COVID-19: Employee FAQ

Table of Contents 
  1. General Employee Questions
    1. What resources are available to help me and my family navigate concerns regarding COVID-19?
    2. I have a job that can only be done on campus and puts me in close contact with others; working remotely is not an option. In light of COVID-19, what steps are being taken to add protections for me and others like me?
    3. I need to be home with my child(ren) while schools/daycares are closed. What options are available to me?
    4. Can I bring my child(ren) to work with me, since schools are closed?
    5. Is there a hiring freeze in place?
  2. Sick Leave Questions
    1. When will the UO emergency sick leave expire?
    2. Can I use sick leave if I am diagnosed with novel coronavirus disease 2019, known as COVID-19, or if I need to care for a diagnosed family member?
    3. How do I use my UO Emergency Paid Sick Leave?
  3. FMLA/OFLA Questions
    1. I am not currently sick but I am concerned about contracting COVID-19. Can I use FMLA to take a leave of absence so that I reduce my potential exposure to the virus?
    2. What is OFLA Sick Child Leave?
    3. Who is eligible for the OFLA Sick Child Leave?
    4. If I have already used all or part of my 12 weeks of FMLA, does the OFLA Sick Child Leave provide me with an additional 12 weeks?
    5. What is the process for requesting the OFLA Sick Child Leave due to school/childcare closures?
    6. Can my employer require documentation for sick child leave?
    7. Can I use the OA or faculty unearned sick leave advance program while on OFLA Sick Child Leave due to school/childcare closures?
    8. Can the OFLA Sick Child Leave be used on an intermittent basis?
    9. My child’s school is moving to online instruction — students are expected to complete assignments at home. Is that “closed”?
    10. My child’s school has moved to a “hybrid” model with some days of online instruction and other day of in school instruction – Can I take OFLA sick child leave on the days my child needs to be home?
    11. If my employer reduces my scheduled work hours, can I use OFLA Sick Child Leave Act for the hours that I am no longer scheduled to work?
    12. What does it mean to be unable to work, including telework for COVID-19 related reasons?
    13. Where can I find additional information about the OFLA Sick Child Leave?
  4. Student Employee Questions
    1. How are student employees impacted by the campus decisions around COVID-19?
    2. Are Student Employees Eligible for Unemployment Benefits?
  5. Benefits Questions
    1. Do I have options for remote access to healthcare through my health insurance plan so I can speak with a medical professional without visiting a medical clinic?
    2. Will Short Term Disability insurance benefits be paid for absences related to COVID-19?

General Employee Questions

What resources are available to help me and my family navigate concerns regarding COVID-19?

UO contracts with Cascade Centers, Inc. to provide a comprehensive Employee Assistance Program (EAP) for benefit-eligible employees and their dependents. The services are provided at no cost to eligible members. Cascade Centers, Inc. recently issued a special announcement regarding COVID-19. Visit the EAP webpage for more information about this program or visit the Cascades Center, Inc. website.

I have a job that can only be done on campus and puts me in close contact with others; working remotely is not an option. In light of COVID-19, what steps are being taken to add protections for me and others like me?

The University has directed supervisors to actively explore and implement social distancing measures, including flexible work arrangements, for all positions, while balancing the need to maintain critical operations. For positions where work activities can be safely and effectively completed by an employee who is working remotely, supervisors have been instructed to utilize this option. We recognize there are critical functions that require employees to remain on campus in order to continue the university's modified schedule of operations. Having employees who can work from home do so is one social distancing measure the university is employing in order to maintain a safe and healthy work environment for employees who must come to campus in order to do their jobs. Supervisors should explore and implement other social distancing measures, such as creating 6 feet of distance in between individuals in the workspace or interacting with others virtually or via phone, rather than in person, as practical for their unit. More information can be found in the UO Prevention FAQ.

I need to be home with my child(ren) while schools/daycares are closed. What options are available to me?

Managers and supervisors have been directed to implement flexible work arrangements, such as remote work and flexible schedules, where operationally feasible. Talk with your supervisor about options that may be available to you. In circumstances where flexible work arrangements are not an option, employees will be able to utilize accrued vacation and sick leave to cover absences related to state-mandated school and place of care closures. In addition, employees may be eligible for expanded Family and Medical Leave if they need to care for dependents due to school or place of care closures.

Can I bring my child(ren) to work with me, since schools are closed?

No. You are not allowed to bring your children to work with you for safety and health concerns related to the spread of COVID-19 and the university’s focus on social distancing. Children of employees and others are also not allowed on the UO campus or in campus buildings during non-working hours.

Managers and supervisors have been directed to implement flexible work arrangements, such as remote work and flexible schedules, where operationally feasible. Talk with your supervisor about options that may be available to you. In circumstances where flexible work arrangements are not an option, employees will be able to utilize accrued vacation and sick leave to cover absences related to state-mandated school and place of care closures. In addition, employees may be eligible for expanded Family and Medical Leave if they need to care for dependents due to school or place of care closures.

Is there a hiring freeze in place?

No. The hiring freeze ended on June 25, 2021.

Sick Leave Questions

When will the UO emergency sick leave expire?

The UO emergency sick leave expired on June 30, 2021 for all employee groups. Emergency sick leave not taken by that date will no longer be available for use.

Can I use sick leave if I am diagnosed with novel coronavirus disease 2019, known as COVID-19, or if I need to care for a diagnosed family member?

All employee groups are eligible to use accrued sick leave for absences related to their own COVID-19 diagnosis, or that of a dependent or family member, based on the appropriate policy or collective bargaining agreement. Sick leave accrual and use policies are based on employee group, with details provided on the Sick Leave webpage. Refer to the employee leave options on the HR website for more information.

How do I use my UO Emergency Paid Sick Leave?

The UO emergency sick leave expired on June 30, 2021 for all employee groups. UO Emergency Paid Sick Leave can be applied for absences on or prior to June 30, 2021 through the usual time reporting process for your unit or department. There is no separate approval process required. Please contact your supervisor or your unit’s or department’s payroll administrator for further assistance and additional guidance.

FMLA/OFLA Questions

I am not currently sick but I am concerned about contracting COVID-19. Can I use FMLA to take a leave of absence so that I reduce my potential exposure to the virus?

No. Under existing guidance from the Department of Labor, leave taken by an employee for the purpose of avoiding exposure would not be protected under the FMLA. However, if you are immunocompromised or otherwise have an existing medical condition that may place you within a vulnerable population susceptible to serious illness then you may request such leave as a request for accommodation. Employees who would like to make such a request should submit an Accommodation Request Form. Such requests are assessed by the ADA Coordinator, or designee, on a case-by-case basis.

What is OFLA Sick Child Leave?

Sick child leave allows employees care for their child who has an illness or injury that is not a “serious health condition” but requires them to stay home. Sick child leave is also available when you need to care for your child because their school or child care provider is closed in connection with a public health emergency like the COVID-19 pandemic.

The law applies to employers with 25 or more employees only. Employees must have been employed for 180 days and work an average 25 hours per week prior to taking sick child leave. Absences for compensable workplace injury or military service do not count against these requirements. Eligibility for sick child leave is also automatically triggered by using 12 weeks of OFLA parental leave or any pregnancy disability leave.

Who is eligible for the OFLA Sick Child Leave?

All employees who have been employed with the University of Oregon for 180 days and have worked an average of 25 hours per week prior to taking sick child leave. The leave can be taken if the employee is unable to work (or work remotely) due to a need to care for their child(ren) when their school or place of care has been closed, or the regular childcare provider is unavailable due to a public health emergency with respect to COVID-19. More information about the OFLA Sick Child Leave can be found on the HR website.

If I have already used all or part of my 12 weeks of FMLA, does the OFLA Sick Child Leave provide me with an additional 12 weeks?

No. This time is included in, not in addition to, the total FMLA/OFLA leave entitlement of 12 weeks in a 12-month period.

For example, if an employee has already taken 6 weeks of FMLA/OFLA leave in a 12-month period, that employee would only be eligible for another 6 weeks of leave under OFLA Sick Child Leave. However, the remaining 6 weeks of FMLA would be available for leave reasons not related to school/childcare closure due to COVID-19.

Additional information about the OFLA Sick Child Leave can be found on the HR website.

What is the process for requesting the OFLA Sick Child Leave due to school/childcare closures?

Instructions for requesting this leave can be found on the HR website.

Can my employer require documentation for sick child leave?

Yes. Although your employer may not require medical verification of the need to take sick child leave because your child’s school or child care provider has closed during the COVID-19 pandemic, you should be prepared to provide:

  • The name of the child being cared for; The name of the school or child care provider that has closed or become unavailable;
  • A statement affirming that no other family member is willing and able to care for the child; and
  • With the care of a child older than 14 during daylight hours, a statement that special circumstances exist requiring the employee to provide care.

Can I use the OA or faculty unearned sick leave advance program while on OFLA Sick Child Leave due to school/childcare closures?

No, you may only use accrued leave balances.

Can the OFLA Sick Child Leave be used on an intermittent basis?

Yes. Employees may take intermittent leave (i.e., leave on nonconsecutive dates) with the advanced approval of their supervisor. An approved schedule shall be submitted to HR along with the OFLA application.

If your supervisor is unable to approve a modified schedule, you are eligible to take the approved OFLA Sick Child Leave on a continuous basis.

For example:
Susan is a 40 hour employee, who generally works 8-5 Monday through Friday. She works her normal hours at normal pay on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. She is approved for intermittent leave to stay home with a child whose school is closed due to COVID-19 precautions on Tuesdays and Thursdays.

My child’s school is moving to online instruction — students are expected to complete assignments at home. Is that “closed”?

Yes. If access to the physical location where your child receives instruction or care is closed to your child on account of COVID-19, the school or childcare provider is “closed” for purposes of OFLA sick child leave. This is true even if instruction is being provided online or whether, through another format such as “distance learning,” your child is still expected or required to complete assignments.

My child’s school has moved to a “hybrid” model with some days of online instruction and other day of in school instruction – Can I take OFLA sick child leave on the days my child needs to be home?

Yes. OFLA sick child leave may be taken intermittently.

If my employer reduces my scheduled work hours, can I use OFLA Sick Child Leave Act for the hours that I am no longer scheduled to work?

No. If your employer reduces your work hours because it does not have work for you to perform, you may not use expanded family and medical leave for the hours that you are no longer scheduled to work. This is because you are not prevented from working those hours due to a COVID-19 qualifying reason, even if your reduction in hours was somehow related to COVID-19.

You are unable to work if your employer has work for you and one of the COVID-19 qualifying reasons set forth in the OFLA Sick Child Leave Act prevents you from being able to perform that work, either under normal circumstances at your normal worksite or by means of telework.

If you and your employer agree that you will work your normal number of hours, but outside of your normally scheduled hours (for instance early in the morning or late at night), then you are able to work and leave is not necessary unless a COVID-19 qualifying reason prevents you from working that schedule.

Where can I find additional information about the OFLA Sick Child Leave?

Additional information is available online at https://secure.sos.state.or.us/oard/displayDivisionRules.action?selectedDivision=3834

Student Employee Questions

How are student employees impacted by the campus decisions around COVID-19?

Units are implementing a variety of social distancing strategies and should include and consider their student employees in this planning. Students who remain on campus should continue to report to work as scheduled unless specifically notified about changes to their individual schedule. Department time off and scheduling processes and procedures remain in effect. Student employees should coordinate with their supervisor regarding schedule and time-off requests.

Are Student Employees Eligible for Unemployment Benefits?

In most cases, the state of Oregon has historically not paid unemployment benefits to full-time students. However, some student employees may qualify for Oregon unemployment insurance benefits. Student employees may always file a claim to see if they qualify for benefits as determined by the Oregon Employment Department.

If a student employee believes that they may have extenuating circumstances or qualify for an exception, we recommend that they contact the Oregon Employment Department. Please note, the state of Oregon has relaxed some rules regarding such benefits due to COVID-19. The new rules allow for payment of benefits in new situations, such as if an employee is forced to quit work or is unable to currently search for work due to certain new qualifying COVID-19-related reasons. The new rules are available here: https://govstatus.egov.com/ORUnemployment_COVID19.

To file for unemployment benefits due to COVID-19, student employees should follow the instructions available at this link: https://govstatus.egov.com/ui-benefits/benefits.

Benefits Questions

Do I have options for remote access to healthcare through my health insurance plan so I can speak with a medical professional without visiting a medical clinic?

Yes, all of the health insurance plans offered to UO employees include alternative resources for care, such as a nurse advice line or virtual care. Visit the website for your health insurance plan to learn more about the available options: Providence PEBB Statewide and Providence Choice, Kaiser Permanente, Moda Synergy.

Employees currently enrolled in the Short Term Disability (STD) insurance program may be eligible for STD benefits depending on the specific facts of the claim and subject to the provisions of the Group Policy. An employee who is placed in quarantine, but does not have a confirmed COVID-19 diagnosis, will not be eligible for STD Benefits. Visit the Disability Insurance webpage for more information about the program and process.