Coronavirus placements policy

Note – this policy applies to all Sandwich and short placement across the university except Health and Social Care related placements in the College of Health, Wellbeing and Life Sciences, which are subject to specific guidance currently being agreed with Health Education England. Dedicated guidance is available for students on a health placement or education placement

  1. Placements are an important aspect of Sheffield Hallam University’s work. We provide many thousands of opportunities each year for our students to learn in the workplace, helping communities and organisations to thrive while developing high level skills and capabilities that enrich their learning and future career aspirations. 
  2. Placements have clearly been affected by the COVID-19 crisis. Some have been cancelled, others terminated early and others revised in light of the official advice, emerging risks and economic developments. 
  3. This policy is updated in light of the government social distancing instructions and closure of specified businesses on Monday 23 March 2020. Our overall position remains that students provide a valuable contribution to the organisations where they work so placements should continue where it is safe to do so and where employers, students and the university agree a placement experience can be delivered in compliance with current public health restrictions including the requirement for social distancing – note the restrictions change on a frequent basis – check the gov.uk/coronavirus website regularly.
  4. The University is aware that many students cannot or do not wish to undertake a placement in the current circumstances. The University will take the following steps to ensure that students whose placement does not continue will still be able to progress on their course. Students who have completed 24 weeks of a Sandwich placement will be deemed to have satisfied the requirements of the placement. For other students, the University will put in place alternative arrangements to ensure that students can meet the learning outcomes of the placement.
  5. Paragraph 4 covers only the academic consequences of the termination of a placement. Where a student is employed during their placement there may be other consequences such as notice requirement, and loss of salary and other benefits. Students should think carefully, check their contract and discuss their decision with their employer before they come to a decision. Support is also available from the Employability Operations Team to help students with their decision making but they cannot give legal advice. Students should also consider seeking help from the Students Union Advice Centre and/or independent legal advice. 
  6. If a student decides to terminate their placement they should notify their employer and the Employability Operations Team
  7. The University has a range of support and assistance available to students whose placement is terminated early. This includes practical advice, careers support and access to the financial hardship fund, subject to eligibility criteria. However, the University is not liable for any loss of salary, accommodation, travel costs, other benefits or any other loss associated with the termination of a placement. 
  8. The COVID-19 crisis clearly affects the health and safety considerations in the workplace. There is a key responsibility on placement students to be aware of their own health and safety in the workplace and they should ensure they are familiar with the guidance for employees on the March 2020 government website. If employers or students have concerns about the health and safety of students on placement they should raise these with the Employability Operations Team. Where appropriate the EOT will request departments to undertake or commission further risk assessment. The University reserves the right to terminate any placement where it is not satisfied that a safe working environment can be maintained.
  9. The University also recognises that many employers are significantly affected by the COVID-19 crisis and may decide not to commence or continue placements or may alter the nature of the placement. Where it is safe to do so, consistent with the employer’s business and compliant with public health guidance the University encourages employers to continue placements and will support employers to do so. If a placement is terminated, paragraph 4 will apply to ensure that the student is able to progress on their course. The legal relationship between the employer and the student is a separate consideration and is governed by the employer’s terms and conditions. 
  10. Employers are also encouraged to consider “furlough” (leave of absence) of placement students if appropriate alongside other employees where this meets the government’s Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme arrangements. 
  11. If any employer decides to terminate a placement early they should notify the student and the Employability Operations Team

For any other queries or support requests please contact: Employability Operations Team

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