Covid-19: Information for Finance

Overview

 

Action required: The Payroll Team are currently unable to distribute paper payslips

Please advise employees in your department of this situation and remind them that they can access their payslips and P60s online via HR Self-Service at www.ox.ac.uk/hrss. Employees should not contact the Payroll office for copies of their payslips whilst the Finance Division remains closed as they are unable to distribute paper payslips at this time.

See the Payroll section below for information on:

  • Accessing HR self-service remotely;
  • Casual workers; and
  • Online only payslips
 

Update: P60s available via HR Self-Service

P60s for the tax year 2019/20 are now available for all University employees (excluding casual workers) via HR Self-Service.

P60 data available via HMRC’s Personal Tax Account - Alternatively, you can access your P60 data by registering for a ‘Personal Tax Account’ with HMRC and then clicking on ‘Your PAYE Income Tax Overview’. This service will be useful for casual workers who do not currently have access to HR Self-Service. 

Paper copies of P60s will be distributed once staff are back in the office.

 

Updated: 15 May 2020

The Finance Division is now closed and remote working procedures have been adopted.

 

The Finance Division has reviewed how scenarios caused by the response to coronavirus might impact services. We will be working remotely from 24 March 2020, and remote working procedures have been designed to ensure that key services are delivered.

We will keep monitoring the effectiveness of these procedures, and may adjust them if necessary. Adjustments may become necessary if high numbers of colleagues within Finance or across the University become unable to work.

Any changes will be communicated and this page will be updated regularly.

Queries about specific services should be directed to the relevant teams in the Finance Division using the contact details on the website. Queries about the Finance Division contingency planning or remote working procedures should be directed to finance.communications@admin.ox.ac.uk.For more information about each service and relevant information for departments, see the sections below.

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Ensuring that staff can access Oracle Financials is a priority.

Please note: Access to Oracle Financials is only available via VPN

 

Potential impact on the Finance Division:

  • While remote working, the Helpdesk will seek to maintain a full service.
  • If staff are unable to work, queries may take longer to resolve.

Action for departments:

Please continue to use normal channels to raise queries and service requests. We recognise that some departments will be considering requesting additional access to cover potential absences, and aim to process requests promptly.

Please encourage colleagues to put in place vacation rules or used shared worklists where relevant for purchasing and journal approvals (these can be done separately). If necessary, the FSM Team is able to set up vacation rules, but please be aware that service will slow if a lot of requests are received.

Oracle Financials training:

If you require urgent access to Oracle Financials, please complete the relevant online training course. Details of which courses are available online. To ensure the safety of staff and to minimise the spread of coronavirus, all face to face/classroom training is currently suspended. The classroom based "Introduction to..." courses are being delivered via Teams. Book your place as usual in CoSy. The Training Team will then send an invitation for you to join the Teams meeting.

The situation will be regularly reviewed and this guidance updated as soon as we are able to offer classroom training again.
 

Ensuring that staff receive their monthly payroll is a priority and we will make every effort to run the payroll to the normal timetable. While the Finance Division offices remain closed we will be unable to distribute paper payslips. Paper payslips for March, April and May will be distributed once the Finance offices are accessible.

Action required: The Payroll Team are unable to distribute paper payslips while the Finance Division offices are closed

Please advise employees in your department of this situation and remind them that they can access their payslips and P60s online via HR Self-Service at www.ox.ac.uk/hrss. Employees should not contact the Payroll office for copies of their payslips while the Finance Division offices remain closed.

 

Update: P60s available via HR Self-Service

P60s for the tax year 2019/20 are now available for all University employees (excluding casual workers) via HR Self-Service.

P60 data available via HMRC’s Personal Tax Account - Alternatively, you can access your P60 data by registering for a ‘Personal Tax Account’ with HMRC and then clicking on ‘Your PAYE Income Tax Overview’. This service will be useful for casual workers who do not currently have access to HR Self-Service. 

Paper copies of P60s will be distributed once staff are back in the office.

 

Potential impact on the Finance Division:

  • While remote working, the Payroll Team will aim to deliver full service.
  • If staff are unable to work, lowest priority pay changes may not be actioned. High priority changes (starters, leavers and contractual hour reductions) will continue to be processed.

The University acknowledges the risk that this means some payments may be incorrect.

Action for departments:

The Payroll Team relies on departments to input data into Core-HR. Please prioritise as follows:

  • High priority – starters, leavers, contractual hour reductions
  • Lower priority – other contractual changes

Please note: ALL documentation must now be sent electronically to your Payroll Officer.

Contact details can be found on the payroll contacts webpages . NO paper submissions are now being accepted.

 

Accessing HR Self-Service off-site

Employees can access HR Self-Service outside of the University network (including mobile devices) via the IT Services Virtual Private Network (VPN) Service. Guidance on how to install VPN is available from the IT Help page. The IT Service Desk can be contacted for further assistance.
 
Casual workers and overtime submissions

Casual and overtime submissions are already managed electronically, and will be processed as normal. Departments will need to ensure that they have processes to confirm hours worked and submit these electronically to Payroll for processing.

Casual workers do not currently have access to online payslips. Due to these unprecedented circumstances, we are exploring ways in which we could make HR Self-Service available to casual workers. We will update you on our progress with this in due course.
 
Move to online-only payslips

From June, payslips will go online-only, in line with the plans communicated to you by the project team. Questions regarding the move to online-only payslips should be directed to corehrupgrade@admin.ox.ac.uk.
 

It is expected that departments will follow normal processes for purchasing as far as possible, including obtaining relevant quotes and raising a purchase order in advance.

We recognise that there may be unusual situations arising where it is not possible or practical to follow the normal process and in these cases use of the Barclaycard is encouraged. Please note that making use of the Barclaycard for purchasing does not remove the need to follow the Purchasing Regulations i.e. obtain relevant quotations. It is generally not expected that individuals will make purchases directly and reclaim via expenses.

Potential impact on the Finance Division:

  • While remote working, the Purchasing Team will aim to deliver full service.
  • If staff are unable to work, there may be delays. Supporting new supplier set up and supplier amendments is a priority.

Action for departments:

The Purchasing Department is in regular contact with preferred suppliers regarding their plans and specific material updates will be provided via email. Detailed updates from Purchasing are available via the Purchasing news page. Please check this regularly for updates.

If delivery is needed to home addresses, the Barclaycard should be used where possible. It is generally not expected that individuals will make purchases directly and reclaim via expenses. The University’s Payments team is currently processing documents in a priority order (as determined by departments, and in accordance with the remote working payments process ). It is likely that payment of low value expense claims will be delayed.

Please note that any equipment purchased by the University (including through research funding) remains the property of the University. Departments should ensure that it is tracked as purchased and accounted for when normal operations resume.

Departments should continue to engage the Purchasing Department in respect of purchases exceeding £100k excluding VAT.

Ensuring that urgent payments are made is a priority to ensure individuals and small businesses are not out of pocket, and to avoid significant negative impacts on research.

Potential impact on service delivery:

  • While remote working, the Payments Team will aim to deliver full service but some payments may be delayed.
  • If staff are unable to work, payments will be processed according to a priority managed by departments.

The University acknowledges the risk that this means some payments may be delayed.

Action for departments:

Please familiarise yourself with the remote working payments process  but note that some payments may be delayed.

It is expected that all POs will continue to be raised in advance to ensure that spending is appropriately authorised and to provide clear evidence of what has been agreed with the supplier. Clear documentation will be helpful for suppliers as well if they are dealing with their own emergency measures.

Receipting processes should also continue as usual. Please note that PO invoices will only be paid when they fall due and match a receipted purchase order.

Prioritisation

As set out in the remote working payments process , departments will be asked to submit documents (invoices, expense claims and payment request forms) electronically, rated red, amber or green. Departments are responsible for prioritisation in line with their work. It is important that this is done carefully to ensure that genuinely more urgent payments can be processed.

When assigning priority departments should consider factors that will impact the supplier or individual concerned as set out in the remote working payments process.

Utility invoices

A new process has come into effect for the payment of utility invoices from Scottish Power (electricity), Gazprom (gas) and Affinity for Business (water) with a tax date later than 1 April 2020. Please see the guidance on the Estates Services coronavirus webpage . Under no circumstances should any department pay any of these invoices directly. Any queries should be directed to estates.finance@admin.ox.ac.uk.
 

Please refer to the University’s Covid-19: advice and updates webpage for information about travel and insurance queries.

Please note: Extremely high volume of queries

The Insurance team are currently experiencing an extremely high volume of queries and are therefore unable to comment on specific and/or hypothetical insurance related queries regarding cover. Their advice remains the same for travellers who have taken out the University Travel Insurance: 

  • Please ensure that all FCO advice is followed and additionally any advice given by the insurance assistance provider -  AONProtect Assistance
  • Disregarding advice will likely mean cover will not remain in place. 
  • Any subsequent claims will be looked at in the coming months.

Please note that AONProtect does not advise on insurance coverage and policy terms but will advise on travellers' individual circumstances and can assess whether it is sensible to return and if this is in their best interest.

 

Only contact the Insurance Team if absolutely necessary and only after reviewing both the University Insurance webpages and FCO guidance; additionally AONProtect Assistance can provide advice on travellers' individual circumstances and assessments on whether it is sensible to return and if this is in their best interest. Where possible take reasonable and pragmatic decisions as disregarding advice is likely to result in insurance cover being withdrawn.

The Insurance Team are continuing to provide advice by email, however, please understand that the volume of queries means that there may be a significant delay in responding. Where necessary the team can be contacted by email at insurance@admin.ox.ac.uk.

The Finance Division priority is to ensure that limits can be adjusted as needed.

Potential impact on service delivery:

  • While remote working, the Cashiers team will continue to action requests for temporary card limits.
  • If staff are unable to work, queries may take longer to resolve.

Please note the following changes:

  • For the time being, new applications for Barclaycards will not be processed.
  • After March, the Payments Team will not be accepting Barclaycard reconciliations. Expenditure will be posted to departmental cost centres.

Action for departments:

Please see the purchasing section above for advice on using the Barclaycard.

The facility to request temporary limit increases will continue, and requests should be sent through to cashiers@admin.ox.ac.uk. Please quote the name of the cardholder, the limit required, reason for the increase, length of time needed, and the last 4 digits of the card number. Please ensure that the Cardholder's line manager, Head of Admin/Finance or Head of Department is copied in to the request, for their approval.

If delivery is needed to home addresses, the Barclaycard should be used where possible. It is generally not expected that individuals will make purchases directly and reclaim via expenses. Please note that any equipment purchased by the University (including through research funding) remains the property of the University

Please note that the University’s Payments team is currently processing documents in a priority order (as determined by departments, and in accordance with the remote working payments process ). It is likely that payment of low value expense claims will be delayed.
 

There will be no cash collection or delivery service for the foreseeable future. All queries should be emailed to the Cashiers mailbox 

Potential impact on the Finance Division:

  • While remote working, the Cashiers team will continue to action requests for advances on prepaid cards. There will be no cash collection or delivery service.
  • If staff are unable to work, queries may take longer to resolve.

Action for departments:
Existing Cardholders can continue to apply for advances on Prepaid Cards.

The advance should be scanned or photographed and then passed by email through a sequence of approval that mirrors the usual wet signature approval process.

These should then be sent, with the sequence of approval emails, to the Cashiers Team mailbox by a nominated individual.

The Online Store will continue to operate, and refunds and requests will continue to be dealt with as soon as possible

Potential impact on the Finance Division:

  • While remote working, the Cashiers team will continue to support the Online Store.
  • If staff are unable to work, queries may take longer to resolve.

Action for departments:
Please send all communications to the Online Store Mailbox .

Financial Assurance continues to be available to support queries and share good practice, including around managing risks while remote working.

Potential impact on the Finance Division: 

  • While remote working, Financial Assurance will seek to maintain a full service. The team is currently engaged in the annual programme of departmental visits. We hope these can be held online, once departments have had a chance to settle into remote working. 
  • If staff are unable to work, we may reduce activities.

Action for departments: 

Please feel free to contact financial.assurance@admin.ox.ac.uk with any queries.

We intend to try and hold departmental visits remotely – we find these visits very valuable for identifying and sharing good practice and understanding challenges faced by departments. Many departments already have dates in the diary. We will be making contact nearer the time to confirm that the date is still convenient and make arrangements for the remote meeting.

If we have not yet set up a date with you, we will be in contact in due course or you are welcome to email us.
 

Please refer to the University’s Covid-19: advice and updates webpage for information about travel and insurance queries.

Only contact the Insurance Team if absolutely necessary and only after reviewing both the University Insurance webpages and FCO guidance; additionally AONProtect Assistance can provide advice on travellers' individual circumstances and assessments on whether it is sensible to return and if this is in their best interest. Where possible take reasonable and pragmatic decisions as disregarding advice is likely to result in insurance cover being withdrawn.

The Insurance Team are continuing to provide advice by email, however, please understand that the volume of queries means that there may be a significant delay in responding. Where necessary the team can be contacted by email at insurance@admin.ox.ac.uk.

The Insurance team are currently experiencing an extremely high volume of queries and are therefore unable to comment on specific and/or hypothetical insurance related queries regarding cover. Their advice remains the same for travellers who have taken out the University Travel Insurance: 

  • Please ensure that all FCO advice is followed and additionally any advice given by the insurance assistance provider -  AONProtect Assistance
  • Disregarding advice will likely mean cover will not remain in place. 
  • Any subsequent claims will be looked at in the coming months.

Please note that AONProtect does not advise on insurance coverage and policy terms but will advise on travellers' individual circumstances and can assess whether it is sensible to return and if this is in their best interest.

The Payroll Team will process submissions received from departments as far as possible. There is HR guidance on paying variable hours and casual staff on the University’s contingency planning Sharepoint site

Departments are asked to undertake the assessment of expense claim priority. In doing so, please consider the value of the claim in relation to the grade of the individual and any other information about why more urgent payment may be needed.

It is important that the prioritisation is done carefully to ensure that genuinely more urgent payments can be processed by the team.

Under the remote working procedures, the claimant declaration and approval wet signatures are not required. The form should be passed through a sequence of emails that mirrors the normal approval process.

Yes. It is expected that all POs will continue to be raised in advance to ensure that spending is appropriately authorised and to provide clear evidence of what has been agreed with the supplier. Clear documentation will be helpful for suppliers as well if they are dealing with their own emergency measures.

Departments will need to set their own policies for managing purchases of equipment for home working, and may encourage staff to borrow equipment to take home. Departments should ensure that all items are tracked and returned when normal operations resume.

If delivery of equipment is needed for home working it is advised that staff are encouraged to agree this with their department and for the department to use the Barclaycard for purchases. It is generally not expected that individuals will make purchases directly and reclaim via expenses.

Please note that any equipment purchased by the University (including through research funding) remains the property of the University. Departments should ensure that all items are tracked as purchased and returned to the University when normal operations resume.

For low value consumable items such as stationery it is advised that staff are encouraged to agree the purchases with their department and to reclaim the cost via expenses. The payment of low value expense claims is likely to take some time as the University’s Payments team is currently processing documents in a priority order (as determined by departments, and in accordance with the remote working payments process ). 

The Purchasing Team are investigating whether some suppliers can deliver equipment and consumables to home addresses and if so this guidance will be updated accordingly.

It is expected that departments will follow normal purchasing processes wherever possible i.e. raise a purchase order in advance. However, we recognise that there may be unusual situations arising where it is not possible or practical to follow the normal process and in these cases use of the Barclaycard is encouraged. Please note that making use of the Barclaycard for purchasing does not remove the need to follow the Purchasing Regulations i.e. obtain relevant quotations.

If delivery is needed to home addresses, the Barclaycard should be used where possible. It is generally not expected that individuals will make purchases directly and reclaim via expenses. As the Payments Team is processing documents in priority order, payment of low value expenses may be delayed.

The Cashiers Team is prioritising requests for temporary increases to Barclaycard limits to ensure that this is not a restriction.

Requests for temporary increases to limits should be sent through to cashiers@admin.ox.ac.uk . Please quote the name of the cardholder, the limit required, reason for the increase, length of time needed, and the last 4 digits of the card number. Please ensure that the Cardholder's line manager, Head of Admin/Finance or Head of Department is copied in to the request, for their approval.

The full impact of COVID-19 on suppliers, supply chains and the economy is still unknown. For this reason departments should consider carefully the likelihood and impact of supplier failure when making purchasing decisions; both in respect of which suppliers it purchases from but also the commercial terms it agrees with those suppliers. 

For purchases >£25k (ex-VAT) the University continues to recommend the use of the Supplier Questionnaire to gather due diligence on potential suppliers (who are not preferred). For purchases <£25k (ex-VAT) the Supplier Checklist is also available for use, and is recommended in particular when the supplier is new to the University or not regularly used. In the event that these checks raise concerns regarding financial viability the Financial Reporting Team are able to support with more detailed financial checks and advice on mitigations to identified risks.

In respect of payment terms, wherever possible payment should be made on the acceptance of goods or services delivered. Generally the University should resist requests for advance payment to suppliers and should only consider such payments if there is a clear and commercially reasonable justification. Where advance payments are agreed Financial Regulations require these to be protected by a bank guarantee when they exceed £50k (ex-VAT). 

In these uncertain economic times, it is inevitable that some suppliers will fail and the University must take all proportionate measures to ensure that its charitable funds are appropriately protected. Whilst there may be a temptation to reduce due diligence checks or to agree to sub-optimal commercial terms in the interests of expediency, it is important to consider that these decisions are being made in the context of an increasingly uncertain economic environment with many organisations facing serious liquidity challenges. 

Where ongoing supplies are business critical departments should also consider making contact with key suppliers as part of their contingency planning to understand their emergency arrangements. 

The Purchasing Department continues to be in regular contact with preferred suppliers regarding their plans. It is therefore recommended that departments use preferred suppliers wherever possible. Use of preferred suppliers saves departments time in minimising the need to obtain quotations, check terms and conditions and complete supplier checks. Specific updates regarding preferred suppliers will be provided via Purchasing News.
 

Departments should continue to:

  1. Engage the Purchasing Department in respect of purchases exceeding £100k excluding VAT;
  2. Order important supplies via a purchase order in the usual way; and
  3. Receipt them on Oracle Financials once received.

Departments should make contact with key suppliers as part of their contingency planning to understand their emergency arrangements. The Purchasing Department is in regular contact with preferred suppliers regarding their plans and specific updates will be provided via the Purchasing news page.

The process for setting up a new supplier is as normal. Once approved by the department, Purchasing releases the form to the supplier. The new supplier is responsible for submitting their administrative details. The Payments, Purchasing and Tax Teams are aware of the need to confirm relevant details promptly and will endeavour to do so. The UO New Supplier Requests Report can be run to track progress.

You should refer to any terms and conditions in the contract between the University and supplier which deal with suspension of services or ‘force majeure’. If these terms allow for suspension of service and non-payment you should draw the supplier’s attention to the package of measures established by Government to support businesses through the current situation, including specifically the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme.

Under the scheme, all UK employers will be able to access support to continue paying 80% of their employees’ salary up to a cap of £2,500 per employee per month, for those employees that would otherwise have been laid off during this crisis. The scheme will be backdated to 1 March and is open initially for a three month period (to be extended for longer if necessary).

If the contract does not allow for the suspension of services without payment, or the measures above are not sufficient and the supplier is raising further risks with regard to future continuity of supply or company survival you should discuss the matter further with the Purchasing Department.

To facilitate this discussion it would be helpful to gather the following information in advance:

  1. the nature of the services provided by the supplier;
  2. any terms and conditions in the contract between the University and supplier which deal with suspension of services or ‘force majeure’;
  3. the total value of the contract with the supplier and the value of the services which would normally be delivered during the initial period of suspension (likely to be c. 3 months); and
  4. the supplier’s turnover and profit from its most recent accounting period. 

Payment of invoices with a purchase order relies on the same system-based controls operating as do in normal circumstances. Invoices are selected by the system when they are due (standard payment terms are 30 days), and if three key documents are in place – the purchase order, the receipt and the invoice. It is important that departments ensure that purchase orders are receipted promptly so that invoices can be paid.

Departments should ensure that their contingency planning includes cover for people receipting orders for essential supplies and services.

We would advise against maintaining separate datasets. You will have an email record of all documents sent (we advise immediately shifting sent emails into a specific folder and/or applying a subject convention so that they can be found easily). We will know the dates that the remote working procedures were operating, and will be able to report from Oracle on processed payments.

Guidance has been produced to show how each service is likely to be affected, and this can be found on the continuity planning Sharepoint site.

GL Connect, XL Connect, PSA distribution and the Month-End and User Access Dashboards all require Excel add-ins which need to be installed on the machine you are using rather than being associated with particular spreadsheets. To use these you will need to install and use them in Excel in your normal (non-remote) desktop whilst connected to the University’s VPN.

Please note: 

It is not possible to install these add-ins in your remote desktop access;

The add-ins do not currently work for mac users.
 
To install the add-ins try the following:

  • In your normal desktop (not remote desktop) in Excel go to File > Account > About Excel and note whether your Excel is 32 or 64 bit
  • Close Excel
  • Connect your University VPN
  • In your non-remote desktop download the relevant files (installation instructions can also be found on the following sites):

And install these on your computer

  • Open Excel, if the add-in tabs have not appeared automatically go to File > Options > Add-ins > Manage Excel/COM add-ins and tick the check box by the relevant add-in before pressing OK
  • You may need to close and reopen Excel to activate the add-in

 
You should then be able to use the add-ins as normal in your non-remote desktop whilst connected to VPN. If you need to save any work to the network drives, this can either be done by:

  1. Saving the files to your desktop, going into remote desktop and moving the relevant file into the relevant network folder. For data security reasons please ensure you remove files from your personal desktop once transferred
  2. Saving the file into OneDrive or a synced Teams file folder

For more information on moving files speak to your local IT help support. Please also refer to the guidance issued by FSSC regarding security consideration when working from home.

Finance Division communications regarding covid-19 (coronavirus)
Subject Date Sender
Remote Working 18 March 2020 UAS Finance Communications
Remote Working - Payroll 19 March 2020 UAS Finance Communications
Remote Working - FSSC 26 March 2020 UAS Financial Systems Support Centre
Remote Working - FSSC 3 April 2020 UAS Financial Systems Support Centre
Excel settings for Oracle Financials 3 April 2020 UAS Financial Systems Support Centre
Internet Explorer settings for Oracle Financials    

 

Contact us


Team Contact details can be located on our contact us page.

Queries about the Finance Division contingency planning or emergency process at this stage should be directed to finance.communications@admin.ox.ac.uk