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Human Resources

HR Staff Update from Director of Human Resources, 31 July 2020

Dear Colleagues

As we are now entering the nineteenth week since the University closed for a Public Health measure due to Covid-19, I just wanted to check in with you and give you an update on some information and supports that are available to you at this time.

This has been a very challenging and difficult time for many of us with changes to how we live and work while trying to stay safe and well. We have the support of our Employee Assistance Service who can be contacted at 1800 814243 and information on the service is also provided on our website here

Over the past number of months, HR’s Employee Relations unit, aided by the Procurement Office, have engaged in a tendering process for the provision of an Employee Assistance Service (EAS) for NUI Galway staff.  The contract has been awarded to Spectrum.Life, Ireland’s largest provider of allied health services who deliver evidence-based health innovation to clients across Ireland and the UK.  They currently support over 2,000 corporate companies and their employees in their health and wellness programmes and Employee Assistance Services.  Effective from Monday, 27th July 2020 this contract will be in place.

What is the Employee Assistance Service (EAS)?

The EAS is a free and confidential professional counselling and information service that provides support to NUI Galway employees, their partners and dependents over the age of 18 and residing at the family home to resolve personal and work related concerns. EAS is available 24/7, 365 days a year covering numerous topics such as:

  • Counselling
  • Mental health support for worries around COVID-19
  •  Infertility & pregnancy loss
  • Elder care support
  • Parent coaching
  • International employee support
  • Legal information
  • Financial information and more.

You can access through telephone, through an online chat function on the platform, or by requesting a call back.

  • You can make contact with the service 24/7 on their FREEPHONE number:  – 1800 814 243
  • You can make contact through WhatsApp and SMS – Text ‘Hi’ to 087 369 0010

We have done some updating on our website to make it a little easier to navigate and find information that you might need to access right now. Some documents that might be of interest to you at this time are:

Over the coming weeks we will issue a fortnightly email to advise on any updates on guidelines that we receive.  In the meantime, if you have any queries on issues of concern that are not addressed by the information on the website, you can contact HR at hr@nuigalway.ie

In addition, if you have any ideas on how we can support staff wellbeing at this time, please email us your suggestions to wellness@nuigalway.ie

Regards,
Josephine

Josephine Hynes
Director of Human Resources
Room 223
Quadrangle Building
NUI Galway

What approach is NUI Galway taking to managing the Coronavirus outbreak?

This is an emerging and rapidly evolving situation. The UMT meet regularly to discuss the latest guidance and developments and is proactively monitoring all HSE, Public Health, and Government guidance and will continue to provide updated information as it becomes available and can be found here.

It is important that we are taking measured and appropriate preventative actions in order to ensure that our teams and their families are kept safe and well.

Thank you all for your continuing support, commitment and flexibility in our collective response to the COVID-19 emergency.  We continue to live our values as a university community in times that both challenge and show our collective humanity.

What support is the University providing for staff? 

We understand that these extraordinary circumstances and the evolving situation can cause isolation and anxiety. We encourage line managers, and colleagues to regularly keep in contact with one another by phone, Skype or other remote means. Please remember that all colleagues have free and confidential access to our NUI Galway Employee Assistance Service (EAS)

Our NUI Galway Employee Assistance Service (EAS) operated by Spectrum.Life, is a completely free, confidential service for NUI Galway employees and their immediate families (those living at home with them who are 18 years of age and older).

The EAS is a free and confidential professional counselling and information service that provides support to NUI Galway employees, their partners and dependents over the age of 18 and residing at the family home to resolve personal and work related concerns. EAS is available 24/7, 365 days a year covering numerous topics such as:

•    Counselling
•    Mental health support for worries around COVID-19
•    Infertility & pregnancy loss
•    Elder care support
•    Parent coaching
•    International employee support
•    Legal information
•    Financial information and more.

What are the tips for well-being and mental health while working remotely?

This is an exceptional and unprecedented crisis that the country is facing.  As a NUI Galway staff member, your health and safety and mental wellbeing is our primary concern.  Below are some tips and advice you may find useful:

  • Establish a daily routine
  • Try to build in some activity and time for yourself in the day (self-care) such as reading a book, listening to music, gardening, or physical activity such as going for a walk, run or cycle within the permitted 2km from your home
  • Consider limiting your daily amount of social media and news
  • Continue/implement healthy eating and sleeping habits.
  • Stay connected with friends and family through phone calls/video chats/text messages, etc.

Where you are experiencing difficulties, remember the University’s Employee Assistance Service is available to all staff.  You can also find more information and further resources on the HR website and Mental Health Ireland.

Where can I find further information on wellbeing tips?

We understand the importance of the health and wellbeing of our staff. As we work towards the IBEC Keep Well Mark accreditation we are continually reviewing our information and developing our support structures. As part of the Healthy Ireland National strategy we support their programmes in the community and the positive engagement of national sporting organisations with the Health and leisure industry who are providing online supports.

COVID -19 and the challenges faced by many staff working remotely, continues the need to provide online opportunities for our staff to engage in positive physical and mental health practices.

The University Human Resources homepage provides recommendations and links to reputable sources of information and support to staff in this challenging time.  

In addition to the employee health and wellbeing page we will have a separate section on looking after yourself during COVID-19, which will update on a regular basis. We will have regular input from various individuals who are promoting wellbeing available here.

How can I manage the health and safety aspects of working remotely?

 It is the individual staff member's responsibility to ensure that they do not place themselves or others at risk whilst working remotely for the duration of this arrangement

 While working from home can you make sure that:

  • You have a suitable space to work from temporarily.
  • You access the workspace easily and safely.
  • That there is adequate light, ventilation and heat to allow you to work comfortably.
  • That there is enough space to allow you to work without twisting, bending or sitting/standing awkwardly.
  • That there is enough workspace to accommodate the equipment or other materials needed for the activity.
  • That the floor is clear and dry, e.g., kept clear of electrical cables or anything else you could trip over / slip on.
  • That your workspace is free of clutter.
  • Ensure that electrical sockets, plugs and cords are in good condition e.g. no charring, exposed wiring or frayed cables.

 You can find further information to ensure your safety here.

How will Recruitment and Contracts of Employment be dealt with?

Ongoing and new recruitment including advertisement, shortlisting, interview, offer and contract, new, renewal and contract extensions will continue and is subject to following two part process during this period:

Stage 1: Completed paperwork and funding for priority posts to be agreed in co-operation with your UMT line Manager.

Stage 2: Prioritised posts identified from stage 1 above are reviewed by UMT subgroup.

Once a post ongoing or new is agreed to progress from Stage 2 above, recruitment and contract management will commence.

IMPORTANT:  See below your HR Manager contact details who will work with you to deliver the approved recruitment and contracts movement once stage 1 and 2 above are completed.

 Unit HR Contact details for all your HR queries: 

UMT Member

HR Senior Manager

email

President & VP International

Josephine Hynes

josephine.hynes@nuigalway.ie

Registrar, Bursar, VP Student Services, VP Equality, Diversity & Inclusion, Graduate Studies

Carmel Browne

carmel.browne@nuigalway.ie

Academic Secretary, VP Development

Ann Marie Keelan

annmariekeelan@nuigalway.ie

COO

Sinead Wynne

sinead.wynne@nuigalway.ie

VP Research, Executive Dean Arts, Social Science & Celtic Studies

Ann Kyne

ann.kyne@nuigalway.ie

Executive Dean Engineering & Science

Helena Kenny

helena.kenny@nuigalway.ie

Executive Dean Medicine, Nursing & Health Sciences

Niamh Kavanagh

niamh.kavanagh@nuigalway.ie

Executive Dean Business, Public Policy & Law

Brenda Fallon

brenda.fallon@nuigalway.ie

How will casual / hourly paid employee's payments by processed?

All of our Agency staff and Part-time Teaching Assistants will be paid for the work that was planned up until Sunday 12th April.

Can I apply for leave as normal during the University closure period?‌

You should apply for annual leave on Core Portal as you would normally or through email to your  line manager if you record it on the Leave Form.   You can apply to your line manager for other leaves as normal. Please note that the terms and conditions of the various leave schemes as set out in the relevant policies still apply.

Please refer to the Covid-19 Annual Leave Policy for further information.

Can I cancel or defer a period of leave which was approved prior to the University closure period?

Non-deferrable leave (e.g. maternity leave, compassionate leave, sick leave): this leave will continue as normal during the University closure period. If your leave is in progress or is due to begin during this period, you are deemed for all intents and purposes to be on that leave from the original leave start date.

Other leave (e.g. parental leave, shorter working year): this approved leave will continue to be processed as normal during the University closure period. Requests to cancel or defer this type of leave will not be granted at this time, except where the employee is required to provide an essential service during the period in which the leave was to take place. Such request will require senior manager approval.

What should I do if I have Covid-19/suspected Covid-19?

Please see the University's Covid-19 Sick Leave Policy for full information. 

You should submit an appropriate medical cert - a clear legible photo or scan will suffice- by email to your line manager, copying hrsickleave@nuigalway.ie   The cert must confirm specifically your diagnosis of Covid-19/Suspected Covid-19. Special Leave with pay will be recorded rather than sick leave. Please note that the University sick leave policy still applies such as maintaining contact with your line manager regarding your wellbeing and submitting certs at the earliest opportunity.

Should I claim the special DEASP Covid-19 illness benefit payment?

Public Service Employees who can avail of the special leave with pay for Covid-19 are excluded from claiming the special Department of Social Protection and Employment Affairs Covid-19 illness benefit payment as they will continue to be paid as normal.

What should I do if I contract another illness?

Any non-Covid-19 related illness will be recorded as sick leave and the rules governing the University sick leave policy will apply. You should forward a clear legible photo/scan of you medical cert to your line manager, copying hrsickleave@nuigalway.ie If the absence is for more than 6 days, you should apply for illness benefit from the Department of Social Protection and Employment Affairs.

What should I do when I return from sick leave?

See the University's COVID-19 Sick Leave Policy

You should submit an SL1 form to your line manager for forwarding to hrsickleave@nuigalway.ie  The SL1 form can be found at the end of the sick leave policy available here.

What happens if I advise that I am in a High Risk Category?

The advice from Government is that employees in the High Risk “should attend the work premises and, in accordance with HSE advice, employees in the high risk category should take extra care to practice social distancing where possible and wash their hands regularly and properly. Appropriate measures may need to be considered for employees in the high risk category in the work premises where maintaining social distancing is difficult”.
 
If an employee identifies that they are in the High Risk Category, the line manager will review and consider if accommodations can be made, where this is not possible and the employee is needed to attend the workplace to undertake their work, then a referral to an Occupational Health Physician may be required, unless the employee indicates they wish to return to the workplace and advise of same in writing.
 
Any employee in the Very High Risk Category should be facilitated to continue working from home. This may involve some changes to the roles and responsibilities if the employees original role can not be done from home.
 

Take extra care to follow the advice on how to protect yourself from coronavirus. This means:

You do not need to self-isolate unless you have symptoms of coronavirus. You should work from home if you are at high risk from coronavirus.  If you cannot work from home and you have to go to your workplace, take extra care to:

  • practice social distancing where possible
  • wash your hands regularly and properly
  • Ask the people in your life to take extra care to protect you from coronavirus

Have you been advised by a doctor to self-isolate or cocoon at this time? 

If you have been advised to self-isolate by your doctor, you would need to provide that written advice to your line manager, similar to submitting a medical certificate. This period of self-isolation will be recorded as paid leave as per the Government guidelines for the 14 days advised.

Have you any underlying health conditions that could negatively be affected by Covid-19?

If an employee answers yes to question Are you considered to be in a high-risk group in relation to Covid-19”, on the NUI Galway COVID19 Self Declaration Form   the employee member should continue to work from home if this is possible and can be facilitated. If they cannot work from home, they would be required to provide further details to the line manager and the HR manager for their area.  In such circumstances a risk assessment should be carried out to assess what measures are required to support the employee’s return to work in a step-up approach including the employee and line manager discussion, the employee’s GP’s advice and where appropriate the input of the University’s Occupational Health Physician.

Do you share a vehicle with other persons to travel to work other than persons that you share your accommodation with?   

The government road map sets out that you should be limiting your contact outside of your immediate circle and therefore an employee should not be sharing a vehicle with another person at this time. The employee is advised to make other travel arrangements. Where availing of public transport social distancing measure, and other necessary precautions such as wearing of face coverings which is now mandatory to be work on public transport. 

If I choose to travel abroad and have to restrict movements on my return, will special leave with pay apply?

The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFA) advises against all non-essential travel overseas until further notice. This includes Great Britain but does not apply to Northern Ireland. It also includes all travel by cruise ship. The Irish Health Authorities require anyone coming into Ireland, apart from Northern Ireland, to restrict movements for 14 days, upon arrival, and to complete a Public Health Passenger Locator Form to this effect. If you choose to travel overseas, you must restrict your movements on your return. Special leave with pay will not apply during the self-isolation period. In such situations, annual leave or unpaid leave may be requested. Leave is subject to the approval of your Line Manager.

Are there restrictions on work related travel?

The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) is now advising against non-essential travel.

I've been advised to restrict my movements. Do I still have to work?

The HSE sets out the criteria for restricted movements at HSE Restricted Movement   An employee cannot voluntarily choose to restrict their movements. Employees who have been advised to restrict their movements are available for work. The employee should be assigned work and the line manager must therefore facilitate alternative working arrangements e.g. working from home. Where alternative working arrangements in the employee member’s current role is not feasible, then they may be temporarily assigned to work within the University.

Can I claim illness benefit whilst on Special Leave with Pay?

Public Service employees who can avail of the special leave with pay for Covid-19 are excluded from claiming the special Department of Social Protection and Employment Affairs Covid-19 illness benefit payment as they will continue to be paid as normal.

I am on special leave with pay due to self-isolation and have since contracted COVID-19. Will I still be paid?

Where an employee is already on special leave with pay due to self-isolation and subsequently contracts COVID-19, the special leave with pay will continue for the duration of the illness, subject to medical certification being provided.

I’ve been diagnosed with COVID-19. Will I be paid?

Special leave with pay may be granted where appropriate HSE or medical confirmation of COVID-19 diagnosis is provided, in accordance with the HSE Guidelines. The HSE or medical confirmation of COVID-19 diagnosis is required with the completed form.

I’ve been diagnosed with COVID-19, how will my time off work be recorded?

Please see the University's Covid-19 Sick Leave Policy for full information.

You should submit an appropriate medical cert - a clear legible photo or scan will suffice- by email to your line manager, copying hrsickleave@nuigalway.ie.   The cert must confirm specifically your diagnosis of Covid-19/Suspected Covid-19. Special Leave with pay will be recorded rather than sick leave. Please note that the University sick leave policy still applies such as maintaining contact with your line manager regarding your wellbeing and submitting certs at the earliest opportunity.

I've been advised to self-isolate. Will I be paid?

The HSE sets out the criteria for self-isolation at HSE Guidelines Self Isolation. Employees cannot voluntarily choose to self-isolate. Where HSE or medical advice is that the employee member must self-isolate then special leave with pay may be granted. In the event that written HSE or medical confirmation to self-isolate is unavailable, the employee member must complete the NUI Galway COVID19 Self Declaration Form  to record the HSE or medical advice received. The completed form should be forwarded by the employee member to their line manager as soon as possible.

I've been advised to self-isolate. How will my time off work be recorded?

Any special leave with pay granted for the purpose of self-isolation will not count as part of the employee sick leave record. The application of special leave with pay will apply for the number of days as certified by the HSE/doctor. This will be recorded locally as CV19 Special Leave with Pay on the employee attendance record.

I have a family member that has been told to self-isolate. What leave arrangements can I avail of?

If an employee in this situation has been advised by the HSE that there is no need for them to self-isolate, they can explore alternative working patterns and working from home with their line manager, where feasible. If the employee member wishes to stay at home for the purpose of caring for family members, they may be able to avail of other forms of leave under University policies such as Annual Leave, Parental Leave, Special Unpaid Leave of Absence or Force Majeure (as defined under the Parental Leave Act 1998). The granting of any leave is subject to the approval of the Line Manager.

I am an essential employee at this time but I don’t want to attend work as I'm afraid I will catch the virus. What should I do?

Essential employee who have not being advised to self-isolate by a GP/HSE should attend work as normal. If you have a fear of contracting the virus, then discuss this with your line manager in the first instance. The University must consider the risks and consider whether you are a vulnerable employee. Where there is no increased risk for you, the University can request you to attend work.

Has the University considered granting staff the €3.20 a day tax-free allowance towards our costs of working from home?

The University is not in a position to pay this allowance to employees. However, there is tax relief available for remote working on costs incurred on heating, electricity and broadband that can be claimed directly from Revenue. Further details of this are available at the link below.

How do I access funding to purchase home-working IT equipment?

We need to work through the mechanics of how a financial loan scheme to purchase equipment may operate, such as eligibility to avail of the scheme, amount available under the scheme, permissible equipment items and the repayment period. The applicability of interest would also have to be considered and any subsequent revenue treatment of the scheme. We have raised this query with the Revenue and await their response. In addition we will bring this to the University’s Finance / Resource Committee to seek their views.

When will COVID-19 funding be released to cost centres to purchase PPE other than face masks and hand sanitiser?

At present, there are no additional funds available for the purchase of PPE. However, each UMT member has been provided with a COVID-19 cost centre to which the expenditure may be costed, if there is insufficient capacity to cover the cost within your own non-pay budget. This will impact the Unit’s overall surplus/ deficit position at the end of the financial year. During the summer Minister Harris did announce an additional €168M for the Sector due to COVID-19. €40.9M of the overall amount is to support the return to education in September 2020 Health & Safety costs which include PPE. However, although announcements have been made on student supports and laptops and research extensions, we await further information on an allocation to us to support COVID costs such as PPE.

What are the measures being taken to support staff with extra care responsibilities at this time?

From the outset of the pandemic, we have asked staff and managers to look at flexibility in the working arrangements for staff that have caring responsibilities. In addition, employees can consider the various leave schemes available, such as carer’s leave, parental leave, and unpaid leave.

Of course, there will be times when, for some staff, if there are school or crèche closures we would again be asking managers to be as flexible as possible with the working arrangements of staff in those circumstances.

Can staff who are deemed at risk due to health issues continue to work remotely if they wish?

The advice from Government is that employees in the High Risk “should attend the work premises and, in accordance with HSE advice, employees in the high-risk category should take extra care to practice social distancing where possible and wash their hands regularly and properly. Appropriate measures may need to be considered for employees in the high-risk category in the work premises where maintaining social distancing is difficult”.

If an employee identifies that they are in the High-Risk Category, the line manager will review and consider if accommodations can be made, where this is not possible and the employee is needed to attend the workplace to undertake their work, then a referral to an Occupational Health Physician may be required, unless the employee indicates they wish to return to the workplace and advise of same in writing.

Any employee in the Very High-Risk Category should be facilitated to continue working from home. This may involve some changes to the roles and responsibilities if the employees' original role can not be done from home.

Can staff who have close contact with someone in their family who is immune-compromised continue to work remotely if they wish?

The Government advice is that “employees who live with very high-risk individuals should attend the work premises and should follow the HSE guidelines to protect themselves and to minimise the risk of transmission. The implementation of the Return to Work Safely Protocol is intended to minimize the risk of transmission in the workplace”. The advice to managers where a staff member indicates that they are in close contact with someone in their family who is in a risk category is to see if they can make accommodations to allow the employee to continue to work from home where feasible. Where this is not possible the employee will have the options to avail of various leaves for the purpose of caring for family members, such as Annual Leave, Parental Leave, Special Unpaid Leave of Absence. The granting of any leave is subject to the approval of the Line Manager.

Should staff who are not in Ireland and do not have teaching and research duties that require being present on campus continue to stay abroad and work remotely?

During the lockdown we were flexible with staff that were recruited about their relocating to Ireland. We did, however, advise this to staff that they would be expected to be in their normal place of work, i.e. Ireland, with effect from the 1 October subject to any travel restrictions that may be in place.

Human Resources: Support for Managers

How will HR Support you as a manager?

Below are the HR Manager contact details who will work with you to deliver on all your HR queries. Please also refer to the HR homepage for all University HR Policies and Procedures.

HR Contact details for queries for your unit:

UMT Member

HR Senior Manager

email

President & VP International

Josephine Hynes

josephine.hynes@nuigalway.ie

Registrar, Bursar, VP Student Services, VP Equality, Diversity & Inclusion, Graduate Studies

Carmel Browne

carmel.browne@nuigalway.ie

Academic Secretary, VP Development

Ann Marie Keelan

annmariekeelan@nuigalway.ie

COO

Sinead Wynne

sinead.wynne@nuigalway.ie

VP Research, Executive Dean Arts, Social Science & Celtic Studies

Ann Kyne

ann.kyne@nuigalway.ie

Executive Dean Engineering & Science

Helena Kenny

helena.kenny@nuigalway.ie

Executive Dean Medicine, Nursing & Health Sciences

Niamh Kavanagh - for

College Office and
School of Nursing and Midwifery

niamh.kavanagh@nuigalway.ie

Executive Dean Medicine, Nursing & Health Sciences

Pauline McNamara - for

School of Medicine (including Academies) and

School of Health Sciences

pauline.mcnamara@nuigalway.ie

Executive Dean Business, Public Policy & Law

Brenda Fallon

brenda.fallon@nuigalway.ie

How will recruitment and employment contracts be managed?

Ongoing and new recruitment including advertisement, shortlisting, interview, offers and contracts, new, renewal and contract extensions will continue and will be subject to following a two part process during this period:

Stage 1:Completed paperwork and funding for priority posts to be agreed in co-operation with your UMT line Manager.

Stage 2Prioritised posts identified from stage 1 above are then reviewed by a UMT subgroup.

Once a post ongoing or new is agreed to progress from Stage 2 above, recruitment and contract management will commence. 

What supports can you as a manager put in place for your colleagues?

We understand that these extraordinary circumstances and the evolving situation can cause isolation and anxiety. We encourage line managers, colleagues, and any home workers to regularly keep in contact with one another by phone, skype, MS Teams or other media platform. Please remember that all colleagues have free and confidential access to our NUI Galway Employee Assistance Service (EAS)

Our NUI Galway Employee Assistance Service (EAs) operated by Spectrum.Life, is a completely free, confidential service for NUI Galway employees and their immediate families (those living at home with them who are 18 years of age and older).

The EAS is a free and confidential professional counselling and information service that provides support to NUI Galway employees, their partners and dependents over the age of 18 and residing at the family home to resolve personal and work related concerns. EAS is available 24/7, 365 days a year covering numerous topics such as:

•    Counselling
•    Mental health support for worries around COVID-19
•    Infertility & pregnancy loss
•    Elder care support
•    Parent coaching
•    International employee support
•    Legal information
•    Financial information and more.

How can managers work and keep in touch with colleagues?

In keeping with the Government directive, from Friday 13th March until further notice, all University staff members will work entirely from home, with the exception of those involved in delivering the essential services, where delivering these service requires presence on the campus i.e. delivery of a COVID-19 related service and other services to the community included on the Government list or to carry out duties deemed as essential by management of the University.  Only where the University deem it essential that people need to attend the workplace should they work on campus. This is in line with the public health guidance to avoid all non-essential journeys and limit social interactions.  If you need to work on campus, you will be provided with a letter from the Office of Chief Operating Officer via your direct line manager and UMT member. 

Some guidelines to assist managers: 

Communicate with your team

It is important to maintain ongoing communication with your team members. Be transparent about your availability and be ready for questions that may come up.  Keep up- to-date on the latest guidelines and plans. Communicate important updates in a timely manner.   Ensure all University communications i.e. University Alerts are made available to any staff member in your area who does not normally have access to emails or website.

  • One-to-One meetings, and Team meetings should continue over phone or using tools like Skype for Business, Microsoft Teams, or Zoom.  Arrange for a weekly or bi-weekly meeting or even a coffee with the team.
  • Ensure that you have up-to-date contact details to enable communication with every team member (e.g. phone number or email address), and next of kin contact name and details.
  • Ensure that all your team are aware of who to contact to report a COVID-19 related absence, and have the necessary contact details to do so.
  • Stay focused on work and relevant timelines being in mind that things may take longer to pull together remotely.  Ensure that you are clearly communicating the expected outcomes and timeframes and that each person knows how to deliver and address any roadblocks they may encounter.  Schedules are essential to keep everyone on track but it is not the time to micromanage and remember that everyone is doing their best at this time.
  • Establish a set of behaviours and expectations for all team members, stay connected and engaged to keep morale high. Keep your One-to-One meetings going albeit virtually through tools such as Skype, Zoom, and Microsoft Teams. 

And be aware of and take cognisance that

  • Some staff members are without childcare arrangements due to crèche and school closures, and therefore staff may need to adjust their normal working hours, take longer to respond, and options such as facilitating shared caring responsibilities with partner.
  • Broadband may be an issue for some staff
  • Some staff members may not have the IT equipment required, i.e. laptop, PC, etc.
  • A family member, elderly or at-risk relatives or friend or someone within the home maybe sick or self-isolating and require support during these challenging times.

How can managers assist with the Health and Safety of team members working remotely?

It is the individual staff member's responsibility to ensure that they do not place themselves or others at risk whilst working remotely for the duration of this arrangement, however, as managers,  it is important to check in with staff members to ensure they are doing ok and taking regular breaks to ensure compliance with Working Time Act.

The Health & Safety Authority has provided information for employers and employees on working from home during this time. Some questions that they suggest that we should ask employees are set out below.

While working from home can you make sure that:

  • You have a suitable space to work from temporarily?
  • You access the workspace easily and safely?
  • That there is adequate light, ventilation and heat to allow you to work comfortably?
  • That there is enough space to allow you to work without twisting, bending or sitting/standing awkwardly?
  • That there is enough workspace to accommodate the equipment or other materials needed for the activity?
  • That the floor is clear and dry, e.g., kept clear of electrical cables or anything else you could trip over / slip on?
  • That your workspace is free of clutter?
  • Ensure that electrical sockets, plugs and cords are in good condition e.g. no charring, exposed wiring or frayed cables?

 You can find further information to ensure your safety here.

What IT Equipment should be available for team members working remotely?

Ensure that staff are sufficiently equipped with necessary IT Equipment and resources to enable them to carry out work from home.  Ensure that IT Equipment is tested by your team members, including access to Internet / Wifi/ SSL VPN.  If they are having any IT related issues in regard to remote working, they will need to contact Information Services and Solutions and log a ticket if they cannot resolve the issue from the information on the website.

As a manager, what should I do when an employee member contacts me about potential COVID-19 infection?

You need to establish:

  • Whether the employee has consulted a doctor or the HSE (if not, they should be advised to do so immediately).
  • Whether the employee has been diagnosed as an actual or probable case. If the employee is medically diagnosed with COVID 19, special leave with pay may be granted.
  • Establish if the employee has reported diagnosis to hrsickleave@nuigalway.ie if not, they should be advised to do so immediately).
  • Ensure the employee completes the Self-Declaration Form  NUI Galway COVID19 Self Declaration Form and returns it to you with the appropriate medical confirmation as soon as possible.
  • Record this locally as CV19 Special Leave with Pay on the employee member’s attendance record.

Further information can be found at DEPR Guidance on working arrangement and temporary assignments in Public Service

Guidance and FAQs for Public Service Employers during COVID-19 In relation to working arrangements and temporary assignments across the Public Service WITH EFFECT FROM 30 July 2020 unless otherwise stated

How do I record leave?

The Organisation of Working Time Act 1997 requires employers to hold records of all forms of leave. It is important that you keep records of all leave (Covid-19 special leave with pay, annual leave, sick leave, unpaid leave, maternity leave) locally in each area as is the standard procedure. These should be readily available for University and DES statistical data, if requested.

All leave applications should continue to be forwarded to Human Resources at leaveschemes@nuigalway.ie for processing. 

What is the policy regarding sick leave at this time?

Please refer to the University's: COVID-19 Sick Leave Policy

Is there guidance availble on the protection of personal data while working remotely?

The Data Protection Commission have issued useful guidance on protecting personal data when working remotely.  The NUI Galway website should also be referenced.