We are aware that a number of our members have raised concerns and questions about the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Today representatives of all three campus trade unions met with Ian Callaghan (Chief Resources Officer) and Helen Wiseman (Director of People and culture), to seek clarification over these and gain a clearer understanding of the universities’ response to the developing situation. We have been reassured that:
- The university encourages staff to work from home where possible and will be surveying staff requirements to implement this policy.
- Heads of Schools/Services have been asked to identify “essential” staff who will be required to work on campus. This will be reviewed by the Executive Team as soon as possible.
- Cleaning and maintenance staff will be given individual guidance by managers.
- Catering will operate a “vacation level” service.
- The Sportspark is closed and the Sainsbury Centre is closing tomorrow. The Library remains open but this is with reduced staffing and is being kept continually under review. Options include moving to self-service provision and closure.
- Managers are being encouraged to set up WhatsApp groups to communicate with their staff and use other remote tools such as Microsoft Teams.
- For those following government advice regarding self-isolation, the normal sickness absence policy will not apply and there will be increased flexibility regarding the time off for dependents.
- In the event of a research shut-down staff and student research contracts will be honoured by the university. The university is in contact with the Research Councils and is waiting for their positions on arrangements for research funding.
The main take away point is that colleagues should follow government advice and that the university and campus trade unions are doing all that we can prioritise staff welfare at this difficult time. We appreciate that the university is doing all it can to respond to this unprecedented situation and that we will continue to work closely with them to support staff and students. If you have any questions or further concerns please get in touch your local branch office/union Rep.
UCU, UNISON and UNITE UEA branch committees