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Temporary University Policy 20.T1: COVID-19 and Temporary Work Arrangements

Covered Individuals: All Employees
Responsible Executive: Vice President for Business and Finance
Policy Custodian: Office of Human Resources, Executive Director of Human Resources
Last Revised: April 15, 2020
Previous USU Policy Number: Temporary
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PURPOSE AND SCOPE

During unexpected or unusual emergency situations such as the COVID-19 pandemic, the health and safety of Utah State University (USU) community members including students, faculty, and staff are a top priority as is the preservation and continuity of USU’s mission and its ongoing operations.

This temporary policy provides a framework for supervisors and employees to design temporary work arrangements that align with USU’s Infectious Disease Plan and provide for continuity of university operations and, wherever possible, employee pay. This framework includes designating Essential Onsite Employees, task reassignments to facilitate telework, supervision of employees working remotely (teleworking), and redirecting employees whose hours or positions are eliminated to vacant positions. This temporary policy applies to all employees regardless of the location of their worksite or the funding source for their position.

POLICY

To reduce the spread of an infectious disease such as COVID-19, USU’s Infectious Disease plan requires various mitigation strategies, including requiring employees who are ill to stay home and increasing social distancing by facilitating remote work options. In more severe circumstances, USU’s Infectious Disease Plan contemplates a campus closure wherein only on-site essential services are performed and all other services are performed remotely or not at all.

From time to time during the COVID-19 Pandemic, and consistent with the University’s Infectious Disease Plan, the President or their delegee, in consultation with the COVID-19 Task Force, may direct employees not to report to their worksite, to limit the time they are present in the workplace, or to make changes to their work arrangements including work locations, schedules and service delivery methods. The President may also direct employees to limit travel and in-person meetings. Additionally, USU may reassign employees to other functions based on operational needs and capacity during these times.

In an effort to continue essential services during such situations, many workers will be able to perform their functions via telework. Others, due to the on-site nature of their role, will be required to continue to work on-site. Supervisors should make the initial assessment of which employees may temporarily work remotely and which employees work can only be performed on-site. All such decisions are subject to the approval of the Vice President or Dean responsible for the unit.

During this time period, supervisors must be flexible and adaptable to temporary work arrangements and employees must cooperate and collaborate with their supervisors to identify innovative solutions to ensure university operations continue.

Under all scenarios, all employees, including supervisors, must follow all federal, state, or local government, and University guidance. Corrective action may be imposed for employees who fail to follow these policies.

Task Reassignment to Facilitate Telework

Supervisors are directed to identify telework responsibilities for employees in their unit to ensure pay continuation and safety (e.g. social distancing) for work performed. For employees who cannot accomplish their work remotely, supervisors are directed to work with employees to come up with creative solutions, where possible, that permit the employee to limit hours on-site and to perform tasks via telework.

Supervisors may reassign job duties to cover staffing needs to ensure essential campus services are provided and that employees can telework. These reassignments may involve work that is not part of the employee’s regular duties and/or be located away from their current workplace. Benefitted employees can continue to be paid their regular salary despite changes to task assignments and/or the inability to perform certain job responsibilities due to restrictions of on-site work, travel, or in-person gatherings or other restrictions due to the extraordinary circumstances presented by the COVID-19 pandemic.

For employees who job duties are reassigned, the following provisions will apply:

  • Employees will be given information and direction about the work they are being asked to perform.
  • Reassignment work will be reasonable and will consider current campus emergency circumstances, university business operation needs, and the employee’s skills and abilities to the best extent practicable under the circumstances.
  • If an employee has concerns with new assigned tasks work, they should discuss it with their supervisor, someone else in their management chain, and/or the Office of Human Resources.

Employees Working Remotely (Teleworking)

For employees working remotely, the following provisions apply:

  • Supervisors will review and determine whether an employee’s work may be performed remotely on a temporary basis by reviewing the employee’s job responsibilities and available resources to perform these responsibilities remotely. To protect the USU community and preserve the continuity of USU operations, supervisors are encouraged to be creative and supportive of assigning and redesigning tasks and responsibilities so they can be completed via telework.
  • When telework is approved, the supervisor will work with the employee to set clear expectations and determine work schedules and communication methods to ensure that department needs are met.
  • Teleworkers are required to set up and maintain an appropriate workspace at the alternative work location that safeguards university information.
  • Employees assigned to telework are expected to maintain regular business hours, unless an exception is approved by their supervisor. Employees must remain responsive to work-related inquiries and requests during designated work hours.
  • Employees approved for telework will continue to receive their standard pay for hours worked. Employees who have been assigned to teleworking, but instead, wish to use their accrued leave time or leave without pay during their absence, must submit a request to their supervisor for approval.

Employees Working On-Site

  • Supervisors will notify employees of their on-site work requirements. Employees are expected to report to work unless they have a qualifying reason to be absent.
    Qualifying reasons for not reporting may include eligibility for the Family and Medical Leave Act (“FMLA”), eligibility for COVID-19 Paid Leave (see USU Policy 20T.2), and/or the Americans with Disabilities Act (“ADA”). Additionally, there may be other qualifying reasons specific to the circumstances that prevent on-site work or which are covered under federal, state, or local government approved leave. When employees cannot report to their workplace, they must notify their supervisor as soon as practicable.
  • Supervisors must implement appropriate and reasonable standards to facilitate social distancing for employees working on-site, including but not limited to:
    • Implementing flexible work hours (e.g., staggered shifts for employees)
    • Increasing physical space between employees at the worksite
    • Increasing physical space between employees and customers (e.g., partitions, contact-less payments, etc.)
    • Implementing flexible meeting and travel options (e.g., postpone non-essential meetings or events)
    • Delivering products through curbside pick-up or delivery
  • Employees who have COVID-19 symptoms (i.e., fever, cough, or shortness of breath) should notify their supervisor and stay home. See USU Policy 20T.2.
  • Sick employees should follow CDC-recommended steps. Employees should not return to work until the criteria to discontinue home isolation are met, in consultation with healthcare providers and state and local health departments.
  • Employees who are well but who have a sick family member at home with COVID-19 should notify their supervisor and follow CDC recommended precautions.

In the event USU issues a campus closure wherein only on-site essential services are performed and all other services are performed remotely or not at all, the following additional provisions apply:

  • Onsite essential employees will be notified by their supervisor which job responsibilities must be performed on-site.
  • On-site essential employees will be provided with credentials. Onsite essential employees must carry these credentials with them whenever they are on their work site during a campus closure and cannot share or provide these credentials to others.

Reduction of Hours

Non-benefitted employees who have their hours reduced or eliminated due to changes in business operations due to COVID-19 are encouraged to go to www.jobs.usu.edu to view available positions. Human Resource is available to assist employees with identifying open positions and alternative employment opportunities within the University.

Term

This is a temporary policy created to address an emergency situation. This policy expires on December 31, 2020.