Covid-19

USG issues non-closure emergency leave policy

Augusta University has used a number of tools to manage our workforce and to help us continue our important work while being mindful of the health and safety of our students, patients, employees and our larger community. These options include:

  • Telework
  • Flextime
  • Reassignment to other critical duties
  • Family Medical and Leave Act (FMLA)
  • Sick Leave/Annual Leave

However, despite our most creative efforts, not every position lends itself to telework or flexible work arrangements.

On Friday, March 20, the Department of Administrative Services (DOAS) issued guidance to state agencies, and, in response, the University System of Georgia has adapted its Policy on Inclement Weather to allow presidents to permit Non-Closure Emergency Leave with pay for regular full- and part-time employees who are not essential, and cannot telework or benefit from flexible scheduling.

Key provisions of the policy are:
  1. Non-Closure Emergency Leave with pay, which will allow regular employees (full- and part-time), who are not eligible to telework or don’t have adequate opportunity for flexible schedules, to be compensated for hours not worked up to the equivalent of their regularly scheduled hours per week when there is not work for those employees to perform. 
  2. Eligible employees include regular full- and part-time employees of AU (both exempt and non-exempt). This includes regular part-time employees who are not eligible for benefits. 
  3. All other employees such as temporary, student employees and rehired retirees are still permitted to telework or use flexible scheduling but are not eligible for the Non-Closure Emergency Leave. 
  4. This leave status is temporary and not to exceed 120 days; for AU, President Brooks A. Keel, PhD, is currently authorizing this for not more than four weeks, beginning Monday, March 30, with the option to extend if necessary.
  5. Eligibility for this leave with pay can be on a part-time basis. For example, a college may have reduced operations, which leave staff positions without work that can be done via teleworking or flextime; however, the college can create a rotating schedule that allows each employee to work a partial schedule of 20 hours per week. For a full-time employee, the remaining 20 hours (up to 40 in a work week) could then be counted as Non-Closure Emergency Leave with pay.

As we consider this new leave option, Keel has asked each executive vice president to work with their vice presidents, deans, and Human Resources to determine which positions under their supervision may warrant consideration for this leave within the policy terms provided by the USG. The following decision matrix may help you work through whether a particular position should be eligible for this new leave category:

  1. If the position within your college or division is considered essential to the business operations and/or business continuity, then the employee will be expected to work their regular schedule from their onsite location. In some cases, an essential employee may be able to work from home. Supervisor approval is required.
  2. If the position within your college or division includes duties and responsibilities that can reasonably be performed from an employee’s home with little to no disruption to service, then the position should be assigned to telework, and the employee should be expected to work his or her normal hours from his or her home, unless approved to take leave.
  3. If the position within your college or division includes duties that cannot reasonably be performed from the employee’s home location, but hours of work can be adjusted to support social distancing and to reduce the number of employees onsite at an office or work location at any given time, then flextime should be arranged. 
  4. If the position within your college or division can take advantage of both telework and flextime, then both options should be applied.
  5. If the position within your college or division cannot take advantage of telework or flextime, then the Non-Closure Emergency Leave may be evaluated and potentially applied. 
  6. If Non-Closure Emergency Leave is identified, then each vice president and dean must submit their list to their respective EVP and Human Resources for review and approval.

Each EVP is expected to designate positions in their area that are eligible for this leave option and to submit this list to Human Resources by Friday, March 27. This list should be added to your existing department plans for telework and flexible schedules.  

The USG is in the process of creating a leave code for use in the OneUSG Connect System to track this leave where it has been authorized. Once we have the list, the new leave option will be available in the system.

Thank you for your commitment and dedication to our students and our patients during these unprecedented times. For more information, email or call 706-721-9365.

For the latest updates, see our dedicated COVID-19 resources page.

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