return to campus

COVID-19 - Return to Campus

HR Information for Employees and Managers

Updated: 19 January 2021

Effective from 4 January 2021 (post-Christmas UCD return to work), as Ireland has entered level 5 lockdown, where possible employees should work from home. Given the dynamic COVID-19 situation, should this Government directive change, this section of the website will be reviewed and updated in line with the prevailing public advice.

As outlined in the President’s Bulletin of 18 September 2020 current restrictions mean that our plans for a staged return to campus working for employees effectively working from home will be suspended until the restriction level is reduced to 1.

Employees whose presence is required on campus to support students or research, directly or indirectly are expected to work on the campus. Where work can be done effectively from home, it should continue to be done from home

In bringing more employees back to work on campus, UCD are not seeking to reintroduce our ‘old normal’ with all our people on campus most of the time. As reflected in the feedback from our Culture & Engagement survey, UCD acknowledge a need to develop and adopt more flexible working arrangements that will last beyond Covid-19. Working with required social distancing guidelines and better leveraging of technology we will shape our ‘new normal’ in which flexible working practices allow for different working times, patterns, and locations in support of the effective and safe delivery of our work.

UCD does not expect 100% of work to occur on campus, but we also cannot achieve a fuller campus operation or sense of campus life for our students with all working remotely. A balance needs to be achieved taking into consideration the work to be done and the services to be delivered.

Your manager will discuss with you how this wider return to on-campus working will impact your working arrangements. 

These revised arrangements will take effect on a phased basis from 1st September, with a phasing that varies across schools, units and functions based on the local need for physical presence on campus.  UCD will begin to safely re-open more campus buildings from 1st September and expect manager plans to be ready by 14th September, so that we are ready for the new trimester.

Planning ahead

Managers should approach planning at first from a macro and then more micro level.

  • Consider what functions, activities and services need a full or part physical presence on campus for effective working.
  • When it is decided what functions, activities and services will require a campus presence, then decisions can be taken as to how the service is actually delivered in the physical setting with required roles and infrastructure modifications needed for workspaces, in a manner that complies with public health guidance.
  • Identify how many people are needed to deliver an effective on campus service.  (This may be restricted by social distancing requirements.)
  • Identify the working patterns that are needed for physical presence on campus, such as pods, timings, rotas.
  • Then this will need to be actively managed by team and individual meetings as required so that we can move to the point where across campus we are populating the numbers (roles) needed and in the working patterns required.
  • What infrastructure do these people need to do their role? Desks, PPE, cleaning, etc.

Key Resources for Managers and Employees to Support the return to Campus Working

Decision-making Structures

  • UCD Covid-19 Governance - This diagram shows the decision-making structures and roles & responsibilities for ensuring adherence to all Public Health and Sectoral Guidance.

Employee Resources

Manager Resources

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UCD is made up of a wide range of people with diverse backgrounds and circumstances. The Covid-19 pandemic has highlighted that employees with diverse traits and backgrounds are impacted differently. Coronavirus (COVID-19) can make anyone seriously ill. For some employees, the risk is higher. In addition, Coronavirus may have impacted or compounded employees from underrepresented groups’ health and well-being or increased: caring responsibilities; experiences of marginalisation and isolation; or financial strain. Some employees may be managing overlapping diversity traits such as, a disability, and caring responsibilities. This section provides an overview of the key EDI principles which managers should be guided by in discussion with employees about the feasibility of returning to work on campus.

The following diversity markers should be considered in conversations with employees on returning to work on campus:

  • Age
  • Caring responsibilities
  • Disability
  • Gender 
  • Health status
  • Pregnancy
  • Race and ethnicity
  • Sexual orientation 
  • Socio-economic status

COVID- 19 EDI Guiding Principles for Managers discussing return to work on campus with employees:

  • Adopt an equitable, inclusive and respectful approach 
  • Consider the communication tools you will use to discuss with employees from different cultural, linguistic backgrounds or with learning differences
  • Have an open conversation to establish employees’ circumstances and the feasibility of returning to work on campus. Be mindful of EDI related challenges, experiences, or concerns:
  • Reassure employees that any personal information discussed relating to an underlying condition, disability or EDI will remain confidential.
  • Follow public health advice for employees that disclose that they are in an ‘at risk’ category categories.
  • Encourage employees in an ‘at risk’ category to follow public health advice if they must return to work on campus
  • Encourage employees who are pregnant to undergo a ‘Pregnant Employee Risk Assessment’ 
  • Encourage all employees to take extra care to follow public health guidelines in order to protect colleagues from coronavirus who may be in an ‘at risk’ category and are working on campus: Visit the HSE site.
  • Discuss flexible working arrangements and refer to family friendly policies to support employees who have caring responsibilities.
  • Ensure employees that continue to work remotely are given the same career development and progression opportunities as employees working on campus.
  • Signpost employees to UCD’s EDI policies, peer support networks and supports
  • Promote culture of equality, diversity and inclusion within School/Unit 
  • Comply with legislation 

Other Resources