Frequently Asked Questions  

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1. I’m continuing to work on campus, what safety measures should the University put in place?

The University must have carried out a risk assessment to ensure that your workplace meets government guidelines, and they must do everything they reasonably can to ensure your workplace is ‘COVID-secure’.

Employers are legally required to do everything that they reasonably can to make the work that you do and the place where you work safe – and should consult staff and union safety reps on any proposals before you return to the workplace.

If you have concerns about attending your workplace speak to your local Unite Rep and discuss any issues with your employer.

There are particular rules in place for those in the most vulnerable groups (BAME, workers over 70, and workers with a medical condition or workers who are disabled). Check guidelines here or contact your Unite Rep for help.

2. What if I feel my workplace isn’t safe?

Workers should never be put at risk. Where a solution can be found to make that area safe it must be put in place.

Putting you in a dangerous situation is potentially a breach of health and safety law and may spread coronavirus to people in high-risk groups. As a last resort, when faced with a dangerous working environment which cannot reasonably be avoided, every employee has the right not to suffer detriment if they leave, or refuse to attend their place of work (or take other appropriate steps) in circumstances where they reasonably believe there is a risk of being exposed to serious and imminent danger (section 44 of the Employment Rights Act 1996). You must contact your Unite Rep immediately if you find yourself in this situation.

3. What if I am disabled and I am asked to work from home?

Disabled workers are entitled to reasonable adjustments, such as specialist furniture, adjusted working patterns or assistive technology, whether working on campus or from home. For some disabled people, previously agreed adjustments may not be suited to working from home and this should be discussed with line managers in the first instance. If you have any difficulties with this, consider reaching out to your Unite rep.

4. What if I have caring Responsibilities?

The University encourages managers to be 'flexible and pragmatic' when approaching workers also balancing childcare responsibilities. Unite has raised its concerns around the lack of support for workers who are unpaid carers supporting older and disabled friends and family, and will continue to do so. If you feel you are not receiving the appropriate support from your line manager, consider reaching out to your Unite rep.

5. I have symptoms and will have to self-isolate. Will I be put on Sick Pay and will this count on my Sickness Record?

University staff will receive full pay during the period they are self-isolating, and it will not be treated as sick pay.

6. I am in the Clinically Extremely Vulnerable category. Do I need to come in to work?

For the duration of the national lockdown (until December 2nd), people who are in the Clinically Extremely Vulnerable category should remain at home. If you can work from home, you should do so. If you cannot work from home, you should inform your line manager that you are Clinically Extremely Vulnerable and that you cannot leave your house for work. You will continue to receive full pay for the duration of the national lockdown.

NHS Advice

You can view the latest advice from the NHS on the ongoing pandemic by visiting the following link: 

University Guidance

You can view the latest updates on the University of Sheffield's COVID-19 policies here:

Unite Guidance

You can view Unite's guidance on your rights  at work during this period, as well as guidance on the government's Coronavirus Job Retention scheme:

Further Help and Support:

If you, or someone you know, is worried about loss of income during this lockdown period, we would recommend you read the government’s advice on coronavirus and claiming benefits.  Some workers may be eligible to access Universal Credit or other benefits:

If you’re worried about being able to get food or medical supplies, our friends at the community union ACORN have set up a coronavirus community support programme which you can access here:
If you’re worried about struggling to pay your rent, Shelter advises: “you should speak to your landlord or letting agent as soon as possible, as they may be willing to agree a repayment plan. Some people may also be able to claim benefits like universal credit to help with housing costs... Paying off rent arrears should be a top priority before any other non-urgent debts.”
If you’re worried about struggling to repay debts, the Citizens Advice Bureau has advice here: