Specific advice for employees at the University of Surrey. Please check back regularly for any updates and read our general advice for health information and travel guidance.

Advice for employees

Hopefully this information will alleviate any concerns you may have, however in the event you are experiencing anxiety or feel specialist support is required our wellbeing service is delivered by a team of specialist practitioners who are trained to provide health and wellbeing support in the workplace.


As the University is following government advice, if you are able to work from home, in whatever capacity, you should continue to do so. Your line manager will discuss the work that you may be required to carry out from home, which may include amended duties. You will continue to receive your salary as normal.

The University remains fully supportive of those who have been advised to/have chosen to self-isolate. 

If you are self-isolating please contact your line manager and inform them that you are self-isolating and the reason for your self-isolation (they will inform HR). This will inform the University of your situation. You will receive an email back to confirm receipt of your submission.

If self-isolating, the University would normally suggest that, if you are well enough to do so, you should work from home. You can discuss the arrangements for working from home with your line manager. If you self-isolate and your work cannot be undertaken at home, you should discuss this with your line manager.

In some cases, you may be asked to undertake alternative duties from home.

More information on self-isolation is available from Public Health England.

You must keep in contact with your line manager during a period of self-isolation, and any periods when you are unwell as per University sickness policy.

As explained in the VC’s communication, you will receive full pay should you need to self-isolate.

To prevent the spread of infection, we do not need staff who are required to self-isolate to produce a fit note, although we may require some proof or confirmation of advice. Should you require any medical help or advice during a period of self-isolation, you should contact the NHS on 111 and follow the advice, which is provided to you.

You must contact your line manager, inform them of the situation, and thereafter keep them up-to-date.

As with self-isolation, the University would normally require that if you are well enough to do so, you undertake work from the location you are in. We appreciate that this may not be possible and you should discuss this further with your line manager. You may be asked to undertake alternative duties, which are suitable for remote working.

For as long as you are prevented from returning to the UK you will receive your salary as normal. We would ask that you keep your line manager regularly updated.

Given the Government announcement that to close schools from Friday 20 March, we appreciate that parents will need to ensure that their children are safe, healthy and looked after. 

Staff who have to work at home to look after their children will be supported to do so. We ask that you discuss with your line manager and determine your home arrangements and therefore your ability to work from home, work in the office, and how your overall team will ensure that we maintain our level of service.

The UK Government announced the list of those key workers still able to send their children to school. UUK has sought clarification from DfE, who confirm that the intention is for ‘specialist education professionals’ to be a sufficiently broad definition to cater for business-critical staff in higher education settings. The Government is asking that people follow key principles that; if it is at all possible for children to be at home, then they should be and that if a child needs specialist support, is vulnerable or has a parent is who is a critical worker, then educational provision will be made for them.  

The advice that the University has received from UUK suggest that key workers would be those who are critical to maintain or co-ordinating student safety and those co-ordinating or maintaining research projects, which aren’t able to be stopped. 

The groups of staff we consider to be key workers in these exceptional circumstances: 

  • Security, Cleaners, Wardens, Religious Staff, Catering, Heads of Academic Department, key IT infrastructure staff, maintenance staff, technicians, research directors, library staff, Hive staff, Centre for Wellbeing, Robens 
  • Gold members, Silver members who are leading the response to the current situation 

Please continue to discuss and agree with your line managers as we seek to further clarify the position. 

In these challenging times we are aware that many of you are caring for children or elderly parents as well as trying to work remotely. This isn’t easy and we understand that you may not be able to achieve as much work as you had planned to do prior to the Covid-19 outbreak.

Please take care of your family, do what work you can, and ask for help if you need it. Please be reassured that you do not need to take annual leave to cover any hours or days that you cannot work, and you will continue to receive your normal pay.

Join CAPE on Teams for solidarity and support

The People, Culture and Inclusion team has launched a Microsoft Teams group called CAPE: Carers And Parents Everyday. CAPE is intended to be a support network for parents and carers who are balancing caring responsibilities with working from home. 

CAPE can:

  • Bring colleagues together to share ideas and successes as well as highlight any struggles or concerns
  • Help you find a support buddy – if you wish – to share experiences and provide peer support
  • Provide resources and advice on balancing competing priorities and looking after yourself
  • Signpost you to helpful outlets for relevant information

Do join the CAPE Team and get in touch if you would like to share any ideas, successes, struggles or concerns with others who are in a similar position to you. You can also contact the CAPE team for a confidential chat if you would prefer a one-to-one discussion by emailing

The University owes a duty of care to all colleagues to prevent the spread of infection. Your line manager may ask that you do not come to work for a period. If so instructed, you must not enter the University’s premises until such time as your manager informs you that you may return to work.

Under such circumstances, you would normally be required to work from home. Your line manager will discuss the work that you may be required to carry out from home, which may include amended duties. You would continue to receive your salary as normal.

Any refusal to follow an instruction not to attend work may result in suspension to ensure colleagues are not put at risk. Please refer to the University's Flexible Working Policy (PDF) for advice.

Some colleagues or visitors may be unable to return to China due to travel restrictions. UKVI has confirmed that any Chinese national in the UK whose leave to remain is due to expire will get an automatic extension until 31 March 2020. If you are in this situation you must contact your HR Manager.

Follow the advice you have received from NHS 111.

Please contact your line manager who will then make the appropriate contact with Security.

As the University has added an additional two days onto the Easter period, the current situation is that staff will be able to carry over seven days.

Individuals should still take leave as currently booked.

Whilst the working environment may be different, the University does anticipate a level of working remotely/on site and hence leave should still be taken. This will be reviewed as the situation evolves.

In general, we do not believe you will need to carry forward additional annual leave in to the 2020/21 leave year. Although the Government has eased the restrictions on carry-over of statutory leave, this is aimed at key workers who are unable to take their leave due to their work in tackling the Covid-19 epidemic.

The Government has specified that the carry-over applies “Where it is not reasonably practicable for a worker to take some, or all, of the holiday to which they are entitled due to the coronavirus.” This will not apply to the majority of University staff, who remain able to take their leave, although we do appreciate they may not be able to go away at present. The policy will remain that a maximum of seven days can be carried over to the following year, increasing by two days due to the additional leave awarded at Easter

However, if you are unable to take your leave because you are a key worker, for example you are a clinical academic and have increased your hours working with the NHS, then you should speak to your manager about leave carry over. HR will need to be informed of any agreements you reach.

The University continues to follow Public Health England and Government advice, which does not currently advise closure of our campus. Until the situation changes, we will continue to operate, whilst ensuring we consider all student and staff concerns and welfare needs.

Now most staff are working from home, in order to support those staff who have to be on campus to maintain essential operations, and also to support local NHS staff and others, we have removed all parking restrictions and charges with immediate effect. 

  • Anyone with a pay-as-you-go permit will not be charged for parking.
  • Anyone with a monthly or full pre-paid permit will be converted to pay-as-you-go.
  • Monthly payments will be stopped from April and pro-rata refunds issued where appropriate.

Anyone who needs support with parking or transport-related queries should contact

Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (furlough leave)

University of Surrey employees can access the University’s Furlough Policy by visiting the HR Policy page on the intranet.

Furlough means that those in particular roles will be placed on ‘leave’, as much of the work they do either cannot be carried out from home, or their roles and functions are not required due to the current rules on social distancing.

The Government scheme will fund 80% of salaries for furloughed staff (up to the cap announced of £2,500 per month), and the University will make up the remaining amount so those involved will continue to receive their full salary, ensuring no one is financially worse off.

Anyone furloughed will retain all the main benefits as normal – their pay, alongside pension and allowances – but staff will not be expected to work for a set period of time – between three weeks and three months.

Yes. All UK employers that had created and shared a PAYE payroll scheme on 19 March 2020, and have a UK bank account are eligible for the scheme.

This includes businesses, charities, recruitment agencies with eligible agency workers paid through PAYE, public authorities and universities.

Full-time and part-time employees that were on the University’s PAYE payroll on 19 March 2020.

Some Agency staff are also eligible under the scheme and we are currently looking at how those who are currently working through Unitemps can be supported by the University. Anyone who is eligible will be informed by letter from Unitemps.

  1. Publicly funded posts: where the University receives public funding for staff costs, and that funding is continuing. The Government expects employers to use that money to continue to pay staff as usual rather than put them on furlough leave.
  2. Workers on unpaid leave, unless that unpaid leave started after 28 February 2020.
  3. Workers working on reduced hours (for example those who have already agreed to reduced hours or short-time working). A furloughed employee must not do work for the University.

There are a number of roles at the University, all of which are extremely valuable during normal operations, but which are very difficult to carry out when we have been asked to work from home as a result of the Coronavirus outbreak.

The Government has launched a scheme to help employers reclaim the cost of employing people who are unable to work at home and in order to access it, the University needs to furlough the affected staff.

Yes. Although the Government will only reimburse for 80% of base salary, up to a maximum of £2,500 per month, the University has made a commitment to top up staff salaries to 100%.

Yes – those who have been furloughed will pay Income Tax and National Insurance on any payments received through this scheme as they normally do.

Decisions are based on the role that you do rather than you as an individual. Roles suitable for furlough are generally those which cannot be carried out remotely, or where for other reasons related to Covid-19 there has been a substantial reduction in work.

The Scheme applies to employees on any kind of contract, so fixed term employees are included. If the fixed term contract would end before 31 May 2020 (i.e. the current Scheme end date), and would not be extended, then the Scheme is likely only to apply for that employee until the current fixed term contract expires. If the fixed term was about to expire shortly then it would be an abuse of the scheme to extend the contract simply to enable funds to be claimed under the Scheme.

The University has a duty to act in a way to protect the interests of all of its employees. Decisions on which roles to furlough have been based on current operational need. We would ask everyone who has been approached about furlough to consider it seriously, as it will benefit the longer term financial sustainability of the University.

Being furloughed has no impact on your employment status at the University.

No, this scheme is for those roles that can’t be done remotely for the initial three-week period.

If you have a work laptop, you may still use it for personal use, and to access to emails to stay in touch with people, but you must not carry out work.

The minimum amount of time is three weeks and currently the scheme is available until 31 July 2020 with no changes to the current 80%. Every member of staff who agrees to furlough will be advised of the initial length of the leave. It should be noted that leave could be ended earlier if operationally necessary, subject to three calendar days' notice Current scheme being extended till end of July – with NO changes.

A revised scheme will run from 1st Aug to 31st Oct 2020 – this will enable business to bring furloughed staff back part-time. Full details on this revised scheme will follow by the end of May.

As staff on furlough leave will remain in employment, they will continue to accrue holiday. University policy has been relaxed so that a maximum of seven days can be carried over, to the next annual leave year, but otherwise leave should still be taken as normal. The University can request that you take holiday during your furlough leave.

If the person was already sick then they would remain on sick leave until they had recovered and could only then be furloughed. Arguably, once an employee is placed on furlough leave then their fitness to work is irrelevant as they are not required to work – on that view they would not need to provide a sick note and the employer would not pay SSP, however in the event one of our furloughed staff did become ill (with Covid-19 or any other illness), we would appreciate being told to ensure we can put in any support required.

No, any person who is furloughed must be for a minimum of three weeks for their employer to be eligible to claim under this scheme.

This is consistent with the public health guidance seeking to minimise the number of people outside of their homes on a regular basis. The Scheme supports employers asking the maximum number of employees to remain at home during the coronavirus outbreak.

A clear minimum period also aids a clear definition of who is and who is not furloughed.

If you are furloughed you cannot work for your employer during this period.

You can volunteer or train, provided that this does not involve the manufacture or creation of an item or part thereof than can yield revenue for the University, the provisions of services to the company, or the provision of any service that can yield revenue for the University.

A worker can only be furloughed whilst on maternity if the work could no longer be delivered if they had been in the workplace/working remotely.

Yes, but you must not undertake any work for the University. You are asked to keep in regular contact during your furlough leave and your manager will also remain in touch, and you should respond to communications (not to produce work). We would encourage you to attend any team social meetings or activities if you are happy to do so.

We expect managers and staff to have clear and open conversations about performance regularly through the year, culminating in the discussion at appraisal time and this should be no different this year, it may be that it is done remotely rather than face to face. It has however been recognised that for many this has not been a ‘normal’ year there are ongoing discussions as to how we may manage the overall process going forward.

The University of Surrey is aware of concerns expressed by Unitemps workers about whether or not they will be eligible for financial support for loss of earnings as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic. Unitemps is an employment agency based on our campus. Having discussed this with them, we now understand there will  be  an application for support under the Government scheme, and as a result have undertaken to furlough eligible workers employed through them for an initial period of three weeks.


If you were in a booking which was not completed because of the Covid-19 crisis, then you will be eligible.

Keep reviewing the University Unitemps website as there will be ongoing updates on there. You may also wish to look at the Government website.

Travelling on University business

The University is currently in touch with those who we know are abroad and giving them appropriate advice and support. If you are still outside of the UK and experiencing difficulties in returning, please contact your line manager.

All staff travelling internationally on University business should cease from now until the end of June. If you are booking travel for later in the year, then please ensure you get a fully refundable ticket.

For travel within the UK, please limit to non-essential travel until the end of June. Please use your reasonable judgement as to what is business critical in the coming weeks, and appropriately risk assess any proposed travel. You should consider virtual alternatives where possible.

You should read the latest country-specific guidance from the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO). You should also follow the latest location-specific advice from Public Health England. Any UK citizens in any lockdown areas or special care zones should contact the British embassy or the FCO.

Following the latest Government movement restrictions, only absolutely essential travel on University business is anticipated. If you have a critical need to travel, please contact your line manager who will liaise with HR for relevant documentation.

There are now numerous countries that are no longer accepting individuals who have been to the UK.

You should contact the UKVI if your visa has expired. The Government advises that anyone in the UK with leave expiring between 24 January and 31 May will have their visa extended to 31 May 2020.

You will need to contact the Home Office to let them know why you can’t go back to your home country, for example ‘because the border has closed’. Please contact your line manager if you have any concerns.

Advice for employees working with international partners

There is no current total ban on travel from any country to the UK. Only people travelling from very specific areas are subject to quarantine on arrival in the UK. However, please raise the planned or prospective visit with your Head of Department in the first instance. They can escalate to the Silver Command Incident Response Team if they feel this is necessary.

If you anticipate major disruption to research projects or other university work as a result of travel restrictions or other coronavirus management measures around the world, and are unable to mitigate this yourself, please notify your Head of Department in the first instance.


We appreciate the situation has meant we have had to introduce changes quickly and you may have questions, the Department of Technology Enhanced Learning is there to support you. Find out more on SurreyLearn.

Recent reports in the media have highlighted security concerns about the Zoom video conferencing platform. We are conscious that some staff prefer to utilise Zoom for meetings, particularly those with many attendees. Zoom is part of the University’s online teaching toolset and is configured to be as secure as presenting in a campus lecture hall. It is not a secure and private communications tool and we advise against its use for meetings where sensitive or confidential issues will be discussed.

The University’s preferred platform for secure and private communications is Microsoft Teams. Advice on how to use Teams is available via this Teams group (with contributions from IT Services).

Advice on the use of Zoom for online teaching is available via the DTEL Covid-19 page on SurreyLearn.

A full list of all the University approved collaboration tools can be found here.

Advice for researchers

We appreciate the situation has meant we have had to introduce changes quickly and you may have questions. View the dedicated information for supervisors.

We appreciate the situation has meant we have had to introduce changes quickly and you may have questions. View the dedicated information for researchers.

Advice for line managers

As most of your staff are no longer on campus, you should, where possible, keep in regular touch with them. You should ensure that they are healthy and report any sickness cases to HR in the normal way – including reporting when any instance of sickness has finished.

There will be further advice from Wellbeing as to how to manage working from home as well as counselling services available where additional support is required.

If you believe one of your staff has an essential requirement to be on campus, they may now require written authorisation from the University:

  • For faculty queries please contact your Director of Faculty Operations
  • For others, please send your query to your HR contact or email

The University has a comprehensive strategy which is currently overseen by a Silver group. All decisions in relation to quarantine and significant impact would be agreed by Silver and disseminated through the relevant Executive Board Members for further dissemination.

The University is very aware of the anxiety the current situation is causing. Whilst we are still operating, we do need to provide some support to those who require it. Please try and reassure them, or discuss possible working from home options. You may also wish to divide your team into two, with those teams alternating between working from home one week and in the office the other. This is a very unusual situation and one that may require local management discretion.

Advise your HR department that the individual is self-isolating.

If they have offered to/can work from home, HR will record as self-isolation. If the individual is unable to work from home then this will also be recorded as self-isolation.

If you have a team that can work at home, ask staff to start taking laptops home with them and ensure they have appropriate access to enable home-working. If you have a team that cannot work from home, advise them that they will need to remain at home and that they should monitor the situation via the University website and text alert system and return when requested.

Please also consider how best to deliver your team’s work if you were unable to get to campus. The University is also carrying out further work with key departments to identify how best to deliver teaching in a range of scenarios.

In this case, the University would request some form of confirmation from a GP and/or hospital that this has been advised. The University will accept that this may not be possible following the usual self-certified period, but a request should be made as soon as practical by the individual.

Some colleagues or visitors may be unable to return to China due to travel restrictions. UKVI has confirmed that any Chinese national in the UK whose leave to remain is due to expire will get an automatic extension until 31 March 2020. If you are in this situation you must contact your HR Manager.

Every effort should be made to accommodate the interview by Skype and to replicate the interview process.

We appreciate that candidates may not have been to Surrey and therefore may not be able to make a decision if offered a role. Please discuss with your HR team who can provide them with information and, if they have been offered the role, arrangements may be made for them to come to Surrey when they are able to travel.

Keep in contact with the individual and ask them to keep you up-to-date. 

As with self-isolation, the University would normally require that if the staff member is well enough to do so, they undertake work from the location they are in.  We appreciate that this may not be possible and you should discuss this further with the individual.  You could ask them to undertake alternative duties, which are suitable for remote working.

For as long as the member of staff is prevented from returning to the UK you will receive your salary as normal. We would ask that they keep you regularly updated

The above will be regularly updated in line with any changes in advice from official external sources or decisions made by the University Silver group.

Refer to University's HR policies for further information.

How we will communicate with you

All official communications from the University to staff are delivered via:

So we can contact you via text message to inform you of any important information, please make sure your mobile number is up to date on Surrey Self-Service.

We’re aware that there is a lot of understandable concern about the current situation. This concern has led in some places to some inaccurate rumours circulating. If you are unsure about the accuracy of any information please check this page in the first instance or email

Previous communications

View emails: