Should the University offer a corporate flu voucher?

QUESTION:

I was wondering, with the usual bouts of seasonal Flu that spreads throughout the University that results in staff being absent, if the University has thought about offering a corporate flu voucher?

I know that Boots so such a scheme and I’m sure other local chemists may be interested.
Boots link http://www.boots.com/en/Pharmacy-Health/Health-shop/Cough-cold-flu/Flu-Vaccinations/Corporate-Flu-Vaccinations/

ANSWER:

Flu vaccinations are available from GP practices free of charge every year if you are considered to be at risk of flu and its complications. We have been asked to consider this matter previously and we believe that the voucher scheme would be difficult to for us to administer for staff not in this group and would be costly to the University especially given that vouchers purchased which are not used are non-refundable.

The University position is therefore that if you are not in this group there are many pharmacies that offer flu vaccinations including pharmacies in supermarkets which provide a simple, convenient and cost effective option for staff.

Why is there an Open Day being held on 15 March?

QUESTION:

Just wondering why the 15th March (Mothering Sunday) has been approved as an Open Day – wouldn’t it make more sense to go with the 14th?

Can’t imagine it will be busy as everyone will be spending the day with their mums. Staff won’t be keen on working for the same reason.

Thank you

ANSWER:

Sunday 15 March was chosen as an Open Day date because it will be the first day of the Staffs V Keele Varsity, hosted this year by Staffordshire University. This means that the campus will be busy with lots of students around and activities happening on that day. The campus will be buzzing and vibrant and hosting an Open Day during Varsity gives us a great and unique opportunity to showcase our facilities and student life at their best to both our new prospects and applicants alike.

Can retired staff keep their University email?

QUESTION:

Dear Ask Executive,

When a member of staff retires is it possible to retain the University email account?

Either way, does this also apply to the Managed Severance Scheme?

Many thanks.

ANSWER:

Staff who leave the University are no longer entitled to a Staffordshire University email account and should therefore make arrangements in advance of their leaving date to obtain a personal email address. This therefore applies to staff leaving the University who have been successful in their Managed Severance Scheme application.

Do you have to accept MSS if you request an estimate?

QUESTION:

Once you have requested an MSS estimate, does that necessarily mean you have to accept MSS and leave?

ANSWER:

Staff can apply for MSS figures on a no obligation basis. If an individual submits a form for MSS then this can be retracted up until the point that the MSS Panel considers this. At the point in time of consideration the request is deemed as binding on the individual if the MSS panel accepts the case and the stated leaving date. If the case is approved but the date is not suitable, an alternative date is offered to the individual, who has the right to turn this down and remain in employment.

When is the academic calendar finalised?

QUESTION:

Dear Ask Executive,
Please could you give a specific date on which the 2015/16 academic calendar will be finalised following your statement that “the academic calendar remains under review and further meetings are planned with Faculties to review the impact of the 2014/15 changes before the 2015/16 calendar is finalised” in your response dated 06/01/2015.

Does this comment indicate that the calendar will not be released until following the end of the next academic term (when the impact of the calendar for 2014/15 can be reviewed)?

How does this fit with the “managing academic workloads and the professional contract” policy which states that workload planning activities “would normally commence in March/April and the overall plan of work should be determined by the line manager in consultation with the individual by the end of the July before the start of the following academic year”?

In addition will students planning to start in 2015/16 be left in the dark about the academic calendar dates until much later in the year? What impact is this likely to have on student satisfaction in relation to information provided to new students prior to starting a course with us? If a student enquires about term dates for their course what should they be told?

ANSWER:

The term dates for 2015/16 have been agreed. They have been communicated to Student Finance England (SFE) and are published on the University’s website.

The timing of Easter in 2016 is such that the two week Easter holiday encompasses the weeks including Good Friday and Easter Monday, while also permitting nine weeks of teaching pre-Easter and three weeks thereafter.

The purpose of the interim review of the academic calendar, commencing later this month, is to evaluate the impact of changes that have already been implemented (introduction of an independent study week in semester one and an earlier semester one examination period) and to assess whether such changes should be retained in the 2015/16 calendar.

Will 80:20 posts have to reapply for roles?

QUESTION:

In previous restructures a number of posts have been deemed to be ‘ 80:20 ‘ matches and therefore the staff in these posts have not had to reapply for these jobs.

My question is would this be applied to this restructure once the MSS have been completed or will all the remaining posts have to be applied for by remaining staff members.

ANSWER:

The Ways of Working programme will shortly be made available for consultation. As part of this, the business case will include the new proposed structures for comment as part of the consultation process. Once the roles have been determined at the end of the consultation process, we will then look to see if any individuals are an 80:20 match to the roles or whether there will be a process of appointment.

How will the University ensure our offices aren’t freezing after a break?

QUESTION:

Dear Ask-Executive,

When I arrived back at work this morning after the vacation, I discovered that my office was at a rather wintry nine degrees centigrade. This isn’t the first year I’ve noticed that office temperatures don’t seem to meet health and safety minimum standards* after the Christmas break, so I’m wondering what plans the University will be putting in place to deal with this recurring issue.

*I know that the sixteen degree rule of thumb is no longer binding, but nine degrees scarcely seems “reasonable” either.

Happy new year.

ANSWER:

There have been a couple of buildings that have felt the cold early this week. The University has a Staffordshire University Heating Guidance – Final that is freely available. This states that a temperature range of 17 through 23°C will be maintained. Generally we try to maintain internal temperatures at 21°C, although a margin of error is to be expected with a range of building ages and structures and varying ages of heating plant.

A heating schedule was created that allowed the service to be set to “anti-frost” only, over the Christmas break. However, this schedule ended by the 4th Jan (or 3rd, where buildings are known to take longer to regain a comfortable temperature).

Where problems are still being reported, we are investigating an appropriate “warm up” time, and will endeavour to ensure that university buildings have gained sufficient heat for comfort after periods of disuse, in readiness for reoccupation.

However, it would appear that in the case of the Brindley and Flaxman buildings, technical faults beyond the Building Management System control have occurred, which have interrupted the normal circulation of heat. These faults are being investigated at present.

The 16°C minimum temperature is often cited but has never been a statutory minimum. It is, however commonly used as a minimum guidance temperature for sedentary work and is regarded as the “reasonable” lower limit for internal temperatures.

Can colleagues be redeployed into jobs vacated by MSS?

QUESTION:

I understand that if someone were to leave due to Voluntary Redundancy (MMS) that job cannot be advertised, however could the redundant job be replaced by re-deploying someone else within the University.

ANSWER:

In some circumstances a job may still be required but it may have a potential for a redeployment opportunity so MSS could possibly be granted. Each case will be looked at on its own merits.

Will the deadline for MSS be pushed back?

QUESTION:

I understand that Human Resources are inundated with requests for estimates and until estimates are received staff cannot progress applications for managed severance. It’s been just over a week since I made my application for an estimate (not yet received) and I am not alone. With offices closing on the 23 December until Monday 5th January this leaves 14 working days for estimates to be received and applications made, plus the decision making process to be completed. Do Human Resources consider that this is doable and if not will the deadline be pushed back?

ANSWER:

Currently we do not have any plans to amend the closing date. However as we get closer to the closing date we will take stock of how many applications are still awaiting information or where applicants have only just received this so that we are fair to those individuals.