University of Maine System Workplace Policies and Guidance regarding COVID-19, March 12
To assist University of Maine System employees with workplace policies and procedures connected with the COVID-19 situation, the University of Maine System – Office of Human Resources has prepared a resource guide that contains helpful information on the following topics:
- Well employees
- Sick employees
- Paid sick time
- Return to work
- Returning from travel
- Employees at high risk
- Critical Operations
- Updating contacts
COVID-19 University Info— (207) 581-2681 (COV1): The Info Line is staffed around the clock for general guidance questions and will route campus-specific inquiries to staff at the individual universities.
As the University of Maine System continues to monitor the local, national, and worldwide incidence of the coronavirus and the illness it causes, COVID-19, faculty and staff members are asked to review the following workplace policies and guidance which reflect established UMS approaches to a variety of workplace circumstances and challenges.
Please be advised that certain aspects of this information could change as the situation evolves and more information becomes available.
Questions may be directed to your Employee Benefits Center at 207-973-3373 and/or your campus Human Resources Office.
The University of Maine System’s priorities in maintaining workplace policies in the context of the current public health situation are to:
- Encourage fairness, open communication, and concern for the wellbeing of our faculty, staff, and students.
- Maintain a safe and healthy workplace, including minimizing the transmission of contagious disease such as the COVID-19.
- Sustain the University of Maine System academic mission and operational integrity.
Important Actions to Take to be Safe and Prepared
- All faculty and staff are urged to take basic preventive measures to avoid exposure to or infection from the virus causing COVID-19.
- Updating your emergency contact information.
- Take the steps necessary to setup direct deposit for paycheck processing if you have not already done so. Please visit the campus portal to access Employee Self- Service.
- Should you need assistance with feelings of stress or anxiety or with resources for child care, pet care, etc., you or your family are encouraged to contact the Employee Assistance Program available through Cigna at mycigna.com or 1-800-274-7603.
Well Employees: Faculty and staff who are well are expected at work as usual unless they have been:
- Caring for someone with a confirmed case of COVID-19, in which case they are required to self-isolate.
- In a CDC Level 3 area of concern; Please see UMS Guidance for International Travelers.
- Instructed to refrain from attending work by their campus health services or public health officials.
Sick Employees: Faculty and staff who have symptoms of respiratory illness must stay home and not come to work until they are free of 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). A fever is defined as a temperature of 100.4 degrees Fahrenheit or 38 degrees Celsius taken by an oral thermometer. Those with concerns or questions about their illness or seeking advice about whether to come to work are urged to contact their healthcare provider or utilize the TeleHealth services available through Cigna. Employees may always ask questions of their supervisor or contact their campus Human Resources office.
The University of Maine System remains committed to protecting personal health information. UMS is equally committed to protecting the safety and well-being of our campus communities at large. As we address the challenges presented by COVID-19, UMS encourages open and frequent communications among employees and their supervisors. It is in our collective best interests.
Paid Sick Time: The University of Maine System provides paid sick time, which may also be used for family and dependent care, for all benefits-eligible faculty and staff. Visit the University of Maine System Labor Relations web page and your specific union contract for additional details. Non-Represented employees should visit their employee handbook for additional details. If you are an employee with no sick time, please contact your campus Human Resources office. Remember all sick time should be entered into MaineStreet promptly, or you should follow established guidelines within your department for it to be entered on your behalf.
Information about Family Medical Leave, typically utilized for an absence of two weeks or more if eligibility guidelines are met.
Returning from University of Maine System or Campus Travel to Affected Areas: Please refer to the University of Maine System guidelines for University travel for business and personal travel for guidance and up-to-date recommendations about return from travel to affected areas and other topics. There you will find information on how to self-report and any self- isolation that may be required. Should you be returning from a CDC Level 3 area or be displaying symptoms after travel, the University may require that you not report to work and strongly encourage you to adhere to a quarantine period of up to fourteen days per CDC guidelines. Please consult with your supervisor immediately upon return about avoiding presence at work and possible work-from-home options.
Workers at Higher Risk: Employees who are at increased risk for complications from COVID- 19 are urged to consult their healthcare provider about steps they can take to protect their health.
These may include requesting a temporary change in job location, hours, assignment or duties, or implementation of additional protective measures to reduce exposure to others or chances of becoming infected. Please consult your supervisor to explore your work-from-home options.
Supervisors are encouraged to work with their Human Resources Partners for guidance.
Preparing for Increased Telecommuting/Remote Work: Employees who can work effectively from home by telecommuting should make sure now that they are prepared for that possibility.
Any plans for remote work should be reviewed with your supervisor.
Critical Operations: As a 24/7 university system, UMS rarely closes. Many employees must work on campus to provide services that are essential to residential life, campus health and safety, critical research, the protection of physical and intellectual assets, or the continuity or resumption of academic programs and operations. Additional measures and policies to support these employees are being considered.
If public health conditions worsen, and/or the University of Maine System or any of its campuses are required to institute stronger social distancing measures, for example, by reducing the number of faculty and staff in a work space, some employees may be asked, given the option, or required to telecommute or to continue to work from campus.
Additional Workplace Guidance for Managers
Given the University of Maine System’s interest in maintaining a safe and healthy workplace for all, managers and supervisors (with the support and involvement of local HR Partners as needed), should request employees who are exhibiting symptoms of respiratory illness to go home and stay home until 24 hours after they are free of symptoms. In these instances, paid sick time is available as usual. Please cooperate with managers who are taking on this sometimes uncomfortable responsibility for the wellbeing of all.
In order to not unduly burden the medical system, we will minimize the request for medical documentation for absences from work or return to work except as provided for in your employees’ collective bargaining agreement or as necessary for extended leaves of absence.
Potential Additional Policy Changes
If public health conditions worsen, the University of Maine System’s policies may be further adjusted. This would be done to address the effects of more widespread illness or absences, more frequent needs for self-isolation or quarantine, disruption of care arrangements or UMS priorities for pay continuity. Faculty and staff will be notified as necessary of such changes and should also check the Health Advisory page for the University of Maine System for updates.
Update your Contacts
One of the most important steps for students and university employees is to update their contact information in MaineStreet as well as to review and update current Emergency Alert Notification preferences and subscriptions. This effort will help ensure that each campus is able to communicate directly with their communities through email and/or text messaging. To support
this effort, the US:IT team has produced a series of visual guides to help you update your current contact information in these key systems.
We encourage you to follow these guides to review and/or update your information. These guides can be found online here.
We truly appreciate your assistance as we continue to prepare to ensure continuity of service and instruction for the entire University community.