Staffing strategy | University of Oxford

COVID-19 staffing strategies

Last reviewed 19 February 2021

Find out about some of the temporary measures we are taking to protect jobs, deploy resources, and support all our staff under the conditions of coronavirus.

The impacts of COVID-19 have brought rapid and often uncomfortable changes to the way we live and work. From the closure of our museums to the move to online teaching, from cancellation of events to increased challenges for staff juggling jobs with caring responsibilities, the impacts have left no one unaffected.

While the University continues to scope the size of our financial risks and the extent of income loss from these impacts, we needed to take sensible, pragmatic actions early in the COVID-19 pandemic in order to ensure we sustain academic excellence throughout this period of uncertainty and mitigate any longer-term risks. We have put careful thought and coordination into rallying our resources, taking actions, and planning for the future, even while taking necessarily quick decisions to address the financial challenges we face.

A key priority is to manage and deploy our staffing resources most effectively, and it is in this context that we have implemented a number of staffing protocols in all departments, units and faculties across the University. These are:

Recruitment and redeployment

A recruitment freeze and redeployment protocol has been implemented across the University to control salary costs and manage staffing resources.

This protocol defines a stricter authorisation process for the recruitment of all staff, except posts where 80% or more of the costs are covered from external sources, and supports our current staff by strengthening redeployment arrangements via the Priority Candidate Support Scheme. It allows for greater movement between roles, fills capacity where there are constraints, and offers more opportunities to employees whose contracts are ending.

Job retention and furlough

We are making use of the Government’s Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS) also known as furlough. The scheme has now been extended to 30 April 2021. Where appropriate we are furloughing staff who are unable to work because of the nature of their jobs or their caring responsibilities. The CJRS allows us to reclaim a percentage of salary costs while continuing to keep staff employed. We are using the part-time furlough arrangements to bring some furloughed staff back to work on a part-time basis.

The University is paying all furloughed employees 100% of their salary. Furloughed staff members will see no changes to their salaries, benefits or pension arrangements; they remain employees of the University on the same terms and conditions, but carry out no work at all for the employer (or other organisation linked or associated with the employer) during the period of their furlough.

• Detailed guidance, including FAQs, is provided for all staff on the HR Support website.

Other financial mitigation efforts

In light of the uncertain financial position due to COVID-19, the Personnel Committee considered possible financial mitigations related to pay which could be put in place for the next financial year. Recommendations for pay mitigation related to discretionary pay were approved by Council on 22 June. Further details can be found on the Staff Gateway (behind SSO).

Staff support

We have instigated a range of measures and resources to support staff working and well-being, especially during these times of additional uncertainty and difficulty for staff.

We have also developed guidance for staff on the return to on-site working. The guidance can be found on the University’s RTOSW pages.

We appreciate that the unpredictable nature of the current situation can feel particularly unsettling for staff. The measures being implemented are aimed to support staff with their various circumstances, protect individuals' incomes, and enable us to operate as smoothly as possible during this period. Afterwards, they will allow us to protect jobs by contributing to the University’s longer-term financial sustainability.

If you would like to find out more about what the University is doing to support and protect our staff and students as we continue to deliver our academic mission, please visit our Coronavirus Resources page.

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