The following email was sent to all staff and faculty on Friday, March 13, 2020
Lehigh’s faculty and staff are central to our educational mission. Your continued efforts will provide comfort to our students who must remain on campus. It will also ensure that all of our students are well-served and the vital operations of the university continue uninterrupted.
Because the well-being and safety of our entire Lehigh community is the highest priority during this challenging time, we want to provide additional COVID-19 guidance specifically for staff. This guidance is in addition to the information shared to all Lehigh students, faculty and staff and is not intended to replace any University-wide actions currently in place.
We hope this information will help you make important decisions about the health of you and your loved ones. As always, if you have any questions or concerns, speak with your supervisor.
University leadership have elected to take the following actions specifically with regard to leave related to illness (for self or family). These practices and exceptions will be in place effective immediately and continue through June 30, 2020. They will be regularly reviewed and assessed and may end at any time the university deems the crisis has passed, or be edited and extended as needed.
Staff will be allotted an additional ten (10) days of sick leave if they exhaust their current available sick leave bank due to extended illness
Staff may also use their sick leave bank and the ten additional days in order to care for a sick family member who lives in the employee’s home;
A doctor’s note will not be required to use sick leave or return to work; however, you must complete this self-disclosure/certification form in order to track sick leave usage and arrangements.
Remember: The goal of Lehigh’s COVID-19 response is to reduce spread of the virus. If you are sick, stay home. If you are caring for someone in your home who is potentially contagious - stay home. Please do not bring children - sick or well - to your workplace. While the WHO and CDC have indicated children do not suffer the effects of the virus, they can transmit the virus to others. Consult with your personal physician about your individual health decisions. Managers who observe employees exhibiting symptoms of illness may send those employees home to ensure they care for themselves and avoid exposing other employees to illness.
Requests to Work From Home
There may be scenarios where temporary work from home may become necessary, such as situations where school districts have closed and parents must be home during that period. If an employee is not ill but chooses to stay home and not work, they must use vacation leave.
In all cases where an employee is permitted to work from home, their manager is responsible for making sure all equipment and security is in place for distance work. LTS has created a resource for maintaining productivity while working remotely.
If an employee is not quarantined, but is fearful because of an underlying medical condition, such as a compromised immune system, heart disease or other chronic condition that may make them more vulnerable to COVID-19, the University may treat their request to work from home as an accommodation request under the Americans with Disabilities Act. Managers will permit the employee to work from home temporarily while the ADA accommodation paperwork and process is being completed.
University Continuity in Case of Emergency Shut Down
The university expects to remain open and to continue operating. As we monitor and assess the threat of the COVID-19 pandemic, if it becomes necessary to shut down the University for an extended period, please keep in mind the following guidance.
Managers are being instructed to develop an Emergency Staffing Succession Plan that identifies roles/people and their back-ups who are required to maintain critical university functions in the event of an extended closure. Some staff members may be designated as Temporary Essential Personnel in this event, a designation that may or may not match what an employee is usually considered under regular circumstances.
Should such a shut down be necessary:
- All staff will continue to receive their regular paycheck.
- Managers will follow the Emergency Staffing Succession Plan for their unit.
- Staff designated Essential Personnel or Temporary Essential Personnel will not receive additional pay but may qualify for compensatory time off.
- Staff designated Essential Personnel during normal operations might not be required to report to work, and should check with their supervisor. Such staff members who are not required to report to work will be considered Non-Essential Personnel for the purposes of pay options during the shut down period. If they are required to report to work, they will receive the normal pay options for Essential Personnel during an emergency.
- Functions performed by exempt staff but not identified in the unit’s Emergency Staffing Succession Plan as “critical” may be requested but will not be required.
- Staff not identified as “Temporary Essential Personnel” may be requested to work but will not be required. They will still receive a regular paycheck for the duration of the closure if they choose not to work.
For accurate and up-to-date University-wide information regarding Lehigh’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic, check the COVID-19 Update page daily and continue to monitor your Lehigh email for messages.
Associate Vice President, Human Resources