All the scientific advice from both independent and government sources says that keeping schools open will be the absolute priority and other sectors should be really cautious about who they ask to return to in-person work. Because of this, we’re becoming increasingly frustrated with the approach at University of Birmingham to asking staff to come back to work.
While their comms to the entire staff body use lots of flowery language about the “opportunity” to return to the office and managers being “compassionate” in these discussions, we’re getting so much feedback from members who are perfectly able to work from home but are being told that they have to return to the office for fixed amounts of time whether they need to be there or not.
Many managers also seem unable to apply flexibility and consideration when it comes to those with underlying health conditions or other valid reasons for concern about returning to work.
Our suspicion is not that these managers are doing it off their own back – rather there has been a push behind the scenes to ignore valid objections and get staff back on to campus whether they need to be there or not. They say this is to encourage a “vibrant” campus for when students return, despite the fact that staff are also being told not to leave their offices once they are on campus to help limit possible transmission.
Of course, many staff don’t have the option to work from home and lots of our members are keen to support students in whatever way they need, whether that’s in person or remotely. What keeps staff who *do* have to be on campus safe though is keeping numbers on campus under control.
Come on University of Birmingham, you can do better than this.