FAQ for Staff

Status: 14 January 2021

Behavior in handling Covid-19 infections:

What should I do if I have symptoms?

Typical symptoms of a mild Covid-19 infection include fever, dry coughing, tiredness, aching limbs, a sore throat and loss of taste or smell. If you experience these symptoms while you are at work at UZH, you should go home immediately, self-isolate, inform your line manager and contact your family doctor or the canton’s medical hotline (0800 33 66 55).

Detailed information on how to treat Covid-19 infections

Where can I get tested for Covid-19 (PCR test)?

Various test centers are available for Covid-19 testing.

Some corona test centers offer antibody tests. According to experts, the significance of the test results is still unclear.

What do I have to do if my test result is negative?

Employees who get tested for Covid-19 and whose test comes back negative must stay at home until 24 hours after the symptoms have subsided. They must also inform their line managers.

Detailed information on how to treat Covid-19 infections

What should I do if my test result is positive?

Employees who test positive for Covid-19 are required to follow the instructions of their doctor. Since contact tracing is often overburdened, the affected employees should immediately contact the people with whom they have come into close contact (distance of less than 1.5 meters for more than 15 minutes) in the past two days – in private or at UZH.

Their line manager, with the approval of the infected employee, must inform the rest of the team as well as UZH’s Occupational Medicine/Safety, Security and Environment office. In addition, each faculty will follow their own protocols on how to communicate cases of infection with Covid-19 in-house. The Occupational Medicine/Safety, Security and Environment office will submit a report on the cases (which are made anonymous) for each faculty and site to the Executive Board of the University as well as the coronavirus task force. 

Infected employees may only return to their workplace if they have been free of symptoms for at least 48 hours and if at least 10 days have passed since their symptoms first occurred. This also applies to people who do not get tested for Covid-19.

Detailed information on how to treat Covid-19 infections

What should I do if I have had close contact with people who have tested positive for Covid-19?

Employees who have come into close contact with someone infected with Covid-19 must leave their UZH workplace without delay. If you have come into close contact with an infected person outside of work, you must stay at home. In both cases, you are required to inform your line manager, self-quarantine for 10 days and get in touch with your doctor as soon as you experience symptoms. If you don’t experience any symptoms, you can continue to work from your home.

Detailed information on how to treat Covid-19 infections


Working Hours and Holidays:

Can I work from home? Should I?

In principle, members of UZH should now work on site with as limited a presence as possible. Line managers in the individual organizational assess and decide which tasks should be done from home and which on-site at UZH. They also assess what degree of on-site presence is required, and the extent to which it is possible for employees to work staggered hours, and whether it makes sense to do so. Decisions on these and any other protective measures should be made taking into account the specific conditions in the individual organizational units. It is important that all university units remain fully operational. They should always be reachable by phone and e-mail during office hours.

What happens if my organizational unit closes or my line managers send me home and I can’t work because my job can’t be performed remotely?

Line managers will consider whether other tasks can be assigned to employees. This may include work outside of the job description and for a different unit. If no other tasks can be assigned, employees will still receive pay, regardless of whether they receive a monthly wage or are paid by the hour.

I have the SwissCovid app and it has told me to go into voluntary self-quarantine. How will my absence from work be dealt with?

The use of the SwissCovid app is voluntary and may not be ordered by the employer.  UZH welcomes the use of the SwissCovid app. Employees who wish to voluntarily enter quarantine as a result of a report from the app are not entitled to paid leave. However, with the approval of their line managers they can work from home until the test results are available (which usually takes one to two days). Employees who are unable to work from home due to business operations are asked to get in touch with the relevant HR consultant in Human Resources, either directly or through their line manager. In any case, employees may also use vacation or surplus hours. The relevant HR consultants are on hand to provide advice.
Fact Sheet SwissCovid App
HR Consulting

What happens if am ordered to stay at home and self-isolate as a result of contact tracing. Do I have to continue to work when I’m in quarantine?

If the cantonal medical service orders you to go into quarantine, you must stay at home. This doesn’t necessarily mean that you will be unable to work. Depending on your health status, it may be possible for you to continue to work in self-isolation, and this is also expected by UZH as your employer, if your role allows you to work from home or if other tasks that can be carried out remotely can be assigned to you. If you are unable to work, you are entitled to paid leave.

With regard to doctor’s notes, the general provisions of employment law apply (i.e. a doctor’s note must be submitted in the event of incapacity to work for one week or more), although a cantonal medical order can currently be submitted instead of a doctor’s note. If you are able to do all of your work from home, it is assumed that the you are fit to work and a doctor’s note is not required. In this case, no days of continued pay are deducted from the continued pay quota.

Should you experience symptoms of illness during self-isolation, the provisions in the Directive on Adapted On-Site Operations apply. Employees with symptoms must continue to stay at home and are entitled to continued payment of their salary in the event of incapacity for work in accordance with the regular provisions of personnel law.
Directive on Adapted On-Site Operations

What happens if I have symptoms that indicate coronavirus and I need to stay at home but I feel well enough to work?

Provided you are well enough to work, you are obliged to work in accordance with your employment contract. However, since in the event of symptoms and in consultation with line managers, work may not be carried out on-site or may be carried out on-site only under strict protective regulations, your work must be done from home. If this is not possible due to the tasks or infrastructure, the employer may also assign other work.

With regard to doctor’s notes, the general provisions of employment law apply (i.e. a doctor’s note must be submitted in the event of incapacity to work for one week or more), although a cantonal medical order can currently be submitted instead of a doctor’s note. If you are able to complete all of your tasks at home, it is assumed that the you are fit to work and a doctor’s note is not required. In this case, no days of continued pay are deducted from the continued pay quota.

What happens if I get a positive coronavirus test result and have to stay at home, but am not sick and can work?

Provided you are well enough to work, you are obliged to work in accordance with your employment contract. However, since the FOPH requires isolation and does not allow work to be done on-site, work must be done from home if this is possible in terms of tasks or infrastructure. If this is not possible, the employer may also assign other work.

With regard to doctor’s notes, the general provisions of employment law apply (i.e. a doctor’s note must be submitted in the event of incapacity to work for one week or more), although a cantonal medical order can currently be submitted instead of a doctor’s note. If you are able to complete all of your tasks home, it is assumed that the you are fit to work and a doctor’s note is not required. In this case, no days of continued pay are deducted from the continued pay quota.

I have to go abroad for work. Can I still go?

Following the gradual lifting of travel restrictions from 15 June 2020 onward, the Executive Board of the University has decided to in principle allow work-related international travel and stays abroad on behalf of UZH with immediate effect. Members of UZH traveling abroad must follow the relevant travel recommendations of the Federal Department of Foreign Affairs, the provisions issued by transport companies as well as the general rules of hygiene and conduct. International travel on UZH business will continue to be limited to urgent and important trips, which require the approval of the relevant dean or member of the Executive Board. With regard to a possible quarantine obligation after re-entry into Switzerland, the relevant regulations must be observed.
UZH Staff: Approval form for work-related travel abroad

What do I have to consider when travelling to a country that requires a negative Covid 19 test?

Travel regulations can vary greatly depending on the country and part of the country or region. Please inform yourself in good time about the exact regulations of your travel destination. These can change quickly.

For example, many federal states (Bundesländer) require a negative covid 19 test when entering Germany from a risk area. In some federal states, quarantine can be omitted if a negative test is presented on entry that is not older than 48 hours. Depending on the federal state, the 48 hours are counted from the swab or the test result. In Baden-Württemberg, the date on the certificate counts. In Bavaria, on the other hand, the date of the swab counts. Useful information for travellers:
Coronavirus: Entry/return travel update (in German)

If I avoid commuting to UZH during peak times, I either have far too many or too few working hours. What does UZH suggest I do?

Traveling by public transport at peak times should be avoided where possible. If this is not possible, you should follow the FOPH’s recommendations for traveling in public transport. The risk of the journey to work is borne by the employees themselves. However, certain tasks such as reading and answering e-mails can be carried out during the commute and counted as working hours to allow for more flexibility when traveling to/from UZH. Please discuss this in advance with your line manager. The relevant HR heads are on hand to provide advice.

What are the rules for parents of children requiring care?

The Directive on Staff at UZH with Children Requiring Care has been revoked. The provisions of the Directive on Adapted On-Site Operations apply for all employees.
Directive on Adapted On-Site Operations

What happens with costs incurred by working from home (e.g. phone, printer)?

The provisions of the Directive on Adapted On-Site Operations apply. Whenever possible, work equipment already made available by UZH should be used for working from home.

Creating additional operating costs during this period should be avoided if possible. Employees are obligated to keep these costs to an absolute minimum and must discuss any potential costs with their line managers before they occur. Expenses that are not necessary for carrying out work must be borne by the employee. Employees will be reimbursed for any work-related costs that do occur, provided they submit an original receipt. These costs will be paid out via an expense account after the conclusion of the home office period. The relevant HR heads are on hand to provide advice.

Directive on Adapted On-Site Operations
HR Consulting

Home schooling, work from home and other care duties may have resulted in excessive negative working hours. Will there be a special provision when it comes to carrying negative working hours over to 2021?

For the transfer of any negative balances for this year, please consult the fact sheet on working hours at the turn of the year 2020/2021 on the “Working Hours” page of the UZH for Staff website:
UZH for Staff Website: Working Hours

How will surplus hours/overtime be handled? And vice versa, what if I don’t have enough work?

If, in individual cases, employees were required to put in overtime due to the coronavirus crisis, line managers were able to approve more than 20 hours of overtime per calendar month. This provision has now been revoked and replaced with the new directive.
Directive on Adapted On-Site Operations

Do I have to take vacation that I already planned, or can I postpone it?

Already scheduled vacation should in principle be taken unless there is work to be done that is necessary to UZH operations. The same applies to unpaid leave that has already been approved. This is in order to avoid a big amount of vacation building up and everyone wanting to take it at the same time once the pandemic is over which would make it difficult to maintain operations.

What are the guidelines when it comes to holidays abroad?

Employees of UZH are obliged to notify their line managers in advance of travel to countries and areas with an increased risk of infection. In particular, travel to high-risk countries which are subject to quarantine obligations on return to Switzerland may result in a loss of salary under certain circumstances. In special cases, travel to a risk country may be prohibited by the employer. The relevant HR heads are on hand to provide advice. However, members of UZH are asked to plan their summer activities responsibly keeping in mind their health. Please take into account any policies and guidelines issued by the FOPH as well as any relevant regulations abroad. Further information. Further information can be found in the provisions on the Directive on Adapted On-Site Operations.
Detailed Provisions on the Directive on Adapted On-Site Operations
Information provided by the FOPH and list of countries with an increased risk of infection
HR Consulting

Will the experience we have gained with regard to working from home and virtual collaboration be taken up constructively in order to establish these as new forms of work at UZH?

The Executive Board of the University will analyze experiences made with working from home and digitalization and inform in due course. However, on-site operations will remain the cornerstone of UZH.


Obligation to Wear Masks:

Will UZH pay for masks?

You can find the regulation on this on the page
Mask-Wearing and Provision/Reimbursement of Costs

Who has to wear a mask?

The obligation to wear a mask applies to anyone present at UZH (UZH members as well as visitors and external service providers) in indoor and outdoor spaces.

Where outdoors do I have to wear a mask?

Masks must be worn in outdoor areas at UZH wherever the required minimum distance of 1.5 meters can't be observed, in particular in busy pedestrian zones, in front of buildings, when going to/leaving campus, in waiting areas, in seating and standing areas (benches, tables, etc.).

Do I have to wear a mask all the time?

Masks may be removed to eat or drink. But removal of masks should be kept as short as possible.

What types of mask should be worn?

In medical areas hygiene masks (surgical or medical masks) are to be worn. In all other areas of UZH, hygiene masks or industrially produced textile masks (community masks) may be worn. The COVID-19 Task Force has recommendations for these masks designed to ensure a certain level of protection.
Swiss Federal Laboratories for Materials Science and Technology (EMPA) recommendations

Home-made masks may not be used.

On what grounds can someone be dispensed from the obligation to wear a mask?

Children under age 12 and people who can prove that they cannot wear a face mask on specific grounds (particularly medical grounds) are dispensed from the mask requirement.

What is the mask-wearing requirement based on?

The mask-wearing requirement is based on the social distancing and hygiene recommendations of the Swiss Federal Office of Public Health (FOPH).

Do rubbish bins with lids have to be used for the disposal of masks?

No. It can be assumed that no one is going to rummage through the rubbish.
Cleaning personnel wear personal protective equipment when changing the waste bags.

Will the masks be disposed of separately?

No, these can be disposed of with the normal household waste.


Infrastructure, Buildings and Cleaning:

If a building doesn’t belong to UZH, but we have our offices in it – how does the safety concept work there, e.g. for entrance areas and lifts used by external persons?

In buildings where UZH is a tenant (e.g. AND, AFL or Schlieren Campus), the safety concept for public areas is developed, communicated and implemented by the relevant administration.  The same rules apply to all parties that are renting space in that building, and protective agents are provided in a centralized and uniform way (e.g. disinfectants in front of lifts). Within our own rooms, the relevant organizational unit is responsible for developing and implementing the specific safety concept. The Safety, Security and Environment Office and Facility Management are on hand to provide advice.

Which protective equipment is available in UZH buildings?

UZH has set up hand disinfectant stations at the main entrances of its properties/buildings. These stations will be managed by Facility Management. People may wash their hands in the public toilet facilities.

 

Will there be checks to make sure that safety measures are adhered to inside buildings? Who is responsible?

Following the measures described in the safety concept is the responsibility of management/leadership as well as of each employee (individual responsibility). The relevant managers/leaders can and should check that the measures are adhered to. In public areas (e.g. waiting areas in front of cafeterias) or at the designated study spaces, UZH reserves the right to carry out spot checks and dismiss people who don’t follow UZH’s rules of hygiene and conduct.

Will cleaning services come by more frequently as a precaution against coronavirus?

The frequency and scope of cleaning will be the same as before the pandemic in accordance with the relevant cleaning standards (“Leistungen Service Level BDI/BDZ”).

In addition, however, special attention will now be paid to objects and surfaces that are touched frequently in shared rooms. Users are responsible for any additional cleaning. Cleaning agents are available from UZH’s Procurement and Logistics office.

Will additional cleaning materials be made available for cleaning and disinfecting surfaces?

Using an all-purpose cleaning agent will generally suffice. Only where this is not possible, 70% alcohol or something similar can be used to clean small surfaces such as buttons on the copier, shared keyboards, etc. The relevant cleaning sets are available from UZH’s Procurement and Logistics office.

Do I need to clean the desks in lecture halls and seminar rooms myself after using them?

There are dispensers with disinfectant wipes at the entrance of lecture halls and seminar rooms used for general teaching which users can take to clean surfaces. Offices of the Deans, institutes, departments, etc. can obtain disinfectant and cleaning materials for use in their own lecture halls and seminar rooms from the UZH department Materials and Logistics (Material und Logistik). The Offices of the Deans, institutes and departments are responsible for procurement and management.
Material und Logistik (in German)

Does the UZH provide parking spaces free of charge?

No. The parking regulations of the University of Zurich apply. All parking spaces are subject to approval and fees. Parking spaces near City Campus are few and far between and waiting lists may be kept.
Parking Spaces

Will UZH equip its toilet facilities with touchless water taps?

UZH will keep the existing hand washing stations. Non-contact hand washing stations cannot be installed everywhere and require enormous investments.

We need more space to comply with social distancing measures during meetings. Can unused rooms be booked during the semester break?

Yes, please submit your request to Room Allocation Services:
Room Allocation Services

I work at a service desk or as support staff – what should I do now?

Working at a service desk often involves frequent and close contact with other people. The following rules can help to reduce the risk of transmission of diseases. In the first instance, check whether it is really necessary to provide the service or information in person, or if you can provide it online or on the phone. If this is not possible, we recommend the following measures:

  • Inform your customers about the applicable rules and measures by putting up an FOPH poster. You can download these and print them off yourselves, or order them from the Safety, Security and Environment Office: info@su.uzh.ch.
  • Mark on the floor spaces where people waiting should stand a safe distance apart.
  • Keep a minimum distance of 1.5 meters between you and the customer whenever possible. Try to position the furniture to make this possible.
  • If this is not possible, install a plexiglass screen. These can be ordered from the Safety, Security and Environment Office by e-mailing info@su.uzh.ch (measurements: Width: 95 cm, Height: 83 cm).
  • Turn away customers who have a cough, fever, or breathing difficulties. Ask them about their symptoms if in doubt!
  • Regularly clean PC keyboards and surfaces which are used by several people (using normal cleaning products or with a paper towel dipped in a diluted soap solution). Ideally the person starting the shift should do the cleaning to meet their own hygiene standards.
  • Do not share pens or pencils with customers.
  • Keep the consultation time short.
  • Do not shake hands with or touch customers.
  • Wash your hands regularly.
  • Only touch your eyes, nose and mouth with freshly washed hands.

NB: Optionally, you can provide hand disinfectant or gloves (send e-mail to info@su.uzh.ch for supplies).

In case of questions please contact the Safety, Security and Environment Office: info@su.uzh.ch

Are the cafeterias and cafés open?

Some UZH cafeterias and cafés are open and offering limited services. For up-to-date information, please visit the ZFV website:
UZH Cafeterias and Cafés

How are cafeterias ensuring that the hygiene and protective measures are observed?

As the operator of cafeterias and cafés, the ZFV has drawn up site-specific safety concepts with the necessary hygiene and protective measures and is responsible for ensuring that these are observed. All customers must adhere to the applicable rules communicated on site.

What opportunities are there to do sport?

The Federal Council decided on 13 January 2021 to extend the previously applicable measures regarding sport and Covid-19 until at least 28 February 2021. The ASVZ therefore remains closed at present. Alternatives are offered via livestream classes and the ASVZ@home videos.
Academic Sports Association Zurich: Closure of sports facilities (in German)
ASVZ: LIVESTREAM-Lektionen (in German)
ASVZ: ASVZ@home-Videos (in German)

 


Health:

According to FOPG criteria, I am at an especially high risk of becoming seriously ill with Covid-19. What should I do?

Please follow the relevant FOPH rules on hygiene and social distancing at work and in private; in particular, wash your hands regularly and thoroughly, use masks on public transportation and maintain a distance of at least 1.5 meters to others. Avoid large gatherings of people and traveling during peak times.

If you cannot follow the relevant social distancing rules at work, measures must be taken in accordance with the STOP principle (in the order listed):
1.   Substitution (e.g. different tasks)
2.   Technical measures (e.g. partitions)
3.   Organizational measures (e.g. physical separation, non-changing teams)
4.   Personal protective measures (e.g. masks)

If social distancing rules cannot be observed at the workplace and working from home is a temporary organizational solution, line managers will assess and decide on how and how long the option to work from home can be applied.

The Safety, Security and Environment Office (Occupational Medicine) is happy to assist you with any specific questions you may have about protective measures or risk assessments: arbeitsmedizin@su.uzh.ch.

I am pregnant. What must I look out for when it comes to Covid-19?

According to FOPH criteria, pregnant women have been among those at an especially high risk of becoming seriously ill with Covid-19 since 5 August 2020. You should thus follow the relevant FOPH recommendations for people in high-risk groups (see also UZH FAQ: "According to FOPG criteria, I am at an especially high risk of becoming seriously ill with Covid-19. What must I do?").

General information about maternity and parenthood, incl. the relevant UZH fact sheets, are available on the staff website.
Staff website: Parenthood

The Safety, Security and Environment Office (Occupational Medicine) is happy to assist you with any specific questions you may have about protective measures or risk assessments: arbeitsmedizin@su.uzh.ch.

I feel ill and think I may have caught the coronavirus. What should I do?

You are experiencing symptoms of an acute respiratory illness1 or have suddenly lost your sense of smell and/or taste, which may be caused by the new coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2). You must isolate at home immediately to avoid infecting other people. You should also get tested. Take the coronavirus check2 and contact your family doctor or phone the Ärztefon on 0800 33 66 55. If you test positive for COVID-19, the cantonal medical service will contact you and give you further information and instructions (e.g. contact tracing). You should also inform your line manager.
Fact Sheet for UZH Staff: Procedure for COVID-19 Infections
FOPH: Instructions on Isolation
FOPH: Coronavirus check


1 e.g. cough, sore throat, shortness of breath with or without a temperature, feverishness, achiness
2 Important notice: The coronavirus check is not a substitute for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. The symptoms described in the check may also occur in relation to other diseases requiring different measures. Always consult a doctor if you have obvious symptoms that get worse or worry you.

I have been in close contact with a person who has a confirmed case of coronavirus infection. What should I do?

If you have had close contact with someone who has been confirmed in a laboratory test to have the new coronavirus, and who was infectious1 while you were in contact, you must confine yourself in quarantine at home for 10 days. Close contact means that you have been within 1.5 meters of the person without any form of protection for more than 15 minutes. The cantonal medical service will contact you and give you more information and instructions on what to do (e.g. contact tracing). You should also inform your line manager of the situation.
Fact Sheet for UZH Staff: Procedure for COVID-19 Infections
FOPH: Instructions on Quarantine

1A person is infectious while showing symptoms and up to 48 hours beforehand.

I live with someone who has a confirmed infection with coronavirus. What should I do?

If you have come into close contact with someone who has a confirmed infection, i.e. you live in the same household or have an intimate relationship with them, you must self-isolate for 10 days. This will prevent the transmission of the virus to other people in your household and in the general population, as you yourself could be contagious during this time. You are obliged to inform your line manager about the situation as soon as you become aware of it.

I live with someone who is in the high-risk group but doesn’t have any health issues. Am I required to work from home, or is this optional?

For those who live with people who are in a high-risk group, decisions will be made jointly by the persons affected and their line managers on an individual basis based on the COVID-19 Ordinance 2 and the relevant employment regulations of the Canton of Zurich. With regard to medical issues, the Safety Security and Environment Office (Occupational Medicine) is on hand to provide advice. 
Safety, Security and Environment Office (Occupational Medicine)
Human Resources Office

Can coronavirus be spread via air-conditioning systems?

According to the FOPH, current research has found that ventilation and air conditioning systems do not pose any increased risk of infection with the novel coronavirus provided they are correctly operated and maintained. At UZH, ventilation units are maintained and operated by the respective Facility Management teams in accordance with the current recommendations and guidelines of the national and European professional bodies. This means, among other things, that the air circulation function has been replaced by fresh air supply. This leads to higher energy use, but is essential to meet the requirements. Rooms without ventilation systems should be aired well on a regular basis. The smaller the room, the more often it should be aired. At the very least, rooms should be aired every two hours for 5-10 minutes.
FOPH: Frequently Asked Questions about the new Coronavirus

To what extent has UZH taken new findings on the aerosol transmission of coronavirus into account in its safety concept?

The role of aerosols is not yet clear. Nevertheless, the UZH safety concept has taken this form of transmission into account to some extent by requiring regular ventilation (in rooms that don’t already an integrated system).

Does UZH recommend the use of air purifiers, especially in rooms that can not be properly ventilated?

Air purifiers do not replace ventilation. Even in cold seasons, ventilation should be carried out regularly ( push ventilation) if no mechanical air conditioning is available. In rooms that are poorly ventilated, we strongly recommend that masks are worn, distances are maintained and the possibilities of split office/home office are utilized. Unsuitable devices (air purifiers and others) and incorrectly chosen locations can even increase health risks. For these reasons, the use of air purifiers is currently not considered. Developments are continuously monitored and measures are adapted to official requirements and research findings.

Why are door handles and similar contamination hot spots not removed systematically?

There is no evidence that removing all door handles is a meaningful measure when it comes to containing the pandemic. Good hand hygiene is crucial.