required by their line manager to work throughout this period, may exceptionally carry forward as many days as they need into the next annual leave year, with the prior approval of their line manager. Managers are encouraged to allow these staff to take some annual leave in order to rest and maintain their well-being. This is a one-off decision for this year only. There is no change to UCL’s standard Annual Leave Policy.