Information and advice for managers

Last changed: 19 November 2020

Below is updated information, FAQ and advice on to handle the corona situation for SLU managers. This page is updated continuously.

General information

November 18 update: Questions to ask your employee regarding the work environment at home work, please see expandable meny "General advice for those responsible for employees during the corona virus period”.

November 10 update: Stricter general advice announced for Västerbotten

November 10 update: Extended advice against non-essential travel to all countries

October 22 update: Stricter general guidelines imposed in Uppsala County

September 24 update: Contact tracing procedure. Please see expandable menu below.

Managers responsible for work environment issues are encouraged to conduct their own risk and impact assessment to prepare operations in case the contagion spreads: Risk and impact assessment in case of increased spread of the Covid-19 contagion 

NB. If the working conditions change again, the risk and consequence analysis needs to be updated based on said conditions. There is a checklist on the Prevent web pages (in Swedish only) that can be used as support when creating a risk and consequence analysis.

Contact Tracing Procedure

Contact tracing procedure

Each region is responsible for contact tracing procedure, and routines may vary.

If you, as manager or teacher/course coordinator, learns that an employee or student has been found infected, may be involved in each region's infection tracking. More information about infection tracking can be found at 1177.se, select the current region. (information in Swedish)

Report to SLU centrally

To make sure that we have a complete picture of the situation and can identify what support our organisation may need, information about those infected and the contact tracing measures you have taken must be reported to SLU centrally. Teachers should inform their head of department. Heads of department/managers then report to smittsparning@slu.se.

Who should you inform?

You must not inform anyone else about who has tested positive for Covid-19 unless you have the permission of the infected person to do so. If you think there is a reason to inform others and the infected person has agreed to this, it is ok to do so. If you want advice on this, contact your region’s disease control unit.

In addition, if you think it is needed, you can inform the rest of your organisation that someone has tested positive. If you do, do not provide detailed information on which unit/class/group is affected. Remind everyone of the advice from the Public Health Agency to reduce the spread of the virus.

Corona - Information managers

Latest update: 6 October

General information

If an employee becomes ill

6 October update:
If an employee feels symptoms of illness, even a mild cold, the employee needs to stay at home to reduce the spread of infection. The Swedish Public Health Agency has updated rules of conduct regarding infection within the family/household: When a person in a household is ill and has received a test result that shows that he or she has covid-19, everyone in the household, both sick and healthy, except children who have not started preschool should be contacted by the healthcare and given rules of conduct. Read more: If you or someone in your family has become ill

Contact tracing, what does it involve?

11 August update:
Several regions are now refining their processes with respect to contract tracing of covid19. Those who have received a positive test result are contacted by a doctor and asked to list people they have had recent contact with. Primary healthcare providers may also help with this and in some cases completely take over the contact tracing process. Contact in this context means having been within two metres of an infected person for at least 15 minutes.

Note, previous recommendations still stand: if you have the slightest of symptoms, you should stay at home, though as long as you have no symptoms, you should work as usual.

An employee needs to stay home and take care of their children because the preschool/school is closed. Do they have the right to take leave? If so, do they have the right to receive salary?

15 May update:
As of 25 April, employees can be reimbursed if the preschool or school is closed because of Covid-19, even if the child is not ill or carries the virus. The government has approved a temporary change to allow this, see Försäkringskassan´s website.

This reimbursement for those staying at home to care for a sick child will only be paid if the preschool/school decides to close. This applies in the following cases:

  • on the recommendation by a disease control specialist or the Public Health Agency
  • if the preschool/school is in a risk area closed off by the Public Health Agency
  • if the preschool/school is closed because a large number of employees are off sick.

An employee is worried about infection and therefore does not want to come to work. What applies?

15 May update:
The employee can work from home to the extent that their line manager decides possible given their tasks and work environment.  You and the employee need to agree which measures are needed to guarantee a satisfactory work environment. If they cannot work from home, you can assign them other duties similar to their current ones. If this is not possible, the employee can take holiday leave, a leave of absence without pay or, when possible, parental leave. Employees cannot choose to stay home and still receive a salary. That counts as unlawful absence.

What should managers do if some staff have too much work and others not enough because of the coronavirus?

8 April update:
The employer has noted the work environment for SLU teachers and how course budgets are affected when courses are redesigned or cancelled. Saco has also discussed the issue with SLU’s management.

Heads of department/managers responsible for the work environment have the right to redistribute work and are encouraged to re-staff from research and doctoral education to first- and second-cycle level education in order to support teaching. Allocations of funding may be adjusted at a later date. Currently, there will be no more government funds. Therefore, the message is: adapt. Do not cancel. For example, course budgets are affected by unused premises, and rents will discontinue during the spring, providing surplus for other purchases or possible ordered overtime.

Many conferences and other events have been cancelled, which provides time (increased resources) within the research field.

The Swedish Agency for Government Employers has signalled that the university may conduct tougher management during a crisis. This may even take the form of lending staff to other public authorities.

For more information, turn to your HR specialist.

An employee has been ill for a week – do they need to submit a doctor's certificate now?

6 April update
Doctor’s certificates are no longer required from day eight. If a employee is ill, they can stay home for up to 21 days without having to submit a doctor’s certificate. This includes all illnesses, not just Covid-19, and applies from 27 March 2020 until further notice. Read more: Illness or home caring for a sick child (VAB) during the coronavirus situation

An employee is currently receiving medical treatment and their immune system is weakened, but they are not 100 per cent on sick leave. How should this be handled?

6 April update:
Employees who for example are receiving cancer treatment or who have serious underlying illnesses can work from home to the extent that their immediate manager decides possible in relation to operations and work environment. If this does not work, try adjusting their duties in order to minimise social interaction, or review the organisation of their working hours. Another option is that the employee takes holiday leave or a leave of absence without salary. Immediate managers must make individual assessments. 

An employee is very ill. What should I as manager do and what support is available to me?

6 April update:
SLU has guidelines for handling grief in case of death or severe illness that include practical advice. Feel free to contact your human resources officer.

Will the university cancel any big events?

1 April update
As of 29 March, all public events and general assemblies (for example lectures, markets and conventions) with more than 50 participants are forbidden in Sweden. All events and other meetings with more than 50 participants are therefore cancelled until further notice. Digital meetings are recommended for other events and assemblies.

One of our employees is infected. Should the Act on Sickness Payments (1991:1047) regulations on qualifying deductions be applied?

30 March update
If the manager, following contact with the employee, assesses that their ability to work has lessened due to infection, the regulations in the act apply fully, and the employee should take sick leave. See Försäkringskassan´s website. The government has proposed to cancel qualifying days and compulsory doctor’s certificates for the first 14 days. Read more: Illness or home caring for a sick child (VAB) during the coronavirus situation

If the infection does not affect an employee’s ability to work, they may receive a quarantine allowance in accordance with the “Villkorsavtal” documents. In order for the collective bargaining agreement regulations to apply, a responsible doctor, doctor specialising in disease control or equivalent must certify treatment.

Is it possible that the whole workplace will be quarantined? Can we close operations to avoid spreading the infection?

18 March update
There may be situations when it will be relevant to close certain operations to avoid further spreading. However, the starting point is that all operations will continue to run. SLU does not have the right to decide on quarantine, isolation and lockdown issues. Instead, they are regulated in “Smittskyddslagen” (the disease control act) as well as by the Public Health Agency of Sweden and doctors specialising in disease control.

Employment

The pandemic may affect the education of doctoral students, can it lead to an extension of the period of study?

17 April update:
As a principal supervisor you should, using the individual study plan and together with the doctoral student, assess any consequences for the planned period of study and make a short written summary of the problems that arise and any changes you make to the plan. In some cases, the necessary changes may involve extending the period of study. The Higher Education Ordinance (Chap 6 Section 29) allows for an extension of the period of study if there are special grounds for doing so, e.g. leave of absence because of illness, to take up an elected position in a trade union or student organisation, or parental leave. The Covid-19 pandemic also counts as a special ground. The period of employment for a doctoral student may be extended if there are special grounds for doing so (Higher Education Ordinance Chap 5 Section 7). How long this extension can be depends on the individual doctoral student’s thesis work.  

For more information and advice, contact your HR specialist.

According to the agreement on fixed-term employment as a post-doc, a post-doc may be employed for an indefinite period – but no more than two years. If there are special reasons such as illness, parental leave or other similar circumstances, the employment may be extended. Due to the spread of covid-19, can we apply "other similar circumstances" to extend the employment?

8 April update
Extension is possible if personal research is affected negatively due to the coronavirus.

To discuss this matter further, contact your human resources officer.

In order to cover for those who have taken sick leave during the ongoing pandemic, we need to increase teaching hours from the maximum 20 per cent regulated in "Avtal om tidsbegränsad anställning som postdoktor" (agreement on fixed-term employment as a post-doc, "the post-doc agreement" – only in Swedish) as well as the part on doctoral student in the Higher Education Ordinance. Is this possible?

8 April update
Assessments concerning whether doctoral students or post-docs have worked more than the maximum 20 per cent must take the entire period of employment into consideration. This means that a doctoral student or post-doc can take on more teaching assignments during certain periods, as long as the 20 per cent is not exceeded in relation to the whole period of employment.

Business travel

An employee on a business trip cannot come home due to the coronavirus. What should I do?

Salary deductions are not allowed, and the employee has the right to a subsistence allowance in accordance with current agreements. Keep in touch with the employee during the period they are stranded. If the employee gets ill during a business travel, the employee must register sick leave as well as contact 1177 within Sweden or Kammarkollegiet outside of Sweden.

General advice for those responsible for employees during the coronavirus period

The spread of Covid-19 and subsequent recommendations from public authorities have considerably changed the working situation at SLU in very short time. Many are working from home, ill or home due to the fact that their children are at home. There are significantly less people in the workplace. Trips and planned activities have been cancelled or pushed forward. Many employees are worried about the current situation and the future. Due to this, the Division of Human Resources has compiled some general advice for those with employee responsibility.

1. Secure operations

  • Maintain regular operations as much as possible. Follow ordinary decision processes and instructions. Normal work obligations and working hours apply, including to those working from home.
  • Convey and set examples in relation to solving duties that now need to be characterised by adjustment and invention rather than lowered requirements and postponement.
  • Conduct a risk and consequence analysis focusing on operations during various degrees of absence. Plan for various scenarios where functions are stopped due to illness or e.g. schools closing. Use this template for support and documentation.
  • Remember that the current situation will continue or get worse over the course of three months. In such cases, how do operations need to change? Plan generally for this together with the management group, employees or other suitable constellation.
  • Meetings will be both more important and challenging as fewer people are on site.

2. Ensure personal health and endurance

  • Being a manager in a stressful situation can make one feel lonely and vulnerable. Many may have questions and critisise decisions. We strongly recommended finding someone outside personal operations that can act as a sounding board and provide support. Even if this does not feel necessary right now, it may be good to establish contact beforehand in order to make things go swiftly should the need appear. Both the Division of Human Resources and “Gruppen för hållbart ledarskap i akademin” (GHAL – group for sustainable academic leadership) can act as said support.
    • The FAQ for managers and the function email address corona@slu.se answers specific questions regarding how to handle the coronavirus.
  • Managers working from home should maintain their daily routines. For example, regular times for going to bed/waking up, meals, hygiene, etc. Routines help us feel normal and safe in otherwise abnormal situations.
  • Prioritise personal recuperation. During stressful situations, we often neglect personal recuperation in favour of having more time to deal with a situation. This depletes our own energy over time. Personal care should be maintained: get enough sleep, take breaks, listen to music, uphold social contacts, spend time in nature, etc. This applies to both free time and working hours. Recuperation is important for maintaining a strong immune system.
  • Balance the need of being available to employees by setting boundaries that promote personal recuperation.

3. Ensure employee health and endurance

  • The need for guidance increases during times of uncertainty and worry, and focus on what a manager/leader is doing also increases. We often turn to them for support and guidance. Be available and consider increasing the daily period of interacting with employees. In order to lead more steadily than normal, be present and take control. Increase communication about the situation; regularly describe what is going on and what is being done to manage issues. Maintain regular communication even though the situation has not changed. It is worth stating that the situation has not changed.
  • Regularly check employees’ well-being. For example, hold a video meeting once per week where everyone joins digitally and subsequently reports how they are doing. How is everyone feeling and what thoughts do they have on the current situation?
  • Maintain and facilitate social interaction between employees. Take digital coffee breaks and socialise virtually. General discussions are also needed in the virtual workplace. “Meet” in small groups (no more than 10 people) and be prepared to lead informal discussions in order to avoid silence or everyone speaking simultaneously. Try to keep social processes as much as possible, but find new ways to carry them out. Update those who are not on site about what is going on in the workplace.
  • Managers are also responsible for the work environment for those working from home. Get an idea of how an employee’s home workplace works, what could be done to facilitate things as well if there are risks connected to e.g. ergonomics or other physical and psychosocial risks.
    • Pay special attention to the regulation regarding working alone (AFS 1982:3) in relation to isolation and the employer’s responsibility to enable social contact with others. Also consider the regulation regarding working in front of a screen (AFS 1998:5) in relation to how the workplace is designed for computer work.
    • Conduct risk and consequence analyses focusing on the employee’s physical and psychosocial health. Include both working from home and in the workplace. This must be done in collaboration with the employee in question and a safety representative. Use this template for support and documentation.
  • Remember that employees are in various personal situations. Work may serve a substantial social function for them. Identify and focus extra on employees who risk becoming completely socially isolated or who face other risks by working from home. This applies to both those working from home and those who are ill.
  • Help employees working at a distance to set availability and working hour boundaries. Many have difficulties doing so when working from home.
  • Listen to any concerns and take them seriously. Listening is showing empathy. Not mentioning or listening to the concerns employees have can result in the manager being perceived as afraid. This may result in increased worry among the employees. Worry is contagious, and the most worried people have a tendency to change what is considered normal in a group. Discuss several perspectives that can make things more balanced when necessary. There should not be a struggle of right or wrong. Instead, highlight several ways to view the situation.
  • Since a lot of information is ominous and problem-oriented, help by highlighting positive news that are worth celebrating. Balance the current worrying aspects as much as possible without being overly chipper and try to convey hope for the future.
  • It is important to have regular reconciliations with the employees to ensure that the work situation at home is good. See Questions to ask your employee regarding the work environment at home work.

Before an employee starts working from home

Checklist before an employee starts working from home

  • Are the employee’s duties suitable for distance work? Consider which material must be brought home – our workplace handles public documents.
  • Which duties cannot be conducted at a distance?
  • Discuss the home work environment with the employee in question. What does the social environment look like? Does the employee live alone? Do they have people around? Is the home in question a social risk environment in any way?
  • Assess whether the employee can arrange a proper home workplace or if there is a risk of illness after a while. Managers are also responsible for the home work environment.
  • Is the employee familiar enough with computers to work from home? Do they need further web-based tool training in the form of online courses? 
  • What are the technical conditions? Is there an internet connection, and does the employee have access to documents through the VPN client? 
  • Remind employees of the importance of taking breaks and doing ergonomic exercises in order to reduce the risk of strain injuries. It can be physically or psychologically strenuous to work from home for a longer period, and there must be procedures to ensure that it works in the long-term.
  • Discuss availability with the employee. What is the best way to reach them (email, Teams, phone, etc.) and what are their working hours?
  • Agree on how to stay in touch and what form follow-up between manager and employee will take in the future.
  • It is good to talk to an employee after they have worked from home for a few days. Ask them how things are going, if they need something, etc.

Inform them of the following:

  • Distance working hours are regulated in the same way as when working in the ordinary workplace. The same working conditions apply, and any overtime/additional hours must be approved by the manager/head of department beforehand. It is important that everyone takes responsibility for maintaining personal/work life balance.
  • If an accident occurs when working from home, workplace accident insurance may apply in accordance with the Compensation for Personal Injury Agreement (PSA). The condition is that the accident is directly connected to the conducted duties, and all cases need to be assessed based on the conditions at the time. See AFA's website for more information about insurance when working from home.
  • Information security must be the same as in the regular workplace – information must be protected and kept away from unauthorised persons. Public access and secrecy rules also apply when working from home. The same public document quality and security conditions apply when working from home as in the regular workplace. All public documents, both submitted and developed, must be registered and available to the public in accordance with regular procedures.

To hold digital meetings

Advice when holding digital meetings

  1. The meeting leader should ensure that there is a clear purpose for the meeting, as well as that all participants are given an established agenda. The purpose for this is ensuring that the participants have time to prepare what they would like to say.
  2. Before a distance meeting, it is important to clarify any rules – for example that all participants turn off their microphones and subsequently turn them on when they wish to speak (in order to avoid bad sound quality).
  3. Agree on how to take notes during the meeting as well as who is responsible for taking them. By using some tools, the chat window or shared documents can act as the protocol.
  4. Follow the agenda – structure is more important during distance meetings than regular ones.
  5. If any material needs to be shown, it is possible to share a screen during the meeting.
  6. Ensure that the information is transparent and that everyone gets to talk when they wish to say something. Allow one participant to speak at a time, and thank them for their input before the next person speaks/the next item is discussed. Include all participants in a meeting as much as possible.
  7. Remember to be extra clear when necessary, especially when a response is required. Do not assume that everyone heard, kept up with or agree with what was said.
  8. Also consider how communication is conducted during the meeting. This does not just mean to listen to what is said, but also to what is not said such as tone, voice pitch and silence. It is also good to be relatively informal and facilitate spontaneity during virtual meetings.

Also take a look at: Five tips for better digital meetings

Migration-related issues as a consequence of the coronavirus

Here, you will find links to information on corona-related migration issues.

Employees who are abroad following a holiday and cannot return to Sweden

If an employee has travelled abroad for holiday purposes and cannot return to Sweden, they cannot work and should consequently be on paid or unpaid leave of absence, or take annual leave after agreeing on this with their employer.

Distance work from abroad counts as local employment and is prohibited by law. Instead, the employer should try to make the employee return to Sweden as soon as possible. 

According to the Swedish Agency for Government Employers, Chapter 6 of the General Agreement on Pay and Benefits for Government Employees and Section 15 Subsection 3 in the state enterprise agreements apply to an employee on annual leave who cannot return home. Unless the employer finds there are particular reasons not to, a salary deduction should be made. If the employee prefers to take annual leave, they can agree this with the employer.

Employees who are abroad in situations such as the one described above, and who are consequently on leave of absence, need to make sure they have sufficient sickness/travel insurance for the duration of their stay abroad.

A trip from Sweden taken as annual leave cannot retroactively be transformed into a business trip.

Employees who are abroad on business travel and cannot return to Sweden

This concerns staff travelling abroad on business. In these cases, Chapter 10 Section 2 of the General Agreement on Pay and Benefits applies. According to this section, if an employee is granted an extension of a business trip because of circumstances beyond their control, the extended trip can be seen as the reason for the extended absence.

The employee is consequently entitled to full pay and subsistence allowance. The business travel insurance provides complete cover during the entire stay. 

Employees who are abroad on business travel and cannot return to Sweden can contact our procured travel agency for help finding a return journey, provided their outward journey was booked with the travel agency. 

Government employees at universities are not allowed to do distance work from abroad

Only the public authorities designated ‘foreign missions’ by the government, such as the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency and the Foreign Office, are allowed to employ staff who work abroad (local agents).

However, as a university, we can station staff abroad by drawing up a URA agreement. These can be used for well-defined missions abroad, but not for performing regular tasks abroad as a distance worker.

URA agreements can be used for missions in all countries outside Sweden except for countries where the employee is a citizen, has strong interests such as a partner, a home/holiday home or similar, or a country where the employee is already resident or has been resident for a considerable period.

The Swedish Agency for Government Employers explains this on their FAQ page on URA, https://www.arbetsgivarverket.se/ledare-i-staten/arbetsgivarguiden/fragor-och-svar/personal-utomlands/ (in swedish only).

Employers are responsible for providing insurance for employees who work abroad.

Recommendations from the Ministry for Foreign Affairs for Swedish citizens who need help to return to Sweden

The Ministry for Foreign Affairs recommends all Swedes abroad to register for their ‘list of Swedes’ (svensklistan). That way, the ministry can reach them through the local embassy or consulate if needed, https://www.swedenabroad.se/sv/svensklistan/.

The Ministry for Foreign Affairs also recommends downloading the Resklar app, which can be used e.g. to monitor available places on flights to Sweden. The app can be downloaded at https://www.swedenabroad.se/sv/om-utlandet-för-svenska-medborgare/reseinformation/ud-resklar-mobilapp/. More information on the app is available at https://www.regeringen.se/uds-reseinformation/resklar/.

More information from the local Swedish embassy is available at https://www.swedenabroad.se/sv/om-utlandet-för-svenska-medborgare/.

Employees who are abroad in situations such as the one described above, and who are consequently on leave of absence, need to make sure they have sufficient sickness/travel insurance for the duration of their stay abroad.

Government information on the ban on travelling to Sweden

https://www.government.se/press-releases/2020/03/temporary-ban-on-travel-to-sweden-due-to-covid-19/

Police information on travelling to Sweden
https://polisen.se/en/the-swedish-police/the-coronavirus-and-the-swedish-police/travel-to-and-from-sweden-affected-until-17-april-2020/

Corona-related information from the Swedish Migration Agency
https://www.migrationsverket.se/English/About-the-Migration-Agency/Coronavirus.html

For questions on visiting Swedish embassies for work or residence permits, contact the embassy in question: https://www.swedenabroad.se/en/embassies/

Information for employees/visitors who cannot return home

The Swedish Migration Agency has issued a legal recommendation that means foreign nationals staying in Sweden who need to extend their visit due to the current situation and difficulties returning to their country of origin can apply for a visitor’s permit.

A visitor’s permit can be granted even if someone has previously applied for a residence permit based on other circumstances. It is important to apply before the current visa or permit expires.

The Migration Agency’s legal recommendation:
https://lifos.migrationsverket.se/dokument?documentSummaryId=44187 (only available in Swedish)

Apply for an extension of a stay in Sweden:
https://www.migrationsverket.se/English/Private-individuals/Visiting-Sweden/Extend-a-visit.html

New URA agreements for stays abroad not possible during the pandemic

The Legal, Financial and Administrative Services Agency does not issue any new URA insurances during the pandemic. This means that new URA agreements will not be possible for the foreseeable future. If you have planned to station employees abroad with a URA agreement during 2020, contact your HR specialist for advice.

Ongoing URA agreements and conditions of the URA insurance during the pandemic

Information from the Legal, Financial and Administrative Services Agency on the URA insurance:

  1. The insurance covers emergency medical care abroad. If you need help to make a medical appointment, or if you need medical advice, contact Falck Global Assistance, tel +46 8 87 71 749 or email fga@se.falck.com.
  2. The insurance does not cover costs for cancelled conferences/coursed, tickets or accommodation. It also does not cover costs related to quarantine or costs for travelling to Sweden (corresponding to the disruption cover in the Swedish state business travel insurance or the Student UT insurance).
  3. If you wish to return to Sweden earlier than planned because of the coronavirus and this involves cancelling your URA contract, the Legal, Financial and Administrative Services Agency may reimburse the remaining period of your URA insurance. Contact the Legal, Financial and Administrative Services Agency, forsakring@kammarkollegiet.se
URA insurance

Information from the Legal, Financial and Administrative Services Agency on the URA insurance:

  1. The insurance covers emergency medical care abroad. For help making a medical appointment, or for medical advice, contact Falck Global Assistance, tel +46 8 87 71 749 or fga@se.falck.com.
  2. The insurance does not cover costs for cancelled conferences/courses, tickets or accommodation. It also does not cover costs related to quarantine or costs for travelling to Sweden (corresponding to the disruption cover in the Swedish state business travel insurance or the Student UT insurance).
  3. If someone wishes to return to Sweden earlier than planned because of the coronavirus and this involves cancelling the URA contract, the Legal, Financial and Administrative Services Agency may reimburse the remaining period of the URA insurance. Contact the Agency at forsakring@kammarkollegiet.se.

Do you have questions on the URA insurance or the insurance for foreign visitors at SLU? Email your question to arbetstillstand@slu.se.


Contact

If you suspect that you have contracted the virus, read more at http://krisinformation.se/en (emergency information from Swedish authorities), or phone 113 13 (national information number for information on emergencies) and ask for advice.

Staff who have questions about how this issue is handled at SLU, or who need practical advice in case they become infected, should contact their immediate superior.

Students should contact their programme director of studies, contact details can be found on the programme web pages.

Page editor: HRADM@slu.se