FAQ for Staff


Working from Home / Childcare:

How will the transition to on-site operations take place?

The process of returning to on-site operations will take place carefully and gradually in coordinated stages. The focus is on operational necessity and protecting everyone. We ask all members of UZH to take care and look out for each other.

What are the rules on working from home and now the gradual return to normal operations?

Your line managers will assess and decide which roles should continue to be done from home and which on-site, as part of the step-by-step transition to on-site operations.  It is your responsibility to adhere to the government recommendations on hygiene and social distancing. By doing this you are contributing to protecting your own and your colleagues’ health.

It is the responsibility of line managers to plan and carry out the gradual  return to on-site operations for their respective units within the framework defined by the Executive Board of the University Board. Managers will develop concepts for how their units will operate effectively while observing social distancing rules (basic rule: 10 m2 surface per person in an office or laboratory etc., 4 m2 per person for meetings). To this end, they will assess which degree of on-site presence is required, or to what extent it is possible for employees to work staggered hours, and whether it makes sense to do so.

The Executive Board of the University issued a new directive in this regard on 28 April 2020. The directive and detailed provisions can be found on the website “UZH for Staff” under “My Employment”:
Directive on "Working from Home and Transition to Normal Operations"

What are the rules for parents of children requiring care?

The Executive Board of the University is aware that employees who have children at home have faced and are still facing a heavy challenge. Working from home at the same time as caring for pre-school or school-age children is no mean feat.

From 1 April 2020, all employees with childcare responsibilities who are unable to work at their full usual employment level have been required to compensate for their lost hours by using up their existing overtime hours, surplus hours and vacation days carried over from previous years. If these hours have been completely used up, they will be granted paid leave provided certain requirements are met.

The Executive Board of the University issued an updated directive in this regard on 28 April 2020. The directive and detailed provisions can be found on the website "UZH for Staff" under "My Employment":
Directive for employees with children requiring care and detailed provisions

What are the rules regarding overtime? And conversely, what about if I do not have enough work?

If, in individual cases, employees are required to put in overtime, line managers may approve more than 20 hours of overtime per calendar month. If employees do not have enough work, on the other hand, they may be called upon to do work that lies outside of their normal scope of responsibility – including work in other organizational units. This rule reflects the extraordinary nature of the situation and the solidarity required from all of us.

All information in this regard can be found in the directives of the Executive Board “Working from Home and Transition to Normal Operations” and “Employees with Children Requiring Care” on the website “UZH for Staff” under “My Employment”:
Directive on "Working from Home and Transition to Normal 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.

All information in this regard can be found in the directives of the Executive Board “Working from Home and Transition to Normal Operations” and “Employees with Children Requiring Care” on the website “UZH for Staff” under “My Employment”:
Directive on "Working from Home and Transition to Normal Operations"
Directive for employees with children requiring care and detailed provisions

Can UZH employees expect to return to their offices before the end of the semester, even when students continuing their studies online until the end of the semester?

The Executive Board of the University has made initial decisions on how and when on-site operations can be resumed at UZH. This process will be carried out cautiously and gradually, starting on 30 April. From this date on, it will be possible to carefully increase the number of staff (with a focus on supporting research activities) who can work on-site in research, in the dean’s offices and in the Central Services units. The aim is to return to almost normal operations by 8 June. On-site operations must of course be compatible with the hygiene and safety measures issued by the FOPH, thus significant restrictions will continue to apply well beyond 8 June.


Short-time working / Salary:

Will there also be short-time working?

The measures adopted by the Government Council (RRB 300/2020 and RRB 415/2020) form the framework defined by the canton. This does not include short-time working.

UZH as an employer does not plan to request short-time working for the areas of research, teaching or administration. All decisions are based on the fact that for public-sector employers such as UZH there is in principle no risk of bankruptcy and the service mandate is already mainly funded by the public purse.

Only in large service units with external market dependencies is it possible that applicable measures may be considered. The point of contact in this case would be Human Resources.

What is the situation with regard to third-party employees?

The directives of the Executive Board of the University apply to all employees at UZH, irrespective of their source of funding.

 

For those who work in research (including postdocs and PhD students), is the full salary guaranteed during and after the lockdown?

The directives of the Executive Board of the University apply to all employees at UZH, including researchers, postdocs and PhD students.


Workspace / Access / Mail:

I read that schools etc. are having to flush their water pipes because they haven’t been used in such a long time. What’s the situation at UZH?

The facility management team has already taken some measures and will also carry out water analyses in the near future. Nevertheless, we recommend that users let the taps run for five minutes upon their return to the office/lab after a long absence.

What should I do if there are tasks that must still be done at my workspace despite working from home?

UZH members should continue working from home until further notice or return to the office/lab as part of the gradual transition to normal operations. Line managers will assess and decide which jobs will continue to be done from home and which should be done on-site.  

UZH is responsible for ensuring the suitable organizational and technical measures are in place to maintain the recommendations of the federal government on hygiene and social distancing. Employees are obliged to observe and apply the hygiene rules of the Federal Office for Public Health (FOPH) at all times.

The instructions of the federal government and the safety measures of the FOPH must be adhered to. If certain tasks can only be done on-site (e.g. scanning in invoices, etc.), ideally a weekly schedule (possibly taking turns) is created for this purpose, defining who may come to the office and when.  Access is possible for authorized staff (e.g. with UZH card, key or entry permit) provided their presence is absolutely necessary and they have the authorization of their line manager.

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 2 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: Wearing masks is not recommended. 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

How will my mail be delivered to me?

Staff continue to be responsible for forwarding their mail. Ideally, an employee is defined who will be in charge of forwarding the mail; this employee will come to the office and take the necessary steps while observing the FOPH’s safety measures for the protection of workers (keeping distance and observing hygiene rules). How often this happens and any additional postal services for staff are the responsibility of the organizational units.

Will mail continue to be delivered?

Mail deliveries will continue. In some locations outgoing mail must be taken to particular collection points. Please note the fact sheet of the Procurement and Logistics Office.
Service provision by Procurement and Logistics during operations on skeleton staff (PDF, 61 KB)

Are the university’s libraries open?

The UZH libraries will open gradually in stages. More information can be found on the website “Gradual Reopening of the UZH Libraries”.

Are the cafeterias and cafés open?

The provision of food and drink options will be adapted gradually according to demand. More information can be found on the UZH Cafeterias website.


IT from home:

I don’t have a laptop. Do I have to use my own computer when working from home?

Please discuss this with your line manager. 

What tools do I need if I have to work from home? How can I work with my colleagues?

UZH has made various tools available to its members to make electronic communication and collaboration with colleagues easier. These tools enables you to connect with your team and hold video calls as well as share instant messages (chat function) and documents with others.
Information Technology: Working together online (in German)

Additional tools required for working from home will depend on the nature of your work. Please discuss this with your line managers. If you have to be connected to the UZH network for your work, you can access it using a VPN (virtual private network).
UZH-VPN: How to guide (in German)

How can I best communicate with my colleagues, e.g. when there are problems with the connection?

Calling an internal phone number puts a strain on the phone lines, especially when call forwarding is enabled. In the current situation, this can lead to disruptions. Therefore, whenever possible, please use other means of communicating, such as Microsoft Teams or the Sametime chat function (integrated in your inbox). If necessary, you can also use your mobile phone or landline.

Regulation on the Use of IT resources with Access from Outside of UZH (PDF)

Do I always need a VPN (Virtual Private Network) to work from home?

Many tasks don’t require a VPN. For example, you can check your e-mails directly online at webmail.uzh.ch. By using your VPN only when you need it, you can help to prevent bottlenecks.

Regulation on the Use of IT resources with Access from Outside of UZH (PDF)
UZH VPN: How to guide (in German)


Health / Illness:

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.
FOPH: Instructions on Isolation (PDF, 194 KB)
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 two 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.
FOPH: Instructions on Quarantine (PDF, 199 KB)

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 somebody who is in the high-risk group. What happens if I can’t work from home due to my role/tasks at the university?

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. For questions relating to employment law, you can contact the Human Resources Office.
Contact Occupational Medicine (in German)
Contacts Human Resources Office

Can coronavirus be spread via air-conditioning systems?

According to the FOPH, transmission of coronavirus via air-conditioning systems is unlikely.
FOPH: Frequently Asked Questions about the new Coronavirus

I have to go abroad for a research project. Can I still go?

Travel for work or research of UZH members is not permitted. Exceptions require the approval of the relevant dean or member of the Executive Board of the University.