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Employee Resources

Western Carolina University leadership continues to closely monitor the spread of respiratory illness caused by the novel coronavirus and is in regular communication with local, state and UNC System officials.

Please Note: These resources will be updated as additional information becomes available or the situation changes. The latest update was Tuesday, August 11, 2020.

For policy, employment and leave related questions, you may reach HR at ext. 7218 or humanresources@wcu.edu.

Human Resources has released new COVID-19 guidance and protocols for employees and supervisors.

Additional information regarding classroom procedures, faculty and academic affairs is available in the Academic Affairs FAQ 

Frequently Asked Questions for Employees

HR Video Resources

Workplace Health Questions

Workplace Questions

Operations Questions

Travel Questions

Supervisory Questions

   

General Questions

Updated COVID-19 special faculty and staff work and leave provisions effective august 12, 2020

Updated August 11, 2020

The following COVID-19 Special Faculty and Staff Work and Leave Provisions go into effect on August 12, 2020, and remain in place until further revised or extended. Effective August 12, 2020, Mandatory Onsite Employee Designations are discontinued. To align with the beginning of the fall 2020 semester, faculty and staff working onsite will no longer require mandatory designations.


Updated leave provisions effective 8/12/2020
How to return to work safely
Supervisor Guide for Managing during the Coronavirus Pandemic

I understand there are special leave provisions in response to the covid-19 event. What are they?

Effective June 1, the following leave provisions will apply: 

  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. 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  
    3. is experiencing COVID-19 symptoms and is seeking a medical diagnosis.*The University will supplement the EPSL leave with COVID-19 paid administrative leave so that the employee receives 100% of their pay for all hours that the employee uses EPSL leave if their salary exceeds the capped amount.  
    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.
    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:  
    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:  
    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.
  3. COVID-19 Paid Administrative Leave:  Effective August 1, COVID-19 Paid Administrative Leave (PAL) will only be applicable to the following situations: 
    1. Provided at two-thirds pay for elder care needs due to COVID-19 related elder care facility closings (up to a mzximum of 12 weeks equivalent to FFCRA related child care leave). Once all FFCRA-equivalent leave is exhausted, employees must use their accrued leave or acrued paid time off for hours not worked.
    2. Once an employee has exhausted all of their FFCRA Emergency Paid Sick Leave, all of their accrued leave, and all of their accrued paid time off (comp time, etc.), employees who cannot work due to the employee being subject to quarantine/isolation order, due to being advised to self-quarantine, or due to experiencing COVID-19 symptoms and awaiting a diagnosis will receive COVID-19 paid administrative leave at 100% of the employee’s pay, cumulative up to 160 hours through December 31, 2020. This is intended to assist an employee in this circumstance with fully completing a mandated or self-imposed quarantine period in the interests of workplace safety.
  4. Other Leave Provisions for Permanent and Temporary Employees
    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. 
    2. 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.  
    3. 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. 

What is the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) and who is eligible?

The federal Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA or Act) was enacted to address the impact of the Coronavirus pandemic on the U.S. Community. The Act provides employees (to include temporary employees) with paid sick leave and/or expanded family and medical leave (FML) for specified reasons related to COVID-19. These provisions are effective May 1, 2020 through December 31, 2020.

Specifically, the Act provides eligible employees the following coverage:

  • Two weeks (up to 80 hours) of paid sick leave at the employee’s regular rate of pay (up to $511 per day and $5,110 total) where the employee is unable to work because the employee is quarantined (pursuant to Federal, State, or local government order or advice of a health care provider), and/or experiencing COVID-19 symptoms and seeking a medical diagnosis; or
  • Two weeks (up to 80 hours) of paid sick leave at two-thirds the employee’s regular rate of pay (up to $200 per day and $2,000 total) because the employee is unable to work because of a bona fide need to care for an individual subject to quarantine (pursuant to Federal, State, or local government order or advice of a health care provider), or to care for a child (under 18 years of age) whose school or child care provider is closed or unavailable for reasons related to COVID-19, and/or the employee is experiencing a substantially similar condition as specified by the Secretary of Health and Human Services, in consultation with the Secretaries of the Treasury and Labor; and
  • Up to an additional 10 weeks of paid expanded family and medical leave at two-thirds the employee’s regular rate of pay (up to $200 per day and $12,000 total) where an employee, who has been employed for at least 30 calendar days, is unable to work due to a bona fide need for leave to care for a child whose school or child care provider is closed or unavailable for reasons related to COVID-19.

Eligible Employees

All employees are eligible for two weeks of paid sick time for specified reasons related to COVID-19. Employees employed for at least 30 days are eligible for up to an additional 10 weeks of paid family leave to care for a child under certain circumstances related to COVID-19.

Notice: Where leave is foreseeable, the employee should provide notice of leave to the appropriate supervisor as is practicable. After the first workday of paid sick time, the university may require employees to follow reasonable notice procedures in order to continue receiving paid sick time. Requests for expanded family and medical leave must be approved by the Office of Human Resources.

Applicability to Other Leave Options

Approved FFCRA paid sick leave or expanded family and medical leave will be utilized prior to other leave being taken. However, other forms of available leave (Sick Leave; Vacation Leave; Compensatory Leave, etc.) may be utilized to supplement FFCRA leave up to 100% of an employee’s base salary.

Additional Information

how long will unc system paid administrative leave be available for employees who need it?

As of August 1, 2020, UNC System COVID-19 Paid Administrative Leave (PAL) will be discontinued for employees who are not expected to report to a University worksite but cannot telework because their position and duties cannot be performed remotely and for child care after exhausting FFCRA leave. UNC PAL was previously available for these situations at one third pay.

what are the current guidelines regarding university sponsored gatherings and meetings?

In accordance with State of North Carolina guidance, any gathering or meeting of more than 10 people Inside and 25 outside is not allowed.

has the state of north carolina created resources for residents?

Yes. NC 2-1-1 is an information and referral service that people can call to obtain free and confidential information on health and human services resources related to COVID-19. You can call 2-1-1 or 888.892.1162 or access the NC 2-1-1 website. You can also text COVIDNC to 898211 to register to receive general information and updates about COVID-19 and North Carolina's response to the rapidly evolving situation. NC 2-1-1 operates 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year and resources are available in most languages.

The Office of State Human Resources has also created a FAQ for state employees.

 

HR Video Resources

Time and Leave Reporting During COVID-19

Return to onsite work

FMLA/FFCRA/Employee Assistance, Employee Resources

Hiring Protocols During COVID-19, Student Employment Transition

Training/Professional Development Opportunities for Remote Workers

 

 
Workplace Health Considerations

Where can I find more information about testing and Contract Tracing

Additional information about testing and contract tracing is available at info.wcu.edu/testing.

Learn more about our community standards, Catamounts Care, at info.wcu.edu/catamountscare

Cleaning and PPE Information

Where can I find more information about COVID-19 Guidance and Protocols?

Human Resources has released new COVID-19 guidance and protocols for employees and supervisors.

Additional information regarding classroom procedures, faculty and academic affairs is available in the ACADEMIC AFFAIRS FAQ 

what if i contract covid-19 through the course of my employment?

If you become sick due to COVID-19 contracted during your work for WCU or due to a workplace exposure, a Workers’ Compensation claim should be submitted with the Campus Risk/Safety Office.

what if i don't want to come back to work because i am afraid of being exposed to covid-19?

WCU must maintain essential services and operations, laboratory research, student services, and public safety, regardless of circumstances. There are certain positions that are required to be on-site to support those services and operations. With that said, we are working with the UNC System on developing detailed guidance for an incremental return to on-site work as public health developments and additional executive orders permit. While we are anxious for faculty and staff to return, we want to ensure that we have the resources in place to help facilitate a safe and effective transition.

The university will strive to ensure CDC guidelines are being followed and to protect employees and the public to the greatest extent possible. Additionally, it is the responsibility of university employees to adhere to federal, state, system, and university guidance and regulations that may be in place at the time. As such, the university expects employees to attend work as scheduled and be fully prepared to work for the entirety of their work period.  Any time away from work should be discussed and approved in advance with your supervisor.

I AM A TEMPORARY EMPLOYEE WHO DOES NOT EARN SICK LEAVE AND I BELIEVE I AM EXHIBITING SYMPTOMS OF COVID-19. I AM AFRAID IF I TAKE TIME OFF FROM WORK THAT I COULD LOSE MY JOB. WHAT SHOULD I DO?

If you think you are developing symptoms associated with COVID-19 and have reason to believe you have been exposed to the virus, you should not report to work. Follow the recommendation of the CDC and call your doctor or public health department, then notify your supervisor that you have taken this step. Effective May 1, 2020, if you are sick due to symptoms of a cold, flu or COVID-19 or are caring for a dependent with such symptoms, you may be eligible for up to 80 hours of paid sick leave for missed work time.

I have an employee who has been notified they are a close contact with someone who has tested positive for COVID-19 and were informed by the individual. What should I do?

The employee should not report to work onsite. Close contacts will need to self-quarantine for a period of 14 days. Employees who are required to self-quarantine should telework if available. Supervisors should notify the appropriate division head and Human Resources whenever an employee has been ordered not to report to work.

The supervisor should consult with Human Resources for additional guidance on the appropriate time to physically return to work. 

what if peers and colleagues express worry and concern about workplace safety?

An employee(s) may learn that someone has symptoms, is being tested or has tested positive – either from their infected colleagues themselves, or through the rumor mill. If there has been a confirmed COVID-19 case in the workplace, supervisors can address this issue and let others know that an unnamed member of the workforce has been diagnosed with COVID-19. They should be told that there is no action they need to take unless they are notified otherwise.

Because employee well-being, privacy, and workplace safety remain priorities at all times, no additional information should be provided. The language below is offered as an example:

"I received a report that a colleague in our unit was diagnosed with COVID-19.  If you don’t receive a notification, there is no further action that needs to be taken on your part. Please continue to monitor yourself closely for symptoms and practice disease prevention behaviors such as hand washing and social distancing. Should you not feel well, please stay home and contact your primary care provider.”

WILL I BE NOTIFIED IF SOMEONE I WORK WITH IS CONFIRMED TO HAVE COVID-19?

Employees known to be exposed to an individual diagnosed with coronavirus will be notified that a case of coronavirus has been confirmed, but the Americans with Disabilities Act protects the identity and medical information of people with communicable diseases.

WHAT RESOURCES ARE AVAILABLE THROUGH OUR STATE HEALTH PLAN?

The State Health Plan is encouraging members to stay informed, calm and prepared about the global coronavirus outbreak or COVID-19. The Plan is coordinating with Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina (Blue Cross NC), its third-party administrator, as well as CVS Caremark, UnitedHealthcare and other vendors, to ensure that Plan members have full and timely access to services involving the detection and treatment of coronavirus.

LEARN MORE ABOUT THE STATE HEALTH PLANS PRECAUTIONS

What Resources are available through ComPsych?

ComPsych has provided the following resources for all employees: 

The spread of the coronavirus COVID-19 has put organizations and employees on alert. This information can help keep employees informed about the coronavirus, as well as offer guidance on how to remain healthy and deal with the emotional impacts of the outbreak. Keep in mind that your GuidanceResources program is available to you and your employees 24 hours a day, seven days a week to assist with virtually any issue.

Coronavirus Webinar

As the COVID-19 virus spreads, it’s normal to feel fear and uncertainty. This course offers tips for coping with uncertainty and regaining control. View the Webinar

Health and Safety Resources

Download this list for links to public health and safety resources from WHO, the CDC and others across the globe. View the PDF

Working Remotely Webinar

In Navigating Your Work From Home Transition Due to the Coronavirus, a ComPsych expert trainer offers tips and answers questions. Watch the Webinar

How Your EAP Can Help

This short video explains how your EAP program can help, particularly during stressful times. Learn how the EAP Program can help

Working Remotely

With more people being asked to work from home, these guides offer tips to managers and employees for adjusting to the change.

Managers

Employees

A Relaxation Break

Offer this interactive experience to employees who are feeling stressed about recent events. Take a Relaxation Break

Financial Resiliency

With financial markets in turmoil and many people facing income disruptions, it's a good time to make sure that personal finances are on a solid footing. Explore the financial handout

Staying Healthy at Work

In uncertain times, staying healthy at work can feel like an uphill battle. These materials offer tips to keep your workforce feeling well. See the handout

Resiliency Resources

Stress and anxiety are normal reactions to current events. These materials explain how to keep those emotions in check. Explore the Resources

GIVEN THE EMERGENCE OF COVID-19 WITHIN SPECIFIC GEOGRAPHICAL AREAS OF THE WORLD, ARE PARTICULAR GROUPS ESPECIALLY AT RISK?

Any person, regardless of race, ethnicity, or national origin, can contract the COVID-19 virus. Western Carolina University is deeply concerned for the health and well-being of all, and, as a community, we are committed to fostering an inclusive and caring environment, even as many of us are worried and stressed by the spread of the coronavirus.

To prevent stigma, bias, or xenophobia against individuals or groups, it is absolutely critical that we equip ourselves with current and accurate information – facts. Commit to speaking up if you hear, see or read misinformation, or witness or experience bias or harassment.


  

  

Workplace Operations Related Questions

what alternate work arrangements are available to faculty and staff who may be considered at higher risk of severe illness from covid-19?

As part of the institutional response to COVID-19, the University is committed to supporting university staff who may be at higher risk (or have a household member at higher risk) of severe illness from COVID-19, which generally includes all individuals over the age of 65 and anyone with an underlying medical condition.  Please review this link for additional information regarding COVID-19 and the risks associated with it.

 Consistent with current University protocols and when requested by an employee considered at high-risk from exposure to COVID-19, the University will provide options for reasonable alternative work arrangements such as telework, alternative work locations, reassignment, or social distancing measures whenever possible.

 Employees who meet high risk criteria (or have a household member who meets these criteria) and for which onsite work could place them further at risk may request assistance through the University’s formal request process (COVID-19 Assistance Request Form).

Questions regarding this process may be directed to Matt Brown (mbrown@email.wcu.edu or 227-3139) or Trisha Ray (trisharay@email.wcu.edu or 227-2522).

Due to covid-19, i am required to work remotely. to facilitate remote work, am i allowed to temporarily utilize university-owned equipment (computers, furniture, etc.) at my remote worksite?

As a general rule, removal of University equipment, furnishings, and similar property from campus is not permitted. However, specific exceptions for legitimate university business may be made when all of the following conditions are met:

  • Relocation is temporary
  • Relocation purpose is for the conduct of University business by a University employee
  • Property, while relocated, will be adequately protected from loss and damage
  • Head of the administrative unit to which the property is assigned must approve the relocation
  • Absence of the property, while relocated, will not hinder normal, on-campus operations

 

Prior to temporarily removing any university property, the Permission to Remove University Assets from Campus form must be completed and signed by the employee and appropriate supervisor/department head.  

Is there any way to improve my internet at home?

The IT News site has an informative article with ideas for improving your access to the internet at home.

WHAT OPTIONS ARE AVAILABLE TO EMPLOYEES SHOULD PUBLIC SCHOOLS AND/OR CHILD CARE FACILITIES IN THE AREA CLOSE or do not provide onsite instruction?

All employees, including temporary and student employees, who cannot work because they have childcare or eldercare needs due to COVID-19 related facility closings may be eligible for FFCRA expanded family medical leave and/or UNC System COVID-19 paid administrative leave for the time they are unavailable.


Information on how to apply for FFCRA child-care related leave may be found here: Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA). Information on eldercare related leave may be found here: Updated COVID-19 Special Faculty and Staff Work and Leave Provisions (August 1, 2020)

I HAVE BEEN QUARANTINED BY A PUBLIC HEALTH OFFICIAL. WHAT LEAVE CAN I USE?

In the event an employee is quarantined by a public health official, they will be eligible to receive up to 80 hours of paid sick leave for the duration of the quarantine period. Written verification from a public health official is required to confirm this status as soon as practicable. 

  

Travel Related Questions

what are the current business-related travel restrictions for university employees?

Until further notice, the following university-sponsored travel is prohibited:

  • All non-essential travel (both within and outside of North Carolina)
  • International travel
  • Travel by air

Limited exceptions for essential travel may be approved by the appropriate Division Head and may only be for the following reasons:

  • Essential out-of-state travel by vehicle (limited to gatherings of 10 or less)
  • Essential in-state travel by vehicle (limited to gatherings of 10 or less)

Will I be reimbursed for travel expenses that I incur when I cancel my travel?

All university-sponsored travel outside of North Carolina has been suspended, as has travel within the state to gatherings of 10 or more people. In addition to faculty and staff, this restriction also applies to university-sponsored travel by students and student organizations.

When you cancel your university-sponsored travel, you will be reimbursed for actual expenses incurred but not refunded. The traveler shall make a good faith effort to obtain a refund for any air travel paid and/or conference fees paid before submitting a reimbursement request to the University. If the University has already reimbursed the traveler in advance of the planned travel, then the traveler shall attempt to recover a refund of airfare and/or conference fees, and shall remit any recover to the University.

For personal travel (both domestic and international), please refer to CDC guidelines and make informed decisions.

If I am stranded on personal travel in an affected location and do not have adequate leave to cover my absence, what should I do?

Maintain contact with your supervisor and the Office of Human Resources and Payroll. You may be eligible for leave without pay or may be advanced leave to be made up within 24 months of the declared State of Emergency.

If I am returning from a location under travel restrictions, whether for work or personal travel, am I allowed to return to work immediately?

Onsite (mandatory) faculty and staff returning from a location under travel restrictions may be required not to return to their workplace for the duration of one incubation period, as defined by public health officials. Maintain contact with your supervisor and the Office of Human Resources and Payroll.

  

      

Questions Related to Supervision

Can my supervisor make a temporary change to my job assignment so that the university can continue to deliver primary (mandatory) functions during a communicable disease outbreak?

Yes, your supervisor has the right to temporarily reassign employees to work outside their usual responsibilities to the extent they are qualified and can safely perform the work. While this situation may not be ideal – both for employees and their home units – it is important that we are all willing to adjust our “normal” work in the event of an emergency.

Reassignment may include deploying employees with certain necessary skill sets outside their colleges/divisions. Depending on the circumstances, the University will notify employees who are designated as performing essential functions, as well as when and where they should report to work.

Can my supervisor make a temporary change to my assigned shift and/or assigned work schedule during a communicable disease outbreak?

Yes. Your supervisor may temporarily adjust employees’ work schedules to meet operational demands, based on business needs and circumstances, so that Western Carolina University can appropriately respond to the situation. These adjustments may be made on a case-by-case basis depending upon operational considerations. Your supervisor should work closely with you to discuss any changes to your assigned shift and/or work schedule and any questions or concerns you may have with the changes.

can the university require an employee to work elsewhere than their primary duty station?

Pursuant to federal law that employers provide a workplace free from recognized hazards causing or likely to cause death or serious physical harm, the supervisor, in consultation with the Office of Human Resources & Payroll, may temporarily assign an employee to an alternate work site.

Effective March 18, 2020, only employees designated as mandatory should report to work onsite. non-mandatory employees, including temporary, non-work study, and work study employees, must move to teleworking, wherever feasible, with the approval of their supervisor. Non-mandatory employees whose positions cannot be performed remotely should not report to their physical on-campus work space and will be allowed paid administrative leave.

is it possible that mandatory employees will be expected to remain at their workstation around the clock?

Yes. In the event of a public health emergency that requires mandatory employees to remain at their location 24/7, the state will provide meals and overnight accommodations.

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