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Return to campus information for staff


Return to Working on Campus Policy


The university is implementing a planned, phased and flexible re-opening of campus as the government eases lockdown restrictions. The university aims to continue to deliver excellence in education, research and service, and to provide a blended learning approach from September 2020, with the resumption of some face to face teaching activities on campus, as part of the delivery of the academic year 2020/21. 

In line with this the university is introducing this policy which outlines how and when staff may be required to return to working on campus. This replaces the previous guidance in the form of a mutual agreement that was in place during the pilot stages of re-opening.


This policy sets out our key principles for staff, PGR students or other workers returning to work on campus. Additional guidance is available to support managers and PGR supervisors in planning for return to campus and addressing any staff concerns. 

The ongoing government response to the COVID-19 outbreak is fluid and subject to change and the university’s approach will need to adapt in accordance with any changes to government and public health guidance. As a result, this policy and associated guidance will be subject to continuous review and amendment. It may be necessary to implement additional or alternative measures in response to changing circumstances, including any change in the COVID alert level that may impact the university.

Guiding principles

      • The health, safety and wellbeing, both physical and mental, of our community and those around us is our key priority and will be at the heart of our planning and decision-making.
      • We will look to support the resumption of academic activities on campus, giving overall priority to teaching and research, while also addressing non-academic aspects of the student experience.
      • At all times our policies and guidance will align with UK Government, Public Health England and health and safety requirements and guidelines. We recognise that our policies and guidance may need to change as advice from these bodies evolves.
      • Return to campus will only be required for activities that are essential and must be performed on campus to meet our academic objectives. Working from home, where possible, will remain the default for many of our staff. Guidance and support on working from home is available here.
      • We will implement a range of health and safety measures to protect the health of  everyone on campus. Our approach is underpinned by comprehensive risk assessments, and measures include appropriate social distancing, changes to the working environment and physical use of space, provision of appropriate PPE and hygiene and hand washing facilities, additional cleaning, changes to working practices and guidance information for staff working on campus.
      • We will ensure appropriate individual risk assessments are conducted, using a standard approach, for all staff before their return to campus.
      • We will take account of the needs of staff who are vulnerable, or may live with someone who is vulnerable, and have increased risks associated with COVD-19, providing support and flexibilities where possible and appropriate.
      • We will look to support staff with childcare or other caring responsibilities where possible and appropriate.
      • We will ensure comprehensive equality analysis and review this analysis in line with any changes to guidance.
      • We will work constructively with our trade union colleagues throughout our phased approach to re-opening campus.

Staff required to return to campus

In accordance with the contract of employment, staff are required to reside in the United Kingdom and as such be able to deliver activity on campus if required. Any member of staff required to perform work activities on campus can be required to resume working on campus, in accordance with the requirements of their contracts, subject to consideration of any individual circumstances and necessary risk assessments. Any requests to return to work on campus will be in line with government guidance.

We understand that some staff may be anxious or concerned about returning. There may be particular concerns around the use of public transport, and we will look to provide flexibility wherever possible and practical to limit the need for staff to travel at peak times. Staff should also be assured that any areas of campuses that are re-opened will have done so with robust health and safety measures implemented to protect health.

Where staff have individual circumstances that make their return to work more difficult or limit their availability to return, these should be discussed with their line manager. Examples may include: 

  • Concerns over health due to being clinically vulnerable, pregnant or other high-risk factors.
  • Difficulties attending campus due to childcare or other caring responsibilities.
  • Difficulties with new temporary working arrangements on campus due to a disability. 

Guidance is available for managers to help plan for staff returning to campus and support them in addressing any individual concerns. Wherever possible we will look to support staff and address staff concerns.

Escalating concerns

Staff and managers are expected to discuss and agree any mitigations or adaptations required to address the specific risk factors that may affect individuals. They should do so in line with this policy and the individual risk assessment guidance provided. Where a member of staff feels they have discussed these mitigations and adaptations with their line manager already and are being requested to return to campus without these in place, they should raise this with the next tier of management within their department, in the first instance.

Essential work on campus

Essential work includes any work or work activities that must be performed on campus to meet the core priorities of the university. The following list is illustrative of the types of essential activity to be undertaken on campus at this time: 


On campus delivery of in-person small group teaching, including workshops, tutorials, seminars, laboratories and practical sessions and some personal tutoring or academic advising sessions 

On campus capture of online content where domestic facilities are unsuitable 

Taking part in those elements of student assessment which need to take place on campus 


Research which can only progress by activity that requires presence on campus 

Professional Services

Roles or services which can only be performed on campus and are critical to campus operations and/or the student experience (for example, security, cleaning, AV technicians, catering, research facilities, health & safety) 

Roles required to support any education or research activity which must take place on campus 

Roles requiring on campus access to core systems that create business continuity risks when operated off campus 

Student-facing advisory and guidance roles that need to take place in person 

Accessing campus

While we are gradually re-opening the campus, staff access to buildings and returning to work on campus remains limited and is restricted to those who need to do so for essential work reasons. Staff can only return to campus if authorised to do so by their line manager and head of faculty or directorate. 

Details of the university’s phased approach to re-opening campus can be found on our Coronavirus pages here. This will provide further information on how the campus is re-opening and the areas of activity that are being prioritised under each phase.

Health and safety 

Health and safety information and guidance for staff returning to campus, including the adaptations being made to protect health during the current pandemic, can be found on the Coronavirus web pages and our Health and Safety site. It is important that all staff familiarise themselves with this guidance and comply with all aspects of the policy while on campus.

Appropriate risk assessments have been carried out on all campus space that is re-opening, with necessary mitigations and health and safety measures put in place to protect health in line with government guidance. 

All staff will have an individual risk assessment prior to their return to campus. Staff with individual circumstances that may put them at a higher risk, should ensure that their line manager is aware of these so that they can be considered fully in this assessment and appropriate mitigation identified.

Breach of health and safety

Any breach of the university’s COVID-19 safety measures will be discussed with the individual concerned in the first instance. The relevant guidance will be highlighted and discussed to ensure that there is a clear understanding of the procedures in place and their importance. 

Persistent failure to follow these safety measures may result in disciplinary action against the employee. Examples include, but are not limited to, continually breaking the safe social distancing rules, returning to campus without permission or refusing to adhere to hygiene guidance. 

Where an individual ignores safe working practices and puts others at risk leading to a more serious breach then the disciplinary process will be followed immediately. An example of this would be a staff member coming onto campus with a confirmed case of COVID-19 whilst in the self-isolation period.

Staff and manager responsibilities

Managers have a responsibility to:

  • conduct individual risk assessments for staff who may be required to return to campus.
  • determine the operational needs for working on campus and which roles may need to return to campus and when.
  • ensure a fair and equitable approach to return to campus for their teams as far as possible.
  • ensure that staff who are being asked to return to work on campus have received and read this policy and any updates issued from time to time.
  • ensure that health and safety measures and protocols are complied with and enforced, making swift interventions to tackle any breaches.
  • set clear and achievable work objectives, particularly where work requirements may be different from before the lockdown. 

Staff have a responsibility to:

  • work with their line manager to ensure completion of an individual risk assessment.
  • fully familiarise themselves with this policy before they return to work on campus and to attend return to work briefings as required.
  • comply with all health and safety measures and protocols in place while working on campus. Failure to do so may lead to disciplinary action.
  • report breaches by other members of staff swiftly to their line managers or other appropriate person.

Reporting symptoms and self-isolation

Any staff who feel unwell while on campus should leave work immediately and inform their line manager, either by email or phone. 

Staff who are self-isolating, due to being diagnosed with COVID-19, developing symptoms of COVID-19, living with someone who has been diagnosed with COVID-19 or being contacted by NHS Test and Trace, should not attend campus. Staff should report their self-isolation to the university here and contact their line manager immediately. 

Staff should only return to campus after this period of self-isolation ends or they have been tested for COVID-19 and the test is negative. 

At all times staff should follow government guidelines on self-isolation. We encourage staff to arrange for a COVID-19 test if they display symptoms and, if the test is positive, to make a report to the NHS Test and Trace Scheme, in addition to notifying the university as set out above. 

Staff who are self-isolating should review the university’s Sickness Absence policy for details of how their absence will be managed. 

Local lockdowns

Where a member of staff is impacted by a localised temporary enforcement of lockdown restrictions, linked to a change in COVID alert level, they should discuss with their line manager as soon as possible. Staff will work with their line manager to understand how nay restrictions may impact their ability to return to working on campus

External links

Government guidance: working safely during coronavirus

Government guidance: Higher Education – reopening buildings and campuses

Government guidance: staying safe outside your home

Government guidance: staying alert and safe (social distancing)

Coronavirus (COVID-19) - safer travel guidance for passengers