UCU reps have been pushing for a better university policy on face coverings and clearer support for staff who don’t feel safe returning to campus. Branch president Chloe Wallace emailed UCU members 21 September:
I am writing this email, for the first time in 18 months, from my office in the Liberty Building on campus. Like a lot of us, I was anxious about returning to campus but also joyful about seeing colleagues and students again and being back in the place I have worked for 22 years. I am grateful to be here, but increasingly worried that rising case rates and reducing mitigations across society will mean that our return will be short-lived and we will be required to work from home again.
I want in this email to address two things which relate to return to campus and start of term
UCU have been repeatedly raising with management your concerns about the University’s policy on face coverings and in particularly worrying about whether you can ask or require students to wear face coverings in class. As a result, we are expecting an improvement on university policy this week. This is rather late, given the importance of setting the tone with students right from the beginning, but we are glad that your concerns are being listened to. In the meantime, please follow all health and safety guidance around campus and let us, and the health and safety team, know if you have any concerns.
We have also heard, and raised with management, many concerns from staff about being pressurised to return to campus, even when you may have medical reasons to continue to work from home. We have been assured that nobody should be pressurised to come onto campus and particularly that if you are vulnerable to COVID-19, or live with someone who is, you should be enabled to work from home. This is also the case for disabled staff for whom working from home is a reasonable adjustment for reasons not related to COVID-19. We have emphasised the importance of making this clearer in University communication to empower staff to ask for what they need. If you are feeling pressurised to return to campus and your line manager is being unhelpful, please contact us via firstname.lastname@example.org and we will arrange a caseworker to support you.
Our next General Meeting is on Thursday 7th October at 1pm, and we will be discussing these issues and many more. Please watch out for an email from Alan Smith with the agenda and details of the meeting and please do attend if you are able – our General Meetings will continue to be held online until further notice.
I am planning to be on campus two days a week for the time being, unless instructions change. If you see me around, please do say hello – 18 months at home alone have taught me how much I value in person connection with others, however, brief – even if you can’t see my smile under my mask!
Dr Chloe Wallace
Associate Professor in Law
School of Law
University of Leeds.
Co-Director, Centre for Innovation and Research in Legal Education
Programme Leader, School of Law 4 year programmes
President, Leeds University UCU
This page was last updated on 21 September 2021