We have put together a package of support to ensure staff who are working at home get all the help they need, including:
- Our COPE Framework to help managers and staff agree working principles that work for them.
- Information on accessing and using our IT services from home/off-campus
- A guide to setting up your home work station by our Safety, Health and Environment Unit
- Health and wellbeing support available to you while working at home
- Access to Kent Sport’s Stay Well @ Home webpages.
Setting yourself up at home
We appreciate that working at home might work well for some staff, but may not be ideal for all of us. To make sure that your home working conditions are safe, comfortable and conducive to productivity, it recommended that you follow the guide to setting up your homework station, produced by our Safety, Health and Environment Unit. The HR guide to working from home may also prove useful.
It is worth remembering that while the University’s insurance
extends to home workers, it is important to check with your own
home insurer that home working does not invalidate your own policy.
University property and equipment continues to be insured while temporarily
removed from campus but reasonable precautions should be taken to prevent any
loss or damage. Reports of loss or damage, or any insurance-related
enquiries, should be directed to our Insurance office: email@example.com.
Setting up your workstation properly is key to working effectively from home. We recognise that not everyone will have the space to set up an ideal home office, but practical guidance is available to achieve a comfortable setup whatever your working environment. It is recommended that you follow the guide to setting up your home workstation, which provides information regarding how best to set up your home workstation and steps you can take to work safely.
You may also find these additional tips useful:
- Simple Infographic advice on home workstation set up is available here.
- A simple set of stretches and exercises to do while working at a computer from Posturite can be found here.
If it still proves difficult to set up a practical, functioning workstation, you should discuss this with your line manager who may refer you to our Occupational Health Team.
We want staff to be able to work from home as productively as they can. If you require additional equipment for your home working environment, please speak with your line manager. They may be able to arrange a temporary loan of University equipment to support you during this time.
See Access to Campus FAQs below for more information on arranging to come onto campus if you are still working from home and now need to collect additional equipment from your office, or if you have returned to work on campus, but now need to again revert to home working.
Our Working at Home Policy (section 5.4) states that employees working from home should be contactable by email/telephone/conferencing software during core working hours, or as agreed with their line manager. Staff should access their University email regularly and, if they do not have a University-provided mobile phone, are requested to divert their office phone to their home/personal mobile.
Staff can make reasonable expense claims for additional costs they incur by working at home, if these costs outweigh their overall savings on their usual travel to work costs. See section 5.7 of the Working from Home Policy for full information on expense claims and taxation.
Don’t forget that if you are using your own phone, you will need to make sure it meets the University's security requirements. And if you are accessing sensitive personal data, read these online data security guidelines first.
If you have to work from home because of coronavirus you may be able to claim tax relief or expenses for any additional costs incurred.
Tax relief can be claimed for additional costs such as heating, lighting, a new broadband connection and for any equipment you’ve bought.
You can claim tax relief on:
- £6 per week
- the exact amount of extra costs above the weekly amount.
For further information and to make a claim, go to the Government website.
You cannot claim tax relief on the costs of working from home if you have been reimbursed for those expenses by the University.
If the additional costs of working from home (heating, lighting, etc) exceed your usual travel to work costs, you may claim expenses from the University of up to £4 per week. Payment of these additional expenses will be subject to the demonstration of a net loss. Further information is available from the Working at Home Policy and Procedure and our Guide for Claiming Expenses when working from home.
There are many online resources available to staff and managers at the University, providing support for Mental Health during these exceptional times. It is recommended that you read this useful summary: Mental health support for staff while working at home during the Coronavirus crisis
Key resources include:
- University COVID Mental Health Risk Assessment
- Our COPE Framework is designed to help managers and staff agree working principles for remote working.
- Employee Assistance Program (EAP): https://carefirst-lifestyle.co.uk/ Login: uokent. Password: university. Alternatively, you can use the Freephone number to speak to someone: 08081 682143
- Government guidance on safeguarding your mental health and wellbeing:
- Mental health charity Mind provides tips for coping during the coronavirus outbreak: www.mind.org.uk/information-support/coronavirus,
We understand that some staff may be unable to work due to caring responsibilities associated with coronavirus, such as the temporary closure of their child's school or nursery. If you are unable to work due to caring responsibilities, then you should contact your manager. We are urging line managers to be as constructive and flexible as they can be to enable staff to do their work.
If staff are unable to work, please see our latest University Pay Policy related to Covid-19 for more information.
Access to campus
Staff must only return to work to campus when they have received a formal letter from HR advising they are able to do so. Access to University buildings remains restricted to essential workers and those who have been prioritised for a return.
As the situation relating to COVID remains uncertain, staff may need to return to working from home after a period of being back on campus. If staff are unsure of what they are currently expected to do, they should speak with their line manager who will advise what the current requirement is.
[UPDATED 18.01.21] If you need to go on to campus as a one-off, you will need to complete the access to campus request form (Form B)
These visits are for those who have items to collect that are essential for you to be able to carry out your work at home and not for working on site. If you need to work on site, you will need to have your access agreed as Essential or Business Critical - please speak to your line manager who will need to agree this with HR.
You should aim to be on site for no more than 30 minutes as Security will need to give you access to your building. Access requests will only be possible Monday to Friday between 0800-1800 and a minimum of 24 hours notice is required.
When entering your building, you must wear a face covering and use the hand sanitiser at the entrance. You should keep your face covering on throughout your visit. Two-metre social distancing and room occupancy limits must be followed. You should not stop and talk to others during your visit.
Yes, the University has entered into a contract with the individual and we will do our best to honour this. However if, like most staff, you are working at home and limiting social interaction, our HR team recommends a virtual induction to ensure new starters receive the support, guidance and information they need. Equipment and VPN access should be arranged to allow your new colleague to work from home.
A right to work check is still required and temporary measures from the Home Office to cover situations where it is not possible to conduct a check face to face before employment commences. You can find guidance on carrying out right to work checks during the Covid-19 outbreak – including for new starters who are self-isolating - on the Staff Immigration webpages. Our HR Immigration team can help undertake a document check – please contact HR Immigration.
The new starter’s employment can commence, but they will need to declare their reason for self-isolation and managers should follow the COVID reporting procedure.
If your new starter cannot commence employment, the start date must be delayed. Please contact your HR Operational Services Coordinator (Or Commercial Services HR Team) to advise any changes to start dates/employment.
Although we have a valid right to work check, it may not be possible to pay staff who are resident outside of the UK, except where they are contracted to one of our European centres. If the new starter cannot travel to the UK, please email HR Operational Services for guidance.