Frequently asked questions or FAQs
We have provided answers to frequently asked questions about the current functionality within Staff Connect, and the planned new features. If you cannot find an answer to a question you have please refer to the Support page.
- General & pay
- Appraisal (RPD)
- Leave & absence
- Online Expenses
General and pay
What is Staff Connect?
Staff Connect is the name given by the University to our online HR and Payroll system. The system is developed by a company called Zellis. It is currently used in more than 450 organisations across the UK, including many universities. It has a great track record of success. The system currently provides all staff with online access to their key personal data, payslips and P60s. The second phase of development of the system focused on streamlining our HR processes and inclu.
What is Staff Connect Phase 2?
The second phase of Staff Connect will see the phased introduction of further functionality to the system, enabling an automated, streamlined, single point of entry for many of our HR functions. By the end of the second phase of development you will be able to view and book onto training courses provided by Talent & Organisational Development (T&OD) and request annual leave via the system. If you line manage others, Staff Connect will be where you go to authorise training and leave requests, record some forms of absence and you will have the option to log Appraisals/RPDs. If you are a recruiting manager, Phase 2 will also see the replacement of the current i-grasp recruitment system.
What support is available to help me use Staff Connect?
Staff Connect is very user friendly, but a range of support resources are available including user guides.
Why is the University holding all the data about me that I can see in Staff Connect?
The University is required to hold a certain amount of personal data about members of staff. However, some of the data fields on the Equality and Diversity page in Staff Connect include the option of "Prefer not to say" and so you will be able to change those fields and thereby withhold that information if you wish. If you would prefer data in fields which are not user-amendable not to be held, then please contact a member of your local HR Team who will advise whether it will be possible to amend or remove this data. Your enquiry will be treated confidentially.
What should I do if some of my details are missing or wrong?
It is very important that all personal data we hold about members of staff is complete and accurate. If you see that data is either missing or incorrect, please try to make the necessary additions or corrections. Most of the data fields can be changed by you, but some data fields, e.g. date of birth, can only be changed by the system administrators and so please contact a member of your local HR Team to notify them.
What should you do if my disability status changes?
If you have changed your disability status please contact Occupational Health or your Employee Relations Adviser to give you details as to how to access support services, including any reasonable adjustments that you may require.
What should I do if my Equality and Diversity page on Staff Connect is empty? Do I need to complete this?
It would help if you can do so as the University is committed to the creation and support of a balanced, inclusive and diverse community, but it is not mandatory and you have the option to “prefer not to say” to individual questions.
How do online payslips differ from paper ones?
Since May 2017 the University issues online payslips only. An online payslip contains the same information as a paper payslip, it is just viewable online via the web. Take a look at the pay documents page on our Staff Connect tutorial for an example payslip.
Are my bank details visible on Staff Connect?
It was originally intended that staff would be able to view and change their bank details via Staff Connect. However, in response to concern from staff, bank details have been removed from your Staff Connect account. If you want to change your bank details, please contact the Pay Office.
What is the Government position on electronic payslips?
HMRC state that employers can either print payslips to give to their employees or can send them electronically.
Are printed copies of electronic payslips acceptable when applying for UK residence?
Our Immigration team have established that a printed copy of an on-line payslip will be sufficient for the purposes of applying for residency. However, if any individual needs to provide further proof of earnings, HR will be very happy to provide an official letter on University stationery for this purpose.
What are delegations?
‘Delegation’ means assigning access to employee data within the Staff Connect system through the appropriate authorisation process.
Who can set up delegations?
Delegations can be set up, changed and cancelled by any manager in Staff Connect. Managers can choose to assign permission to view data and or processes within Staff Connect to another employee, if there is a legitimate business requirement for doing so. When a manager arranges a delegation they and the individual being delegated to will be responsible for ensuring the data is treated within the scope of the University’s Data Protection policy.
Who can I delegate to?
You can delegate to anyone, they don't have to be in your line management hierarchy. Usually delegations reflect current practice, eg absence delegations from a Director to their PA who deals with all holiday requests for the department.
Can two people authorise requests? I.e. can the manager and delegate both authorise an annual leave request?
Yes. Both will get email alerts that there is a request to authorise. The authorisation request will be removed from the authorisation widget for both approvers once it has been authorised.
How do I access Staff Connect?
The address of Staff Connect is https://staffconnect.kent.ac.uk You can also access Staff Connect using the link on the Staff Guide webpage. To use your Staff Connect account you will need your University Staff IT account username and password.
What should I do if I don't have an active Staff IT account?
It is likely that you do have a staff IT account, but it probably needs to be re-activated if it has not been previously used, or accessed for some time. Inform your manager about this, and they will contact Information Services.
Is my information secure?
Staff Connect sits on the University's network. It has been robustly tested for security, and back-up procedures are in place to ensure the safety and security of your data. As with any confidential information, you should keep your account details private, and if you are viewing the system on a public machine always log out and quit your browser when you have finished.
Which browser should I use to access Staff Connect?
It is advised that you use the Google Chrome browser. Some features of Staff Connect including the ability to save an electronic copy of your pay documents, do not work in Internet Explorer on Windows 7 machines. If you have Windows 10 either personally or at work, then you can use the new Microsoft Edge browser to print pay documents in addition to the Chrome browser.
Can I edit my details from any PC or Mac?
Where you access Staff Connect will affect whether you will be able to just view your details or edit them.
If you want to edit your details on Staff Connect when you are away from campus, for security, you need to connect to the VPN service first by following the instructions at https://www.kent.ac.uk/itservices/home/index.html . Once connected to VPN, you can log on to Staff Connect as usual and update your details. You need to register for VPN before you can use it using the online form. Registration requests are processed during working hours.
Can I download my payslips from Staff Connect?
There are increasingly few situations when you require a copy of a payslip, but if you do require one, they can be downloaded from the system. Currently, you are required to use the Google Chrome browser if you want to download an electronic copy. Take a look at this guide on how to download a copy of a pay document.
Are there any features to help me access Staff Connect in alternative formats?
Yes, tools and assistive technology software are available from http://www.kent.ac.uk/itservices/productivity.
What do schools and departments need to tell HR about job/post changes?
HR Systems need to be informed:
- if a post is incorrectly associated within your school or department. This may be:
- a post that is missing
- a post that should be associated with another school or department
- in the case of departments that have a complex internal structure (such as Information Services), where post has been assigned to an incorrect sub-department
- when a vacant post is no longer required. The post will be designated as obsolete and will no longer appear in the establishment report.
- if the line management relationships between posts is incorrect or changes.
If the name or internal structure of your school or department changes then you will need to discuss this with HR Systems and your HR Business Partner.
Who can see and edit line management reports?
As part of Staff Connect Phase 2, nominees were identified in all schools and departments who have been given access to two reports in Staff Connect. In all academic schools this nominee is the School Administration Manager. In Professional Service Departments, the nominee has been selected by the Head of Service.
To inform HR and Payroll of any changes, school and departmental nominees need to access one or both of these reports on Staff Connect. The Establishment report shows posts, the Line Management report shows the relationship between posts.
If you have only a few changes please use the links embedded directly in the reports to notify HR of any changes. These links will load and populate an email with data from the report and will allow you to enter the correct information.
If you have more than five changes please export the reports from Staff Connect to Excel by clicking on the export button near the top-left of the reports and selecting XLSX. Once in Excel, you are advised to delete the top two rows containing the title and any help text as it will make it easier to sort and filter. Once you have made the required changes email this to email@example.com
What reports can line managers access on Staff Connect?
If you are a line manager you can request authorisation (from your Head of School/Department) to view a number of reports via Staff Connect. These reports include: current staff, current timesheet staff, future starters, staff on probation, staff on study leave and most recently the Establishment and Line Management reports. Further information about these reports and the authorisation form are available on the HR website.
Where can I find instructions on running reports?
HR Systems & Planning have developed a user guide available by clicking here or accessible via the useful links in Staff Connect (found on the left-hand side once you have logged on).
Why has the training provided by Talent & Organisational Development (T&OD) moved onto Staff Connect?
Moving the administration of training courses onto Staff Connect is part of a move of most HR-related tasks being conducted via Staff Connect. As an employee you can request a place on a course, evaluate it and see a record of your training via Staff Connect. If you are a line-manager you can to see the training undertaken by your staff. For T&OD, using Staff Connect to administer their training will mean they can streamline a number of current manual processes.
Will mandatory courses be included such as GDPR?
Phase 2 of Staff Connect will only include courses delivered by Talent & Organisational Development (T&OD). Courses such as GDPR are currently outside of the scope of the project.
Will fee remission details be available via Staff Connect?
Members of staff undertaking a part-time programme of study at the University of Kent, and who meet eligibility criteria, can apply for staff fee remission. The fee remission process will remain an electronic form and the T&OD team will record this in the back end of the Staff Connect system. However, details will not be displayed for either the employee or their manager via Staff Connect.
How do I book on a course through Staff Connect?
Log into Staff Connect, select Training request, select training, click search and click on the course you are interested in, to see full details and the available date(s). Click on the date to submit a booking.
Is it possible for staff to sign up for training without authorisation?
No. When you request training from Learning & Organisational Development via Staff Connect an alert is sent asking the line manager to authorise or reject the request.
Is there a way for employees and or managers to record training needs that have been identified on Staff Connect?
The only way future training needs can be recorded on Staff Connect will be on the appraisal (RPD) document upload.
Do managers have to provide comments on Staff Connect when they approve/reject training?
There is a comments box on the Training Authorisation/Rejection page, but its use is not mandatory. However, Learning & Organisational Development would encourage managers to complete it.
Are all Talent & Organisational Development courses advertised through Staff Connect?
All T&OD open courses are published on Staff Connect for booking. The exception is nominated courses e.g. Leadership and Management programmes which are filled through nomination.
How do I access the pre-work?
There is a link in the Staff Connect Training Record screen to the SharePoint site. There is also a link on the T&OD webpage.
Why are cost codes no longer required? Will there be a charge if someone does not attend?
Talent & Organisational Development wants to move away from the practice of charging if someone does not attend. Through Staff Connect, you can manage your bookings and cancel your attendance if you know in advance. Managers can also cancel bookings for their team members. Talent & Organisational Development ask that you give as much notice as possible if you can’t attend as planned. However, we know that events happen on the day of a training course, please contact the T&OD team by email or by phone to let us know.
Why have I not received an email back immediately confirming my place?
Your request goes to your Line Manager first for approval. Once they have approved the request you will receive an email confirming your place.
I haven’t received an email from Talent & Organisational Development?
The email is sent from: firstname.lastname@example.org, not from Talent & Organisational Development. Please look out for an email from this address.
How do I cancel my booking on a course?
Log into Staff Connect. Select Training record and click on the session in the calendar. You will then be able to select to cancel the session. The request goes via your line manager to the T&OD team. Please give five working days’ notice so your place can be filled.
What is the difference between Cancelled and Withdrawing?
You ‘Withdraw’ from a course request, if your manager has not yet approved it or you are on the waiting list. You ‘Cancel Course Booking’ if the course has been approved.
What is the difference between Requested and Submitted?
‘Requested’ means the request has been sent to your manager but not yet approved, ‘Submitted’ means your manager has approved it.
How can I tell the difference between being on a course event date vs the waiting list?
If you are booked onto an event, under Courses Requested next to the title of the Course will be an event date. If you are on the waiting list this will say ‘Non-Scheduled’ Request. This view is the same in Manager’s view so you’ll know if your employee is on the course event or on the waiting list.
What happens if I’m on a waiting list?
If a course date (event) is added, the people on the waiting list will be notified and asked to make a training request. If no course dates are planned, the waiting list will also be informed.
How do I add the event to my calendar?
An Outlook invitation will be in the confirmation email that you receive.
Can I access my old training records?
Yes, please call or email Talent & Organisational Development and they will be able to access the old T&OD database. We will not be migrating any data from the current system into Staff Connect.
Will information about courses remain on the Talent & Organisational Development website?
Yes, there will still be information about courses on the Talent & Organisational Development website.
Why do I need to provide a reason for a training request?
For the manager to review the request, they will need information about how attending the course will help you in your role.
Is it possible to record a reason for cancelling a course?
Not currently, we have asked Zellis (our supplier) if this can be an enhancement.
Does the training module work when using an Apple Mac?
Yes, the module will work with Apple Macs however, when there is a pop up confirmation it will appear with a circle that looks as if it has frozen. Using the circle click yes or no to confirm and it will process as usual.
If my line manager turns down my request for training, will I know why?
Line managers are encouraged to talk to staff, face-to-face, if there is a reason for rejecting a training request, rather than relying on Staff Connect. If your request is rejected, you will receive an automated message from Staff Connect; this will not have the reason stated. However if a manager has entered a reason in the system, it will appear in your training record.
Is it mandatory that Appraisal (RPD) meetings are recorded in Staff Connect?
It is mandatory for the date of the Appraisal (RPD) discussion to be recorded in Staff Connect for everyone. However, it is optional if you want to upload the evidence of the discussion. If you don’t upload the evidence then you will need to let HR know that you are storing it yourself and who to contact if HR needs access to the paperwork.
Is there a way to link the training needs identified within an Appraisal (RPD) to the training module?
Whilst training needs can be noted in the Appraisal (RPD) functionality in Staff Connect, as they can be noted on paper, there will not be a link triggering a training request in the system
Does Staff Connect have the facility to upload documentation related to the Appraisal (RPD), and will it be mandatory to do so?
Managers will have the ability to upload documentation when recording the date of an Appraisal (RPD) meeting, however this is not mandatory.
Will only the employee and their line manager have access to any Appraisal (RPD) documentation in Staff Connect?
The post-to-post reporting structure in Staff Connect means that if documentation is added to the Appraisal (RPD) logging page, this will be visible to managers higher up the hierarchy.
Why are employees asked to authorise their Appraisal (RPD) logged by their line-manager in Staff Connect?
Employees would normally sign-off the outcome of an Appraisal (RPD) meeting. The term "authorise" is a Staff Connect setting that cannot be changed.
How will this new functionality in Staff Connect work with performance management?
The Appraisal (RPD) functionality provides the facility for line-managers to log that the RPD meeting has occurred and its outcome.
Annual leave & absence
Where can I find details about how to record absences for Coronavirus/COVID-19?
Who needs to use the absence management and annual leave system?
From 2 January 2019 all professional services, academic and research staff have used Staff Connect to record absences, including sickness and annual leave. It replaced all local systems, such as paper-based forms or local spreadsheets. The Staff Connect absence management module is linked to Payroll and therefore it is important that any leave type that affects your pay is entered promptly. Staff on timesheet contracts do not use Staff Connect to record annual leave but need to use it to record sickness absence.
The Staff Connect absence management module is the only recognised University record of absence and is the database on which the University relies for absence related actions and judgements (eg to support any applications for Individual Special Circumstances for REF2021 and for sick pay entitlements).
For colleagues in European centres, their local arrangements continue as usual.
Why has the University chosen to use Staff Connect to manage annual leave?
This is the first time that there is a single annual leave system at the University of Kent which supports the principles of Simplifying Kent by reducing duplication of systems with their associated costs and effort.Staff Connect provides a streamlined way for employees to request annual leave and for line-managers to authorise/reject this, whilst seeing the annual leave of their team at a glance. Recording annual leave in Staff Connect also means that it will be instantly visible to other relevant departments such as HR or Payroll.
What is included within my annual leave entitlement?
Everyone’s annual leave entitlement includes their entitlement for bank holidays and customary days.
For full-time members of staff on a standard contract, bank holidays and customary days will be entered on your behalf, however it is your responsibility to check the details entered are correct. It is also your responsibility to ensure you use your entitlement where appropriate i.e. if you would normally work on a bank holiday then you must enter this day’s absence as annual leave on Staff Connect and ensure the correct number of hours are being deducted from your entitlement.
Do staff need to book bank holidays and customary days?
Your annual leave balance includes your entitlement for bank holidays and customary days. A system process is run near the end of each year to input bank holiday and customary days for professional service staff where their work pattern is known. However, there are some exceptions where these cannot be entered. These are:
It is your responsibility to ensure your annual leave entitlement is used appropriately to cover any bank holiday and customary days where these fall on a working day. For example, if you don't work on Mondays you would not need to book a bank-holiday Monday as annual leave. The Staff Connect absence calendar displays the bank holidays and customary days with a grey background to make them easier to identify. You are also required to check the entries made centrally on your behalf to ensure the correct days and working hours are entered. If these are incorrect, you can amend or delete these entries as appropriate. The number of hours for the bank holidays and customary days are deducted from your remaining annual leave entitlement.
Also in the event your contract hours or work pattern changes during the year you will need to ensure your annual leave record is updated to reflect these changes.
Will Staff Connect show changes to my annual leave entitlement?
Yes. Staff Connect will automatically calculate changes to annual leave entitlements based on the Terms and Conditions applicable to your post.
Please speak to your line manager in the first instance and if you think your annual leave entitlement is incorrect. They will be able to contact the relevant HR teams to update your entitlements.
Can Staff Connect be used to record time off in lieu (TOIL)?
TOIL management has now been enabled within Staff Connect allowing staff to accrue and take TOIL.
Paid TOIL on an hour-for-hour basis can be awarded to those who are contractually obliged to work a prescribed number of hours per week. The decision whether to offer TOIL earned will be made by the responsible supervisor/manager and will be communicated to you before the work is undertaken. The taking of TOIL must be mutually agreed between you and your manager in advance and can only be taken in half-day blocks (in the same way as annual leave).
Please see the Support page for the TOIL User Guides.
Does Staff Connect allow annual leave carry over annual leave into the next leave year?
Yes. Carry over rules will be based on Terms and Conditions for each post.
How far in advance can I book leave?
You can book leave up to two years in advance. Each January the calendar for the next two years will become visible. E.g. in January 2020 you will be able to see an absence calendar for 2020 and 2021.
How does annual leave entitlement work for those employees who have no fixed hours or work pattern?
When you request annual leave you will be asked to enter the hours you would normally be working on that day or days. That number of hours will then be deducted from your remaining annual leave entitlement. For staff on an academic/research contract, annual leave is calculated on a nominal 35 hour week.
I have more than one post. How do I request/record absences on Staff Connect?
When you click on the Absence button on Staff Connect you will be prompted to select which post you are recording absences for. Please ensure you select the correct post so the request is sent to the correct line manager.
This is the case for staff who are on secondment as well as those who ordinarily have more than one post.
Why are annual leave entitlements shown in hours?
Due to many differing work patterns across the University, Staff Connect calculates leave in hours rather than days, for all staff.
One day=seven hours and one week=35 hours on standard, full-time contracts.
How are the hours per day in the Planned Work Time screen calculated?
The Planned Work Time screen calculates a daily working average of hours by dividing your contracted hours across your work pattern. If you have any queries about this calculation please check your contract and if your details need updating on Staff Connect please contact the relevant HR team.
Will the annual leave calculator remain on the HR website?
Yes. The current leave calculator will remain on the HR website for the foreseeable future.
Can I see who in my team has booked leave or is on sick leave, maternity leave, etc?
Staff Connect has two separate calendars, one for absence (leave and sickness), and one for training. The absence calendar shows everyone when their peers (those with the same line manager) are due to be absent but not the reason for this e.g. it will not specify whether a team member is on annual leave or sick leave. Managers are able to see the reason for absence/leave for all members of their team.
In addition, line managers are able to view an absence calendar report via the Line Manager Report Menu.
Can annual leave and sick leave be entered retrospectively?
Does Staff Connect alert line managers about employees approaching trigger points?
Trigger point reports are available for line managers to access directly within Staff Connect. Managers should review these reports on a monthly basis to ascertain if any employees are close to or have reach trigger points, and then take appropriate action.
If a member of staff breaks a period of sickness with annual leave or customary days then it will be recorded as separate periods in Staff Connect which will affect the trigger point alerts. If the individual elects to subsequently provide a sick note for the entire period (thereby reclaiming the holiday) then the manager can retrospectively delete the holiday and create one continuous period of sickness. However, managers should not do this for sickness absence which spans the Christmas break as the customary days must not be removed (because they can’t be taken at any other time). Therefore, when managers are reviewing the trigger reports they should bear in mind that two separate sick periods may actually be one period broken by holiday or Christmas and deal with this accordingly.
Should I contact Payroll to report a sickness absence?
All new sickness absences need to be entered directly in Staff Connect which will alert the pay office that there is an absence to process. Any absence which started before 2 January 2019 should be managed via Payroll.
Can I record when I am out of the office i.e. working from home, working on another campus, appointments etc?
Staff Connect is not a calendar management tool, so no, this functionality is not part of the system. It is suggested that in Outlook the University has the best tool for recording/notifying when staff are at different locations.
Is it possible to mark dates when leave is restricted (eg open days, clearing, etc)?
No, this is not possible as these restrictions vary from department to department and this could only be set up for the University as a whole.
Why do I sometimes see a ‘My View Session Ended’ message?
This message occurs for some users and has been raised with our suppliers. If you get this message and cannot enter absence you can ask your manager to do it on your behalf.
Does Staff Connect link to Occupational Health referrals?
There are no plans to link occupational health referrals with Staff Connect. Managers should continue to use existing procedures.
What are online expenses?
Online expenses is a module within Staff Connect which allows for the electronic recording, submission, approving and payment of expenses. Staff Connect enables you to attach scanned or photographed receipts to claims. This will replace the existing paper-based expenses claim forms.
Why are we introducing this?
The introduction of online expenses in Staff Connect fits with the project aims to streamline processes and provide employees and managers with a one-stop-shop for most HR-related activity. It will deliver a consistent and more efficient way of managing expense claims for all staff across the University. This supports the principles of Simplifying Kent in reducing duplication of systems with their associated costs and effort.
When are we introducing this?
The module will be launched in June 2019.
What is covered by online expenses?
Online expenses is for all employee expense claims including mileage, UK and overseas travel not booked through the University’s travel management company, Key Travel.
Online expenses will allow you to update and submit claims more regularly than is currently practical, especially if you travel on overseas or long term trips.
The system will also be able to process advance payments and the associated reimbursements.
Who can submit an online expense claim?
All UK employees including all staff and students who have casual or permanent contracts will submit online claims. Temporary or visiting individuals will not be able to make a claim through the online expenses module. In these situations, please see the appropriate Finance Officer for your school/department who will provide you with a paper based claim form.
What can I claim?
You can reclaim amounts personally incurred wholly, exclusively and necessarily in the performance of your duties. The system will enforce the existing expense claim policies which can be found at https://staff.kent.ac.uk/day-support/finance-and-legal
Will I have to complete my own expense claim?
Yes, you will have access to a new expenses menu option within Staff Connect. This is where you will complete your expense claim and upload your supporting evidence and receipts.
Who will authorise my expenses?
When you submit your online expense claim, it will be automatically forwarded to your school/department budget holder or their delegate for authorisation. In most cases, this delegate will be the school/department Finance Officer supported by the SAM and Head of School/Department.
How and when will my expenses be paid?
Once the claim has been approved it will be forwarded automatically to the Payments Office within the Finance Department. The team will perform policy and audit checks before including the claim in the next payment run.
Payments will be made on a fortnightly basis into the same bank account used for your salary payments.
How do I upload my receipts?
You will be able to upload scanned copies of receipts and photos. Staff Connect is available on a mobile devices as well as PCs, so a photo can be uploaded directly from your gallery.
Do I need to keep my original receipts?
In most cases, no, providing the quality of the image is sufficient to meet the HMRC guidance on electronic documentation. When a receipt is uploaded onto Staff Connect, there is no need to keep the original. It is recommended that you keep a copy of the original scan or photo.For some Research or Innovation activity original receipts are still required. You will need to check your funder’s terms to establish if this is the case. Where originals are required, an electronic copy should still be attached to the claim. The originals should be sent to your appropriate Research or KIE finance officer.
I complete expenses in a foreign currency, how will this work for me?
Any overseas currency needs to be converted into sterling as the system is unable to do this automatically. There is a link on the online expenses claim to xe.com, the University’s recommended online currency calculator. For travellers who are able to upload evidence to support a difference exchange rate, the conversion can be completed at that rate to ensure the correct sterling value is reclaimed.
For Research expenses, please refer to your Funder’s terms or follow the advice provided by Research Services.
What happens to the paper forms?
From June 2019 all new claims for staff must be entered on Staff Connect, any paper based claims submitted after this date will be returned. Any paper-based claims that are in progress at 12 June will be processed in the existing system. Paper forms will still be available for non-staff claims.