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Frequently asked questions

We have compiled a list of answers to frequently asked questions about how we’re supporting cleaning, catering, portering and security staff on this page.

Outsourced staff with further queries should contact their employers directly.

Why is reaching full parity going to take until 2021?

As well as working with UNISON, UCL is working with our service providers to implement the changes we wish to make, and make sure they can implement them. In addition, the cost of the changes is significant and it has taken time to identify funding to support them.

Why have you introduced these changes in this order?

The sequencing of the implementation of equalised pay and benefits was agreed following feedback from UNISON members about what is most important to them.

Other universities have bought the staff back in house, why isn't UCL doing this?

Our current position is that we value the specialist expertise that dedicated suppliers can provide. We are keeping our model of delivery for facilities management under review, and staff working for our partners will receive equivalent core pay and benefits as if they were directly employed.

Where is the money coming from to fund this?

UCL operates within financial constraints and has identified savings and efficiencies from other areas to fund these changes.

Why are some buildings open on UCL’s campus during the coronavirus restrictions?

All staff who can work from home must do so, and most students are currently studying from home. UCL’s campus remains open in line with Government guidance to support students who are not able to travel home, those teaching and studying practical programmes like medicine, and researchers who require specialist facilities for their work or are urgently supporting the national effort around COVID-19.

This means that some staff are being asked to work at UCL to support our students and keep key services running. All buildings have been put on restricted access to significantly reduce the numbers of outsourced staff needed on campus.

What safety measures are place for staff who are required to work on campus?

We have put in place a range of safety measures to ensure everyone on campus is as safe as possible. This has been done in line with Government guidance in full consultation with our recognised unions, Camden and Islington public health authorities and UCL’s world-leading public health experts.

Access to our buildings is restricted and we have limited the number of people onsite to a maximum of 25% of building capacity, which has significantly reduced how many frontline staff we need on campus. All staff who can work from home to do so, and most students are currently studying from home.

UCL is offering staff and students without symptoms free COVID-19 tests, including outsourced staff, and all frontline staff such as outsourced cleaning and security colleagues are provided with PPE. There are also emergency rotas for those required to come onto campus.

We have completed tailored risk assessments for all areas of campus, introduced zoning systems and everyone on campus to wear face coverings. For more information, please see our Keeping Safe on Campus webpages

Are frontline staff such as cleaning, catering and security staff provided with PPE?

Yes. All frontline staff such as cleaning and security staff are provided with PPE.

Is there an emergency rota system for frontline staff?

Prior to the most recent national lockdown, UCL moved all operational and educational activity online with the exemption of a small handful of practical teaching programmes and research. All buildings have been put on restricted access to significantly reduce the numbers of frontline staff needed on campus.

UCL and its contractors have introduced emergency rotas for those required to come onto campus.

Is UCL offering testing to staff – including contracted staff?

UCL is offering symptom-free staff and students COVID-19 tests, including contracted staff. Colleagues are strongly encouraged to take two test each week so they can be more confident that they have not contracted the virus. Testing is free.  

Staff who have coronavirus symptoms must follow this step-by-step guide about how to request a test

What safety measures are in place at UCL’s COVID-19 testing centre at Bidborough House?

The Bidborough House testing service is for asymptomatic staff and students as part of the Government’s national testing programme. The centre opened in November 2020 for students and we have since made the service available for staff, including outsourced staff.

Although the service is intended to be used by people who do not currently have COVID-19 symptoms (and are less likely to have COVID-19), we have configured the building to ensure that people using the building’s study spaces and testing services are kept apart, with two entrances.

The testing service follows COVID-19 safety measures, is used only by asymptomatic individuals and ensures appropriate 2m social distancing throughout. Since the service opened, we have reported a very low number of positive cases from the thousands of people tested. No cases of COVID-19 have been reported of staff infected as a consequence of either supervising the testing or in security staff at Bidborough House.