FAQ for Staff

Status: 8 June 2020

The FAQ will be updated soon. Please refer to the German version for the most recent Q&A's.

Adapted On-Site Operations / Childcare / Holidays:

I don’t yet want to carry out my full workload on-site at UZH. Can I continue to work from home?

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.

Should you experience symptoms of illness during self-isolation, the usual provisions from the Directive on Working from Home and Transition to Normal Operations (no. 7) apply. Directive on Working from Home and Transition to Normal Operations

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?

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 relevant directive for employees with childcare responsibilities continues to apply. Other than that, the same provisions apply to all employees during adapted on-site operations. Line managers will assess and decide which jobs can or should continue to be done from home and which should be done on-site.
Directive on Staff at UZH with Children Requiring Care

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

The Directive on Working from Home and Transition to Normal Operations from 24 April 2020 continues to 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 Working from Home and Transition to Normal Operations

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?

No, no special provision is planned at the moment. It is already possible to agree on a partial reduction of working hours, in addition to generating negative hours, e.g. through a reduction of the employment level to the extent of the time required for care duties. A maximum of 60 negative hours (for 100% employment) may be generated in proportion to the employment level to ensure that this negative balance can be reduced by the end of the year. If an employee’s reduced ability to work continues, the employment level must be reduced.

At the end of the year, a positive or negative working time balance of a no more than two weeks, i.e. a maximum of 84 hours per year for 100% employment, may be carried over to the new year. Higher negative balances at the end of the year must be compensated with overtime or vacation days. The relevant HR heads are on hand to provide advice. 
Directive on Staff with Children Requiring Care
Fact Sheet on Working Hours (PDF)

How will surplus hours/overtime be handled? And vice versa, what if I don’t 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
Directive for Employees with Children Requiring Care

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.

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

What are the guidelines when it comes to summer holidays?

There are none. 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.

Workplace / Buildings:

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.

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.

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.

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

The FOPH recommends wearing masks when it is not possible to follow social distancing measures. Would masks make it be possible to stage larger events again?

No, the relevant social distancing and group size regulations also apply to events. 

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

Due to the expected 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.

Can speakers from abroad be invited to UZH in the Fall Semester?

UZH premises are currently only accessible to the public to a limited extent. In the event of a broader reopening, external persons can again visit UZH. At present, it is not yet possible to assess the situation in the fall. The Executive Board of the University will provide information in due course.

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: 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

Are the university’s libraries open?

Libraries reopened with limited services on 8 June. Please check the library websites for information about the available services.
Information from the libraries

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?

The cafeteria and café operators are generally responsible for ensuring that that hygiene and safety measures are complied with.

What about the sports facilities?

ASVZ centers and facilities have reopened with reduced services.  Academic Sports Association Zurich

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 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. 
Protective Measures for People at Especially High Risk
Safety, Security and Environment Office (Occupational Medicine)
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

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).

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.

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)

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)