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Update from Director of Human Resources to staff

1 April 2020

Dear colleagues,

Revised Arrangements at Trinity during the COVID-19 Emergency – March 30th 2020

Last Friday night the Taoiseach Leo Varadkar, announced a number of new measures designed …“To protect the health of our citizens, to prepare our health service, to support our healthcare staff and to try to cushion the blow to the economy, our businesses and your livelihoods”. 

Following this announcement, the Department of Education and Skills, as part of the Public Sector response, issued revised guidelines in relation to absence during the current emergency. Trinity will follow these guidelines recognising the benefits to public health that follow from them. We recognise the challenges that this presents for staff, and also the additional tasks required of managers, but the benefits to us all are considerable if we can succeed in preventing transmission of the virus. There are resources available to help with working from home.

As you will be aware, everyone should stay at home until April 12th 2020 except for certain situations, including travelling to and from work where the work done is an essential service.

In order for the University to be in line with Government guidelines for absences during the current COVID-19 emergency, the following will apply to staff in the At-Risk / Restricted Movement Group or living with someone in the At-Risk Group from Monday 30th March 2020:

  • Staff who are in the At-Risk Group as defined by the HSE

Click here for HSE definition of High Risk: Staff in this group should, on the advice of their GP, self-declare where they consider there is a high risk of serious illness from COVID-19. Staff in this category who are not ill, should be considered for alternative working arrangements e.g. working from home. Where alternative working arrangements in the staff member’s current role is not feasible, then they may be temporarily assigned to work within the University/wider Public Service. Staff in this category who are ill and not available for work should provide a medical certificate covering their absence in line with the University’s Sick Leave Policy.

  • Living with someone in the At-Risk Group

Staff who are living with someone in the At-Risk Group as defined by the HSE who are not available for work should apply for annual, parental, parent’s or unpaid leave.

  • Restricted Movement

Staff who have been advised to restrict their movements, as set out by the HSE as a result of living with someone who has symptoms of COVID-19; being a close contact of a confirmed case of COVID-19; or having returned to Ireland from another country - but who are not ill - are available for work. Such staff should be assigned work by facilitating alternative working arrangements e.g. working patterns, working from home. Where alternative working arrangements in the staff member’s current role is not feasible, then they may be temporarily assigned to work within the University/wider Public Service. Staff cannot voluntarily choose to restrict their movements.

  • Caring Arrangements

Special leave with pay is not available for COVID-19 caring arrangements. Where such staff can work from home this should be facilitated to the maximum extent feasible. Steps should be taken to increase the scope for remote working and all opportunities and flexibilities need to be explored. There are other flexible working options that employers can offer to employees in addition to home working arrangements. For example, this could include flexible shifts; staggered shifts; longer operating hours and weekend working. 

There is no change to the following:

  • Staff who have been medically advised to self-isolate, will be placed on Special Leave with Pay, however you are required to complete the self-declaration form here and return it to your Line Manager. Staff cannot voluntarily choose to self-isolate.
  • Staff who are diagnosed with COVID-19, will be placed on Special Leave With Pay, however you are required to complete the self-declaration form here and return it to your Line Manager.
  • Staff on special leave with pay are not permitted to claim the DEASP COVID-19 Illness Benefit payment.

We are expecting further announcements from Government in the coming days in relation to redeployment across the general Public Sector to support the national effort.  Within the University, we have an obligation to ensure we deliver on our academic mission while also supporting the national effort.  We are eager to ensure that staff are redeployed internally, if possible, to support this effort.

Managers are urged to consider all options in terms of facilitating staff to work from home or be redeployed to do work which can be done remotely.

If you have any queries about the above new arrangements, please do not hesitate to contact the HR team at hr@tcd.ie

Advice and information from Trinity’s Health, Counselling, Human Resources and Sports teams on how to stay healthy during the COVID-19 closure of Trinity can be found here.

The revised Procedures for Leave and Working Arrangements During the COVID-19 Outbreak can be viewed here.

I hope you, your families and colleagues continue to remain safe.

Kind regards,

Antoinette Quinn
Director of Human Resources