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Back to COVID-19: Leave and Benefits Back to COVID-19 HR Guide

 

The Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) expired Dec. 31, 2020. UNC-CH is closely monitoring activity by the federal government, which may take steps to extend, modify or pass new legislation in 2021 to provide additional COVID-19 related leave. For information on the FFCRA leave benefits that were available to eligible employees in 2020, please visit the: 

To continue to support employees, updated COVID-19 work and leave provisions are available effective Jan. 1, 2021 through March 31, 2021 until revised or rescinded. These leave benefits are summarized below. 

COVID-19 Paid Administrative Leave (PAL) 

The UNC System Office provides for COVID-19 Paid Administrative Leave (PAL) in specific circumstances. The coverage and terms of the COVID-19 PAL have continued to evolve since March 2020. We encourage employees to check back for updates and to read the provided details carefully. The following provisions are effective Jan. 1 – March 31, 2021 until revised or rescinded. 

Up to 160 hours of cumulative COVID-19 PAL is available to permanent employees from March 16, 2020 through March 31, 2021 for the following conditions: 

  • The employee is subject to a quarantine or isolation order, has been advised to self-quarantine by a health care provider or public health official; or 
  • The employee has had exposure to someone who tested positive for COVID-19 and is awaiting a diagnosis.

Allocation of PAL

  • Eligible employees may receive up to 80 hours before exhausting their own accrued leave. 
  • Once the first 80 hours have been exhausted, the employee must use their accrued leave and paid time off for the absences.
  • After the employee has exhausted their accrued leave and paid time off, then the employee may receive an additional 80 hours of COVID-19 PAL for the absences. 

Note: If an employee used Emergency Paid Sick Leave (EPSL) under the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) in 2020 for Reasons 1 – 3 (Is subject to a Federal, State, or local quarantine or isolation order related to COVID-19, has been advised by a health care provider to self-quarantine related to COVID-19, or is experiencing COVID-19 symptoms and is seeking a medical diagnosis), then those hours must be deducted from any remaining COVID-19 PAL available through March 31, 2021.  

If you need leave for one of the reasons listed above, please notify your supervisor and contact your departmental HR Representative for assistance.   

HR Representatives & TIM Administrators: Please contact the Benefits and Leave Administration Unit atleave@unc.eduto verify an employee’s eligibility for PAL before entering the hours in the Time Information Management (TIM) System. 

Other Leave Provisions  (Effective Jan. 1 – March 31, 2021)  

  • Interchangeability of LeaveEmployees may use accrued sick leave, vacation leave, and bonus leave interchangeably for COVID-19-related absences (child/elder care, cannot telework, etc.); however, this paid leave cannot be used to cover hours during which an employee is on emergency temporary furlough. This provision does not allow interchangeability of leave usage regarding the leave options provided in state policy for retirement, transfer, or separation. 
  • Dual State Employee Household: If more than one person in the household is a state employee, then the employees are expected to work with their supervisors to determine how to allocate paid administrative leave to avoid inappropriate overlap of leave usage for child and elder care needs.  
  • Other AbsencesEmployees who were on other pre-approved leave or are unavailable for reasons other than provided above must use available and applicable leave types, e.g. vacation leave, parental leave, bonus leave, compensatory time, or take leave without pay.  
  • Part-time/Fluctuating SchedulesFor part-time employees with fluctuating schedules, COVID-19 paid administrative leave may be applied as allowed above, but consideration should be given to the employee’s average hours per week over the course of a month. In no case shall paid administrative leave exceed forty hours per week. 
  • Mandatory Employees: While management will give every possible consideration to individual personal circumstances, management has the discretion to deny or defer special leave provisions for mandatory employees whose presence is determined necessary to address urgent public health, public safety, or critical infrastructure needs. Special consideration should be given to COVID-19 Mandatory Employees who are determined to be high risk for contracting COVID19 or who are providing care to someone at high risk. Managers should contact the Equal Opportunity and Compliance Office ateoc@unc.edu if a COVID-19 Mandatory Employee requests special consideration because of their own health condition and management believes they are not able to provide that consideration.

COVID-19 Shared Leave Bank 

The COVID-19 Shared Leave Bank Program has been extended through Mar. 31, 2021. Employees who need leave for COVID-19-related reasons and who have used all applicable paid leave benefits may be covered under theCOVID-19 Shared Leave Bank program. For program specifics, including eligibility criteria, how to apply for COVID-19 shared leave, how to donate shared leave to the bank, and links to the forms, please visit the COVID-19 Shared Leave page.

Expanded Community Service Leave  

The UNC System has provided additionalCommunity Service Leave (CSL) benefits including Expanded COVID-19 CSL and Expanded CSL for Literacy, Tutoring, Mentoring and Related School Activity available to eligible employees from Jan. 1 – Mar., 31, 2021.   

Learn more: Expanded CSL Provisions 

Time/Pay Entry 

  • SHRA non-exempt permanent, temporary, and student employees working remotely should capture or enter their times in and out in their timecards to ensure they are paid correctly. If the employee is unable to do this, they should contact their manager or TIM Administrator to enter their times worked in TIM. Hours worked or leave taken must be entered in non-exempt employee timecards for them to be paid.   
  • SHRA and EHRA exempt permanent employees in TIM will continue to be paid on autopay. They should enter their compensatory, sick, vacation, or bonus leave hours in TIM for hours they do not work and that do not qualify for special leave provisions related to COVID-19 

Paid Administrative Leave Provisions from Previous Months 

Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) 

The Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) was created to assist employees who have work available but who are unable to work or telework due to COVID-19 qualifying events. The FFCRA provides eligible employees with two types of paid leave: Emergency Paid Sick Leave (EPSL) and Expanded Family Medical Leave (EFML).  These new benefits are effective May 1, 2020 through Dec. 31, 2020.     

Eligible employees may receive paid leave under FFCRA for the following qualifying reasons:    

  • The employee is subject to a government-ordered quarantine or isolation order related to COVID-19.   
  1. The employee has been advised by a health care provider to self-quarantine due to concerns related to COVID-19. 
  2. The employee is experiencing COVID-19 symptoms and is seeking medical diagnosis. 
  3. The employee is caring for an individual who is subject to a government-ordered quarantine or a health care provider’s recommendation to self-quarantine. 
  4. The employee is caring for a child whose school or place of care has been closed due to COVID-19, or the child’s regular childcare provider is unavailable due to COVID-19.
  5. The “employee is experiencing any other substantially similar condition specified by the Secretary of Health and Human Services in consultation with the Secretary of the Treasury and the Secretary of Labor.”   

For more information on the FFCRA leave provisions, please visit the:    

Expanded Community Service Leave 2020 

The UNC System has authorized several changes to Community Service Leave (CSL) options for employees available through the end of the calendar year, including Expanded COVID-19 CSL, Expanded CSL for Election Poll Working, and Expanded CSL for Literacy, Tutoring, Mentoring and Related School Activity. 

Learn more: CSL Expansion 2020 

COVID-19 Shared Leave Bank 

UNC-Chapel Hill has created a COVID-19 Shared Leave Program under which employees may contribute leave for use by UNC-CH employees who need leave for specific COVID-19 related reasons. To qualify for shared leave, eligible employees must have been employed by the University for at least 30 days and have exhausted all personal leave and paid time off.  The COVID-19 Shared Leave Bank Program will begin Sep. 1, 2020 and will end Dec. 31, 2020.  For program specifics, including eligibility criteria, how to apply for COVID-19 shared leave, how to donate shared leave to the bank, and links to the forms, please visit the COVID-19 Shared Leave web page on the OHR website. 

COVID-19 Paid Administrative Leave   

The UNC System Office provides for COVID-19 paid administrative leave in specific circumstances. The coverage and terms of the COVID-19 paid administrative leave have continued to evolve since March, so we encourage employees to check back for updates and to read the provided details carefully. The following provisions are effective Aug. 1, 2020 until revised or rescinded. 

COVID-19 Paid Administrative Leave is available for permanent employees only in the following circumstances: 

  • When the employee exceeds the daily rate caps under the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) and is approved for Emergency Paid Sick Leave (EPSL) Reasons 1 – 3, “Administrative Absence” leave will be used to bring the employee to their regular rate of pay. 
  • When the employee exceeds the daily rate caps under the FFCRA and is approved for EPSL Reason 4 – 5 and/or Expanded Family Medical Leave (EFML), “Administrative Absence” leave will be used to bring the employee to two-thirds of their regular rate of pay. Employees are responsible for further supplementing the difference between their normal pay and what is covered by the combination of FFCRA and “Administrative Absence” leave by using their own accrued leave and/or other accrued paid time off. 
  • For elder care needs due to COVID-19-related elder care facility closings, COVID-19 paid administrative leave or “AA – Eldercare” is available at two-thirds of the employee’s pay for the period of scheduled time they are unavailable due to providing elder care. This leave is provided equivalent to the same compensation rules and eligibility requirements applied to FFCRA for childcare. This also means that the maximum elder care benefit for an employee is 12 weeks (or fewer, depending on the employee’s FMLA eligibility). Once all FFCRA-equivalent leave is exhausted, employees must use their accrued leave or accrued paid time off for hours not worked. Please contact OHR Benefits and Leave Administration to determine whether you are eligible for “AA – Elder Care” leave (email leave@unc.edu). 
  • If an employee is unable to work for absences due to reasons outlined in the FFCRA to qualify for EPSL Reasons 1 – 3  (subject to a quarantine/isolation order, advised to self-quarantine, or experiencing COVID-19 symptoms) and the employee has exhausted their FFCRA leave benefits, accrued leave, and accrued paid time off (comp time, etc.). In those limited circumstances, employees who have exhausted all accrued leave will receive COVID-19 paid administrative leave or “AA – EPSL 1-3 Exhaust” at 100% of their pay, cumulative up to 160 hours through Dec. 31, 2020.  Please contact OHR Benefits and Leave Administration to determine whether you are eligible for “AA – EPSL 1-3 Exhaust” leave (email leave@unc.edu). 

Time/Pay Entry  

SHRA non-exempt permanent, temporary, and student employees working remotely should capture or enter their times in and out in their timecards to ensure they are paid correctly. If the employee is unable to do this, they should contact their manager or TIM administrator to enter their times worked in TIM. Hours worked or leave taken must be entered in non-exempt employee timecards for them to be paid.   

SHRA and EHRA exempt permanent employees in TIM will continue to be paid on autopay. They should enter their compensatory, sick, vacation, or bonus leave hours in TIM for hours they do not work and that do not qualify for special leave provisions related to COVID-19. 

TIM Administrators  

The FFCRA and Paid Administrative Leave Calculator will tell you what pay codes to use and what amounts to enter in TIM for employees who have been approved for FFCRA leave and COVID-19 paid administrative leave. The FFCRA and Paid Administrative Leave Calculator is located on the HR Community Toolkit (under “Payroll Schedules & Tools”). For ‘how to’ TIM questions, TIM Administrators can email timsupport@unc.edu. 

Other Leave Provisions  

  • Through Dec. 31, 2020, employees may use accrued sick leave, vacation leave, and bonus leave interchangeably, regardless of the reason for the employee’s absence; however, paid leave cannot be used to cover hours on which an employee is on emergency temporary furlough: 
    • Example 1: An employee may request a day off for personal reasons and use sick leave instead of vacation leave. 
    • Example 2: An employee may use sick leave to cover the University Closed Days on Dec. 30 and 31, 2020. 
  • Temporary employees may be eligible for FFCRA leave benefits, if allowed by those provisions. Consistent with prior issued guidance, units have the discretion (including student employees) to end their temporary employment. Temporary employees whose employment has ended may not be eligible for benefits under FFCRA. Please review the FFCRA guidelines carefully. On-student temporary employees are no longer eligible for COVID-19 paid administrative leave as of June 1. 
  • If more than one person in the household is a state employee, then the employees are expected to work with their supervisors to determine how to allocate paid administrative leave to avoid inappropriate overlap of leave usage for child and elder care needs.  
  • Employees who were on other pre-approved leave or are unavailable for reasons other than provided above must use available and applicable leave types, e.g. vacation leave, parental leave, bonus leave, compensatory time, or take leave without pay.  
  • For part-time employees with fluctuating schedules, COVID-19 paid administrative leave may be applied as allowed above, but consideration should be given to the employee’s average hours per week over the course of a month. In no case shall paid administrative leave exceed forty hours per week. 
  • While management will give every possible consideration to individual personal circumstances, management has the discretion to deny or defer special leave provisions for mandatory employees whose presence is determined necessary to address urgent public health, public safety, or critical infrastructure needs. Special consideration should be given to COVID-19 Mandatory Employees who are determined to be high risk for contracting COVID19 or who are providing care to someone at high risk. Managers should contact the Equal Opportunity and Compliance Office at eoc@unc.edu if a COVID-19 Mandatory Employee requests special consideration because of their own health condition and management believes they are not able to provide that consideration.

Paid administrative leave is available for permanent employees for the following qualifying reasons and subject to terms and limitations outlined below

  1. Employees who are not expected to report to a University worksite but cannot telework because their position and duties cannot be performed remotely, and because reasonable alternate remote work is not feasible or productive, may receive COVID-19 paid administrative leave at of one-third the employee’s pay for the scheduled hours they cannot telework. Paid administrative cannot apply to hours worked or hours where leave is used for other purposes.
  2. For elder care needs due to COVID-19-related elder care facility closings, employees may receive COVID-19 paid administrative leave at two-thirds of the employee’s pay for the period of scheduled time they are unavailable due to providing elder care. This leave is provided equivalent to the same compensation rules and eligibility requirements applied to FFCRA for childcare. This also means that the maximum elder care benefit for an employee is 12 weeks (or fewer, depending on the employee’s FMLA eligibility). Once all FFCRA-equivalent leave is exhausted, employees may receive COVID-19 paid administrative leave at one-third of the employee’s pay for scheduled hours they cannot work due to elder care needs.***Example: if an employee works 10 hours per week and then uses 30 hours of COVID-19 paid administrative leave due to elder care activities, then the employee receives 10 hours of pay at 100% (for hours worked), the equivalent of 20 hours of COVID-19 paid leave (two-thirds of 30 hours for elder care), and then must use the equivalent of 10 hours (one-third of 30 hours for elder care) of their own accrued leave or paid time off to maintain full compensation.
  3. To supplement Emergency Paid Sick Leave (EPSL) and Expanded Family Medical Leave (EFML) to bring the employee to two-thirds pay. Eligible employees are responsible for further supplementing the difference between their normal pay and what is covered by the combination of FFCRA and paid administrative leave by using their own accrued leave and/or other accrued paid time off.
  4. Once FFCRA leave is exhausted and for individuals who are exempt from FFCRA, employees may receive COVID-19 paid administrative leave at one-third of the employee’s pay for scheduled hours they cannot work due to the reason outlined in the FFCRA to qualify for EPSL and/or EFML.
  5. In addition, once an employee has exhausted all of their accrued leave and paid time off, absences due to reasons outlined in the FFCRA to qualify for EPSL Reasons 1 – 3 (subject to quarantine/isolation order, advised to self-quarantine, or experiencing COVID-19 symptoms and awaiting a diagnosis), the employee will receive COVID-19 paid administrative leave at 100% of the employee’s pay, up to 160 hours.  
  1. Emergency Paid Sick Leave (EPSL)The Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) provides up to two weeks of EPSL (80 hours, pro-rated for part-time employees) to all active employees (both permanent and temporary). Health care providers and emergency responders may be excluded from eligibility. This leave is counted separately from a permanent employee’s normally accrued sick leave. 
    1. EPSL is paid at 100% of the employee’s pay, up to $511 daily and $5,110 total*, if the employee is unable to work, including unable to telework, because the employee:
      1. is subject to a Federal, State, or local quarantine or isolation order related to COVID-19;  
      2. has been advised by a health care provider to self-quarantine for COVID-19-related reasons; or  
        1. is experiencing COVID-19 symptoms and is seeking a medical diagnosis.
    2. EPSL (used June 1, 2020 or later) is paid at two-thirds of the employee’s pay up to $200 daily and $2,000 total*, if the employee is unable to work, including unable to telework, because the employee: 

      1. is caring for an individual with whom the employee has a personal relationship (such as an immediate family member, roommate or other similar person) and who is subject to an order described in 1.a.i. above or a recommendation described in 1.a.ii. above; 
      2. needs to care for his or her child whose school or place of care is closed (or childcare provider is unavailable) due to COVID-19 related reasons; or 
      3. is experiencing any other substantially similar condition specified by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (none has been declared at this time). 
        *The University will supplement the EPSL leave with COVID-19 paid administrative leave up to two-thirds of the employee’s pay. The employee is responsible for the remaining one-third of these hours through their own accrued leave and/or other accrued paid time off. 
    3. If an employee has exhausted all of their FFCRA leave, they must use available accrued leave or other paid time, or go on leave without pay.
  2. Expanded Family Medical Leave (EFML): the FFCRA also provides up to twelve weeks of Family & Medical Leave for employees who need to care for their child whose school or place of care is closed (or childcare provider is unavailable) due to COVID-19 related reasons. This benefit is available to any employee (permanent or temporary) who has been employed by the institution for at least 30 calendar days. Health care providers and emergency responders may be excluded from eligibility. The following provisions apply: 
    1. The first two weeks of the EFML is unpaid. For the remaining weeks of EFML (up to ten weeks) used June 1, 2020 or later, FFCRA provides two-thirds of the employee’s pay up to $200 daily or $10,000 total. The University will supplement the EFML leave with COVID-19 paid administrative leave at a rate of two-thirds of their pay. The employee is responsible for the remaining one-third of these hours through their own accrued leave and/or other accrued paid time off. 
    2. Employees may use EPSL, if available, to cover the first two weeks of EFML, or use other available accrued personal leave or paid time off if no EPSL is available.
    3. EFML does not extend the total number of weeks of FMLA leave an eligible employee may use within a 12-month period. 
    4. If an employee has exhausted all of their FFCRA leave, they must use available accrued leave or other paid time, or go on leave without pay. 
      For more information about FFCRA leave benefits, please visit 
      hr.unc.edu/benefits/ffcra. 
  3. COVID-19 Paid Administrative Leave: Permanent employees are eligible for COVID-19 paid administrative leave at two-thirds of their pay for the period of scheduled time they are unavailable to work in the following circumstances:
    1. The employee cannot telework because their position and duties cannot be performed remotely, and reasonable alternate remote work is not feasible or productive. The COVID-19 paid administrative leave may only be applied to the scheduled hours they cannot telework and not to hours worked or hours where leave is used for other purposes. 
    2. The employee cannot work because they have eldercare needs due to COVID-19-related facility closings. The paid administrative leave may only be applied to the scheduled hours they are unavailable due to providing elder care. This leave is provided equivalent to the same compensation rules and eligibility requirements applied to FFCRA for child care.*
      *Example: if an employee works 10 hours per week and then uses 30 hours of COVID-19 paid administrative leave due to elder care activities, then the employee receives 10 hours of pay at 100% (for hours worked), the equivalent of 20 hours of COVID-19 paid leave (two-thirds of 30 hours for elder care), and then must use the equivalent of 10 hours (one-third of 30 hours for elder care) of their own accrued leave or paid time off to maintain full compensation. 
    3. To supplement EPSL and/or EFML to bring the employee to two-thirds pay, as described in 1 and 2 above. Eligible employees are responsible for further supplementing the difference between their normal pay and what is covered by the combination of FFCRA and paid administrative leave by using their own accrued leave and/or other accrued paid time off.
  4. Other Leave Provisions:

    1. Temporary employees may be eligible for FFCRA leave benefits, if allowed by those provisions. Consistent with prior issued guidance, units have the discretion (including student employees) to end their temporary employment. Temporary employees whose employment has ended may not be eligible for benefits under FFCRA. Please review the FFCRA guidelines carefully.

      Non-student temporary employees are no longer eligible for COVID-19 paid administrative leave as of June 1.

    2. Student employees may be eligible for FFCRA leave benefits, if allowed by those provisions. Consistent with prior issued guidance, units have the discretion to end temporary employment, including for student employees. Temporary employees whose employment has ended may not be eligible for benefits under FFCRA. Please review the FFCRA guidelines carefully.

      Student employees are eligible for paid administrative leave, 
      in accordance with the provisions, limitations, and eligibility requirements set forth above, for times they were otherwise expected to or had previously agreed to work. 
    3. If more than one person in the household is a state employee, then the employees are expected to work with their supervisors to determine how to allocate paid administrative leave to avoid inappropriate overlap of leave usage for child and elder care needs. 
    4. Employees who were on other pre-approved leave or are unavailable for reasons other than provided above must use available and applicable leave types; e.g. vacation leave, parental leave, bonus leave, compensatory time, or take leave without pay.  
    5. Through December 31, 2020, employees may use accrued sick leave, vacation leave, and bonus leave interchangeably, regardless of the reason for the employee’s absence; however, paid leave cannot be used to cover hours on which an employee is on emergency temporary furlough
    6. For part-time employees with fluctuating schedules, COVID-19 paid administrative leave may be applied as allowed above, but consideration should be given to the employee’s average hours per week over the course of a month. In no case shall paid administrative leave exceed forty hours per week.
    7. While management will give every possible consideration to individual personal circumstances, management has the discretion to deny or defer special leave provisions for mandatory employees whose presence is determined necessary to address urgent public health, public safety, or critical infrastructure needs. Special consideration should be given to COVID-19 Mandatory Employees who are determined to be high risk for contracting COVID‐19 or who are providing care to someone at high risk. Managers should contact the Equal Opportunity and Compliance Office at eoc@unc.edu if a COVID-19 Mandatory Employee requests special consideration because of their own health condition and management believes they are not able to provide that consideration.

Permanent and student employees not designated as COVID-19 Mandatory Employees will be granted paid administrative leave for the following qualifying reasons:   

  1. The employee is quarantined by a public health official due to possible exposure but has not been determined to be infected with COVID-19 (Note: Quarantine by a public health official is distinct from the state-wide Stay at Home Order effective March 30, 2020.); 
  2. The employee is having symptoms potentially related to COVID-19 (fever, cough, shortness of breath) or caring for a dependent with such symptoms. 
  3. The employee is high risk for COVID-19 infection or is a caregiver to someone who is high risk. 
  4. The employee must care for a child or parent due to a childcare/eldercare facility or school closing, care for a spouse, or 
  5. The employee is not a COVID-19 Mandatory Employee and due to the nature of their position, cannot perform their duties remotely and an alternative remote working arrangement is not possible. 

There are additional leave benefits available under the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) that may operate in conjunction with available administrative leave and are effective May 1 through December 31, 2020. In particular, the FFCRA provides for Emergency Paid Sick Leave (EPSL) and Expanded Family Medical Leave (EFML) for certain qualifying reasons. If an employee is eligible for the FFCRA leave benefits, the FFCRA leave must be applied before COVID-19 paid administrative leave is available.  

If needed, the University will supplement the pay of employees receiving FFCRA benefits with COVID-19 paid administrative leave so that they receive full pay without drawing on other available accrued leave balances. If COVID-19 paid administrative leave is expired or not available, employees may use other paid leave available to them to supplement the pay provided under the FFCRA. For more information about FFCRA leave benefits, please visit hr.unc.edu/benefits/ffcra.   

For COVID-19 Mandatory Employees, management may approve paid administrative leave for the qualifying reasons listed above. While management will give every possible consideration to individual personal circumstances, management has the discretion to deny or defer administrative leave for mandatory employees whose presence is determined necessary to address urgent public health, public safety, or critical infrastructure needs. 

Special consideration should be given to COVID-19 Mandatory Employees who are determined to be high risk for contracting COVID‐19 or who are providing care to someone at high risk. Managers should contact the Equal Opportunity and Compliance Office at eoc@unc.edu if a COVID-19 Mandatory Employee requests special consideration because of their own health condition and management believes they are not able to provide that consideration.   

For non-student temporary employees, each unit has discretion to offer full or partial paid administrative leave based on available funds and operational needs or to end temporary appointments as deemed appropriate.   

Employees who were on other pre‐approved leave, choose not to work, or are unavailable for reasons other than provided for in the special COVID‐19 provisions must use available and applicable leave types; e.g. vacation leave, parental leave, bonus leave, compensatory time, or take leave without pay.    

If more than one person in the household is a state employee and the employees are seeking paid administrative leave because they have childcare or eldercare needs due to COVID‐19‐related facility closings, then the employees are expected to work with their supervisors to determine how to allocate paid administrative leave to avoid inappropriate overlap of leave usage.