Working Remotely During Covid
UMS Workplace Policies and Guidance regarding COVID-19
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.
For regular employees, COVID sick leave that was awarded on March 15 is still available to you through April 4, 2020. We also want to make you aware of additional benefits that may apply to you. As we hope you can appreciate state and federal legislation and the overall COVID-19 situation is evolving very rapidly. In addition to this FFCRA notice, we plan to have additional pay and benefit guidance available to you on April 2 which will be applicable for April 5 and beyond.
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 email@example.com or 207-973-3373.
With gratitude for your continued dedication to the University of Maine System,
Chris Lindstrom, Co-Interim CHRO, Human Resources
Tracy Elliott, Co-Interim CHRO, Human Resources
(Last reviewed/updated: 04/02/2020)
Changes to the guidelines for achieving Level 1:
- Employees who met level 1 in 2019, will continue to have the incentive premium rate (p rate) apply until December 31, 2020
- Employees hired on or between 1/1/20 and 5/31/20 will need to complete level 1 requirements by 8/31/20 (date extended by 4 months). Those hired 6/1/20 or later will have the usual 90 days to complete level 1
- Employees who did not meet level 1 in 2019 and are currently at the higher non-participant rate (n rate) can satisfy level 1 at any time until 11/30/20 to be switched to the lower p rate
- Level 2 award requirements remain the same
*2021 will revert to previous practice and 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 firstname.lastname@example.org or 207-973-3373.
(Last reviewed/updated: 03/30/2020)
As UMS continues to monitor CDC, state, and federal guidance relative to the COVID-19 response, the following update is provided as we work to protect the health and safety of employees while meeting essential functions that our campuses provide to students and the State of Maine. The following is an update to any prior guidance:
1. Remote Work – beginning 3/19/20 or as soon as is feasible, all employees who, based on the nature of their work, are able to work remotely are asked to begin to do so. Employees should work with their supervisor regarding arrangements and expectations. Please utilize the attached remote work guidelines regarding important considerations. This remote work directive will continue until further notice. Nonexempt (hourly) employees working remote should report work, sick and vacation time as normal. Exempt employees should report sick and vacation time as normal.Please note that some employees who, due to the nature of their roles, will be required to continue to perform their duties either completely or partially on campus. These requirements will be addressed by the respective supervisor.
2. Social Distancing – for employees whose work does not lend itself to working remote, supervisors are asked to work with employees to implement appropriate social distancing measures. These measures may include but are not limited to reducing the number of employees within crowded work spaces through alternate work locations, modifying work schedules so as to reduce overlap of physical presence, and adjusting job duties.
3. Full pay through April 4 without need to take leave! Per the Chancellor’s message, employees are asked to continue to work remotely if possible or as part of our reduced on campus operations. Special Time Reporting Codes have been established for regular part-time and full-time hourly and salaried employees beginning March 15 through April 4, 2020 for any time away from your regular work schedule for the following reasons:
- Employee is not currently ill but has been advised by a health care professional or per UMS guidance to self-quarantine or is asked to leave the workplace by their supervisor due to indications of illness
- Employee is not currently ill but needs to be away from work due to family member’s or dependent’s illness or self-quarantine requirements
- Employee is not currently ill but needs to be away from work to care for child(ren) due to school or daycare closure
- Employee needs to tend to matters related to COVID-19
Information on time reporting details are provided below:
UMA Employees Guidance on Administrative Leave on Monday, 3/16/20:
Questions? Don’t hesitate to contact the Payroll Team.
Additional resources for teaching and working remotely can be found on the University of Maine System’s Public Health Advisory page for employees.
Please see the following details to assist managers/supervisors and employees with the implementation of telecommuting options as appropriate to University of Maine System operations and individual needs and circumstances:
Telecommuting is available to regular employees seeking to balance professional obligations with their own personal circumstances. Under certain circumstances, working remotely may be required. Employees should have:
- Work responsibilities that can be performed at home or remote while maintaining quality of the work, productivity, and meeting the needs of the University, and
- Ongoing access to telephone and internet at home or an alternate location.
Employees may request to work remotely. Management has sole authority to consider such requests and approve or deny as appropriate. During this time of extenuating circumstances, it is recommended that a flexible approach be taken to these requests. If a request is denied, the employee does have the ability to request a review from UMS Human Resources which will work to develop a resolution that is acceptable to both the supervisor and employee.
As one can readily understand, telecommuting is not always suitable or practical for all descriptions of work or for all positions. However, if an employee does possess the proper technology and their work is compatible with the operations of their unit or office, it is encouraged for managers and supervisors to consider requests for telecommuting.
- The following recommendations are made for the implementation of a telecommuting arrangement between a manager/supervisor and employee:
- To promote clarity of understanding and expectation for both the manager/supervisor and employee, it is advised that agreement regarding the work to be performed from home or a remote location be outlined in advance and regularly scheduled meetings put in place to ensure adequate flow of communications, satisfactory completion of work and meeting of mutually understood deadlines.
- For continuity and access, it is further advised that a core set of hours be established during which the employee will be available to supervisors, co-workers, and others.
- A telecommuting arrangement places responsibility upon the manager/supervisor to ensure that productivity, quality, and service expectations are understood and maintained at appropriate levels.
- Recognizing the challenges associated with a telecommuting arrangement, advance agreement about how phone calls to the employee’s University office and access for other employees on telecommuting days will be addressed is recommended.
- While not every eventuality can be anticipated in implementing a telecommuting arrangement, there may be some specific work-related expenses incurred by the employee. Such expenses should be approved in advance. Please understand it is not possible for the University to pay utility costs associated with telecommuting, including phone or Internet service.
- For hourly employees, it is extremely important to secure supervisor approval for working more than forty (40) hours in a week, (Sunday to Saturday) in advance.
- All University and departmental policies, procedures, and standards of conduct that apply to employees working on campus apply when an employee telecommutes.
- A telecommuting arrangement should heighten the employee’s awareness of and responsibility for ensuring the confidentiality of University data, records, and other information used, stored, or accessed at home. To ensure the protection of data, please review the Administrative Practice Letter (APL VI-C) – Employee Protection of Data. Click Here to access the APL.
- Unless the employee has use of a UMS issued laptop, the employee is normally expected to provide his/her own equipment for work performed at home. The University is not responsible for damage, repairs, or maintenance to equipment owned by the employee.
- Any University equipment provided for an employee’s home use should be documented as University property and will be returned by the employee when the telecommuting arrangement concludes or the employee leaves University employment. The employee will bring University provided equipment to a University-designated location for maintenance and repairs.
- The University will provide supplies for the employee’s use while working from home consistent with supplies provided to other employees.
- Nonexempt (hourly) employees working remote should report work, sick and vacation time in MaineStreet as normal. Exempt employees should report sick and vacation time as normal.
- During these challenging times, it is understood that telecommuting may be an option for those employees seeking to balance professional responsibilities and obligations to family brought about by school closings or care giving. Such competing priorities can present significant challenges to maintaining high productivity and for tips on how to effectively meet the demands of a successful telecommuting arrangement, we suggest referencing the Employee Assistance Program offered through Cigna.
- It is not uncommon that establishing a work space for telecommuting can present some specific challenges. The employee is responsible for maintaining an appropriate, safe work area at home for his or her use. A checklist to assist is attached.
- When telecommuting, an injury that arises out of and in the course of University approved work an employees will continue to have statutory Workers’ Compensation insurance coverage. Any employee suffering a work-related injury must report it immediately to the supervisor and other designated officials responsible for Workers’ Compensation claims. The University has the right to inspect the site of the injury if a work-related injury is reported.
- The University cannot be responsible for damage to employees or third party property unless such damage is the result of negligence or omissions on the part of the University.
In considering a telecommuting arrangement or responding to a request for telecommuting, please remember that communication with your manager or supervisor is the absolute best way to set everyone up for success. Should you have any additional questions about these guidelines, you are encouraged to contact your campus Human Resources Office.
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?
Cigna is closely monitoring the 2019 Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak and is committed to taking appropriate actions to ensure customers have the medication needed to stay healthy. Should a customer have any questions or concerns about an individual situation, Cigna pharmacists are available 24/7.
State Orders are being issued regarding Refill-Too-Soon edits and the guidance varies from State to State. Lifting the edits across the country prematurely would remove the safeguards in place to prevent stockpiling which could potentially result in a strain on supply chain and disrupt current inventories. Our position as a company is to address the state specific orders as they are issued.
Effective Immediately, a one-time Refill Too Soon Override will be Allowed (New Hampshire and Maine Residents Only): Cigna Pharmacy Management is allowing a one-time Refill Too Soon override to any customer who calls in and states they have been impacted by COVID-19 and has suffered lost or damaged medication(s). Customer Service can address any specific customer needs that might necessitate an override of the Refill-Too-Soon edit. The request(s) can be initiated by a pharmacist or customer.
Options Available to All Other Pharmacy Customers
In situations where early refills are not made available, pharmacists are available 24/7 to provide counseling, answer questions, and support patients, as needed. Standard refill policies, which allow members to refill or renew a prescription medication when 25%-35% of their current prescription is remaining, should help them stay on track with their medication during this time.
Facilitate Switch to Home Delivery:
Customers, wishing to take advantage of our Home Delivery service, have several options and they include:
If the customer has a retail prescription for 90 days with refills:
- Customer can contact customer service and requesting assistance in having a retail script for maintenance medication transferred to home delivery. Our Home Delivery Pharmacy will work with the retail pharmacy and the prescriber if needed to facilitate the Pharmacy to Pharmacy transfer. If the customer is a first time user for ESI Home Delivery, our teams will assist with getting them started.
If the customer does not have a retail prescription for 90 days with refills and would like to use mail order:
- Customer can contact their physician and request a new prescription be sent to Cigna Home Delivery Pharmacy for prescription processing.
Utilizing the “Chat” feature on myCigna.com, a customer can work with a representative to initiate a retail to mail transfer. Customers can also utilize the Chat feature via the MyCigna mobile app.
These options allow customers the ability to have a 90 day supply of medications delivered to their homes.
More information is available on MyCigna.com.
(Last reviewed/updated: 03/19/2020)