COVID-19 FAQs with virus image

 

As we navigate the work/life changes brought on by the COVID-19 virus, we recognize that many of our faculty, staff and student employees have questions regarding the University’s protocol and policies. To help you with these concerns, the FAQs below will provide answers and resources.

If you can’t find an answer to your question, please email hr@unc.edu, and add “COVID-19” in the subject line.

Please note that the information below is effective through March 31, 2020. We have received updated policy guidance covering the period  after March 31 from the UNC System Office and are currently updating these FAQs. Please check back for updates.  

Q1. When can an employee use paid administrative leave?

During March 16 – March 31, 2020, mandatory and non-mandatory permanent, temporary or student employees will be granted paid administrative leave if:

  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;
  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.

Q2. I’m not feeling well, what should I do?

Employees should contact their health care providers for guidance. If employees are showing virus- related symptoms, then they should stay home following usual procedures for notifying their supervisor. Management may approve paid administrative leave for temporary, permanent, and student employees who request leave due to having symptoms potentially related to COVID-19 (fever, cough, shortness of breath) through March 31, 2020. If an employee is feeling well enough to work, they may also arrange with their supervisor to work remotely, if possible, but employees who are sick for any reason should not report to work and focus on getting well rather than working.

Anyone who has returned from an affected region within the past 14 days and is sick with fever and a cough, or difficulty breathing, should immediately call the University Employee Occupational Health Clinic at 919-966-9119, from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

Q3: I have been quarantined by a public health official, what leave can I use?

Employees who are quarantined at the direction of public health officials will receive paid administrative leave until the specified period of time ends or the employee becomes ill, whichever comes first. This applies to both permanent, temporary and student employees. Once a permanent employee becomes ill, then the employee can receive paid administrative leave through March 31, 2020, and if ill beyond that date, use available compensatory leave, sick leave, vacation leave or bonus leave. If an employee does not have enough sick leave, the institution may work with the employee to advance leave or make arrangements for the employee to make up the time if the UNC System and the University determine that the work situation will allow it.

Q4: I don’t have much leave to use in the event I become ill, but can’t afford to go without pay. What can I do?

Management may approve paid administrative leave for temporary, permanent, and student employees who request leave due to having symptoms potentially related to a cold, the flu or COVID-19 (fever, cough, shortness of breath) through March 31, 2020. After that, if an employee does not have enough sick leave, the University may work with the employee to advance leave or make arrangements for the employee to make up the time if the UNC System and the University determine that the work situation will allow it.

Q5: Do I have to cancel my personal vacation due to the restrictions on travel?

  1. While the University does not have the authority to either prohibit or restrict your personal travel, the University strongly discourages any personal international travel based on the S. Department of State’s advisory that U.S. citizens to avoid all international travel due to the global impact of COVID-19. The University also strongly discourages any personal domestic travel to locations where a state of emergency has been declared related to COVID-19 and coronavirus.
  2. For more updates on current travel information, please visit the University’s travel information website at edu/coronavirus/coronavirus-travel-information.

Q6: I’m not feeling well, and I think I may have been exposed while doing my job. Will I be covered by Worker’s Compensation?

  1. If an employee becomes ill and it is determined to be work‐related in accordance with the Workers’ Compensation Act, then the workers’ compensation policy applies. Employees are required to notify their supervisor immediately of any job-related injury or illness. Supervisors should complete the required incident formsand submit those forms to Environment, Health and Safety (EHS). For more information about the University’s Worker’s Compensation Program, please visit Environment, Health and Safety’s Worker’s Compensation website.
  2. If the illness is deemed to be due to an off‐the‐job exposure, then other leave provisions outlined in these FAQs and in University policy apply. Family and Medical Leave and other leave policies may be applicable. Please contact Benefits & Leave Administration in the Office of Human Resources at 919-962-3071 or leave@unc.edu for assistance.

Q7: My manager told me to stay home because they believe I have symptoms that can be related to the COVID-19. Is this allowable?

Through March 31, only COVID-19 Mandatory Employees should report to work onsite. In general, if an employee is not subject to official quarantine by public health authorities, but the UNC System President or UNC-Chapel Hill Chancellor believes that an employee has symptoms associated with a communicable disease, the UNC System or University may direct the employee not report to work, in which case management may approve paid administrative leave through March 31. After that date, the use of compensatory time off, sick leave, vacation leave, or bonus leave is required. Likewise, employees who opt to not report to work at their own discretion due to potential illness would use appropriate leave.

Q8: I have been directed to work remotely. Will I get paid?

Yes, you will be paid for any work you do remotely just as if you were performing the work at your normal work location.  If the emergency is severe, the governor, public health officials, the UNC System President, or the UNC-Chapel Hill Chancellor may order the University, or part of the University, to close for a period of time. If alternative work locations or teleworking are available, employees should work with their management to plan to work remotely.

Q9:  How will I get paid if I am working remotely or on-site?

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 exempt and EHRA permanent employees in TIM will continue to be paid on auto-pay.

SHRA and EHRA permanent exempt employees should enter their compensatory, sick, vacation, or bonus leave hours in TIM for hours they do not work and that do not qualify for administrative leave.

Q10: My job is one where working from home is not possible. Will I get paid?

Yes. Non-COVID-19 Mandatory Employees (permanent and temporary) should discuss their options for working offsite with their supervisors. If a supervisor determines that the employee cannot perform their duties remotely, then the employee may be granted paid administrative leave through March 31, 2020. After March 31, permanent employees would have to use available vacation leave, bonus leave, or compensatory time. Temporary employees who cannot work remotely after March 31 will not receive compensation under current policy provisions.

Q11: How will I get paid if I qualify for administrative leave?

SHRA non-exempt permanent and temporary employees will be able to select the “administrative absence” pay code and enter hours in their timecards on qualifying dates from March 16 through March 31, 2020. SHRA student employees will need to work with their manager or TIM administrator who will need to enter “administrative absence” hours for them.

Temporary employees will be able to select a pay code in TIM for the first time.  A Quick Reference Card has been posted that shows employees where to select the “administrative absence” pay code in their timecards in TIM.

SHRA exempt and EHRA permanent exempt employees in TIM will continue to be paid on auto-pay.  They also have access to the “administrative absence” pay code and should enter the leave hours that qualify for administrative leave on dates from March 16 through March 31, 2020 in their timecards in TIM.

Q12: My child’s school and my elderly parent’s facility is closed.  Can I work from home to care for them?

Yes. When the University is open but an employee is required to stay home with a qualifying parent or child (as defined in the Family Medical Leave Act (“FMLA”)) because of the closure of a day care facility, public school, or eldercare facility, the employee may, with approval of their supervisor, be allowed to work at home. If the employee is not able to work from home due to the child/elder needs or because their work cannot be performed remotely, the employee may use paid administrative leave through March 31, 2020. Supervisors may discuss alternative work hours and teleworking schedules that may better accommodate the employee’s needs, and teleworking arrangement may include a combination of part-time work and paid leave.

Q13: Who are considered high-risk individuals?

Public health officials have identified people as “high-risk” for contracting COVID-19 and experiencing greater complications as those who meet any of the following criteria or who may care for someone with any of the following criteria:

  • are over 65 years of age,
  • have underlying health conditions including heart disease, lung disease, kidney disease, or diabetes,
  • are pregnant, and/or
  • have weakened immune systems.

Q14: If I need to stay home to avoid risk of exposure for myself or for a high-risk family member, and I can’t work remotely, what are my leave options?

If there is reason to believe an employee has been exposed, or has a high-risk individual in the household, and the employee cannot perform work remotely, then the employee (including temporary and student employees) may use paid administrative leave through March 31, 2020. Afterward, if the employee is not symptomatic or is not caring for a symptomatic or high-risk family member, then the employee would need to use available vacation, bonus, or compensatory time.

Q15: I have a medical condition that is impacting my ability to work due to the COVID-19 outbreak. What should I do?

Through March 31, 2020, only COVID-19 Mandatory Employees should report to work onsite. Employees with medical conditions that could be exacerbated by the COVID-19 outbreak should contact the Equal Opportunity and Compliance Office (EOC) to request an accommodation. This may apply to employees who are immunocompromised or who have certain anxiety disorders. Accommodations may include work from home arrangements, adjustment of work schedule, adjustment of work location, or other accommodations. Employees will be required to provide medical documentation of their condition and how it may be exacerbated by the COVID-19 outbreak. Employees may contact the EOC at eoc@unc.edu for more information.

Q16: Either I or someone I reside with is pregnant. I am concerned about exposure if I report to work.  What should I do?

Through March 31, 2020, only COVID-19 Mandatory Employees should report to work onsite.

The North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services has determined that pregnant women are at high-risk for contracting COVID-19 and for experiencing greater complications.  COVID-19 Mandatory Employees, and non-COVID-19 Mandatory Employees after March 31, who are nonetheless expected to report to work onsite and have concerns should contact Elizabeth Hall, Assistant Director of the Equal Opportunity and Compliance Office, at elizabeth.hall@unc.edu.  The University will work with you to meet your needs, considering the essential functions of your job, information from your healthcare provider, and the most recently available relevant public health guidance.

Q17: Can I work remotely part of the time and only come to my workplace a couple of days a week?

Through March 31, only COVID-19 Mandatory Employees should report to work onsite. Supervisors may determine whether an employee should work their full schedule onsite or work a combination onsite/telework schedule. Employees will need to coordinate with their supervisors to determine the parameters of their teleworking arrangements. This kind of arrangement may include other onsite social distancing practices (employees being onsite alternate days, or some in the morning, some in the afternoon, etc.) to reduce close contact among employees or to fulfill mandatory onsite work. In this case, hours worked and leave hours should be captured or entered in their timecard in TIM to ensure the employee is paid correctly.

Q18:  What is “social distancing”?

Social distancing is the practice of intentionally increasing the physical space between people to avoid spreading illness.  Staying at least six feet away from other people decreases your chances of contracting COVID-19.  Examples of social distancing include working from home instead of the office or other public space, avoiding large public gatherings, and contacting loved ones, friends, and neighbors via virtual means rather than in person.  If you are required to work onsite, social distancing can include staggered shifts (employees being onsite alternate days or times), staggered arrival times, and, if possible, maintaining at least six feet of distance between individuals.

Q19: I have a job that would allow me to work remotely, and my supervisor is agreeable to it, but I would prefer to come to work. Do I have to work remotely?

Through March 31, only COVID-19 Mandatory Employees may report to work onsite. Supervisors may determine whether an employee should work their full schedule onsite, offsite, or work a combination onsite/telework schedule. Teleworking arrangements may include working part-time or full-time offsite. The supervisor will make the final determination, since decisions for employees working onsite must be coordinated to reduce close contact among employees.

Q20: How are we to handle operational and staffing impacts to those employees whose work relies on the physical presence of students and faculty? Will employees without available work be required to use available leave?

All permanent and temporary employees, including student employees, who are not designated as COVID-19 Mandatory Employees and who cannot perform their work duties from home may receive paid administrative leave through March 31, 2020. After March 31, permanent employees would have to use available vacation/bonus leave or compensatory time or take leave without pay. Temporary employees who cannot work remotely after March 31 will not receive compensation under current policy provisions.

Q21: I have a temporary employee who is due to take their 31-day break.  However, they are providing critical services to support continuity of operations during COVID-19. Are any exceptions to the required 31-day break at this time?

In an effort to maintain continuity of operations, the 31-day break requirement for temporary employees is being waived until further notice if the temporary employee’s continued employment is required due to a state of emergency for COVID-19.

Q22: What happens if an employee can’t perform their usual work from a remote location?

Not all positions may be able to telework for a sustained period of time. We encourage supervisors to try to find assignments that employees can perform remotely, such as online training, if their regular duties cannot be done outside the office. Otherwise, both permanent and temporary employees may use paid administrative leave through March 31, 2020. After March 31, permanent employees who cannot work from home would need to use available vacation/bonus leave or compensatory time. Temporary employees who cannot work remotely after March 31 will not receive compensation under current policy provisions.

Q23: I have an employee who is not feeling well and appears to have symptoms that may be related to the communicable disease outbreak. Can I tell them to stay home? 

First, contact your School or Division’s HR Representative, and they will coordinate with the central Office of Human Resources and other campus officials to provide guidance. If an employee is not subject to official quarantine by public health authorities, but the UNC System President, or the UNC-Chapel Hill Chancellor believes that an employee has symptoms associated with a communicable disease, the UNC System or constituent institution may direct the employee not report to work. Management may approve paid administrative leave for temporary and permanent employees demonstrating symptoms potentially related to COVID-19 (fever, cough, shortness of breath through March 31, 2020. If the employee feels well enough to work, the supervisor could allow the employee to work remotely full-time or part-time.

Q24: I have a COVID-19 Mandatory Employee who is exhibiting Covid-19, cold, or flu-like symptoms . Should they still report to work?

COVID-19 Mandatory Employees may be excused from work if they are quarantined or ill, if they are required to care for a member of the immediate family (as defined in the FMLA) who is quarantined or ill or if they are required to stay home with parents or underage children because of the closure of a day care facility, public school or eldercare facility and receive paid administrative leave for these absences through March 31, 2020.

Q25: I have an employee who has recently traveled within the United States to locations where a state of emergency has been declared related to COVID-19 and coronavirus. Can I instruct them to self-quarantine for a period of time before returning to work? 

Through March 31, only COVID-19 Mandatory Employees should report to work onsite. The area in a state of emergency uses this declaration to free up resources or receive resources from the government. Because this is such a rapidly evolving situation, this is the best method we have of tracking domestic areas most impacted by the virus. Given the rapidly changing nature of the virus, employees who have traveled to these affected areas may be asked to do a 14-day self-quarantine off campus upon return. However, before instructing an employee to self-quarantine, contact your School or Division’s HR Representative and they will coordinate with the central Office of Human Resources and other campus officials to provide guidance.

For more updates on current travel information, please visit the University’s travel information website at unc.edu/coronavirus/coronavirus-travel-information.

Q26: I have an employee who has recently traveled to a Level 2 or 3 country as defined by the U.S. Department of State and U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention due to COVID-19.  Can I instruct them to self-quarantine for a period of time before returning to work? 

Through March 31, only COVID-19 Mandatory Employees should report to work onsite. Per recently revised CDC guidelines, any students, faculty or staff returning from Level 2 and 3 countries will be asked to self-quarantine for 14 days off campus effective immediately. If you have an employee who travels to a location that is increased to a Level 3 while they are there, they will be subject to a 14-day self-quarantine off campus. Any faculty or staff who have arrived or will be returning from Level 2 and 3 countries should immediately contact Campus Health or their local health care provider and follow their instructions for evaluation. You will need to work with employees in a 14-day self-quarantine protocol to determine remote working options.

As a reminder, the University strongly discourages any international travel and any domestic travel to a location where a state of emergency has been declared due to COVID-19 or the coronavirus.

For more updates on current travel information, please visit the University’s travel information website at unc.edu/coronavirus/coronavirus-travel-information.

Q27: Is there a communicable disease policy?

Yes, the Pandemic and Communicable Disease Emergency Policy is available on the OHR website.

Q28: I am a manager and I have not designated anyone as a COVID-19 Mandatory Employee. What should I do?

Your department’s leadership determines what critical operations need to continue in the event of a public health emergency, and also which positions must be staffed to continue those operations. Primary and secondary COVID-19 Mandatory Employees should be designated You should let the HR Representative supporting your unit know who your primary and secondary COVID-19 mandatory employees will be so they can designate them with the “Communicable Disease Mandatory Employee” indicator in ConnectCarolina.  Management must notify employees of their mandatory personnel designation and the requirement to report for or remain at work in emergency situations, or to work from home or other alternative location as deemed appropriate. Employees should receive appropriate information and training as needed. If mandatory personnel are required to remain at the worksite for an extended period of time, the University will provide adequate housing and food.

Q29: I am a manager and I have primary and secondary COVID-19 Mandatory Employees designated, but I need more coverage during this emergency event.  Can I designate additional employees as COVID-19 Mandatory Employees?

Yes. Additional employees may also be designated to work if needed due to the length of the emergency, illness of COVID-19 Mandatory Employees, or other needs. In this case, management must follow the same notification procedures: Management must notify employees of their COVID-19 Mandatory Employee designation and the requirement to report for or remain at work in emergency situations. Employees should receive appropriate information and training as needed. If mandatory personnel are required to remain at the worksite for an extended period of time, the University will provide adequate housing and food.  Management must notify their HR Representative to designate the additional employees as mandatory in ConnectCarolina.

Q30: I have someone that has returned from travel to a CDC level 2 or Level 3 country, and they are refusing self-quarantine for 14 days what should I do?

In this situation, individuals may be subject to disciplinary action, up to and including termination of employment, for willful failure to self-quarantine for 14 days.

For more updates on current travel information, please visit the University’s travel information website at unc.edu/coronavirus/coronavirus-travel-information.

Q31:  What is a “mandatory employee” or “Communicable Disease Mandatory Employee” (CDME)? How do I know if I am one?

For the purposes of the COVID-19 event only, the UNC System has defined “mandatory employees” as permanent or temporary employees who are required to work onsite during the COVID-19 event because their positions have been designated by their institution as mandatory to operations during the emergency.  These employees will be notified by their supervisor that they are required to report to work during the COVID-19 event. If you are not sure, check first with your direct supervisor or you departmental HR representative.

The University will refer to these employees as “COVID-19 Mandatory Employees” throughout this document and in future guidance related to the COVID-19 event.

Due to the length and severity of this event, the definition of COVID-19 Mandatory Employee is different than what is typically used during an adverse weather event or other emergency.

For purposes of coding these employees in the system, these employees should be coded as CDME, as this is the marker available in ConnectCarolina.

Q32: I am a COVID-19 Mandatory Employee who is exhibiting Covid-19, cold, or flu-like symptoms , should I still report to work?

COVID-19 Mandatory Employees may be excused from work if they are quarantined or ill, if they are required to care for a member of the immediate family (as defined in the FMLA) who is quarantined or ill or if they are required to stay home with parents or underage children because of the closure of a day care facility, public school or eldercare facility. Employees may use paid administrative leave through March 31, 2020, and afterward will be required to use available compensatory leave, sick leave, vacation leave or bonus leave.

Q33: I am a COVID-19 Mandatory Employee, will I receive special pay?

COVID-19 Mandatory Employees receive their regular pay. The Office of State Human Resources is currently reviewing practices for providing any additional compensation to COVID-19 Mandatory Employees working onsite, but none is authorized at this time.

Q34: I’m a COVID-19 Mandatory Employee and my manager informed me I need to report to work during this emergency event. Can I refuse to do so?

Employees are designated as COVID-19 Mandatory Employees due to the nature of their work for the university and are expected to perform those duties as required. Situations in which a COVID-19 Mandatory Employee cannot report to work as directed will be reviewed on a case-by-case basis. Willful failure of a COVID-19 Mandatory Employee to report for or remain at work may be subject to disciplinary action, up to and including termination of employment.

Q35: I am a student employee and/or participate in a work study program. May I continue to work and what if I can’t continue to work?

Our first concern is your health and your success as a student.

If you participate in a work study program you will be allowed to continue work-study employment remotely, so long as your employer is able to provide appropriate work and supervision in a remote setting.  Please reach out directly to your supervisor to request remote work arrangements.

The University realizes that not every work-study position lends itself to remote work. If your supervisor is unable to provide remote work options for you, please ask them to send your PID and name to work-study@unc.edu and attest in that email to the following:

  • That they are unable to provide you with a remote opportunity for work-study employment
  • That without the interruption due to COVID-19 you would have continued working on a similar schedule to before the spring break and interruption.

This will allow the work study office to work with you and make arrangements for alternative funding for the remainder of the term. Our first concern is your health and your success as a student.  Please feel free to contact the work study office if you have any questions.

If you are a student employee outside of a work study program and you have not been designated as a COVID-19 Mandatory Employee, you should not come to campus. Please work with your supervisor to develop a plan to work remotely. If working remotely is not possible, you may receive paid administrative leave through March 31. Paid administrative leave may be available under other conditions, as outlined in Q1 under the “FAQs for Faculty and Staff” section.

Faculty and teaching assistants will receive guidance from the Provost’s office regarding the resources for remote instruction. Those with research responsibilities, including graduate assistants and graduate students with service appointments (e.g., RA’s), should work with their supervisors about remote work options. Vice Chancellor for Research, Terry Magnuson has provided further guidance for those with research responsibilities.

The Schools of Medicine, Dentistry, and Pharmacy may have different operating schedules or class requirements. Please refer to any communication you have received from the school, or work with your professor or dean for information.

Q36: Does the State Health Plan offer telemedicine options for plan members to use, and are those free of charge?

Blue Cross Blue Shield NC will expand and promote access to virtual visits with primary care providers wherever possible. Members who have concerns about whether they have been exposed to COVID-19 should call their primary care provider to determine if telehealth services are available. Virtual visits are covered under the State Health Plan.

Q37: Will the State Health Plan charge employees for a COVID-19 test?

The State Health Plan will cover any coronavirus testing requested by a health care provider or public health authority; however, there may still be an office visit co-pay required.

Q38: Can I get early refills on maintenance medications just in case?

Yes. Because North Carolina has declared a State of Emergency, State Health Plan members can request an early refill on 30-day prescriptions for maintenance medications at any in-network pharmacy. Consult with your provider and pharmacy.

Q39: My child’s daycare facility has closed due to COVID-19.  Can I increase or decrease my Dependent Day Care Health Flexible Spending Account?

Yes. Due to the recent events in our country with COVID-19, if your situation with dependent day care changes and you need to increase or decrease your contributions, you may be eligible to complete a life event in the enrollment system (eBenefits).

Some situations that may qualify:

  • Your child starts or stops daycare
  • Your daycare costs increase or decrease
  • You or your spouse stop working

You have 30 days from the date of an event to make changes to your account. The annual maximum still remains $5,000 per household.

To make changes, log into eBenefits* or contact Benefitfocus at 1-855-859-0966. The “reason for change” would be “Day care change”.

Resources


Wellness Resources during COVID-19

 

Tips for Working Remotely

 

Tips for Managing Remote Teams