Frequently Asked Questions
We welcome vaccinated and unvaccinated staff on campus. Anyone who is unvaccinated can only attend campus if they have returned a negative RAT or PCR test within the 72 hours prior to coming on campus.
All staff and students are expected to follow public health advice and ensure their COVID-19 vaccinations are up to date, to help protect themselves and those around them from COVID-19.
Staff who are medically contraindicated for vaccination can contact our Work Health Safety and Wellbeing team for further information and advice.
Under our latest Return to Campus Plan, anyone who is fully vaccinated is able to return to campus. Any staff member or student who is not vaccinated may attend campus as long as they have tested negative to COVID-19 in the past 72 hours by either RAT or PCR test. To help protect the health and safety of our University community, please ensure you are familiar with the measures that are in place:
- If you are unwell, please stay home and do not attend campus. If you are experiencing symptoms of COVID-19, please ensure you get tested and self-isolate as per the current self-isolation rules.
- If you have tested positive to COVID-19, you must let the University know by completing the COVID Positive Report Form. A copy of the form will be sent to your manager and to the Work Health, Safety and Wellbeing (WHS&W) team. The form will ask you to advise if you’ve been on campus in the days prior to testing positive, so that the WHS&W team can evaluate and respond to any health and safety risks.
- Please continue to follow simple hygiene measures to help protect your health. Wash your hands regularly, observe physical distancing measures, clean your desks or workspaces with the provided cleaning supplies, do not share food, drinks or cutlery, and cover your mouth when sneezing or coughing.
In line with the changes to the NSW Government’s mandates on wearing face masks, the University will no longer mandate the use of face masks
in all indoor settings. However, wearing a mask, particularly when you are not able to maintain a physical distance of 1.5 metres from others, is strongly recommended.
Please remember to bring your mask when attending campus, and be prepared to wear this if needed.
Masks are still required in some settings, such as health clinics.
If you are considering holding an event on campus, you must firstly review the COVID-safe measures for events guidelines and ensure you complete the relevant checklist (for indoor/outdoor activities). The guidelines and checklists can be found on the Work Health Safety and Wellbeing Organising COVID Safe event or Activity webpage.
The completed checklist must then be forwarded to the Work Health Safety and Wellbeing team at email@example.com for approval.
All staff wishing to travel on University business must complete a risk assessment and ensure vaccinations are up to date.
Travel within NSW and interstate must have approval from the relevant Director/ Dean/ Institute Director. Any current travel restrictions that are in place must be followed.
International travel for University purposes will no longer require Vice-Chancellor approval for destinations with a DFAT Level 1 (Exercise normal safety precautions) and DFAT Level 2 (Exercise a high degree of caution). Destinations with a DFAT Level 3 (Reconsider your need to travel) will continue to require approval from the Vice-Chancellor.
It is important to note that travel is different to how it used to be and will require additional planning and attention. Please ensure you consider this when planning international travel and allow sufficient time for relevant assessment and approval.
If you are seeking to pursue international travel for University purposes, please discuss with your supervisor first, and then submit a general enquiry case in Western Now for Procurement and Corporate Services. Travel bookings may be made through the Travel and Expense Management System (TEMS).
UNWELL STAFF AND STUDENT PROTOCOLS
As always, if you are unwell or experience any symptoms which could indicate you are COVID positive, you must get tested and stay home until you have the result.
If you are COVID positive or required to isolate as a household contact or at high risk of infection, you must remain in isolation in line with NSW Health requirements. Currently, these require seven days' isolation – further details on this can be found on the self-isolation rules page.
If you test positive, please notify the University via the COVID Positive Report Form. A copy of the form will be sent to your manager and to the Work Health, Safety and Wellbeing team. The form will ask you to advise if you’ve been on campus in the days prior to testing positive, so that the WHS&W team can evaluate and respond to any health and safety risks.
Anyone who is identified as a close contact of someone who has tested positive to COVID-19 no longer needs to isolate if they are not experiencing any symptoms. To check the guidelines that apply if you are a close contact, please visit the NSW Government's close contact guidelines webpage.
If you are identified as a close contact, you will need to inform your supervisor and discuss your working arrangements. You will also need to notify the Work Health Safety and Wellbeing Unit (no longer the hotline) via email to firstname.lastname@example.org to ensure they are aware, in case you subsequently test positive.
If you are isolating and unwell, or cannot work due to caring responsibilities, please take sick or carers leave.
If you are well, you can of course work from home for this period.
If you are well, but cannot do your normal work from home, please discuss with your supervisor what alternative work may be suitable for you during isolation.
In an exceptional case, where a staff member is required to isolate and there is no suitable work to do, the University will consider providing up to five days' special COVID leave (for ongoing and fixed-term staff). This leave will only be granted following discussion with your supervisor and in consultation with your Senior HR Partner and the Work Health, Safety and Wellbeing team.
Staff who are medically contraindicated for vaccination can contact our Work Health Safety and Wellbeing team. Supervisors will work closely with their teams to understand any issues and concerns people have about vaccination, which has been a requirement for access to campus since Wednesday 1 December.
The Subject Coordinator should be advised of the positive notification and then arrange for students timetabled to attend the same class to be notified. It is preferable that a vUWS message is posted to provide this advice to students and a message template is available for this. If a vUWS message is not possible, an email message template is also available. It is essential that the anonymity of the person who tested positive is maintained when communicating about the confirmed case.
Working Flexibly at Western
The University recognises that staff have asked for flexibility in their working arrangements, where possible, as we return to campus. To balance the benefits of working from home with re-activating our campuses, University staff will be able to continue the flexible work arrangements in place prior to the last lockdown. This means staff members can work from home up to two days per week if the nature of their work permits.
Professional staff can do this by talking to their supervisor prior to returning to campus and, if suitable, complete a formal Working From Home arrangement for up to 40% of their normal work duties.
Academic staff are asked to limit their time working at home to two days per week (or equivalent for part-time staff) under normal circumstances.We will review the current flexible work arrangements again by the end of June 2022.
For more information, staff can also refer to the Flexibility Matters – Working Flexibly at Western toolkit and the Working from Home Procedures.
If you wish to work from home, you are responsible for ensuring that you have access to the necessary equipment to do so. Working from home agreements include assessment and management of work health and safety risks. Please refer to the Working from Home Procedures for more information.
It is everyone’s responsibility to make sure we are staying safe online. Please take some time to review the guides and resources available on the IT Coronavirus webpage, including:
- Cyber Security information for staff (login required)
- Zoom best practices
- Teaching via Zoom (Preventing and dealing with unwanted behaviour)
- Backing up your files using OneDrive
Additional expense incurred by staff as part of working from home may be able to be claimed in the next tax return. Please check the Australian Tax Office website for more information on what you are able to claim.
STAFF AND STUDENT WELLBEING
The Department of Health has advised that some individuals may be at a greater risk of serious infection from COVID-19.
Our HR and Work Health Safety and Wellbeing (WHS&W) teams will work with any staff member (along with their supervisor) who for medical reasons cannot attend the workplace.
As an extension of the University’s duty of care, our staff and immediate family members are entitled to free, confidential counselling services through the Employee Assistance Program (EAP), contactable on 1800 818 728.
There is also a wealth of resources available to support you on the Work Health Safety and Wellbeing webpage. Please visit the below pages for helpful tips and information:
- COVID-Safe Plan and COVID-19 Information
- Health and wellbeing
- Physical and mental health
- Working from home
Please direct students to the Student Support page where they can find up-to-date information and contact details for services accessible by phone and online, including counselling, welfare, wellbeing and chaplaincy.
All international students are able to access the many support services available, including the Student Assistance Fund, for critical financial assistance with essential housing and food support; Western Success program, counselling, welfare and disability support, careers and job readiness, peer support programs, and support with finding accommodation.
Alongside the many support services available, including counselling, welfare and disability support, the University has established a Student Assistance Fund, providing vital support to our students in need at this time.
Academic or professional staff who are employed on a continuing (full time or part time) or fixed term (full time or part time) basis, are able to contribute to the fund, if they wish, through a pre-tax contribution via salary sacrifice.
Please email email@example.com if you would like to contribute.
Webinar recordings (from July 2021 – present), transcripts and other supporting documents for webinars are available via the All staff Webinars SharePoint site. This site is updated regularly with the latest communication.Recordings of earlier staff webinars (from March 2020 – July 2021) are also available online.