Working Remotely During Covid

UMS Workplace Policies and Guidance regarding COVID-19

For Together for Maine

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 encouraged to work remotely to the maximum extent feasible. Extensive further guidance is provided below.

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.

Questions may be directed to your Employee Benefits Center at 207-973-3373 and/or your campus Human Resources Office.

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.

Detailed guidance follows below.

The University of Maine System will continue the FFCRA benefit through 03/31/21 or until new legislation is enacted, whichever is sooner. Under the FFCRA, eligible employees are entitled to the following benefits:

Emergency Paid Sick Leave:
An employee is eligible for emergency paid sick leave (“EPSL”) if the employee is unable to work or to telework because the employee:

  • is subject to a federal, state, or local quarantine or isolation order related to COVID-19*;
  • has been advised by a healthcare provider to self-quarantine due to COVID-19 symptoms;
  • needs to obtain a medical diagnosis or receive care related to COVID-19 symptoms;
  • has to care for or assist an individual who is under self-quarantine or is subject to a quarantine order for COVID-19; or
  • is caring for his or her child whose school or place of care is closed (or child care provider is unavailable) due to COVID-19 related reasons.
    *The Maine “Stay Healthy at Home” Directive is not equivalent to a quarantine or isolation order.

Full-time employees may receive up to eighty (80) hours of EPSL. Part-time employees are eligible for a number of hours equal to the number of hours they work, on average, over a two-week period. Subject to certain maximums, EPSL is paid at the employee’s regular pay for leave taken on the basis of the employee’s own condition. For employees using EPSL to care for an individual or for childcare reasons, as described above, EPSL is paid at a rate that is equal to two-thirds of the employee’s regular pay.

Emergency Family Medical Leave:
An employee who has worked for at least thirty (30) days is eligible for up to twelve (12) weeks of Job-Protected Emergency Family Medical Leave (“EFML”) if the employee is unable to work (or telework) due to a need to care for a dependent child under 18 years of age if the child’s school or place of care has been closed, or the childcare provider is unavailable, due to a public health emergency.

The first ten (10) days of EFML are paid at two-thirds of the employee’s usual pay based on the employee’s regular work schedule, up to $200 per day as EPSL. The remaining ten (10) weeks of EFML will be paid at two-thirds of the employee’s usual pay based on the employee’s regular work schedule, up to $200 per day.

To document the specific leaves provided for under FFCRA, your Payroll and Benefits Teams are developing new time reporting codes for use in MaineStreet and will be entering and approving the appropriate codes for each employee who requests this particular FFCRA leave. Information and leave request forms will be available online soon at https://mycampus.maine.edu/group/mycampus/family-leave-policies.

For more information, please view the U.S. Department of Labor’s poster featuring details about paid leave available under the FFCRA. If you have questions, contact your Employee Benefits Center at benefits@maine.edu or 207-973-3373.

The 2021 Wellness Program is now in place. Please visit the 2021 Wellness Guide for important information. Employees will have until 4/30/2021 to satisfy Level 1 for 2021.

Should you have any questions, please contact your Employee Benefits Center at benefits@maine.edu or 207-973-3373.

The following checklist is designed to help you assess the safety of your home office.

  • Is the work area quiet and free of distraction?
  • Are temperature, noise, ventilation, and lighting levels adequate for maintaining your normal level of job performance?
  • Is all electrical equipment free of recognized hazards that would cause physical harm (frayed wires, bare conductors, overloaded circuits, exposed or loose wires)?
  • Will the home’s electrical system permit the grounding of electrical equipment (a grounded 3-prong receptacle)?
  • Are aisles, doorways, and corners free of obstructions to permit visibility and movement?
  • Are file cabinets and storage closets arranged so drawers and doors do not enter walkways?
  • Are phone lines, electrical cords, and surge protectors secured to prevent tripping or entanglement?
  • Is the area in which the University equipment and files will be kept secured from unauthorized users?
  • Is your chair adjustable?
  • Is your back supported by a backrest?
  • Are your thighs parallel to the floor and your knees at a right angle when sitting at your workstation?
  • Are your feet flat on the floor or supported by a footrest?
  • Is the monitor approximately an arm’s length from you? Note: If you work with a monitor that is 17 inches or larger, you may need to move it a few inches farther away.
  • Is the top of the monitor slightly below your eye level? Note: If you wear glasses, you may need to position the monitor differently.
  • Is the monitor directly in front of you?
  • Is the screen positioned to minimize glare and reflections from overhead lights, windows, and other light sources?
  • Are documents placed next to the monitor and at the same distance and height as the screen? If not, use a document holder.
  • Are the height and angle of the keyboard adjusted to keep your wrist in a straight (neutral) position?
  • Are your elbows bent at a right angle when your hands are resting on the keyboard?
  • Are the screen’s brightness and contrast controls set for optimal viewing?
  • Are your head upright and shoulders relaxed when you are looking at the screen?
  • Is the mouse positioned close to the keyboard and at the same level?
  • Do you have adequate leg room under your desk?
  • Are your arms and elbows close to your body when typing?
  • Do you use a headset or speaker phone if you use the phone frequently?
  • Do you periodically change positions, stand up, and/or stretch?

(Last reviewed/updated: 01/13/2021)