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Employee Resources

Western Carolina University leadership continues to closely monitor the spread of respiratory illness caused by the novel coronavirus and is in regular communication with local, state and UNC System officials.

Please Note: These resources will be updated as additional information becomes available or the situation changes. The latest update was Wednesday, January 6, 2021.

For policy, employment, and leave related questions, you may reach HR at ext. 7218 or humanresources@wcu.edu.

Human Resources has released new COVID-19 guidance and protocols for employees and supervisors.

The UNC System Resource for Resilience during COVID-19 is also available for faculty and staff.

COVID-19 Exposure Supervisor Reporting Form

Additional information regarding classroom procedures, faculty and academic affairs is available in the Academic Affairs FAQ 

Frequently Asked Questions for Employees

HR Video Resources

Workplace Health Questions

Workplace Questions

Operations Questions

Travel Questions

Supervisory Questions

   

General Questions

Updated February 22, 2021

The following COVID-19 Special Faculty and Staff Work and Leave Provisions are effective January 1, 2021 through June 30, 2021 or until revised/rescinded. Effective August 12, 2020, the Mandatory Onsite Employee Designations were discontinued.


Updated leave provisions effective 2/22/2021
How to return to work safely

Updated February 22, 2021

COVID-19 Paid Administrative Leave:  Effective January 1, COVID-19 Paid Administrative Leave (PAL) will be applicable to the following situations: 

  • Use of COVID-19 Paid Administrative Leave for the purposes listed below is cumulative from March 16, 2020 through June 30, 2021. If an employee used FFCRA emergency paid sick leave in 2020 for any of the reasons below, then those hours must be deducted from any remaining paid administrative leave available through this option.
  • Employees may receive COVID-19 paid administrative leave under the following conditions:
    • The employee is subject to quarantine order or has been advised to self-quarantine by a health care provider or public health official;
    • The employee has had exposure with someone who has tested positive for COVID-19 and is awaiting a diagnosis (the employee may or may not be demonstrating symptoms);
    • The employee experiences a reaction to their COVID-19 vaccination that prevents them from returning to work, either on the day of the vaccination, or on the following day. This leave may be applied retroactively to January 1, 2021 for any employees who have received the COVID-19 vaccine and experienced a reaction. For continuing adverse reactions experienced beyond the day after vaccination, employees must use their own accrued personal leave.
    • Under the above conditions, COVID-19 Paid Administrative Leave is allocated as described below:
      • The employee may receive up to 80 hours of COVID-19 paid administrative leave for the absences prior to using any accrued personal leave and paid time off;
      • Once this 80 hours has been exhausted, the employee must use their accrued personal leave and paid time off for the absences.
      • Once the employee has exhausted their accrued personal leave and paid time off, then the employee may receive an additional 80 hours of COVID-19 paid administrative leave for the absences.
    • Temporary employees and student workers are eligible for up to 160 hours of COVID-19 Paid Administrative Leave when meeting one of the eligibility criteria described above.
    • To request pre-approval to utilize COVID-19 Paid Administrative Leave, please complete this form and submit the completed form to Trisha Ray at trisharay@wcu.edu.

Other Leave Provisions for Permanent and Temporary Employees

  • DUAL STATE EMPLOYEE HOUSEHOLD: If more than one person in the household is a state employee, then the employees are expected to work with their supervisors to determine how to allocate paid administrative leave to avoid inappropriate overlap of leave usage for child and elder care needs. 
  • OTHER ABSENCES: Employees who were on other pre-approved leave or are unavailable for reasons other than provided above must use available and applicable leave types; e.g. vacation leave, parental leave, bonus leave, compensatory time, or take leave without pay.  
  • INTERCHANGEABILITY OF LEAVE: Through March 31, 2021, employees may use accrued sick leave, vacation leave, and bonus leave interchangeably for COVID-19 related absences (child/elder care, cannot telework, etc.). This provision does not allow interchangeability of leave usage in regard to the leave options provided in state policy for retirement, transfer, or separation.
  • Employees who have exhausted all UNC System Paid Administrative Leave and other accrued leave balances may apply for leave from the COVID-19 Voluntary Shared Leave Bank Program. The leave bank program allows eligible employees to receive donated leave time from other WCU employees to use when their own leave balances are exhausted in certain qualifying circumstances. Specific guidelines for the program are as follows:
    • COVID-19 VOLUNTARY SHARED LEAVE BANK PROGRAM: The COVID-19 Shared Leave Bank Program will be available from July 1, 2020 – June 30, 2021. Leave bank donations may be applied only to eligible absences occurring during this time frame. 

Updated February 22, 2021

Use of COVID-19 Paid Administrative Leave for the purposes listed below is cumulative from March 16, 2020 through June 30, 2021. If an employee used FFCRA emergency paid sick leave in 2020 for any of the reasons below, then those hours must be deducted from any remaining paid administrative leave available through this option.

  • Employees may receive COVID-19 paid administrative leave under the following conditions:
    • The employee is subject to quarantine order or has been advised to self-quarantine by a health care provider or public health official;
    • The employee has had exposure with someone who has tested positive for COVID-19 and is awaiting a diagnosis (the employee may or may not be demonstrating symptoms);
    • The employee experiences a reaction to their COVID-19 vaccination that prevents them from returning to work, either on the day of the vaccination, or on the following day. This leave may be applied retroactively to January 1, 2021 for any employees who have received the COVID-19 vaccine and experienced a reaction. For continuing adverse reactions experienced beyond the day after vaccination, employees must use their own accrued personal leave.
    • Under the above conditions, COVID-19 Paid Administrative Leave is allocated as described below:
      • The employee may receive up to 80 hours of COVID-19 paid administrative leave for the absences prior to using any accrued personal leave and paid time off;
      • Once this 80 hours has been exhausted, the employee must use their accrued personal leave and paid time off for the absences.
      • Once the employee has exhausted their accrued personal leave and paid time off, then the employee may receive an additional 80 hours of COVID-19 paid administrative leave for the absences.
    • To request pre-approval to utilize COVID-19 Paid Administrative Leave, please complete this form and submit the completed form to Trisha Ray at trisharay@wcu.edu.

Temporary employees and student workers are eligible for up to 160 hours of COVID-19 Paid Administrative Leave when meeting one of the eligibility criteria described above. 

In accordance with State of North Carolina guidance, any gathering or meeting of more than 10 people Inside and 25 outside is not allowed.

Yes. NC 2-1-1 is an information and referral service that people can call to obtain free and confidential information on health and human services resources related to COVID-19. You can call 2-1-1 or 888.892.1162 or access the NC 2-1-1 website. You can also text COVIDNC to 898211 to register to receive general information and updates about COVID-19 and North Carolina's response to the rapidly evolving situation. NC 2-1-1 operates 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year and resources are available in most languages.

The Office of State Human Resources has also created a FAQ for state employees.

 

HR Video Resources

 

 
Workplace Health Considerations

Additional information about testing and contract tracing is available at info.wcu.edu/testing.

Learn more about our community standards, Catamounts Care, at info.wcu.edu/catamountscare

Cleaning and PPE Information

Human Resources has released new COVID-19 guidance and protocols for employees and supervisors.

Additional information regarding classroom procedures, faculty and academic affairs is available in the ACADEMIC AFFAIRS FAQ 

If you become sick due to COVID-19 contracted during your work for WCU or due to a workplace exposure, a Workers’ Compensation claim should be submitted with the Campus Risk/Safety Office.

If you think you are developing symptoms associated with COVID-19 and have reason to believe you have been exposed to the virus, you should not report to work. Follow the recommendation of the CDC and call your doctor or public health department, then notify your supervisor that you have taken this step. If you are subject to quarantine order or have been advised to self-quarantine by a health care provider or public health official; or have had exposure with someone who has tested positive for COVID-19 and is awaiting diagnosis (may or may not be demonstrating symptoms) COVID-19 Paid Administrative leave of up to 80 may be available

The employee should not report to work onsite. Close contacts will need to self-quarantine for a period of 14 days. Employees who are required to self-quarantine should telework if available. Supervisors should notify the appropriate division head and Human Resources whenever an employee has been ordered not to report to work.

The supervisor should consult with Human Resources for additional guidance on the appropriate time to physically return to work. 

An employee(s) may learn that someone has symptoms, is being tested or has tested positive – either from their infected colleagues themselves, or through the rumor mill. If there has been a confirmed COVID-19 case in the workplace, supervisors can address this issue and let others know that an unnamed member of the workforce has been diagnosed with COVID-19. They should be told that there is no action they need to take unless they are notified otherwise.

Because employee well-being, privacy, and workplace safety remain priorities at all times, no additional information should be provided. The language below is offered as an example:

"I received a report that a colleague in our unit was diagnosed with COVID-19.  If you don’t receive a notification, there is no further action that needs to be taken on your part. Please continue to monitor yourself closely for symptoms and practice disease prevention behaviors such as hand washing and social distancing. Should you not feel well, please stay home and contact your primary care provider.”

Employees known to be exposed to an individual diagnosed with coronavirus will be notified that a case of coronavirus has been confirmed, but the Americans with Disabilities Act protects the identity and medical information of people with communicable diseases.

The State Health Plan is encouraging members to stay informed, calm and prepared about the global coronavirus outbreak or COVID-19. The Plan is coordinating with Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina (Blue Cross NC), its third-party administrator, as well as CVS Caremark, UnitedHealthcare and other vendors, to ensure that Plan members have full and timely access to services involving the detection and treatment of coronavirus.

LEARN MORE ABOUT THE STATE HEALTH PLANS PRECAUTIONS

ComPsych has provided the following resources for all employees: 

The spread of the coronavirus COVID-19 has put organizations and employees on alert. This information can help keep employees informed about the coronavirus, as well as offer guidance on how to remain healthy and deal with the emotional impacts of the outbreak. Keep in mind that your GuidanceResources program is available to you and your employees 24 hours a day, seven days a week to assist with virtually any issue.

Coronavirus Webinar

As the COVID-19 virus spreads, it’s normal to feel fear and uncertainty. This course offers tips for coping with uncertainty and regaining control. View the Webinar

Health and Safety Resources

Download this list for links to public health and safety resources from WHO, the CDC and others across the globe. View the PDF

Working Remotely Webinar

In Navigating Your Work From Home Transition Due to the Coronavirus, a ComPsych expert trainer offers tips and answers questions. Watch the Webinar

How Your EAP Can Help

This short video explains how your EAP program can help, particularly during stressful times. Learn how the EAP Program can help

Working Remotely

With more people being asked to work from home, these guides offer tips to managers and employees for adjusting to the change.

Managers

Employees

A Relaxation Break

Offer this interactive experience to employees who are feeling stressed about recent events. Take a Relaxation Break

Financial Resiliency

With financial markets in turmoil and many people facing income disruptions, it's a good time to make sure that personal finances are on a solid footing. Explore the financial handout

Staying Healthy at Work

In uncertain times, staying healthy at work can feel like an uphill battle. These materials offer tips to keep your workforce feeling well. See the handout

Resiliency Resources

Stress and anxiety are normal reactions to current events. These materials explain how to keep those emotions in check. Explore the Resources

Any person, regardless of race, ethnicity, or national origin, can contract the COVID-19 virus. Western Carolina University is deeply concerned for the health and well-being of all, and, as a community, we are committed to fostering an inclusive and caring environment, even as many of us are worried and stressed by the spread of the coronavirus.

To prevent stigma, bias, or xenophobia against individuals or groups, it is absolutely critical that we equip ourselves with current and accurate information – facts. Commit to speaking up if you hear, see or read misinformation, or witness or experience bias or harassment.


  

  

Workplace Operations Related Questions

Updated: February 9, 2021

As part of the institutional response to COVID-19, the University is committed to supporting university staff who may be at increased risk (or have a household member at increased risk) of severe illness from COVID-19, which generally includes all individuals over the age of 65 and anyone with an underlying medical condition.  Please review this link for additional information regarding COVID-19 and the risks associated with it.

 Consistent with current University protocols and when requested by an employee considered at risk from exposure to COVID-19, the University will provide options for reasonable alternative work arrangements such as telework, alternative work locations, reassignment, or social distancing measures whenever possible.

 Employees who meet increased risk criteria (or have a household member who meets these criteria) and for which onsite work could place them further at risk may request assistance through the University’s formal request process (COVID-19 Assistance Request Form).

Questions regarding this process may be directed to Matt Brown (mbrown@email.wcu.edu or 227-3139) or Trisha Ray (trisharay@email.wcu.edu or 227-2522).

As a general rule, removal of University equipment, furnishings, and similar property from campus is not permitted. However, specific exceptions for legitimate university business may be made when all of the following conditions are met:

  • Relocation is temporary
  • Relocation purpose is for the conduct of University business by a University employee
  • Property, while relocated, will be adequately protected from loss and damage
  • Head of the administrative unit to which the property is assigned must approve the relocation
  • Absence of the property, while relocated, will not hinder normal, on-campus operations

 

Prior to temporarily removing any university property, the Permission to Remove University Assets from Campus form must be completed and signed by the employee and appropriate supervisor/department head.  

The IT News site has an informative article with ideas for improving your access to the internet at home.

INTERCHANGEABILITY OF LEAVE: Through March 31, 2021, employees may use accrued sick leave, vacation leave, and bonus leave interchangeably for COVID-19 related absences (child/elder care, cannot telework, etc.). his provision does not allow interchangeability of leave usage in regard to the leave options provided in state policy for retirement, transfer, or separation. Additionally, employees who have exhausted all personal leave may utilize the COVID-19 VOLUNTARY SHARED LEAVE BANK PROGRAM for COVID-19 related child/elder care issues.

In the event an employee is quarantined by a public health official, they will be eligible to receive up to 80 hours of COVID-19 paid administrative sick leave for the duration of the quarantine period. COVID-19 Paid Administrative leave is available for permanent employees once all other personal leave (vacation, sick, bonus) has been exhausted.

  

Travel Related Questions

Any travel to off-site meetings and between university worksites requires unit or supervisor approval. When possible, two employees should not share the same university vehicle. Essential travel outside of the US requires pre-approval by the Chancellor. Essential travel within the continental US requires pre-approval by the appropriate division head.

COVID-19 can be spread in busy travel environments like in airports and bus and train stations. This can be taken back to the community after travel and potentially spread. Prior to returning to work onsite, faculty and staff should adhere to the following protocols:

  • Get tested with a viral test 3-5 days after travel AND do not return to work onsite for at least 7 days after travel.
    • Even if you test negative, do not return to work onsite for a full 7 days after travel.
    • If your test is positive, isolate yourself to protect others from getting infected and notify your supervisor.
  • If you don’t get tested, do not return to work onsite for at least 10 days after travel and no symptoms have been reported during daily monitoring.
  • If you test positive or have symptoms of COVID-19, isolate yourself to protect others from getting infected, notify your supervisor and follow public health recommendations.

Also take these actions for 14 days after you return from travel to protect others from getting COVID-19:

  • Stay at least 6 feet/2 meters (about 2 arm lengths) from anyone who did not travel with you, particularly in crowded areas. It’s important to do this everywhere — both indoors and outdoors.
  • Wear a face coveringto keep your nose and mouth covered when you are in shared spaces outside of your home, including when using public transportation and in transportation hubs such as airports and stations.
  • If there are people in the household who did not travel with you, wear a face covering and ask everyone in the household to wear face coverings in shared spaces inside your home.
  • Wash your handsoften or use hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol.
  • Avoid being around people who are at increased risk for severe illness.
  • Watch your health: Look for symptoms of COVID-19, and take your temperature if you feel sick.

Isolate yourself and follow public health recommendations if you get sick.

All university-sponsored travel outside of North Carolina has been suspended, as has travel within the state to gatherings of 10 or more people. In addition to faculty and staff, this restriction also applies to university-sponsored travel by students and student organizations.

When you cancel your university-sponsored travel, you will be reimbursed for actual expenses incurred but not refunded. The traveler shall make a good faith effort to obtain a refund for any air travel paid and/or conference fees paid before submitting a reimbursement request to the University. If the University has already reimbursed the traveler in advance of the planned travel, then the traveler shall attempt to recover a refund of airfare and/or conference fees, and shall remit any recover to the University.

For personal travel (both domestic and international), please refer to CDC guidelines and make informed decisions.

Maintain contact with your supervisor and the Office of Human Resources and Payroll. You may be eligible for leave without pay or may be advanced leave to be made up within 24 months of the declared State of Emergency.

  

      

Questions Related to Supervision

Yes, your supervisor has the right to temporarily reassign employees to work outside their usual responsibilities to the extent they are qualified and can safely perform the work. While this situation may not be ideal – both for employees and their home units – it is important that we are all willing to adjust our “normal” work in the event of an emergency.

Reassignment may include deploying employees with certain necessary skill sets outside their colleges/divisions. Depending on the circumstances, the University will notify employees who are designated as performing essential functions, as well as when and where they should report to work.

Yes. Your supervisor may temporarily adjust employees’ work schedules to meet operational demands, based on business needs and circumstances, so that Western Carolina University can appropriately respond to the situation. These adjustments may be made on a case-by-case basis depending upon operational considerations. Your supervisor should work closely with you to discuss any changes to your assigned shift and/or work schedule and any questions or concerns you may have with the changes.

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