COVID-19: Supervisor FAQ

Table of Contents 
  1. General Supervisor Questions
    1. How should units determine which employees are required to report to work on campus while the University is in a modified operational status?
    2. As a supervisor, how should I respond if an employee—who appears healthy and has not disclosed prior health issues—tells me that they would like to work from home because they are worried about contracting COVID-19?
    3. Will the UO Emergency Paid Sick Leave be funded centrally or will units be charged for that leave time?
    4. How is UO emergency sick leave applied?
    5. What do I do if an employee I supervise is diagnosed with or exposed to COVID-19 (coronavirus)?
    6. An employee has asked me if they can work from home because they have an underlying medical condition and they are worried about contracting COVID-19. What is the university’s stance on this request?
    7. Someone I supervise has a cough and looks sick. What should I do?
    8. I am a supervisor, can I ask my employees to tell me if they have medical conditions that could make them more susceptible to COVID-19?
    9. I know that one of my employees has a long-standing medical condition. They haven’t expressed any concern about COVID-19 but I worry that they could be more susceptible. Should I ask them if they are worried? Can I make them work from home?
    10. I am a supervisor, can I encourage/mandate employees to engage in good infection-control practices?
    11. Do all employees need to complete a Flexible Work Agreement form if they have a temporary flexible work arrangement, such as remote work, in place due to COVID-19?
  2. Supervising Student Employees
    1. Are student employees and graduate employees eligible for the UO Emergency Sick Leave program?
    2. Can student employees utilize UO Emergency Sick Leave if they are experiencing decreased work hours due to COVID-19?
    3. Will conducting UO business on a student employee’s personal device open up those devices to public record requests?
    4. What guidance should I give to a student employee working remotely?

General Supervisor Questions

How should units determine which employees are required to report to work on campus while the University is in a modified operational status?

Unit leadership should determine which employees are required to report to work on campus based on the nature of the event that is causing the University to modify its operations. In the case of COVID-19, unit leadership should consider what critical functions must continue to be performed and whether or not those functions can be completed safely and effectively with the employee working remotely. If the critical function can be performed safely and effectively with the employee working remotely, leaders are directed to temporarily implement a remote work schedule. If the critical function cannot be performed safely and effectively with the employee working remotely, unit leadership 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 on social distancing measures, including remote work, can be found on the HR website.

As a supervisor, how should I respond if an employee—who appears healthy and has not disclosed prior health issues—tells me that they would like to work from home because they are worried about contracting COVID-19?

Managers and supervisors are to immediately explore and implement social distancing strategies, which includes considering flexible work arrangements, for all employees. Where possible, supervisors should make every effort to allow employees to remain engaged in work, while also focusing on their team’s ability to maintain operations.

Supervisors are encouraged to be proactive, thoughtful, and creative in considering flexible work arrangements, in light of challenges created by school closures, quarantines, and increased absences for personal illness or to care for dependents.

University leadership is monitoring the matter closely and its position may change depending on how the situation progresses.

Will the UO Emergency Paid Sick Leave be funded centrally or will units be charged for that leave time?

The UO Emergency Paid Sick Leave will be paid centrally. Units will not be charged for that leave time.

How is UO emergency sick leave applied?

Instructions for applying UO emergency sick leave are available on the Payroll website in the Payroll-Related News section.

What do I do if an employee I supervise is diagnosed with or exposed to COVID-19 (coronavirus)?

Contact Employee and Labor Relations at uoelr@uoregon.edu. Guidance for employees who can only perform their work on university property can be found at COVID-19 (Coronavirus) Scenarios and Guidance for University of Oregon Employees.

An employee has asked me if they can work from home because they have an underlying medical condition and they are worried about contracting COVID-19. What is the university’s stance on this request?

Managers and supervisors are to immediately explore and implement social distancing strategies, which includes considering flexible work arrangements, for all employees including those who are recognized by the CDC as vulnerable populations (currently age 60+ and those with underlying health conditions.) 

Supervisors are encouraged to be proactive, thoughtful, and creative in considering flexible work arrangements, in light of challenges created by school closures, quarantines, and increased absences for personal illness or to care for dependents. Where possible, supervisors should make every effort to allow employees to remain engaged in work, while also focusing on their team’s ability to maintain operations.

In addition, if the above approaches do not resolve an employee’s concerns and an employee informs their unit of concerns about being in the workplace because of medical reasons should be referred to engage the formal accommodation process by contacting the ADA Coordinator via email at workplaceADA@uoregon.edu. We also encourage employees to contact their medical provider for any medical advice related to their specific condition.

Someone I supervise has a cough and looks sick. What should I do?

It is important to keep in mind that springtime seasonal allergy season is beginning and cold/flu season is ongoing. Do not assume that symptoms of respiratory issues are positive for COVID-19. As a preliminary step, supervisors should explain to all of their employees that the university encourages sick employees to use their accrued sick time, that we will work with them to try to cover meetings, classes or work that needs to occur in their absence and that, given the current circumstances, it is critical that employees be diligent about avoiding others when they have symptoms.

Faculty and GEs should follow normal protocols for continuing courses if they are going to be absent from work due to an illness, which might include working with their supervisor to find temporary replacements or continuing instruction remotely.

Supervisors should also explain to all of their employees that they should not return to work until they are free of fever (100.4° F [37.8° C] or greater, signs of a fever, and any other symptoms for at least 24 hours, without the use of fever-reducing or other symptom-altering medicines (e.g., cough suppressants). See CDC guidance.

Please refer to COVID-19 (Coronavirus) Scenarios and Guidance for University of Oregon Employees for more information.

I am a supervisor, can I ask my employees to tell me if they have medical conditions that could make them more susceptible to COVID-19?

No.

I know that one of my employees has a long-standing medical condition. They haven’t expressed any concern about COVID-19 but I worry that they could be more susceptible. Should I ask them if they are worried? Can I make them work from home?

No.

I am a supervisor, can I encourage/mandate employees to engage in good infection-control practices?

Yes. Departments are encouraged to promote effective infection control practices, such as regular hand washing, coughing and sneezing etiquette (into the shoulder), and proper tissue usage and disposal. More information can be found in the UO Prevention FAQ.

Do all employees need to complete a Flexible Work Agreement form if they have a temporary flexible work arrangement, such as remote work, in place due to COVID-19?

The Flexible Work policy, procedures, and agreement form are generally intended to be used

for Officers of Administration and Classified Staff. However, Academic and Research units may have specific expectations related to defining and documenting work arrangements, which may include completion of the Flexible Work Agreement form. Academic and Research Faculty are encouraged to work with their department or unit head to identify the appropriate process for their department or unit.

Flexible work arrangements put in place in response to COVID-19 should be documented via the Flexible Work Agreement form or, at a minimum, via an email between an employee and their supervisor, and include language making it clear the arrangement is a temporary measure. Suggested language: “This arrangement is being put in place in response to University and State of Oregon efforts to manage COVID-19 and may be modified or ended as the situation dictates.” Agreements for these purposes do not require Vice President approval (unless a Vice President indicates otherwise).

One easy way to do this is to fill out the form with a default schedule of 8 to 5 for all days, include the recommended COVID-19 language, and a statement that employees should perform their normal duties remotely (including attending regularly scheduled meetings and team check ins).  Supervisors can send this template to all of their remote employees and then ask them to fill in their personal information, sign it and return it to them. (Note that supervisors should also address any requests for schedule changes or comments as they come up during this process). 

For hourly employees, supervisors should include a statement that employees should take meals and rest breaks. For salaried employees, supervisors are encouraged to make it clear that nothing about the agreement changes the general rule that salaried employees have a certain amount of flexibility, as long as they complete their assigned duties. 

Supervising Student Employees

Are student employees and graduate employees eligible for the UO Emergency Sick Leave program?

Yes. All employees, including student employees and graduate employees, are eligible for the UO Emergency Sick Leave program. Visit the HR website to learn more, including information specific to how each employee group can utilize UO Emergency Sick Leave.

Can student employees utilize UO Emergency Sick Leave if they are experiencing decreased work hours due to COVID-19?

Yes. Units are encouraged to do their best to identify remote work opportunities for student employees to keep them engaged in meaningful work, if possible. If it is not possible for the student employee to work remotely, student employees can receive up to two weeks of pay (pro-rated based on their FTE) via the UO Emergency Sick Leave program. Once their UO Emergency Sick Leave has been exhausted, the student employee may use their regular accrued sick leave. Additional information can be found on the UO Emergency Sick Leave webpage.

Will conducting UO business on a student employee’s personal device open up those devices to public record requests?

No, not for student employees. Records generated by or involving student employees are "education records" under FERPA and are exempt from public records disclosure. For more on what documents are subject to the UO document retention practices see Records Management.

What guidance should I give to a student employee working remotely?

When conducting work on a personal computing device, student employees should take steps to prevent unauthorized access, including by ensuring their devices are password protected, installing anti-virus software, locking their screens when not at their computer, and using platforms that require a sign-in and are licensed for University use (e.g., Zoom, Microsoft Teams, or Outlook). Student employees are also encouraged to check Information Service’s Going Remote website for more information, such as a remote work checklist, loaner laptop program, personal device guidance, and low cost and free internet options.

Student employees who are conducting remote work remotely are still subject to meal period and rest break requirements and all other applicable UO policies related to their position, just as they would have to do if they were not working remotely.