- Preventing the Spread of Illness and Taking Care of Yourself
How do I prevent the spread of illness?
There are no vaccines or preventive medicines for the novel coronavirus at present. The virus seems to spread in similar ways as the seasonal flu – by airborne droplets and by being picked up from surfaces or someone else's hands and being introduced into your eyes, nose or mouth inadvertently during daily activities. Communities inside and outside the United States are experiencing community spread of this virus. The best way to prevent infection is to not go near someone who is sick with the disease and practice good protective measures. If you are in areas with active disease outbreaks, the best measures are to stay at least six feet away from others, avoid close contact such as shaking hands and practice frequent hand hygiene with soap and water when possible. If it is not available, you may use a hand sanitizing agent with at least 60% alcohol content.
Frequently cleaning your hands and being very careful not to touch your eyes, nose or mouth without clean hands, as well as social distancing of 6 feet or more, are the best prevention if you are in an outbreak area. Common surgical masks are probably modestly effective for a short period of time but are not a reliable method for preventing infection; they should be used if you must go out in public and are experiencing symptoms. Using a face cover may be helpful in keeping your own respiratory droplets contained if you are out in the public and may help to prevent you from inoculation of other's respiratory particles into your system.
For additional Coronavirus information, please visit https://blog.utc.edu/coronavirus/faq/
What resources are available to assist employees with taking care of themselves?
We understand that members of the UTC community may be experiencing heightened levels of anxiety during this time. We encourage employees who feel anxious or worried about friends and family because of the coronavirus to contact our Employee Assistance Program, or EAP, who is available to help. Simply call 855.437.3486 or go to https://www.here4tn.com/.
Additional resources, including (a) Your State Medical Insurance and COVID-19; (b) How to Use Telehealth; (c) Mail Order Pharmacy Benefits; and (d) Mental Health and Emotional Well Being (EAP) option, are available at the following link: https://www.tn.gov/content/dam/tn/finance/fa-benefits/documents/coronavirus_public_info.pdf
- Reporting COVID-19 Illness or Travel
How do I report COVID-19-related absences?
If a UTC student or employee reports:
- having been asked to self-observe, self-monitor, or actively monitor symptoms compatible with COVID-19;
- having been in close contact with someone who has symptoms consistent with or a diagnosis of COVID-19; or
- having had direct contact with someone who has symptoms consistent with or a diagnosis of COVID-19;
- having symptoms compatible with COVID-19,
- then students should officially notify the university by submitting the online COVID-19 Absence/Travel Form. Upon notification, Student Affairs will collaborate with University Health Services and UTC Emergency Services to determine appropriate next steps.
- then employees should officially notify the university of the COVID-19-related absence by informing their immediate supervisor of the need for leave in accordance with departmental communication expectations. The supervisor of the employee should then notify their next level of administration and submit a formal notification to the UTC Office of Human Resources via the online COVID-19 Absence/Travel Form. Upon notification, Human Resources will make contact with the supervisor to confirm appropriate next steps and notify UTC Emergency Services of confirmed COVID-19 diagnoses or suspected case/exposure when applicable.
As a general rule, employees should not report to campus while they are ill. According to CDC guidelines, individuals who are diagnosed with, are suspected to have been exposed to, or having symptoms consistent with the COVID-19 virus should follow steps to self-quarantine. Recommendations regarding effective self-quarantine practices can be found at https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/about/steps-when-sick.html.
If an individual is unsure if their situation or symptoms may necessitate self-quarantine, then they are encouraged to phone the Chattanooga-Hamilton County Health Department COVID-19 hotline at (423) 209-8383 or their personal health care provider to seek guidance.
What are the international and domestic work-related travel restrictions?
In addition to prior restrictions on international travel, UTC is suspending indefinitely all non-essential, domestic, University-related business travel for faculty and staff. Such travel might include conferences, research, recruiting, and other business-related travel. We highly recommend using Zoom and other technology-based group communications platforms. If an employee wishes to continue with planned domestic business travel, they must seek an exception through their appropriate Vice Chancellor. The campus Chief Business Officer, Dr. Richard Brown, and Assistant Vice Chancellor for Emergency Services, Robie Robinson, will review and evaluate all exception requests.
Faculty or staff who have traveled within the past 14 days or plan to do so in the near future to an area with on-going community transmission that is not your current permanent residence must follow the steps for reporting such travel outlined below. Please review the area which you may have travelled or plan to travel at https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/travelers/map-and-travel-notices.html#travel-1. Travel alerts should include any location on a cruise ship. Steps for reporting are as follows:
- The employee shall "self-report" the travel and location to their immediate supervisor prior to the event for upcoming travel plans, or prior to returning to the campus and remain in a "Self-Quarantine" status until further notification.
- The supervisor should notify Human Resources of the travel notice via the online COVID-19 Absence/Travel Form.
- Human Resources, University Health Services, and UTC Emergency Services shall review the matter and advise accordingly, which may include requiring the employee to complete a 2-week self-quarantine period. The employee shall be on paid administrative leave status during any 2-week self-quarantine/isolation period required by the university, upon review and recommendation by Human resources.
Please contact Laure Pou with the UTC Office of Human Resources if you have any questions regarding instructions for notifying the university of employee-related COVID-19 matters at this time
- Work from Home Arrangements
On March 17, 2020, UTC approved the immediate implementation of Work from Home arrangements for the maximum number of employees on campus to the extent feasible. In addition, on April 2, 2020, Mayor Berke issued a Shelter in Place order for the City of Chattanooga, via Executive Order 2020-06, to take effect on April 4, 2020. It is hoped that these efforts will meet the growing needs of our employee population burdened by the ongoing COVID-19 virus events and slow the spread of the virus within our community by maximizing social distancing practices.
UTC established Work from Home Guidelines to provide standards for regular, temporary or student employees in an active pay status seeking a Work from Home arrangement voluntarily or when required by the University.
What is a Work from Home Arrangement?
Work from Home arrangements provide employees the opportunity to work at a place other than their regularly assigned on-campus work location, such as their residence or an alternate location approved by administration. Employees who utilize this Work from Home arrangement will be assigned their residence (or alternate approved location) as their official work station for the days they work away from the office. The employee's permanent work station will remain as designated by the University, as employees may be required to report to their on-campus work station location as requested by management for meetings, continuity of critical services, etc.
Who is eligible for a Work from Home arrangement?
Before working from home, employees must obtain advance approval from their immediate supervisor, along with the review and approval of the Vice Chancellor of the administrative division. The option to work from home is at the discretion of administration, and consideration of such should include collaboration with all appropriate levels of administration and the Office of Human Resources.
Employees may make a request for individual consideration of a Work from Home arrangement, or University administration may execute a Work from Home arrangement for employees as part of emergency response procedures. Approval will not be granted where physical presence is required to perform the essential functions of the employee's job, where working from home is not in the University's best interest, or for those identified as essential personnel during administrative closings or other emergency response situations.
Please reference the UTC Work from Home Guidelines and the Work from Home Agreement form for additional information.
- Leave and Pay Procedures
How will I be paid during this time?
Many UTC employees can work remotely and have established Work from Home arrangements. Hours worked remotely should be recorded as typically done when performing work on campus.
Mayor Berke's Shelter in Place order for the City of Chattanooga (Executive Order 2020-06) goes into effect at 12:00am on April 4. Due to this directive, the campus will remain open for continuation of essential services in support of online instruction and other critical business operations with limited personnel on site in most units. Regular employees who are unable to work remotely and are not identified as essential-services personnel with a requirement to report to campus will be paid their regular work hours using the Unscheduled Administrative Closure (UAC) leave code.
Employees who are directed to self-quarantine will be expected to work remotely to the extent possible. Employees who cannot perform work remotely while in quarantine will receive paid administrative leave. If other COVID-19-related circumstances necessitate employees to remain away from work (e.g., child care or eldercare), then they may be eligible for paid administrative leave if they are unable to work remotely. Employees should request consideration of paid administrative leave by informing their immediate supervisor of the need for leave in accordance with departmental communication expectations. Supervisors should contact the Office of Human Resources at [email protected] to review employee eligibility for paid administrative leave on a case-by-case basis.
All paid administrative leave hours should be recorded on employee time sheets as Unscheduled Administrative Closing (UAC). No employee will receive more than his or her regular salary or wages while on paid administrative leave.
What should I do if I need to take care of personal obligations during my Work from Home arrangement?
When an employee needs time away to attend to non-work-related matters, the employee should request sick or annual leave (as appropriate) from their supervisor and then record the appropriate leave on their timesheet. At those times, the employee will not be available to the campus for remote work activities.
How does Family and Medical Leave (FML) work at this time?
UTC's standard process for requesting and obtaining approval for family and medical leave (FML) under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) will continue to be in effect. Employees who require FML during this time should contact [email protected], HR Total Compensation Senior Specialist, to initiate the necessary paperwork.
How does the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA or Act) apply to UTC employees?
Expanded FMLA Coverage
FFCRA provides for expanded FMLA coverage beginning April 1, 2020, to protect employees with COVID-19, employees who are caring for someone with COVID-19, and employees caring for underage children due to COVID-19-related displacement from school. This benefit is only available to employees who are unable to work remotely in an established Work from Home arrangement. Additional information can be viewed at Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA or Act).
Please note that at this time the campus has placed many employees in a work from home status or is providing paid administrative leave when an employee is quarantining and unable to work, so the expanded FMLA coverage provided by the FFCRA may not be a desired option for employees because it allows for only 2/3 of pay in some circumstances, including limitations with overall compensation caps. However, employees can use their own leave balances to receive more than 2/3 pay. At this time, most employees are currently continuing to receive 100% pay but employees who wish to pursue expanded FMLA coverage under the FFCRA during this time should follow our standard campus practice for requesting and obtaining approval FML by contacting [email protected], HR Total Compensation Senior Specialist, to initiate necessary paperwork for applying.
Emergency Sick Leave
FFCRA has provided for 80 hours of emergency sick leave for employees at full rate of pay or 2/3 pay, including limitations with daily and total compensation caps, depending on the qualifying reason for leave. This benefit is available only to employees who are unable to work remotely in an established Work from Home arrangement. Employees who wish to pursue the use of emergency sick leave option during this time should contact [email protected], HR Total Compensation Senior Specialist, to apply. Additional information can be viewed at Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA or Act).
- Essential-Services Personnel
What is an essential-services employee?
Essential services are identified on a case-by-case basis depending on the current operational and service delivery needs of the campus in response to the specific emergency scenario that arises (e.g., inclement weather, administrative closings, reduced services, etc.). In each scenario, essential services are identified as those to be mission-critical to maintaining campus operations and service expectations during the administrative closing or specific emergency response situation, as defined by university administration.
Each division Vice Chancellor must collaborate with their unit administrators to identify essential-services personnel to (1) work on campus, (2) serve in an on-call capacity to return to campus as needed, or (3) maintain a Work from Home arrangement during an administrative closing or emergency response situation to provide continuation of critical services.
The following factors may be considered in determining essential-services personnel:
- Duties are to provide immediate and continued support of essential operations
- Duties are required to be performed on campus
- It would be impractical to convert duties to other positions/personnel for that duty to be performed without interruption
How do I know if I have been identified as essential-services personnel?
Administrators have been instructed to determine essential-services personnel. Employees should be notified if they are identified as essential-services personnel and of their expectations outlined for response during an administrative closing or other emergency response situations.
I have been identified as essential-services personnel. Can I Work from Home?
Essential-services personnel may be denied the opportunity to establish a Work from Home arrangement. However, depending on the nature of the work and business need, essential-services employees may have the ability work remotely. Check with your supervisor for more direction on work from home options.
Can my supervisor schedule me to work hours or shifts that I normally do not work?
Yes, you may be asked to work more hours or different hours than normal, especially if you have been designated as essential-services personnel or university business needs necessitate it. Supervisors should attempt to provide advance notice if possible.
How do I designate a new essential employee?
Each administrator should work with their Vice Chancellor to designate employees as essential-services personnel and submit an updated Identification of Essential-Services Personnel form to the Office of Human Resources for record.
- Hiring and Onboarding
What is mission-critical hiring?
Effective immediately, our campus is moving to mission-critical hiring only for all regular, temporary and student employee positions. Hires in process are suspended and referred to this process for authorization to proceed. Any new faculty or staff hire needs must be approved by the respective division Vice Chancellor before beginning or continuing any recruitment efforts, including conducting Zoom interviews. Administrators submitting justifications for recruiting or filling positions must provide details regarding why the hire is mission-critical. The Office of Human Resources will not post new recruitment advertisements or initiate job offers without written approval from the appropriate division Vice Chancellor.
How will New Employee Intake/Orientation be handled?
In light of COVID-19 and the issued Shelter in Place order, Human Resources will continue to host new employee intake appointments and new employee orientations utilizing online sessions via Zoom.
How should I-9s for approved new hires be completed?
In light of the unique national emergency and Shelter in Place orders being issued across the nation, DHS is allowing employers working remotely to inspect Form I-9, Section 2 documents remotely (e.g., over video link, fax, or email) and to inspect and retain copies (rather than originals) of those documents until normal business operations resume. Human Resources will also accept notarized documents. These changes to inspection and retention of I-9-related documents are only applicable during the current Shelter in Place order.
- Student and Temporary Employees
How will the Work from Home arrangements impact existing student and temporary employees?
We encourage departments to maximize remote work opportunities to student and temporary employees to the extent feasible. If a department is not able to identify remote work opportunities, then they may contact Human Resources at [email protected] to discuss remote opportunities within other departments on campus to which students and temporary employees may be temporarily reassigned if feasible.