Employee guidance for remote work and more during COVID-19

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On March 12, Gov. Brian Kemp’s office issued guidance regarding State Workforce Readiness for COVID-19 to reduce the number of employees on-site at any one time. The guidance is for state agencies to take immediate action to implement telework options for staff who can work remotely without interruption to their duties. For those employees who are not able to telework, the guidance advises agencies to increase work schedule flexibility.

As a reminder, health system employees are considered essential and should report to work as normal. We will continue to assess the latest guidance from local and state agencies and make additional recommendations where appropriate.

For university employees:

VPs, deans, directors and department chairs should assess the following guidance for remote work, scheduling, travel and leave.

Telework – Telework options should be allowed for employees who can conduct their job duties remotely without interruption. VPs, deans, directors and department chairs are authorized to determine which employees under their supervision are in roles where telework is an option. Please make such a designation and immediately begin to allow telework for those employees. A record should be kept of which employees have been authorized for telework. Leaders should keep their EVP aware of scheduling and telework in their respective colleges and departments.

Flexible scheduling – VPs, deans, directors and department chairs are authorized to provide flexible schedules that will reduce the number of employees physically on campus to the minimal level required at any given time to sustain service, safety and compliance. Flexible schedules should span normal service hours of the university and may also be extended to support social distancing. Please keep a record of changes to employee schedules.

Virtual meetings/gatherings – Transition required in-person meetings to an electronic format or reschedule for a later date.

Suspend non-essential travel – This includes travel to conferences (particularly those held out-of-state), training, site visits and any non-essential activities. VPs, deans, directors and department chairs are expected to review any travel plans for their employees to determine what is essential. 

Leave – Institutions should allow for flexible utilization of leave for employees who are subject to high-risk of illness or exposure to COVID-19 or who may be caring for an ill member of their household.

All available leave will be allowed for COVID-19 illness or to minimize exposure for those that are high-risk and unable to telework.

At the point that all accumulated leave has been exhausted, university employees may have access to the institutional shared sick leave pool, if enrolled, and should follow the normal process under the policy to request leave under this program. If the institution’s pool becomes depleted, a special enrollment period may be initiated to accept additional program participants and leave donations.

Employees who exhaust their paid leave options will be able to request “authorized leave without pay” to take care of themselves and our community without negatively impacting their continued participation in their USG insurance plan. FMLA leave will be available to eligible employees who contract COVID-19 or are caring for a qualified family member that has contracted COVID-19. 

Finally, please ensure your employees know it is imperative they stay home if they are or a member of their household is ill.

For health system employees:

VPs, AVPs and directors should assess the following guidance for travel and leave.

Suspend non-essential travel – This includes travel to conferences (particularly those held out-of-state), training, site visits and any non-essential activities. VPs, AVPs and directors are expected to review any travel plans for their employees to determine what is essential. Patient care will normally be considered essential.

Virtual meetings/gatherings – Transition required in-person meetings to an electronic format or reschedule for a later date.

Leave – Institutions should allow for flexible utilization of leave for employees who are subject to high-risk of illness or exposure to COVID-19 or who may be caring for an ill member of their household.

Augusta University Health System employees may have access to Paid Time Off (PTO), Extended Medical Leave Bank (EMLB) and the Employee Care program.  All health system employees should follow the normal process to request leave.

Employees who exhaust their paid leave options will be able to request “authorized leave without pay” to take care of themselves and our community without negatively impacting their continued participation in their insurance plan. FMLA leave will be available to eligible employees who contract COVID-19 or are caring for a qualified family member that has contracted COVID-19. 

We encourage you to be flexible and adapt to your circumstances while working toward the governor’s goal. Please direct questions to Human Resources at 706-721-9365 or via email at WeAreHR@augusta.edu.

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