COVID-19 Telecommuting and Leave
Update May 19, 2020
This is to provide an update on the status of the telecommuting and leave rule relaxation policies Rutgers enacted in March and are set to expire on April 30, 2020. In order to continue to support social distancing, the university will:
- Extend the telecommuting policy rule relaxation policy through June 30, 2020
- Extend leave policy rule relaxation (i.e. COVID-19 Paid Leave) through May 8, 2020
Effective May 9, 2020, provide COVID-19 related leave in concert with the Emergency Family Medical Leave Act (E-FMLA) and Emergency Paid Sick Leave Act (EPSLA) under the Families First Coronavirus Response Act signed into law on March 18, 2020 (https://www.dol.gov/agencies/whd/pandemic/ffcra-employer-paid-leave).
We thank you for your dedication and service as we continue to manage university operations during these unprecedented times.
Telecommuting is a work arrangement in which some or all work is performed from home or other off-site location. In general, regular office hours are worked, however a department head may approve a work schedule outside of regular business hours.
What to Consider
We are encouraging department heads to be flexible in allowing telecommuting arrangements where feasible. A department head’s decision as to whether a telecommuting arrangement is feasible will depend on:
- The employee’s job responsibilities – if certain tasks and assignments can be performed at home or must be performed in person or on site;
- Availability of necessary equipment and materials to perform work;
- The home environment – if it is one in which the employee can work productively and safely; and/or,
- Other factors as the university may deem appropriate.
When telecommuting, employees are still obligated to comply with all university rules, policies, and procedures (as they may be modified by the university) to the extent they are deemed necessary and/or appropriate.
Once a determination is made that a telecommuting arrangement is feasible, supervisors should determine:
- The job duties that will be performed during telecommuting hours;
- The expected work schedule and work hours including availability for calls, if needed;
- How communications will be maintained;
- How safety and security of sensitive data will be maintained; and
- Timekeeping expectations for non-exempt employees.
How to Formalize COVID-19 Telecommuting Arrangements
Supervisors should complete a COVID-19 Telecommuting Plan and Acknowledgement Form, https://discover-uhr.rutgers.edu/docs/covid-19-telecommuting-plan-acknowledgment, for each employee for whom a telecommuting arrangement has been approved. A copy of the completed form should be sent to Ryan Kelly at firstname.lastname@example.org for Legacy Rutgers units and Miluska Rivera at email@example.com for RBHS units.
For further information regarding COVID-19 Telecommuting, please visit the Online Guidance for COVID-19 Telecommuting at https://discover-uhr.rutgers.edu/covid-19-telecommuting/home.
Transitioning COVID-19 Paid Leave to E-FMLA and EPSLA
The following is the guidance explaining how COVID-19 leaves will be managed as we transition from Rutgers COVID-19 Paid Leave (CPL), which will end on May 8, 2020, to the Emergency Family and Medical Leave Expansion Act (“E-FMLA”) and Emergency Paid Sick Leave Act (“EPSLA”) provisions of the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (“FFCRA”). These new processes and guidelines will be effective May 9, 2020 through December 31, 2020. We continue to urge all supervisors to use their discretion in working with employees to allow for flexible telecommuting workplans, flexible work schedules, and split shift agreements to the extent possible.
CPL was rolled out to the university community on March 12, 2020, to support social distancing as a way in which to protect our campus community amidst the spread of the coronavirus. To date, nearly 3,000 Rutgers employees have requested paid leave for COVID-19 diagnosis, self-quarantine, the care of a sick family member, or to care for their children as a result of a school or daycare closure, without having to tap into their accrued paid leave time. This was an important measure to support our employees by providing some degree of security in these very uncertain times. However, we are now faced with the massive economic impact brought about by the coronavirus pandemic and have begun to put mitigation strategies in place. While difficult, these strategies will allow Rutgers to responsibly advance its mission, protect the academic and clinical enterprise, while preserving access and affordability.
Effective May 9, 2020, leave taken for reasons permitted by the E-FMLA and/or EPSLA, shall follow the guidelines outlined in the May 1, 2020 communications. Beginning on May 9, 2020, employees may apply for E-FMLA and/or EPSLA through OneSource. In order to facilitate the process, employees wishing to continue a COVID-19 related leave will have until May 22, 2020, to apply for E-FMLA and/or EPSLA without a disruption in leave. All E-FMLA and EPSLA requests that meet the eligibility criteria will be approved subject to submission of appropriate documentation to OneSource. If the necessary documentation is not received, the employee will be required to charge paid leave time in accordance with university policy/corresponding appropriate negotiated labor agreement.
Read the FAQ on E-FMLA and EPSLA to learn more.