Additional Guidance for Managers: Equality, Diversity and Inclusion

School of Informatics guidance for managers: equality, diversity and inclusion

The University has issued a document Guidance for Managers Supporting your team adapting to new ways of working which can be found under the link below which advises that managers must consider equality issues in their decisions: “In applying this guidance please continue to uphold the principles of equality, diversity and inclusion, being alert and responsive to the differential impacts of the pandemic and the new ways of working on different groups of staff. As a manager, it is important to continue to promote a fair and positive culture.”

Managing staff who are returning to work on campus

This page describes the mitigations that have been made within the School of Informatics in the Informatics Forum (IF), Bayes Centre (BC), Appleton Tower (AT) and Wilkie Building (WB) as a result of Equality Impact Assessments carried out for our new policies around working during the Covid-19 pandemic. This document supplements the information in the Handbooks for IF, BC, AT and WB.

Induction and handbooks

More information about Equality Impact Assessment and protected characteristics

School of Informatics approach to return to campus (secured)

An Equality Impact Assessment has been undertaken to evaluate how these changed ways of working will impact different groups.

 

An Equality Impact Assessment is currently being undertaken for Appleton Tower and will be published here when evaluation is complete.

 

The School of Informatics is monitoring the impact of our new policies. Questions or comments can be directed to those responsible for monitoring and implementation of changes: Director of EDI, Head of School and Facilities and Technical Services Manager.

Terminology: This EqIA has been written with staff in mind; however, many of the issues affect students as well. Where there are references to line manager and the InfHR team, for students, the appropriate contacts are personal tutor or supervisor, the ITO (Informatics Teaching Organisation) or the IGS (Informatics Graduate School).

All groups with protected characteristics

Issue Mitigation

Individuals may be uncomfortable about raising equality issues with their line managers.

Concerns can be raised confidentially with Inf HR, Vijay Nagarajan (Director of Equality, Diversity and Inclusion), Jane Hillston (Head of School) and Joy Candlish (Director of Professional Services).
Individuals may not be able to continue working from home

Generally, individuals will be able to work on campus a few days a week. Individuals who have a need for full-time return to campus should discuss this with their line managers.

Individuals with protected characteristics may not want to return to campus if they have previously been shielding

Robust, consistent operating procedures will reduce this risk and provide reassurance. See also below under clinical vulnerability for further information and procedures.

For some people with protected characteristics, timing of presence in the building can be an important issue, including (but not necessarily only) age, disability and caring responsibilities. Furthermore, travel to and from work using public transport may be more difficult and riskier for some individuals with protected characteristics.

Opening hours allow for a reduction in public transport use at peak times and line managers are encouraged to take a flexible approach to arrival and leaving times to allow individuals to avoid these peak times.

Clinical vulnerability to Covid-19

 

The terms extremely clinically vulnerable (high risk) have been defined by NHS on the NHS website. 

Who's at higher risk from coronavirus

An individual planning to return to work on campus who is in the extremely clinically vulnerable (shielding) group or the clinically vulnerable group, should contact their GP for advice on any additional specific measures which need to be implemented and these measures should be discussed with their line manager. The individual does not need to disclose medical information to their manager and should advise them that they are in a vulnerable group and highlight any advice received. The individual may also ask for a personal risk assessment. This applies to anyone with a protected characteristic that may increase risk such as age, sex, disability, pregnancy and maternity, or race.

The Scottish Government has developed guidance which includes a Covid-19 Occupational Risk Assessment Tool. This aims to assess vulnerability and help put measures in place for return to the workplace.

Covid-19 Occupational Risk Assessment

The University has produced guidance for managers to assist with conversations around returning to campus.

Guidance for managers

Issue Mitigation

An individual with protected characteristics may not be able to carry out their research because they are waiting for a risk assessment before they return to the buildings.

Risk assessments should be done in a timely manner.

Age

Issue Mitigation

Older individuals: Restricted access to the building and the use of rotas may occasionally require people to work longer hours on a particular day. This may be detrimental to some older individuals.

This will be mitigated through the communication of the clear expectation that staff and students are not compelled to work excessive hours during the day, and that lengthy operational tasks can, where possible, be shared between team members. Part-time staff should not be expected to work longer than their usual hours.

Disability

Issue Mitigation

General disability: Restricted access to the building and the use of rotas may occasionally require people to work longer hours on a particular day. This may be detrimental to some disabled people who work part-time.

This will be mitigated through the communication of the clear expectation that staff and students are not compelled to work excessive hours during the day, and that lengthy operational tasks can, where possible, be shared between team members.

Invisible disabilities: People with disabilities that are not visible may be criticised for using the lifts or going against the one-way system. They may also need to reveal their disabilities to obtain priority access to lifts or other facilities.

This issue has been highlighted in the handbook, and signage will be located near lifts about invisible disabilities, and encouraging people to use the stairs if they can.

Reduced and impaired mobility: For those staff who may require assistance to exit the building in case of a fire, a risk assessment will be required to determine whether the appropriate support is available at the times they wish to access the building.

If the usual support is not available for the times that the individual will be in the building, other suitable individuals will be trained to provide this support.

The one-way circulation system implemented to maintain social distancing will create longer walking routes around the building. This could impact negatively on those people with reduced or impaired mobility. The lifts will be operational one-person occupancy and goods transport. Depending upon changes to the building, there may be impacts to Personal Emergency Evacuation Plans (PEEPs). Individuals with reduced mobility will be allowed to employ the shortest possible route to their destination even when this goes against a one-way system and will have priority access to the lifts. Managers should discuss mobility issues in relation to building plans and agree a new Personal Emergency Evacuation Plan if required. All disabled toilets will be available.
Travel to and from work using public transport may be more difficult and riskier, with cycling or walking not suitable as alternatives. Line managers are encouraged to take a flexible approach to arrival and leaving times to allow individuals to avoid peak public transport times.  Individuals who are concerned that they may be at increased risk because of public transport usage can bring this up with their line manager in the first instance. Line managers should engage with the individual, taking into account their particular circumstances, to ameliorate risk while at the same time ensuring that individuals are not excluded from undertaking research activities or other work that they are able and willing to do.

Conditions requiring urgent access to toilet facilities: For example, Irritable Bowel Syndrome, Crohn’s disease, those experiencing severe menopause symptoms and menstrual problems.

Individuals in this group will not need to abide by one-way systems to access the toilets and may take the most direct route. Staff may not wish to (and are not obliged to) disclose this information to managers, but managers should make clear to all staff that this is a policy

Visual impairments: Signage may not be readable, and the changed routing will make the building more difficult to navigate.

Those with visual impairments should be offered an individual risk assessment and a revised Personal Emergency Evacuation Plan (PEEP) if required. Approved signage in the buildings has been produced by the University in consultation with the University’s Disability Service and senior university management. The national body – Colour Blind Awareness – has reviewed the signage and approved the visual contrast that addresses all combinations of colour blindness.

Hearing impairments: Some labs may mandate face coverings under certain working conditions, and this may have a negative impact on people who lip-read.

If required, provide facial PPE (Personal Protective Equipment) that allows for lip-reading.

Autism and related conditions:  People with autism can find new experiences and changes to be overwhelming and to lead to increased anxiety.

Before anyone can return to work in the School’s buildings, they will be required to take a return to campus induction which will provide information about the new practices which allows people to familiarise themselves with the new ways of working in the buildings before they arrive at the buildings themselves. Individuals who have concerns can request an in-person tour from Facilities’ staff without having to provide an explanation as to why.

Autism and related conditions: For neurodivergent, especially autistic people, public spaces can be hard to deal with. They can be overwhelming, loud and bright. Areas where queuing is required can also be challenging. One-way systems and reduced capacity within kitchens, pantries and print areas may require queuing. This could be stressful and challenging for autistic staff and students.

Flexibility in break times will allow individuals to avoid queuing, as will hybrid working patterns which will reduce occupancy of the building.

Mental health:  Existing mental health problems such as anxiety, depression and OCD may be exacerbated by the new ways of working both on and off-campus.

People working on campus can discuss these issues with their line manager or supervisor, or the InfHR team (staff) or Graduate School (PGR students). Concerns can also be raised confidentially with the people listed below who can be approached for discussion of equality issues (see under All Groups). For people working from home, the SoI is signposting available support in email and on the SoI Covid-19 website, and people can contact their line manager, supervisor, the InfHR team or the HoS if they are experiencing problems.

Mental health and well-being during the pandemic

Mental health: Some individuals may have short-term mental health problems predominantly caused by the requirement to work from home.

Where possible, these individuals should be given an opportunity to work on campus for all or part of the week, although this is not an equality requirement as short term health issues do not constitute a protected characteristic. However, it is important to be aware that if this situation continues for more than a year, that an individual in this situation could be considered to have disability, and appropriate mitigations are required.

Religion or belief

Issue Mitigation

The chaplaincy and mosque may be closed from time to time, which may result in a lack of nearby religious facilities.

At this stage, the chaplaincy and mosque will be open. Requests for additional or alternate space can be requested through Facilities. Ablutions can be completed in any available washroom facility

Sex

Issue Mitigation

Women: Some women prefer to use women-only toilet for religious or other reasons.

There are women-only toilets in the buildings. Free sanitary products will be available in all open toilet blocks.

Women: More women occupy administrative roles that will be continuing to work from home over the longer term. This may disproportionately affect women in terms of isolation/mental health and in relation to working from home in unsuitable workspaces. The SoI has offered the opportunity for all staff to request hybrid working and all staff can return to campus if they wish. For those continuing to work from home, the SoI is signposting available support in School communications and on the SoI Covid-19 website, and people can contact their line manager, supervisor, the InfHR team or the HoS (Head of School) if they are experiencing problems

Carers: Many individuals have taken on increased caring responsibilities during the COVID- 19 period e.g. childcare, homeschooling, elderly care. There is evidence to show that during the Covid-19 pandemic, women, in particular, have taken on higher levels of caring responsibilities, e.g. childcare, homeschooling, elderly care.

Line managers are required to take caring responsibilities into account when creating staff work plans. For staff who are unable to work on campus because of their caring responsibilities, line managers should engage with the individual, taking into account their particular circumstances.

Sexual orientation

Issue Mitigation

Some LGBT+ people may be hiding aspects of their lives from people that they are living with, or be forced to shelter in situations where their identity is not fully accepted. Any requirement to continue to work from home may  cause disproportionate feelings of isolation and mental health and wellbeing problems for LBGT+ people.

The SoI has offered the opportunity for students and staff to work flexibly – and there is no requirement for PGR students to work fully on campus or from  home. For those continuing to work from home, the SoI is signposting available support on the SoI Covid-19 website as is the University for both staff and students, and people can contact their line manager, supervisor, the InfHR team or the HoS if they are experiencing problems.

Gender reassignment

Issue Mitigation

There is evidence that the lack of explicit gender-neutral facilities in higher education institutions causes indirect discrimination and increases the risk of harassment for individuals who have undergone gender reassignment in addition to non-binary staff and students.

In IF with the exclusion of the ground floor male and female toilet blocks, almost all toilets in the Forum and Bayes are gender-neutral; in AT, gender-neutral toilets are available on Level 3; and in WB a gender-neutral toilet is available on the lower level annexe. Individuals who are concerned about impacts to them arising from new social distancing plans that related to their gender reassignment can bring this up with their line manager or the InfHR team. Concerns can also be raised confidentially with the people listed who can be approached for discussion of equality issues (see under All Groups).