Information for Macquarie University staff

Remote study has commenced across the University. Phase one of the University’s Return to Campus commenced on 25 May, 2020.

We are also encouraging managers and staff to discuss arrangements to facilitate working from home, recognising that some staff may need to work on campus.

  • Phase one of the University’s Return to Campus Plan will commence from 25 May 2020. Unless advised otherwise by your manager staff should continue to work from home.
  • Specifically, with reference to laboratory research where physical presence is required, staff and students are permitted to continue to attend campus for laboratory work, however strict observation of social distancing measures must be observed by those conducting research.
  • There are also cases where staff are employed in areas where work has stopped due to the Government announcements, and where working from home is not viable.  To support these people, there will be a provision for Special Leave, initially for two weeks commencing when work ceases.  This provision will be reviewed regularly.
  • Staff should hold as many business meetings as possible by audio/visual link or by remote means.
  • General Parking Zones 1, 2 and 3 will be available to all staff who are continuing to work on campus during this period, without infringement.
Phase 1 – Return to Work FAQs

In order to support phase 1 of our return to work plan these FAQs have been developed.

Working from home requirements

When working from home, you should adhere to general principles of workplace health and safety, including setting up your workspace appropriately. More information about flexible workplace procedure. In exceptional cases the University may be able to provide equipment to staff who have a compelling need to work from home.

When staff are working from home, the University policies on Acceptable Use of IT and data security arrangements continue to apply. This includes ensuring workspaces are secure and there is no potential access to confidential or sensitive information by others in your home and ensuring secure access and use of Macquarie systems.

When using a non-University supplied computer ensure the following:

  • Use antivirus – MQ provides Sophos for home users of Windows and Mac users here.
  • Apply system updates – follow prompts for Windows updates and Mac OS updates to ensure latest security fixes are applied.
  • Use strong passwords – ensure strong passwords exist to access the computer (greater than 8 characters long and not a password used for MQ systems).
  • Limit information stored locally – use Office 365 if possible. Otherwise only download what is necessary for work. Remove University information from non-University computer after use.

Staff and students who have adhered to the Health Department’s advice are entitled to attend campus. If you know a staff member is not complying with official advice regarding self-isolation, seek advice from your HR Client Team representative.

If a staff member does not wish to attend work and cannot effectively work from home, they can apply for leave. The type and availability of leave will depend on the individual circumstances and the staff member’s leave balances. If the staff member is unwell, sick leave may be available (with appropriate medical documentation). If the staff member is caring for a family member, carers’ leave may be available. Otherwise, annual or long service leave should be utilised. If there is no form of appropriate leave, a staff member could take unpaid leave.

Last updated:

18 May 2020

Updated for: Post-award project management FAQ link

Current research

Macquarie University is committed to supporting our staff and students as the current environment and research challenges continue to evolve.  The DVCR’s Office, Research Services and Faculty Research Offices are ready to assist you with any issues that arise as you work to adapt and progress your research wherever able.  We are transitioning to a new way of working but continue to actively support your research initiatives.

Face-to-face data collection

Face-to-face data collection or contact with human participants, on campus or off campus, has been paused until further notice.

This has been undertaken to ensure the safety and wellbeing of our staff, students and community members and is in accordance with current Government restrictions. We ask that researchers, both staff and students, continue where it is possible with alternate arrangements (e.g., online or via other remote methods) and ensure that ethics applications are updated accordingly.

Exemptions 

This directive does not apply to participants involved in research as an integral part of clinical care within MQ Health or Macquarie University Clinics. Researchers can direct queries regarding their research to the Faculty Associate Dean Research.

Ethics applications and amendments

HASS and MDS Human ethics applications - If researchers are in a position to continue their research without face-to-face participant contact (e.g., online or via other remote methods), we ask that they update their ethics application in accordance with normal practices.

If researchers cannot continue a project without face-to-face participant contact and need to delay or suspend their work, we ask them to contact ethics.secretariat@mq.edu.au.

Information regarding all ethics applications and the COVID-19 environment is detailed at Ethics, integrity and policies or researchers can direct queries to the Ethics Secretariat (ethics.secretariat@mq.edu.au) or relevant committees or Faculty Officers:

Animal ethics applications - Amendments and responses will be reviewed by the Executive or the Chairs of the AEC via the Research Ethics Management System. Researchers can direct amendments and queries to animal.ethics@mq.edu.au.

Research facilities

Current status - For researchers whose work depends on campus facilities and equipment, not involving human participants (e.g., animal facilities, optical physics, environmental quality), only staff who must be on campus to conduct work that is (a) essential and (b) can only be conducted by being on campus should be on campus.

Executive Deans and Associate Deans are working with Department heads and laboratory leaders about the arrangements that are appropriate to the unique circumstances of individual laboratories and HDR students.

Researchers are only permitted to carry out their research on campus when specifically authorised to do so by the Head of Department and/or Executive Dean, or the Associate Dean Research in accordance with designated Faculty and Department authorisation requirements. 

If undertaking research in a University laboratory, all researchers should follow strict precautionary measures including:

  • Compliance with COVID-19 social distancing measures (1.5m apart / between people)
  • In cases where it is physically impossible to have staff 1.5m apart in research lab locations, e.g. animal lab facilities, other measures should be considered. These include, but are not limited to, staggering staff work hours within facility, ensuring that staff working in facility have full appropriate PPE, e.g. masks, gloves, eye shields, and/or gowns, ensuring work benches and areas are thoroughly disinfected before and after use
  • Standard hygiene practices are observed
  • Standard WHS arrangements are observed
  • No working alone unless appropriate procedures are in place and have been approved by their Head of Department
  • Researchers should not attend campus if you feel unwell with fever, cough, sore throat, runny nose or other symptoms of respiratory infection.

Researchers can direct queries regarding their research to the Faculty Associate Dean Research.

Mitigation strategies and working from home

We recognise the potentially significant impact of current circumstances on our research projects and aspirations. However, staff in the DVCR’s Office, Research Services and Faculty Research Offices are well positioned to support researchers as normal (except for face-to-face enquiries).

Development of plans to manage the care and welfare of plants and animals, and the safe management of sensitive equipment is ongoing.

Research strategies

Researchers should consider ways to progress your research projects during these periods of unavoidable change or delay, including ways to continue project development, literature reviews, meta-analyses, data collection, data analysis, manuscript preparation and grant application development.

These strategies may include moving to phone, online or virtual meetings, data collection and collaboration using audio/visual tools.

If strategies require changes in research project plans, budgets or ethics, we can help you manage this via the usual post-award processes and by expedited ethics review.

Research tools

Please talk to your manager, mentor or supervisor to ensure remote access to shared drives, research data, lab books, electronic libraries and any other support you need to continue research activities at home.

Please direct questions to your Faculty Research Office and Departments.

External and Internal Grant Funding

The ARC and NHMRC have confirmed that any variations to funded “research projects and researchers that have been directly affected by the Coronavirus pandemic” can be considered via their usual post-award procedures.

Impacts may involve “changes in circumstances, including scope changes, personnel changes, suspensions and extensions to end dates”. The ARC and NHMRC will consider variation requests on a case-by-case basis. It is currently recommended that requests for variation not be submitted immediately as circumstances are rapidly changing.

The DVCR portfolio is in the process of establishing variation procedures for internal grants affected by Coronavirus. Please keep records of the nature and length of impacts of Coronavirus (e.g., research data collection impacted by an inability to recruit required participants from March 2020).

In relation to internal grants that are due to finish

  • in late April-early June 2020 - please liaise with your Faculty Officers for submission of variation/carry forward requests.
  • at the end of 2020 – please do not submit variation requests at this time. We will be in touch with further information as it becomes available and in good time for variation requests, if necessary.

Meanwhile, ARC, NHMRC, Macquarie and other organisations are continuing to administer schemes and providing updates on submission deadlines. The Pre-award team will share advice on changes but researchers can continue to aim for planned funding submissions in 2020.

Research related meetings and Events

Consistent with the University’s guidance, staff and students should hold all research-related meetings by audio/visual link or by remote means. All research events should be held by remote means, cancelled or postponed until further notice.

Higher Degree Research Students

HDR candidates have been provided with advice on potential candidature interruptions as a result of travel restrictions, mandatory periods of self-isolation or concerns around disruptions to research data collection.

Scholarship extensions and leave provisions can be managed through the usual process and assessed on a case-by-case basis.

Supervisors of HDR candidates should contact your students and help them plan for the coming weeks and months.

Supporting Casual Staff Involved in Research

Changes in research plans or access to participants and facilities has impacted the work available to our casual staff involved in research, including research assistants funded from internal and external grants. These colleagues are an incredibly valuable and dedicated part of our research work force who face difficulties at this time.

Researchers have been urged to redeploy their casual staff to other aspects of projects (e.g., literature reviews, data coding and analysis, transcription, writing, transitioning to online) and allow them to work from home wherever possible during the next weeks. If this requires changes to project goals, milestones or ethics, help is at hand via project variations and expedited ethics.

Consistent with the University’s support for teaching casuals, where no other research work genuinely is available, we will honour research casuals agreed hours for up to two weeks (from internal or external grants). Similarly, if a research casual is required to self-isolate as determined by their doctor, we again will honour their agreed hours for up to two weeks with medical certification from internal or external grants.

We recognise the loyalty and commitment of our casual workforce, and the difficulties you face at this time. The University has also put in place special sick leave arrangements for casual staff members. Specifically, if a casual staff member is required to self-isolate as determined by their doctor, we will honour their casual shifts for up to two weeks with medical certification. For general illness and absence, normal casual working arrangements will apply.

Generally, casual staff will be able to continue their rostered shifts on campus. The type of work performed may be different from usual, for example, instead of face-to-face tutorials, casual staff may be involved in the delivery of online teaching in a variety of forms. Details of these arrangements will be for each Faculty to implement. Casual staff should ensure that they are available for such activities and submit time sheets based on time worked.

The University will, as much as is possible, honour the hours of work available for both academic and professional casual staff for the balance of this semester.

Some staff members may need to care for children who are unable to attend School or Day Care based on the advice of the NSW Government. If your child is excluded for this reason, you may be eligible to take Carers Leave; your HR Client Team representative will be able to provide you with further information. If your children go to an on-campus day care, it is safe for them to attend.

Macquarie University staff members who have children may find the University’s Centre for Emotional Health and School of Education COVID-19 support pages useful.  It contains advice on a range of subjects from dealing with anxiety and depression to practical advice on subjects like screen time and boredom eating. Click here for details

The ‘Flu Clinic’ for staff has been planned for the month of May, commencing Monday 4 May through to Friday 29 May. Some earlier appointments may be available, please see here for details. Useful information about the seasonal flu shot is available via NSW Health on this link.

We have taken steps to provide Zoom access for all Macquarie staff and students. This access allows us all to hold meetings with up to 300 people with no time limitations for meetings. To use Zoom, log in using your MQ OneID. If you are a MUH staff, your MQ OneID is what you use to login to HROnline. More information about how to use Zoom, please visit our Zoom website.

Wellbeing resources for health professionals during the COVID-19 pandemic

Across our MQ Health sites, including Macquarie University Hospital, General Practice, Specialist Clinics, Allied Health Clinics, MindSpot and MMI, health professionals are working tirelessly to ensure the safety of patients and prepare for potential increased demands that may arise from the pandemic.

Health professionals can take advantage of the following high quality free resources that provide support when you need it:

Support services

Resources

From MindSpot:

From Benestar:

From Black Dog Institute:

From NSW Health:

From Head to Health (Australian Department of Health):

Other links