Updated on November 12, 2020
In consultation with the Office of State Human Resources (OSHR), the UNC System has provided updated work and leave provisions effective August 1, 2020 until revised or rescinded. Please visit the Human Resources website for details on these updates.
In these FAQs, the term “mandatory employees” are those employees who have been directed by their supervisor to report to work onsite (not from home) at specific dates and times during the current pandemic emergency. The university is still open and all other employees will be working remotely unless they are using approved leave (personal leave or paid administrative leave).
UNC Asheville made the decision to support the well-being and livelihood of our student and temporary employees; both types of employees will have access to the paid administrative leave.
When can an employee use paid administrative leave?
The UNC System Office provides for COVID-19 paid administrative leave in specific circumstances. The coverage and terms of the COVID-19 paid administrative leave have continued to evolve since March, so we encourage employees to check back for updates and to read the provided details carefully. The following provisions are effective Aug. 1, 2020 until revised or rescinded.
COVID-19 Paid Administrative Leave is available for permanent employees only in the following circumstances:
- For elder care needs due to COVID-19-related elder care facility closings. COVID-19 paid administrative leave is available at two-thirds of the employee’s pay for the period of scheduled time they are unavailable due to providing elder care. This leave is equivalent to the same compensation rules and eligibility requirements applied to FFCRA for childcare. This also means that the maximum elder care benefit for an employee is 12 weeks (or fewer, depending on the employee’s FMLA eligibility). Once all FFCRA-equivalent leave is exhausted, employees must use their accrued leave or accrued paid time off for hours not worked.
- If an employee is eligible for the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) leave benefits and they have exceeded the FFCRA daily rate caps, paid administrative leave will be provided to bring the employee to 2/3 pay for all hours of FFCRA leave an employee is using. Eligible employees are responsible for further supplementing the difference between their normal pay and what is covered by the combination FFCRA and paid administrative leave by using their own accrued leave.
- If an employee is unable to work for absences due to reasons outlined in the FFCRA to qualify for Emergency Paid Sick Leave because they are subject to a quarantine/isolation order, advised by a medical provider to self-quarantine, or experiencing COVID-19 symptoms and the employee has exhausted their FFCRA leave benefits, accrued leave, and accrued paid time off (comp time, etc.). In those limited circumstances, employees who have exhausted all accrued leave will receive COVID-19 paid administrative leave at 100% of their pay, cumulative up to 160 hours through Dec. 31, 2020. Exception: Effective November 1, after an employee has used the FFCRA emergency paid sick leave, they can use up to 80 of the 160 hours of COVID-19 Paid Administrative Leave prior to using any personal leave if they need to be out of work for any of the following reasons:
- An employee is subject to a local quarantine or isolation order,
- A healthcare provider has recommended an employee to self-quarantine, or
- An employee is experiencing COVID-19 symptoms and is seeking a diagnosis.
Visit the Human Resources website for updates on the latest COVID-related leave provisions.
I am having symptoms that may be consistent with the coronavirus. What should I do?
Employees should contact their health care providers for guidance. If employees are showing COVID-19-related symptoms, then they should stay home following usual procedures for notifying their supervisor. If an employee is feeling well enough to work, they may also arrange with their supervisor to work remotely.
I have been quarantined by a public health official. What leave can I use?
Employees who are quarantined may be eligible for Emergency Paid Sick Leave (EPSL) under FFCRA, paid administrative leave or a combination of the two. Please review the current leave and pay provisions for further information about COVID-19 related leave.
The Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) was created to assist employees who have work available but who are unable to work or telework due to certain COVID-19 qualifying events. The FFCRA provides eligible employees with two types of paid leave: Emergency Paid Sick Leave (EPSL) and Expanded Family Medical Leave (EFML). These new benefits are effective May 1, 2020 through Dec. 31, 2020.
Eligible employees may receive paid leave under FFCRA for the following qualifying reasons:
- The employee is subject to a government-ordered quarantine or isolation order related to COVID-19.
- The employee has been advised by a health care provider to self-quarantine due to concerns related to COVID-19.
- The employee is experiencing COVID-19 symptoms and is seeking medical diagnosis.
- The employee is caring for an individual who is subject to a government-ordered quarantine or a health care provider’s recommendation to self-quarantine.
- The employee is caring for a child whose school or place of care has been closed due to COVID-19, or the child’s regular childcare provider is unavailable due to COVID-19.
- The “employee is experiencing any other substantially similar condition specified by the Secretary of Health and Human Services in consultation with the Secretary of the Treasury and the Secretary of Labor.”
For more information on the FFCRA leave provisions, please visit the:
- Families First Coronavirus Response Act Policy
- Families First Coronavirus Response Act Fact Sheet and FAQs
I don’t have much leave to use in the event I become ill but I can’t afford to go without pay. What can I do?
Through December 31, 2020, employees may use accrued sick leave, vacation/bonus leave interchangeably, regardless of the reason for the employee’s absence. Once an employee has exhausted all of their accrued leave and FFCRA emergency paid sick leave, absences due to a quarantine/isolation order, being advised by a medical provider to self-quarantine, or experiencing COVID-19 symptoms and awaiting a diagnosis, the employee is eligible for up to 160 hours of COVID-19 Paid Administrative Leave at 100% of the employee’s pay. Exception: Effective November 1, after an employee has used the FFCRA emergency paid sick leave, they can use up to 80 of these 160 hours of COVID-19 Paid Administrative Leave prior to using any personal leave if they need to be out of work for any of the following reasons:
- An employee is subject to a local quarantine or isolation order,
- A healthcare provider has recommended an employee to self-quarantine, or
- An employee is experiencing COVID-19 symptoms and is seeking a diagnosis.
My job is one where working from home is not possible. Will I get paid?
Employees who are not expected to report to a University worksite but cannot telework because their position and duties cannot be performed remotely, and because reasonable alternate remote work is not feasible or productive, must use their accrued leave or accrued paid time off (compensatory time) for hours not worked.
When can an employee use the pandemic make-up leave provisions?
Employees may be allowed to use up to 80 hours of paid communicable disease “make-up” leave for continuing absences due to child/elder care closings due to COVID-19. Employees must make up this time within 12 months, similar to the make-up provisions in the Adverse Weather and Emergency Events policy, apply accrued personal leave or paid time off to pay back the leave, or take leave without pay.
Who are high-risk individuals?
The Center for Disease Control (CDC) identifies people as “high-risk” for experiencing greater complications if they contract COVID-19. As of August 1, 2020, the following information was provided by the CDC regarding high risk categories.
- As you get older, your risk for severe illness from COVID-19 increases. For example, people in their 50s are at higher risk for severe illness than people in their 40s. Similarly, people in their 60s or 70s are, in general, at higher risk for severe illness than people in their 50s. The greatest risk for severe illness from COVID-19 is among those aged 85 or older.
- People of any age with the following conditions are at increased risk of severe illness from COVID-19:
- Chronic kidney disease
- COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease)
- Immunocompromised state (weakened immune system) from solid organ transplant
- Obesity (body mass index [BMI] of 30 or higher)
- Serious heart conditions, such as heart failure, coronary artery disease, or cardiomyopathies
- Sickle cell disease
- Type 2 diabetes mellitus
People with the following conditions might be at an increased risk for severe illness from COVID-19:
- Asthma (moderate-to-severe)
- Cerebrovascular disease (affects blood vessels and blood supply to the brain)
- Cystic fibrosis
- Hypertension or high blood pressure
- Immunocompromised state (weakened immune system) from blood or bone marrow transplant, immune deficiencies, HIV, use of corticosteroids, or use of other immune weakening medicines
- Neurologic conditions, such as dementia
- Liver disease
- Pulmonary fibrosis (having damaged or scarred lung tissues)
- Thalassemia (a type of blood disorder)
- Type 1 diabetes mellitus
If I need to stay home to avoid risk of exposure for myself or for a high risk family member, and I can’t work remotely, what are my leave options?
Employees who meet high-risk criteria for serious complications if they contract COVID-19 (or have a household member who meets these criteria) may request alternative work arrangements through the University’s formal request process. Alternative work arrangement could include options such as remote work arrangements, flexible work schedules to reduce contact with other people, or a different work space.
- High-Risk Health Special Consideration Request Form
- Medical Certification Form for High Risk Special Consideration
I am not in the high-risk category but I have a medical condition that is impacting my ability to work due to the COVID-19 outbreak. What should I do?
Employees with medical conditions that could be exacerbated by the COVID-19 outbreak should contact Human Resources to request an accommodation. Accommodations may include work from home arrangements, adjustments of work schedules, or adjustments of work locations. Employees will be required to provide medical documentation of their condition and how it may be exacerbated by the COVID-19 outbreak.
I am pregnant and am concerned about exposure if I report to work. What should I do?
Faculty and staff who have not been advised by their supervisor to return to work should continue teleworking until further notice. Only those employees who have been directed by their management to return to work onsite should do so. Employees who are pregnant and have concerns about working onsite should ask their manager for workplace flexibility in light of their pregnancy.
The employee may also contact Jasmine Taylor at firstname.lastname@example.org to request an accommodation. The employee should provide medical documentation of their condition and their doctor’s recommended course of action when requesting an accommodation. The University will work with you to meet your needs, considering the essential functions of your job, information from your healthcare provider, and the most recently available relevant public health guidance.
What about child care issues?
Many county schools, city schools and charter schools have decided on remote learning for the first six to nine weeks. Faculty and staff who need to provide childcare because their school or childcare facility is closed due to COVID-10 may be eligible for up to twelve weeks of expanded Family and Medical Leave under the Families First Coronavirus Relief Act (FFCRA).
Faculty and staff can also talk with their supervisors about available options for a flexible work schedule, teaching online or working remotely. Staff approved to work remotely during the Spring 2021 semester need to complete a Remote Work Agreement.
Please contact Human Resources at email@example.com to learn more about leave options during the pandemic.
My elderly parent’s facility is closed. Can I work from home to care for them?
When the University is open but an employee is required to stay home with a qualifying parent (as defined in the Family Medical Leave Act (“FMLA”) because of the closure of an eldercare facility, the employee may, with approval of their supervisor, be allowed to work at home and/or work a flexible work schedule. An employee working from home should complete a Remote Work Agreement. If the employee is not able to work from home due to the elderly parent’s needs or because their work cannot be performed remotely, the employee may receive COVID-19 paid administrative leave at two-thirds of the employee’s pay for the period of scheduled time they are unable due to providing elder care. This leave is provided equivalent to the same compensation rules and eligibility requirements applied to FFCRA for child care. This also means that the maximum elder care benefit for an employee is 12 weeks (or fewer, depending on the employee’s FMLA eligibility). Once all FFCRA-equivalent leave is exhausted, employees must use their accrued leave or accrued paid time off for hours not worked.
Can I work remotely part of the time and only come to my workplace a couple of days a week?
Faculty and staff who have not been advised by their supervisor to return to work, should complete a Remote Work Agreement and continue teleworking until further notice. Supervisors may determine whether an employee should work their full schedule onsite or work a combination onsite/telework schedule. Employees will need to coordinate with their supervisors to determine the parameters of their teleworking arrangements.
This kind of arrangement may include other onsite physical distancing practices (employees being onsite alternate days, or some in the morning, some in the afternoon, etc.) to reduce close contact among employees or to fulfill mandatory onsite work.
I have a job that would allow me to work remotely, and my supervisor is agreeable to it, but I would prefer to come to work. Do I have to work remotely?
Only those employees who have been directed by their management to return to work onsite should do so. Supervisors may determine whether an employee should work their full schedule onsite, offsite, or work a combination onsite/telework schedule. The supervisor will make the final determination, since decisions for employees working onsite must be coordinated to reduce close contact among employees.
How are we to handle operational and staffing impacts to those employees whose work relies on the physical presence of students and faculty? Will employees without available work be required to use available leave?
Employees who are not designated as COVID-19 Mandatory Employees to work onsite should discuss their options for working offsite with their supervisors. Management may also reassign an individual to complete other work assignments that are not a part of their normal duties and responsibilities. If a supervisor is unable to assign work that can be performed remotely, then the employee may be required to use their accrued leave in accordance with the current COVID-19 leave provisions.
I have an employee who is not feeling well and appears to have symptoms that may be related to the communicable disease outbreak. Can I tell them to stay home?
If an employee is not subject to quarantine by public health authorities, but the employee has symptoms associated with a communicable disease, then the UNC System or constituent institution leadership may direct an employee demonstrating symptoms potentially related to COVID-19 to not report to work. Contact Human Resources for guidance and leave options.
What happens if an employee can’t perform their usual work from a remote location?
Employees who have not been designated as a COVID-19 Mandatory Employee may continue to be assigned work and are expected to telework, if feasible, given the nature of their position and duties. We encourage supervisors to try to find assignments employees can perform remotely and management may also reassign an individual to complete other work assignments that are not a part of their normal duties and responsibilities. If the employee is unable to perform work remotely, then the employee may be required to use their accrued leave in accordance with the current COVID-19 leave and pay provisions.
Employment and New Hires
What is a flexible furlough?
In April 2009, Governor Purdue implemented a flexible furlough for state employees. An amount equivalent to 0.5% of employees’ annual base salary was deducted from employee paychecks, and in return employees received 10 days of flexible time off to be taken by the end of the calendar year.
UNC Chancellors currently have the authority to implement temporary furloughs up to 12 months in duration or of any lesser duration based on budget cuts or interruptions in revenue sources due to COVID-19. At this time, the university does not have the authority to issue a flexible furlough that grants time off in exchange for a one-time salary reduction.
What about new hires?
Effective April 1, all non-essential personnel activity has been temporarily suspended. In order to follow this UNC System requirement and to be fiscally prudent, UNC Asheville continues to pause hiring and non-essential salary actions for the time being. This pause applies to all types of positions at UNC Asheville, including student employees, temporary employees and permanent employees, regardless of funding source. Any exception to this must be vetted through your Senior Staff member prior to being sent to Human Resources.
When will we be hiring adjuncts for the fall?
We are limiting our hiring of adjuncts.
Does Workers’ Compensation protect my employment, as well as potential hospital fees, if I test positive from helping a student with COVID-19?
- If an employee becomes ill and it is determined to be work‐related in accordance with the Workers’ Compensation Act, then the workers’ compensation policy applies. Employees are required to notify their supervisor immediately of any job-related injury or illness. The employee completes an Incident Report, and the supervisor or manager completes the Supervisor’s Incident Investigation Report. The electronic reports are submitted to Environmental Health and Safety (EHS). The State’s third party administrator for Workers’ Compensation, CCMSI, is responsible for determining whether a claim is compensable under workers’ compensation. For more information about the University’s Workers’ Compensation Program, please visit Environmental Health and Safety’s Workers’ Compensation website.
- If the illness is deemed to be due to an off‐the‐job exposure, then other leave provisions such as emergency paid sick leave under the provisions of FFCRA may apply. Family and Medical Leave and other leave policies may also be applicable. Please contact the Benefits team in the Office of Human Resources at firstname.lastname@example.org for assistance.
Who are mandatory employees, what does that mean, and how do I know if I am one?
For the purposes of the COVID-19 event only, the definition of “Mandatory Onsite” employees includes permanent or temporary employees who are directed by their supervisor to work at specific dates and times at a designated University worksite other than their personal residence, and in most circumstances are not eligible for telework options.
Such employees have been deemed essential to work on‐site during the COVID‐19 event and include, but are not limited to, positions that relate to: public health and patient care; public safety; operation of critical infrastructure and facilities; operation and safety of sensitive research labs; supporting the humane care of laboratory research animals; the care of persons or property for whom the University has a duty to continue to serve; and remaining onsite student and instructional support services.
I am a mandatory employee. How will I be paid?
Employees will be paid standard base pay for any time worked, either onsite or remotely. Regular overtime provisions continue to apply. Due to budget considerations, mandatory onsite employees no longer receive special (or additional) compensation for mandatory hours worked onsite.
How will I know if I am designated as a mandatory employee?
Mandatory Employees will be notified by their supervisor that they are required to report to work onsite during the COVID-19 event. If you are not sure, check with your direct supervisor. These designations may be changed by management at any time due to the ongoing operational needs of the University and COVID‐19 developments.
I’m a mandatory employee and my manager informed me I need to report to work during this emergency event. Can I refuse to do so?
Employees are designated as mandatory due to the nature of their essential work for the university and are expected to perform those duties as required. Situations in which a mandatory employee cannot report to work as directed will be reviewed on a case-by-case basis. Failure of a mandatory employee to report for or remain at work may be subject to disciplinary action, up to and including termination of employment.
I am a mandatory employee who is exhibiting COVID-19, cold, or flu-like symptoms. Should I still report to work?
COVID-19 Mandatory Employees may be excused from work if they are quarantined or ill, if they are required to care for a member of the immediate family (as defined in the FMLA) who is quarantined or ill or if they are required to stay home with parents or underage children because of the closure of a day care facility, public school or eldercare facility and may be eligible for Emergency Paid Sick Leave (EPSL). Expanded Family Medical Leave (EFML), paid administrative leave, or a combination thereof, in accordance with the current COVID-19 leave provisions.
I have a mandatory employee who is ill. Should they still report to work?
First, contact HR at hr.unca.edu, and they will coordinate with other campus officials to provide guidance. If an employee is not subject to official quarantine by public health authorities, but the university believes that an employee has symptoms associated with COVID-19, the university may direct that the employee not report to work.
The employee may be eligible for Emergency Paid Sick Leave (EPSL), Expanded Family Medical Leave (EFML), paid administrative leave, or a combination thereof, if they are demonstrating symptoms potentially related to COVID-19 (fever, cough, shortness of breath) in accordance with the current COVID-19 leave guidelines. If the employee feels well enough to work, the supervisor could allow the employee to work remotely full-time or part-time.
I am a manager and I have not designated anyone as a mandatory employee — what should I do?
Your department’s leadership determines what critical operations need to continue in the event of a public health emergency, and also which positions must be staffed to continue those operations.
Management must notify employees of their mandatory personnel designation and the requirement to report for or remain at work. HR must also be notified when an employee is designated as a mandatory employee.
Employees should receive appropriate information and training as needed. If mandatory personnel are required to remain at the worksite for an extended period of time, the University will provide adequate housing and food.
I am a manager and I have primary and secondary mandatory employees designated, but I need more coverage during this emergency event. Can I designate additional employees as mandatory employees?
Yes. Additional employees may also be designated to work if needed due to the length of the emergency, illness of COVID-19 Mandatory Employees, or other needs. In this case, management must follow the same notification procedures: management must notify employees of their COVID-19 Mandatory Employee designation and the requirement to report for or remain at work in emergency situations.
Employees should receive appropriate information and training as needed. If mandatory personnel are required to remain at the worksite for an extended period of time, the University will provide adequate housing and food. Management must notify HR when they designate additional employees as mandatory.
Does the State Health Plan offer telemedicine options for plan members to use, and are those free of charge?
Blue Cross Blue Shield NC will expand and promote access to virtual visits with primary care providers wherever possible. Members who have concerns about whether they have been exposed to COVID-19 should call their primary care provider to determine if telehealth services are available. Virtual visits are covered under the State Health Plan.
Will the State Health Plan charge employees for a COVID-19 test?
The State Health Plan will cover any coronavirus testing requested by a health care provider or public health authority. The Plan is also waiving the copay for in-person and virtual PCP visits to screen for COVID-19. Screening visits will not be subject to your deductible or coinsurance, even if your deductible has not been met.
Can I get early refills on maintenance medications just in case?
Yes. Because North Carolina has declared a State of Emergency, State Health Plan members can request an early refill on 30-day prescriptions for maintenance medications at any in-network pharmacy. Consult with your provider and pharmacy.
Employee Assistance Program
The UNC Asheville Faculty and Staff Assistance Program (FSA) is a confidential service designed to provide employees and their immediate family members with a resource to obtain guidance and assistance.
The Faculty and Staff Assistance Program offered through ComPsych, is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
There are two ways to access these benefits:
1) Call 833-515-0768. You’ll speak to a counseling professional who will listen to your concerns and can guide you to appropriate services.
2) Visit GuidanceResources Online at www.guidanceresources.com and enter our company ID: UNCAEAP.
The Leah Karpen Emergency Loan Program for employees
This fund provides UNC Asheville permanent employees with a low interest alternative to borrow small amounts for emergency situations. The forms are linked in the policy.
State Employees Credit Union (SECU) is a resource for employee loans (including salary advance loans). They have a few loan options for employees – visit their coronavirus message page.
Questions? Please contact Human Resources at 828-251-6605 or email@example.com.