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Guidance on Self-Isolation, Absence and Pay arrangements related to COVID-19

Absence and Pay arrangements

Please note that this page does not address travel arrangements.  Please see our travel webpages for business travel and personal travel

The University has agreed the following arrangements for reporting and recording periods away from work and for pay during these periods of absence. These arrangements will be kept under regular review via Registrar Communications.

Reporting absence from work

All periods away from work referred to in the table below should be reported to your manager in the first instance. Staff should report their absence from work to their managers as soon as possible, either by email or telephone.

Sickness Absence

If you are reporting an absence due to sickness your manager will follow the usual sickness procedure and record this in iTrent. At the end of your sickness absence you will be asked to review your record and confirm the date you returned to work. If you are sick due to coronavirus the University will waive the requirement for you to provide a fit note from your doctor for the period of absence in support of the advice that people with symptoms should avoid going to their GP.

If you are not fit for work due to feeling unwell with a cold or a cough that is not new or continuous you should not attend work.  You should follow the guidance below.

If you can work from home

If you are fit and feel well enough to work but have a cold or cough and are in a role where you may be able to work from home instead of working on campus, then you should discuss this with your manager. 

Those whose designated duties can be carried out from home:  

  • Complete a Covid PCR test.  
  • Remain at home. 
  • If well enough, then work from home and if not, then follow the sickness absence procedure.

If you work on campus

If you are fit and feel well enough to work but have a cold or cough and work on campus, then you should

  • Complete a Covid PCR test and self-isolate until you receive a confirmed result 
  • If your Covid PCR test is positive, then you should follow University and NHS advice. 
  • If staff receive a negative PCR and feel well enough, then they can work on campus but should ensure that they follow the face covering and hygiene guidance in place.  Managers may need to put additional mitigating factors (see mitigation tab)  
  • Staff should continue to take part in twice weekly LFD testing. 

Staff should not attend work with symptoms of COVID-19 or if they are awaiting the result of a symptomatic PCR test or positive LFD test or have been advised by NHS Test and Trace to stay at home.

Please note that this information does not relate to those who have returned from personal trips.  Please see our travel webpages for information on this. 

All staff should follow the relevant self-isolation rules as defined by the NHS.

If you are contacted by NHS Test and Trace, you should notify your line manager and discuss work arrangements with them. If you are legally required to self-isolate then you should follow the rules regarding this.  If you are able to work from home, then please discuss this with your manager.If you are unable to work because you work on campus, this will be recorded as absence due to self-isolation and you will continue on normal pay.

You should complete the online Self-isolation notification form to record any period of self-isolation.

The information provided will be treated in the strictest confidence and processed by HR colleagues only.

Managers should be aware that a member of staff who has had close contact with someone who is COVID positive but is not legally required to self-isolate, may cause concern to others who are worried about catching COVID if they attend work on campus. You should consider applying additional mitigating factors.

If you have no COVID symptoms and are not required to self-isolate after having close contact with someone with COVID then you can still work on campus, following the additional mitigations that your manager may put in place. 

  • Your manager may ask you to participate in additional PCR testing 3-5 days after your first PCR test. 
  • If your Covid PCR test is positive, then you should follow University and NHS advice. 
  • If staff receive a negative PCR, then they can work on campus but should ensure that they follow the face covering and hygiene guidance in place as well as any additional mitigations that the manager has put in place (see mitigation tab). 
  • Staff should continue to take part in twice weekly LFD testing. 

Managers should assess the risks of the person working on campus to the individual, their team, and the delivery of their business. Managers should therefore support the following: 

For staff whose designated duties can be carried out from home:  

  • Complete a Covid PCR test.  
  • Work from home (flexibility of working hours may need to be discussed so that the member of staff can work around childcare responsibilities if it is a child is away from school with COVID-19). 

For staff whose designated duties cannot be carried out from home: 

If the member of staff needs to attend work on campus due to their specific role or duties, then managers may need to put additional mitigating factors in place to reduce the opportunity for infection. This may include

  • reducing the size of the team that the person works with,
  • limiting contact with those at higher risk from Covid-19
  • increasing their working space,
  • reducing their contact with others especially in enclosed spaces,
  • reducing face to face meetings,
  • encouraging continued hygiene and cleaning measures and
  • wearing of a face covering.  

Staff should not attend work with symptoms of COVID-19 or if they are awaiting the result of a symptomatic PCR test or positive LFD test or have been advised by NHS Test and Trace to stay at home

The government advice has changed for the new academic year 2021/2022. Schools are being encouraged to reduce the disruption to children and young people’s learning by prioritising the delivery of face-to-face education. “Bubbles” are no longer recommended and children who have been identified as a close contact should continue to attend school as normal. Recognising this, the exceptional emergency leave arrangement will come to an end on 31 October 2021 and the pre-pandemic policy of emergency leave will then apply. The University will review this if there is significant change in government policy. Please consult your line manager about emergency leave or if you have concerns about your working pattern.

If a member of your team has reported a sickness absence related to coronavirus please follow the usual process to record this in iTrent. If the member of your team is self-isolating, please ask them to complete the Self-isolation notification form, or alternatively you can fill this out on their behalf. It would be helpful to agree who will complete the form to avoid duplication. This will help the University to monitor the rate of absence related to COVID-19.

Managers should establish if the colleague needs any particular support or assistance, for example to facilitate working at home, or if they have any wellbeing concerns. Those staff who have been advised that they are at high risk of developing serious complications if they develop coronavirus may require additional support. Staff can contact the Occupational Health team for advice and guidance, and access the University’s EAP provider, Spectrum Life for support.

Managers should agree with their team members how they will stay in contact with each other during the isolation period e.g. regular phone, email or text communications. When an employee recovers from any illness, including coronavirus, and is able to resume working, even where they may be working at home, the manager should arrange a return to work conversation with them.

If you are a manager and you become ill, please let your team know so they are aware of who they can liaise with in your absence, for example your line manager or another appropriate member of staff.

Colleagues working on eClaims or the Temporary Resourcing Unit should notify your manager and e-Claims@exeter.ac.uk if you are unwell or unable to attend work for any another reason connected to coronavirus. If you meet the eligibility criteria, you may be eligible for Statutory Sick Pay from the first day of your illness, please email your line manager. If you are not unwell but are self-isolating under Public Health England advice, the University will, as an exceptional measure, pay you for any work that has been agreed and scheduled. Please claim any hours through the eClaims system in the normal way for your manager to approve. Where possible, arrangements will be made for you to undertake the scheduled work at home.

Reason for absenceRole/technology enables (some) work at homeRole/technology does not enable work at home1

Employee is ill with confirmed case of coronavirus (COVID-19) or ill as a result of side effects from a COVID-19 vaccination

This will be recorded as sickness.
Sick pay applies. 
No work expectation.
This will be recorded as sickness.
Sick pay applies. 
No work expectation.

Employee has self-isolated following the latest government guidance or on the instruction of the NHS Test and Trace Services.  Please note that this does not include those who have travelled abroad for personal reasons.

Employee liaises with manager about what work can be undertaken at home, 2,3,4.
This will be recorded as self-isolation.
(If sickness symptoms develop, this should be reported to the University and recorded as sickness)
Continue normal pay.
No work expectation.
This will be recorded as an absence due to self-isolation.
Continue normal pay. 

Employee cannot attend work because normal caring arrangements are interrupted, e.g. closure of child’s school or nursery

Employee liaises with manager about what work can be undertaken at home, taking account of their caring responsibilities, 2,3,4.
Employee should, as far as practicable:

  • make alternative caring arrangements at the earliest opportunity
  • share caring responsibilities with their partner;
  • undertake as much work as possible, around their caring responsibilities.
Normal pay will continue if working from home or if work is not possible you can opt to take Emergency leave

The employee should, as far as practicable

  • make alternative caring arrangements at the earliest opportunity
  • share caring responsibilities with their partner.

You should keep in touch with your line manager in case there are alternative duties you can carry out at home around your caring responsibilities. If you are not able to work, this will be recorded as Emergency Leave5.


1. Staff who are unable to complete their work from home should notify their line manager. The University is currently holding discussions about how we can best support all of our staff during this period. We are also identifying possible critical redeployment areas. Inability to work at home will include the employee’s role (e.g. chef or cleaner), access to resources and, in some circumstances, caring responsibilities if childcare is disrupted, subject to note 2 below and an expectation that an employee with caring responsibilities will arrange to do as much work as possible at home, working around their childcare responsibilities, including working outside normal working hours.
2. The employee may be assigned duties which can be undertaken at home within their capability which are not part of their normal daily responsibilities.
3. It may be necessary for arrangements to be made to deliver pc equipment etc. to their home.
4. Staff with teaching responsibilities should arrange for scheduled teaching to be made available online at the earliest opportunity, following a timetable agreed with their HoD/Director of Education.
5. https://www.exeter.ac.uk/staff/employment/leave/specialleave/emergencyleave/

Date of this version: 14 October 2021