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COVID-19 information for staff

Mō ngā kaimahi

Work arrangements and sick leave

Updated: Thursday 26 March, 7pm

HR COVID‑19 Contact Centre

A dedicated contact centre for HR questions related to COVID‑19 is available.

You can either email or call AskOtago (Freephone 0800 808 098 or +64 3 479 7000). All inquiries will be treated confidentially.

Essential services

Only staff with a role classed as an Essential Service will be allowed on campus.

Roles classified in an Essential Services Category, as defined by Government (PDF)

Please review this criteria before applying.

If you believe your role is classed as an ‘Essential Service’ please fill out this form and send it to your PVC, DVC, or Service Division Head:

Essential Services Form (PDF)

If you believe it is essential you have access to our campuses for research purposes, complete the following form and send it to your PVC, DVC or Service Division Head.

Essential Research Form (PDF)

Staff Web Kiosk – logging status

Due to the change to Alert Level 4, our process for logging leave in the Staff Web Kiosk has changed.

All staff are now known to be working at home; therefore, we don’t need all staff to log in daily to let us know where they are.

Some staff will need to log their status, however, if they are unable to carry out their normal job from home. This might be because they are sick with a non‑COVID‑19 illness, have COVID‑19, are looking after a dependent who does, or are unable to do all or part of their job because they are off campus.

Staff who fall into one of those categories must log their status in the web kiosk. This can be done for up to five days at a time throughout the lockdown.

The University is aware that for many people, working from home isn’t possible. Some jobs require being on campus physically, or having access to systems, or you may not be able to do as much work as usual as you are looking after dependents.

The University needs staff to be honest about their status so it can access Government funding which will be important for business recovery. Please note that if you are able to work from home and carry out more than 50% of your normal duties, you do not have to do anything in the web kiosk. This includes people carrying out clinical duties and staff working on campus in critical areas.

We may use this information to ask staff if they are available for other work which could be done from home, in order to fill gaps.

Process for booking sick leave during COVID‑19 (PDF)

Timesheet Employees logging status

The above logging status also applies to staff who are paid via timesheet. If you are rostered to work, and you work, an online timesheet is completed as normal via Staff Web Kiosk. If you are rostered to work and are unable to work because you are sick, you need to email the following details to the HR COVID‑19 contact centre.

  1. University Sick Leave (same as usual – use this if you are sick with a non‑COVID‑19 illness)
  2. COVID‑19: to be used if unable to work from home because you are:
    1. Sick with COVID‑19
    2. Caring for dependents with COVID‑19
    3. Unable to carry out 50% of normal duties (you can do some but not all of your job at home)
  3. The hours you would have worked.

Working and managing from home

You can find useful resources on working and managing from home, on the HR Learning and Development page.

Survey request for at home resources

We would like all staff to fill in this survey as soon as possible. This gathers information about your access to resources and any support needed to enable you to work from home. This will also enable us to prioritise the support we are able to provide remotely.

Confirmation and promotion processes

We are pausing both these processes until further notice due to workload pressures.  We will endeavour to ensure that staff are not disadvantaged by either the delay in the process or the general COVID-19 disruption.

International relocation of new staff and visiting appointments and recruitment

With the New Zealand border closure announcement, we are managing each situation on a case-by-case basis. Information is being gathered regarding those the University has/is relocating, those who have independently relocated, and visiting academics.

A dedicated small team are managing this. The priority is for those who are about to relocate, and those who are part way through relocating. The new/pending staff member, or visitor, and their relevant department are being individually contacted.

In conjunction with each hiring department, we are reviewing all active recruitment processes to assess whether they should continue or not. 

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ITS resources for teaching and working remotely

Updated: Tuesday 31 March, 12:27pm

ITS have collected resources to help you work and teach remotely, should the need arise:

ITS information for working and teaching remotely

Zoom drop-in support sessions

Drop-in sessions for help with remote working and online teaching will now be online – via Zoom video conferencing.

The online Zoom sessions are:

Friday 3 April 9:00am–10:00am
Monday 6 April 9:30–10:30am
Tuesday 7 April 9:00–10:00am
Wednesday 8 April 9:30–10:30am
Thursday 9 April 11:30am–12:30pm

Zoom Link for these sessions, from a PC, Mac, iOS or Android

Academic-specific IT help

A reminder that a new paper on Blackboard called “DISTANCE LEARNING Shifting Online” is constantly updated and includes:

  • Notices about live Zoom ‘drop-in sessions’ run by academic volunteers experienced in online teaching and learning
  • Contacts for one-on-one help with online teaching and learning
  • Written information

Just login to Blackboard and look for ‘My Papers’ and ‘Courses where you are: Student’.

Please contact Sarah Stein ( or Keryn Pratt ( for any information about ‘Shifting Online’ or to request access if you cannot gain it for some reason.

Training and development drop-in session recording

Recording of a training session from David Hood from Training and Development which could be useful for those not able to make it to a drop-in session. The video covers Otago Capture administration and Zoom (access, administration, presentation tips and making recordings available via Blackboard and Otago Capture).

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Keeping well while remote working

Updated: 2 April, 3:15pm

For the latest NZ Government advice

Staff well-being checks

Well-being checks – regular calls or emails from AskOtago to check on staff well-being - are being offered to all staff of the University. If you would appreciate a regular check-in on your physical and mental health, please complete this survey and someone will get in touch via email or phone.

Talk to the University. Register with AskOtago for free and we can support you.


Freephone 0800 808 098 (within NZ)
Tel +64 3 479 7000

Managing your mental well-being

Reach out to your usual supports, like family and friends, and talk about how you feel. We also recommend sticking to a routine such as having regular mealtimes, regular bedtimes, and exercising.

If you feel you are not coping, it is important to talk with a health professional. For support with grief, anxiety, distress, or mental well-being, you can call or text 1737 – free, anytime, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week – to talk with a trained counsellor.


While in self-isolation, it helps to focus on what is in your control.

FACE COVID (PDF) provides some helpful tips.

There are a range of resources available to support you in maintaining your physical and mental wellbeing including:

Setting up your workplace

Occupational Health has provided the following resource to help you set up your remote working space:

Setting up your workstation (PDF)

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Privacy while working remotely

While working remotely working the Privacy Act 1993 still applies. We must ensure we are still complying with the Privacy Principles set out in the Act when working remotely.

One of the areas we need to pay special attention to is the storage and security of personal information.

If we are storing personal information at home we must make sure it is as secure as possible. Aim to keep information locked away if the information is stored on paper, USB stick or other physical artefact. Keep track of where it is so you can return it to the office when we are able to go back to work. 

Password protect your work it if it is stored on a USB stick, use the University’s trusted systems such as OurDrive or Shared Drives, and have a secure password on your computer. 

The challenge to upholding the privacy principles posed by working from home is that the boundaries between our work-life and our home-life can become blurred. This means that there are greater risks of people accessing information that they wouldn’t normally be able to access. Some useful tips are:

  • Position your screens to retain as much privacy as possible
  • Lock your screen when you leave your computer
  • Limit the opportunity those around you have of over-hearing any personal or sensitive calls or Zoom meetings you are involved in
  • Tidy up pieces of paper that contain personal or sensitive information

You can find out more about how the University of Otago manages privacy in the Policy on Access to, and use of, Personal Information and at Privacy at Otago

If you have concerns about serious privacy breaches you can contact Claire Gallop (Deputy Privacy Officer) at or Chris Stoddart (Privacy Officer) at to work out how best to manage the issue.

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Information and records management advice

Updated: Friday 3 April, 8:45am

University staff have a responsibility to keep clear and accurate records of the University’s activities and decisions. We are required by law to ensure that University records continue to be properly created and maintained during this time.

Working from home and using technologies to store University information that support remote access, collaboration and communication, pose some challenges to our normal record-keeping practices. The following are the big-two records management considerations from the mandatory Information and Records Management Standard:

  1. Information and records must be protected from unauthorised or unlawful access, alteration, loss, deletion or destruction’ which means we need to:
    • Continue to create and capture University information into the usual University systems where possible, and
    • Remember to delete University information from home technology when you are able to return to campus (make sure you’ve copied it into a University system first though!)
  2. Access to, use of and sharing of information and records must be managed appropriately and in line with legal and business requirements’ which means we need to:
    • Protect sensitive University information from inadvertent access by others in our households, and
    • Place particular safeguards on sensitive personal information such as medical / health information (for the time being the University’s IT Cybersecurity team recommends that this type of information should not be moved to Office 365).

If you need to adopt new work practices or solutions to allow you to effectively work from home, please consider how the information you create during this time will be preserved and captured back into the University’s corporate systems. ITS have created guidance for staff that explains where they would like different types of University information to be stored:

Data storage locations guidance (PDF)

As always, just as with your work in the office, any information you create – including  when using collaborative communication tools and channels – is likely to be subject to the Official Information Act 1982 and, for personal information, the Privacy Act 1993.

For specific information and records management support, please contact the Corporate Records team at

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University operations and services

To ensure continuity during COVID‑19 here is how you can help maintain University operations and services.

Supply chain

It is now more vital than ever that all purchasing requests are funnelled through our designated supply chain hubs using the online smart form. 

We need to coordinate access to critical goods across our University for everyone’s sake. Using the supply chain hubs and smart forms will be quicker and prioritise critical goods.

We have many critical goods in stock already, so you may just need to request them rather than purchasing them.

It is extremely important that purchasing protocols are not circumvented by the use of PCards/reimbursements without very good reason.

Supply chain hubs

Online Smart form

Library resources

All University of Otago Libraries, including the Hocken Collections, are closed.

The following online resources and services are available from the library website:

  • Library Search | Ketu
  • Electronic resources e.g. journals and databases
  • Electronic Reserve Course Readings (accessible via Blackboard or Moodle)
  • Access to Past Exam Papers
  • Subject Guides
  • Support for Distance Students
  • Email:
  • LibChat
  • Interloans (digital items only)

The following will not be available:

  • Book return. Please hold onto materials you have checked out. Overdue fines will be suspended.
  • Access to physical collections including Course Reserve Readings
  • Interlibrary loan for physical material
  • Library Scan

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Health and safety for staff working on-site at the University of Otago

Updated: Tuesday 31 March, 2:50pm

Important health and safety information for essential staff working on-site at the University of Otago, and in our residential colleges. Please take the time to read this carefully, to ensure you’re up-to-date with the best advice on keeping yourselves safe.

Information for residential college staff working on-site at the University of Otago

Information for staff working on-site at the University of Otago

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Health and hygiene

Updated: 31 March, 4:20pm

Fundamental to the nationwide efforts to contain the spread of COVID‑19 is avoiding putting yourself or others at risk if you are unwell.

For the latest NZ Government advice

Flu vaccination

Updated: 31 March, 4:20pm

The Ministry of Health has advised that flu vaccine is prioritised for priority groups, such as those over 65 years old, pregnant women, those with pre-existing medical conditions, children with a history of respiratory illness and frontline workers.  More flu vaccine is expected into the country in April and the MOH will be prioritising the distribution.

The Occupational Health Team do not have access to the flu vaccine and are unlikely to have the vaccine until mid to late April.  If you are in a high-risk category group, please see your GP or Pharmacy to be vaccinated.  If you cannot access your GP and you are a frontline health worker for the University, please email

When the vaccine is available, the team will arrange how, when and where it will be available to staff, while maintaining the required safe distancing and any other requirements depending on the COVID-19 level status at that time.  It will be different to previous years, but rest assured it is our intent to offer the vaccine to as many staff as possible.

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Researchers and supervisors

Updated: Monday, 23 March, 7:00pm

With the rapidly-evolving circumstances around the global COVID‑19 outbreak, the ongoing management of research activity within the university and the communities we work with is of high importance.

COVID‑19 information for researchers and supervisors

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Visit for ongoing updates.