PLEASE NOTE: these updates may contain outdated information. Please read the latest information.
Update #36, 1 May 2020: Coronavirus and UM
In this update, we will inform you about the extension of the temporary commuting scheme, the use of public transport subscriptions in the event of necessary commuting and the one-time contribution towards the costs of working from home that all UM employees will soon receive. In this update, you will also find more information about the intention to open a building for specific groups of students in difficult situations to a (very) limited extent. Furthermore, we refer to the guidelines drawn up by the Procurement Department in the event of (imminent) non-compliance with contracts and provide an update on the emergency fund for students. The story series ‘We’re open!’ has also been expanded again with two new stories.
Extension of temporary commuting scheme
In coronavirus update #15 we reported that the tax authorities allow a fixed commuting allowance to be paid out for a maximum of six weeks if no commuting is being done (which is the case with working from home). Calculated from the starting date of 16 March 2020, the granting of an allowance is therefore scheduled to be stopped as of 1 May 2020 for the fixed commuting allowance, the CAO selection model exchange and the public transport allowance.
Partly because it cannot be ruled out that changes will be made in the coming weeks regarding the lockdown and related travel restrictions, UM has decided, with the permission of the tax authorities, to provisionally maintain the existing allowance for the fixed commuting allowance and for the CAO selection model exchange.
Working from home remains the rule, but…
Working from home remains the rule, but under certain circumstances, employees are allowed to travel to work. The following applies to them. The Arriva and NS public transport cards have been discontinued, but it remains possible for employees who used them to travel by public transport on an occasional basis. For Arriva, you must check in and out. In that case, each individual journey will be charged to UM. The same applies to NS (Dutch Railways), but you must first use an NS charging station. Each cardholder will receive an information email from NS.
If you would prefer not to travel by public transport for a while because of the risk of infection, UM is also temporarily offering the possibility to commute to the university using your own transport. The kilometres driven can then be declared at € 0.19 per kilometre without a maximum.
Temporary one-time payment to compensate for working from home
Working from home was suddenly implemented without much preparation. It is conceivable that the required provisional introduction of working from home has also entailed extra costs for employees. UM will therefore provide compensation of €50.00 to all employees to cover the costs of working from home. In principle, this one-time payment applies until the end of June and concerns all UM employees with a permanent or temporary employment contract (approx. 4,500). We do not want to make a distinction between full-time and part-time employees; everyone will receive the same amount. As stated above, the one-time payment is related to the Dutch Cabinet's urgent recommendation to work from home with immediate effect and should be viewed separately from the regular (existing or future) plans to work from home.
This payment eliminates the need to submit individual claims relating to the additional costs of working from home. If, due to circumstances, an individual employee has had to incur demonstrably higher personal expenses related to the requirement to work from home, we request that he or she contact the relevant faculty or service centre director.
Limited opening of UM buildings
UM would like to open a building for specific target groups and purposes to a (very) limited extent. This concerns students with a disability, students with enduring internet connection problems and students who expect that they will not be able to fully participate in an online exam due to a faulty internet connection or an unsuitable device. It is therefore not a question of a making various UM buildings widely accessible, but of offering specific locations to support students in difficult situations. This concerns the following groups of students:
Students with disabilities
All student counsellors and faculty study advisors will receive a message from Disability Support that they can register students with a disability who want to use a UM building. Together with Facility Services, Disability Support will ensure an adequate reception at the location (currently this is Minderbroedersberg 6a). A Securitas employee will be there to let the student in, to register the visit, to ensure compliance with the measures regarding safety and hygiene, etc. Eventually, we expect to make other locations available for this purpose; more information will follow as soon as these locations are available.
- Students with enduring internet connection problems
All students who have problems with their internet connection at home can already report this through the online education website by clicking on the 'big green button'. The online education helpdesk will then provide an appropriate solution. One of the solutions is the temporary provision of a workplace in a UM building, for example to download material, attend a lecture online, or participate in an online tutorial group. This is therefore not a facility that offers the function of traditional learning spaces; this is a service offered by UM to give students access to online education.
Students who do not expect to be able to fully participate in an online exam
It been agreed upon with the faculties that if there are online exams and students expect that they will have internet connection problems during the exam, students should report this to the Education Office of the faculty in question. Faculties will then offer these students a facility.
Procurement guidelines in the event of (imminent) non-performance of contracts
Because of the coronavirus pandemic, UM may receive reports from contracting parties (suppliers or contractors) that they are unable to meet their obligations or will be able to do so at a later date, possibly in combination with requests related to some form of compensation. The situation may also occur that UM itself is unable to fulfil an agreement in full and/or on time. Because UM has various types of contracts and agreements with our contracting parties, and because different legal rules apply, every situation must be looked at individually. The Purchasing Department (FS) has drawn up guidelines with the most important rules, principles and proposed procedures. The guidelines also provide points of attention for contracts that have not yet been finalised.
If one of the above situations arise, please contact the Tactical Procurement department of Facility Services. They will support and advise you on how to handle the situation going further.
University Fund – SWOL helps dozens of students
The emergency fund of the University Fund – SWOL has supported 55 students thus far. The fund has processed 80 applications (as of last Tuesday). A total of approximately 35,000 euros has been granted. An average of 611 euros has been paid out per student. Most of the supported students come from abroad, but Dutch students have also been helped by the emergency fund.
We're open!: Medical students spring into action at Maastricht UMC+
It's a bright spot in these dark times. Hundreds of UM medical students, from first-year students to residents, are springing into action at Maastricht UMC+. They’re screening visitors, monitoring COVID-19 patients or providing administrative assistance. In this way, they are making it possible to have extra hands at the patients’ bedside. In the story series We’re open!, third-year medical student Joël Donckers talks about his experiences: “I now see how essential the nurses are”.
We’re open!: The impact of current measures and restrictions on the international work of SHE Collaborates
For years, Geraldine Beaujean, director of SHE Collaborates, has been trying to bridge the gap between the needs of universities in poor countries, the financial strength of international organisations and the expertise in Dutch higher education. How is this commercial traveller experiencing the coronavirus crisis in the field of educational improvement and innovation in healthcare, especially now that travel is not possible for the time being? In the latest issue of We’re open!, she tells her story.
UM closed on 4 and 5 May
Due to Dutch Remembrance Day and Liberation Day, Maastricht University will be closed on Monday 4 and Tuesday 5 May. We wish everyone a nice (long) weekend!