Face coverings and social distancing

This guidance is to assist you should a staff member express concerns about their ability to wear a face covering on campus, and should a staff member not comply with social distancing requirements.

Face coverings

In order to protect the safety of staff and students, and in line with government guidance, the University requires face coverings to be worn by staff, students and visitors at all times while inside University buildings (except for single occupancy offices) unless there is an exceptional reason that exempts the staff member for doing so. The best available scientific evidence is that, when used correctly, wearing a face covering may reduce the spread of coronavirus droplets in certain circumstances, helping to protect others.

It is important that managers enquire with the staff member the reason for them not being able to wear a face covering and take a sensitive and compassionate approach in such situations.

A suggested approach for when a member of staff does not wear a face covering (with no indicator that they are exempt) could be:

Manager asks “I can see that you’re not wearing a face covering, do you need one? We have some spares here?”

1. Member of staff replies to say they don’t agree with face coverings.

  • Manager reminds them of UoL and Government guidance and discusses importance of wearing face masks to protect others.
  • If appropriate, manager to explore alternative arrangements for MoS, e.g. separate office space.

2. Member of staff replies no.

  • Manager reminds them of UoL and Government guidance and discusses importance of wearing face masks to protect others.
  • If appropriate, manager to explore alternative arrangements for MoS, e.g. separate office space.

3. Member of staff replies to say they have a medical condition exempting them.

  • If appropriate, manager asks if they have tried wearing a face covering, or if a different type of face covering may be helpful.
  • If appropriate, manager to explore alternative arrangements for MoS, e.g. separate office space.

Managers must not:

  • Ask staff who have an age, health or disability reason for not wearing a face covering to provide any evidence of this, for example from their GP, or refer them to Occupational Health.
  • Ask staff already indicating that they are exempt from wearing a face covering for further details or justification.
  • Mandate that staff wear an item that indicates that they are exempt from wearing a face covering.

Where managers require additional support with the above they should refer back to their local HR Team for guidance and support.

Social distancing

Social distancing has proved to be the single most effective measure in minimising the spread of the virus. Staff are asked to maintain this at all times, including when arriving at and departing from work, while in work, and while moving within buildings.

We recognise that there may be occasions where staff forget to comply with social distancing measures. In such cases, managers should politely remind members of staff of the need to maintain social distancing, in line with the guidance published by Safety Services.

It is expected that most minor breaches will be resolved informally and sensitively. However, there may be instances where further guidance is required; in these cases managers should refer to their local HR Team for support. These guidelines are in place to ensure the safety and wellbeing of staff, students and the public; repeated and serious breaches of social distancing guidelines may therefore be investigated under the Disciplinary Policy and Procedure.

Student conduct and COVID-19

Where a student is non-compliant of the safety measures we expect the same sensitive approach to apply. We recognise that there may be occasions where students forget to comply with measures. In such cases, we would expect them to act responsibly and with respect if asked by either a member of staff or student to follow the requirements.

If students persistently disregard measures put in place in response to COVID-19 or behave inappropriately towards other students or members of staff the University can take action under the Student Conduct and Discipline Regulations.

We are proud to have a diverse student body and there may be valid reasons why a student is not adhering to safety measures. For example, a student with a particular learning need or disability may be exempt from wearing a face covering. Students who are exempt from safety measures, for example wearing a mask, can notify us by completing the form. In line with the guidance for staff, under no circumstances should a member of staff mandate that a student evidence their disability.

For more detailed information on our approach to managing student conduct in relation to COVID-19 breaches, please refer to the Appendix to Senate Regulation or email studentconduct@leicester.ac.uk.