This communication sets forth Gallaudet’s temporary policy on the use of annual leave, sick leave, remote work, and related issues during the current coronavirus pandemic. This policy is in effect from March 12, 2020 until further notice, and is subject to amendment or change at any time in Gallaudet’s sole discretion. Nothing in this policy is intended to restrict employees’ rights to use leave that is provided for in Gallaudet policies or otherwise protected by law. Gallaudet will review all interim policies as conditions change.
A decision may be made to mandate all employees to work remotely if their work allows them to work remotely. If large-scale remote work is implemented, those who will continue to work on campus – because their jobs require it and they are well – will likely be advised to observe certain safety protocols, which could include maintaining physical distance from others of at least six feet. If they have an underlying health condition or concern, they may request a change in job duties, location, hours, etc. by contacting the Office of Equal Opportunity Programs. Please see A&O Policy 1.10 (Reasonable Accommodations) for further details regarding reasonable accommodations. Training will be provided to managers in order to help them understand their responsibilities in managing their team’s performance remotely.
If departments, offices, or operations are closed by Gallaudet or public health authorities due to COVID-19, Gallaudet will make efforts to provide affected non-remote employees with alternate work assignments or an emergency-related paid excused absence. If this occurs, Gallaudet would announce details about the time period such as alternative work assignments or paid excused absence would cover with review and possible modification or extension as conditions change.
When an employee is working remotely, the employee should treat the time as hours worked. If, however, an employee is spending time caring for another, that time should not be considered hours worked and leave should be used. Non-exempt workers authorized to work remotely must track all hours worked consistent with A&O Policy 4.05 (Hours of Work/Flexible Work Arrangements) and A&O Policy 4.06(Overtime and Deductions from Pay). A non-exempt worker should not work overtime without advance approval of his or her supervisor.
Notwithstanding the specific provisions of A&O Policy 4.11 (Annual Leave) and A&O Policy 4.12 (Sick Leave), when required or recommended by public health authorities/guidelines or by health care providers, employees may use paid annual leave or sick leave for self-isolation or quarantine relating to COVID-19 even if they are not sick and even if they would not otherwise be eligible to take such leave.
Employees may continue to use annual and sick leave as specified in the policies, or for any other applicable reason protected by law or policy. Employees may also leave to care for immediate family members and household members who are not ill but need care due to any COVID-19 related closures of schools or daycare centers, for other disruptions in care arrangements, or for any other reasons permitted under A&O Policy 4.11 or A&O Policy 4.12.
Employees with insufficient accrued annual leave or sick leave may use up to 15 days of unearned annual leave (that is, they may accrue negative annual leave balances of up to 15 days) for leave relating to COVID-19 that is permitted by this policy or the applicable policy language.
Employees should follow the regular procedure for submitting leave slips.
Return to work after illness: In general, written medical clearance will only be required for return to work on campus if you have taken leave for an illness. (Gallaudet departments with specific health and safety requirements may have different policies.)
Frequently Asked Questions
For Employees of Gallaudet
1. Will the usual Administration and Operations Manual (A&O) policies remain in effect?
To manage our response to COVID-19, not all of the usual A&O policies may apply. In particular, if the University announces mandatory remote working, the usual policy on telework will be suspended and superseded by any new guidelines the University develops in response to support remote working.
2. As an employee, what do I do if I am experiencing symptoms of COVID-19?
If you are experiencing symptoms described above, you are advised to contact your primary care physician for evaluation.
3. I am feeling ill. Do I use my accrued leave?
Yes, you must use your own accrued annual or sick leave or request leave without pay. Depending upon the nature of your illness and your job responsibilities, you should work with your supervisor to make up the work in the same workweek or to develop an alternative plan for work. Please follow the regular procedures for submitting leave slips.
4. I do not have any sick leave or annual leave. I can’t afford to be on leave without pay. What are my options?
Depending upon the nature of your illness and your job responsibilities, you should work with your supervisor to make up the work in the same workweek or to develop an alternative plan for work. However, if you are unable to make up the hours or work from home, there will be an option to carry a negative annual leave balance for up to 15 days. This is in effect immediately until further notice. Please contact Human Resources for more information.
5. Can I apply for Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) leave if I contract the coronavirus or if I need to provide care to my immediate family members who contracted the coronavirus?
The coronavirus would qualify as a “serious health condition” under the FMLA, allowing an employee to take FMLA leave if the employee contracts the disease or when the employee must provide care to an immediate family member who has contracted the disease.
However, FMLA should be applied for only if the employee expects to not be able to work for an extended period of time as a result of his or her sickness or need to care for an immediate family member. Regardless of whether FMLA leave is used, the employee would still use their accrued leave to ensure continuous pay.
Information on how to apply for FMLA can be found here: https://www.gallaudet.edu/human-resources/benefits/leave/family-and-medical-leave-act.
6. As a supervisor, I have an employee who is ill and has come into work. I am concerned about the potential for exposure to other people. Can I send this employee home?
Yes. Of greatest concern is an employee with a fever greater than 100 degrees Fahrenheit and a cough; this employee should definitely be sent home (with pay). Other symptoms (coughing, sneezing) may also be of concern; the decision to send an employee home who is exhibiting these symptoms is to be made on a case-by-case basis.
In addition, advise employees of the basic preventative measures (practice good hygiene, including frequent hand washing, covering your nose and mouth with your sleeve if you cough or sneeze, and avoiding touching your eyes, nose or mouth with your hands). More tips can be found on the GU Coronavirus website.
7. Do I have to use my own accrued leave if my supervisor sends me home even though I think I am well enough to work?
If your supervisor sends you home due to the nature of your illness, you would not be required to use your accrued leave on the day you were asked to leave. Depending upon the nature of your illness and your job responsibilities, you may be asked to work from home with supervisory approval. If you need to stay home the following day due to illness, then you would need to use your accrued leave.
8. I am not sick, but I do not want to come to work for fear of becoming ill. Is my supervisor required to approve my request to work remotely?
Decisions about requests to work remotely will be made on a case-by-case basis. You may request to take annual leave; however, your supervisor is not required to approve your request, especially if your department is short-staffed. It is important to educate yourself about the virus and its transmission. Visit the GU coronavirus website.
9. I have a medical condition that may put me at a higher risk from complications related to contracting the coronavirus. Can I work from home?
You may request reasonable accommodations through the Office of Equal Opportunity Programs. More information on this process can be found here: https://www.gallaudet.edu/administration-and-finance/administration-and-operations-manual/110-reasonable-accommodation.
10. If there is an outbreak, I am required to work?
In the event of a serious outbreak, we may all be needed to work differently to ensure the university continues to function. You may be asked to work more hours or different hours than normal, especially if you have been designated as an essential employee. Supervisors will make efforts to permit employees to take rest periods and may use their discretion in scheduling additional breaks for employees working additional hours.
For employees who can work remotely, they will be asked to work from home to ensure continuous operations.
11. Who are essential employees?
Essential employees are individuals who still must provide support to the University in the event of an emergency, disaster, or inclement weather. They are still required to report to work regardless or be available on-call to ensure continuous operations. Each division/department is responsible for the final determination as to which of its positions are essential.
12. My position will not allow me to work remotely. What does that mean for me?
Gallaudet intends to provide affected non-remote employees with alternate work assignments or an emergency-related paid excused absence. If this occurs, Gallaudet would announce details about the time period such as alternative work assignments or paid excused absence would cover, with review and possible modification or extension as conditions change.
13. My work can be done remotely but I don’t have access to a working computer/laptop or high-speed Internet. What can I do?
Please discuss this with your supervisor, who may be able to provide some solutions.
14. I am a supervisor and will need guidance on how to manage a remote team. Who can help me?
Human Resources is ready to support you. The department is currently working on developing guidelines. In the meantime, please feel free to send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org if you need assistance.