Working from home

(Updated 28 May 2020 at 16.)

The staff of the University of Eastern Finland will return to work on campus gradually over the course of this summer and early autumn, but most of the university’s teaching will continue to be offered online also in the autumn semester. Restrictions and guidelines issued by the authorities will be followed at all times in order to ensure safety and security.

Use of facilities and working at the university
Starting from 17 June, permission from the head of the department/school/unit to visit the campus is no longer needed; a mere notification to the head in a manner agreed upon at the unit is enough. However, the head must always have information about which employees are working on campus, since this information is needed for tracking possible chains of transmission.

The following basic instructions on safety and hygiene on campus must be followed by everyone (students, employees, visitors):

  • Only come to the campus when you are healthy.
  • The first thing to do when you arrive is to wash your hands. You should also wash your hands regularly throughout the day. Use hand sanitizer in situations where washing your hands is not possible.
  • Keep a safe distance to others (1.5–2 metres).
  • No handshaking, no hugging.
  • Use protective gloves when you are using shared devices.
  • Prefer online meetings whenever this is possible.

Returning to work on campus gradually from 17 June onwards

Most of the university’s staff will continue to work remotely from home this summer. On 17 June, i.e. after all entrance examinations have been held, employees whose duties require presence on campus will return to work there, as well as employees who wish to return at this point (employees belonging to a medical risk group may not return). The number of employees working on campus may not exceed half of the normal.

Starting from the beginning of August, the units’ employees will start to return to work on campus. However, the number of employees working in the university’s facilities may not exceed half of the normal. Each unit can decide how to organise the return of its staff. The head of the department/school/unit must always have information about which employees are working on campus. With the general COVID-19 situation permitting, all employees can return to work on campus over the course of the autumn. However, employees belonging to a medical risk group will remain working remotely from home, and the practices relating to their return will be defined later.

Members of the teaching and research staff do not have to return to work on campus in the autumn, if there is no need. Only teaching that is deemed crucial to be offered as in-person teaching will be organised as in-person teaching in the autumn semester 2020 (please find more detailed information below).

Return to work on campus of employees belonging to a medical risk group

Employees belonging to a medical risk group are the last ones to return to work on campus. Information on the medical risk groups is available on the website of the Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare, THL: https://thl.fi/en/web/infectious-diseases/what-s-new/coronavirus-covid-19-latest-updates/coronavirus-covid-19/risk-groups-for-coronavirus-disease

If you suspect that you belong to a medical risk group:

  • Call +358 30 6000 and book a telephone appointment or a 20-minute remote appointment with Occupational Physician Pekka Koukkari or Occupational Physician Juhana Aura (only Juhana Aura will be available on 1–21 June).
  • If you belong to a medical risk group, the occupational physician will issue a statement and give you information about how you can safely return to work and what kind of conditions apply. After assessing the nature of your work, the occupational physician may also recommend that you continue working remotely from home. Please show this statement to the head of your department/school/unit.
  • If it turns out that you do not belong to a medical risk group after all, you can return to work on campus following the same procedure as everyone else.

IT instructions for working remotely

When the situation becomes normal again and we get to return to the campus, can I nevertheless work remotely from home because I want to, or because of reasons relating to childcare? And in which order do different groups return to campus? (Updated 13 May 2020 at 8.)
The employer will define the policies relating to remote work and returning to campus, i.e. it is not possible to continue working from home simply by your own notification. Further instructions on remote work and on returning to campus gradually will be made available over the spring and summer. With regard to the work arrangements this summer, please contact your supervisor if information is acutely needed for, e.g., your children’s day care. If early education services are normally available, these services should also be used for childcare when necessary regardless of whether the parent works on campus or remotely from home.

Can I work remotely from home to protect myself from the coronavirus?
Yes, you can and you should. The facilities of the University of Eastern Finland were closed on 17 March 2020 at 16.00, in accordance with the instructions issued by the Finnish Government on 16 March. Most employees are now working from their home.

What are the principles of remote work?

When the employer orders the employee to work remotely from home, the following procedures are followed:

1.    In roles where working from home is possible, work and the payment of salary continue normally.
2.    In roles where working from home is not possible and the employer orders the employee to stay home, the payment of salary continues normally. The employee’s supervisor charts the employee’s possibilities to perform other duties that are suitable for working from home.
3.    If the employee falls ill during this period, he or she is entitled to sick pay, in accordance with the Collective Agreement. In this case, the employee has no obligation to work.
4.    If a physician in charge of infectious diseases orders the employee to isolation by the Act on Infectious Diseases due to exposure or suspected exposure, the employee is entitled to sick pay.
5.    If a physician in charge of infectious diseases orders the employee to quarantine by the Act on Infectious Diseases due to exposure or suspected exposure,  
a.    the employee has an obligation to work, if he or she is fit to work and his or her duties can be performed remotely from home. In this case, the university has the obligation to pay salary.
b.    If the employee is in quarantine but is not fit to work or does not work, the employee is entitled to sickness allowance on account of an infectious disease. In the event of a quarantine or isolation, the university will provide separate instruction to the persons affected.

Remote work and the duties to be performed during remote work are agreed upon with the supervisor orally at first.  If remote work continues, a written agreement may become necessary, if so required by the supervisor or the employee. In this case, the remote work template available in Heimo can be used for concluding an agreement on remote work.

Does everybody have the necessary tools and devices to work from home? What should I do if I'm missing something essential? (Updated 16 March 2020 at 10.15)
At UEF, approximately 80% of computers used by the staff are laptops. Many of the services at the disposal of the academic community can be used on workstations/computers that have access to the internet, and also from computers/devices at home. If you are missing something essential, please contact your supervisor to discuss the situation.

IT instructions on working remotely can be found at http://www.uef.fi/en/713
Certain programs can be installed on home computers within the scope of the university’s license agreements. More detailed instructions are available at https://studentuef.sharepoint.com/sites/heimo_en/services/software-and-licenses/Pages/Software-for-home-computers.aspx

What if I break my computer or display when working from home? Does the university's insurance policy cover these kinds of accidents? (Updated 20 March 2020 at 7.23)
If an employee on purpose or as a result of negligence (other than slight negligence) breaks a piece of equipment, the employee is, in accordance with the Tort Liability Act, responsible for the damage caused. In other situations, the employee’s unit takes care of the costs of the damage caused by the employee. The excess in the university’s property insurance policy is 10,000 euros, which in practice means that no reimbursement is available from the insurance policy, as damages tend to remain under 10,000 euros. If the piece of equipment is broken not by the employee but by someone else, the regulations of the Tort Liability Act are applied. In case of an accident, it is also possible to chart whether the employee’s liability insurance included in his or her household insurance covers the damage.

What if I’m placed in quarantine?
If you are placed in quarantine, contact your supervisor without any delay.
Kela can pay a sickness allowance on account of an infectious diseases to employees who have been ordered to stay away from work in order to prevent the spread of a communicable disease such as the novel coronavirus. The sickness allowance is also available to the provider of a child under the age of 16 who is placed in quarantine, making it impossible for the provider to continue working while the quarantine is in effect. More information: https://www.kela.fi/web/en/news-archive/-/asset_publisher/lN08GY2nIrZo/content/sickness-allowance-on-account-of-an-infectious-disease-provides-loss-of-income-compensation-for-persons-placed-in-quarantine
 

What are the practices relating to sick leaves at the moment? (Updated 16 March 2020 at 16.35)
In order to ease the load on health care services, staff members can go on sick leave for 7 consecutive days by informing their supervisor and obtaining his or her permission, and no visit to the occupational health care is required.  The same also applies to situations where an employee’s child is ill.

I have small children at home and working from home is very difficult. I won’t be able to be as efficient as normally. Will I nevertheless get paid? (Updated 18 March 2020 at 7.45)
You will get paid during working from home. Do note, however, that your obligation to work is the same as when you would be working at the office.