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Employee Resources

Ensuring the health, safety and well-being of our community, on and off campus, is our highest priority and responsibility. 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.

We have established a working group to focus on developing possible contingency plans and preparations are well underway. To support our campus community and stakeholders, we are maintaining a resource website where we will be posting campus updates and links to important resources. We urge the campus community to visit this website for the most up-to-date information on WCU’s response to the coronavirus situation.

Please Note: These resources will be updated as additional information becomes available or the situation changes.

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

Faculty may find additional resources for Emergency Instructional Contingency planning available through the Coulter Faculty Commons

Additionally, WCU's Division of IT has provided a number of resources to support this transition to online and alternative methods for teaching, from virtual collaboration tools to guidance for off-campus Internet service. You can find those resources available here.

Frequently Asked Questions for Employees

Workplace Questions

Operations Questions

Travel Questions

Supervisory Questions

  General Questions

updated covid-19 special faculty and staff work and leave provisions Effective April 1-30

Updated: April 1, 2020

WCU is operating under work and leave provisions that expand on the guidance put in place March 18 - March 31. The guidelines will be in effect April 1-30. During this timeframe, only those WCU employees designated as 'mandatory' and who have the approval of their supervisor should report to their designated campus work stations. All other employees are directed not to report to work onsite and are expected to telework if feasible given the nature of their position duties. In those instances where telework may not be feasible or where a WCU employee may be unable to work due to child care of specific health concerns, the UNC System has approved special leave provisions. Specific questions regarding status as 'mandatory' or 'non-mandatory' should be directed to the appropriate supervisor.

Updated COVID-19 Special Faculty and Staff Leave Provisions

what are the current guidelines regarding university sponsored gatherings and meetings?

Effective March 18 and continuing through April 30, any gathering or meeting of more than 50 people must be cancelled. Any meeting of more than 10 people requires supervisor approval.

has the state of north carolina created resources for residents?

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.


Workplace Health Considerations

I’M WORRIED ABOUT BEING EXPOSED TO CORONAVIRUS AT WORK. HOW CAN I REDUCE MY RISK?

Employees are encouraged to use common-sense precautions at all times (when working, in the public, or at home). Precautions include:

  • Wash your hands with warm soapy water for at least 20 seconds each time.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands.
  • Avoid close contact with people who are ill.
  • Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when you cough or sneeze.
  • Do not reuse a tissue after coughing, sneezing, or blowing your nose.
  • Clean and disinfect surfaces that are frequently touched (cell phones, desk phones, keyboards, remote controls, countertops, refrigerator and door handles, etc.).
  • And remember that employees who are sick should not come to work.

When possible, use social distancing to minimize your direct contact with others who may be unwell or who are vulnerable to illness. 

WHAT IS SOCIAL DISTANCING AND WHY IS IT IMPORTANT?

Social distancing is designed to limit the spread of a disease by reducing the opportunities for close contact between people. Strategies include using conference calls and video conferencing in place of face-to-face meetings, avoiding unnecessary travel, and reinforcing hand washing  and other common-sense precautions.

 If you are among a group of people where anyone appears to be ill or may have had contact with a person diagnosed with coronavirus, try to keep a distance of six feet from one another.

WHAT SHOULD I DO IF I HAVE BEEN EXPOSED TO COVID-19 AND BELIEVE I AM DEVELOPING SYMPTOMS ASSOCIATED WITH THE VIRUS?

If you think you are developing symptoms associated with COVID-19 and have reason to believe you have been exposed to the virus, the CDC has instructions for what to do if you are sick. These instructions cover how to prevent the spread of COVID-19, guidance on self-isolation and instructions for seeking healthcare. Notify your supervisor that you have taken this step. An employee told by a doctor or public health official that they should self-isolate should not report to work and will receive paid administrative leave. An employee may be required to provide a certification of fitness to return to work.

WHAT SHOULD I DO IF I HAVE BEEN EXPOSED TO COVID-19 BUT DO NOT HAVE SYMPTOMS ASSOCIATED WITH THE VIRUS?

If you have reason to believe you have been exposed to the virus, the CDC recommends calling your doctor or public health department. Notify your supervisor that you have taken this step. A permanent or temporary employee told by a public health official that they should be under quarantine due to exposure to COVID-19 but is not yet symptomatic will be eligible for paid leave. When an employee is quarantined, the employee shall be granted paid leave until the specified period of time ends or the employee becomes ill with the communicable disease, whichever comes first. The employee must provide proof of quarantine. An employee also may be required to provide a certification of fitness to return to work.

A PERSON IN MY HOUSEHOLD IS UNDER SELF-ISOLATION. THE INDIVIDUAL IS ASYMPTOMATIC AND HAS NOT BEEN CONFIRMED AS HAVING COVID-19. AM I REQUIRED TO SELF-ISOLATE?

Employees should seek direction from their healthcare provider and maintain communication with their supervisor and the Office of Human Resources & Payroll. The State of North Carolina follows the CDC's recommendations regarding whether to self-isolate.

I AM A TEMPORARY EMPLOYEE WHO DOES NOT EARN SICK LEAVE AND I BELIEVE I AM EXHIBITING SYMPTOMS OF COVID-19. I AM AFRAID IF I TAKE TIME OFF FROM WORK THAT I COULD LOSE MY JOB. WHAT SHOULD I DO?

If you think you are developing symptoms associated with COVID-19 and have reason to believe you have been exposed to the virus, follow the recommendation of the CDC and call your doctor or public health department, then notify your supervisor that you have taken this step. Effective March 16, 2020, if you are sick due to symptoms of a cold, flue or COVID-19 or are caring for a dependent with such symptoms, you will receive paid administrative leave for missed work time.

 

ONE OF MY EMPLOYEES LOOKS SICK. WHAT SHOULD I DO?

Effective March 18, 2020, only employees designated as mandatory should report to work onsite. Non-mandatory employees must move to teleworking, wherever feasible, with the approval of their supervisor. Non-mandatory employees whose positions cannot be performed remotely should not report to their physical on-campus work space and will be allowed paid administrative leave.

For mandatory employees who are required to work on campus, management should emphasize to employees the importance of staying home when sick. Effective March 16, 2020, if you are sick due to symptoms of a cold, flu or COVID-19 or are caring for a dependent wwith such symptoms, you will receive paid administrative leave for missed work time.

 

WILL I BE NOTIFIED IF SOMEONE I WORK WITH IS CONFIRMED TO HAVE COVID-19?

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.

WHAT RESOURCES ARE AVAILABLE THROUGH OUR STATE HEALTH PLAN?

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

What Resources are available through ComPsych?

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

GIVEN THE EMERGENCE OF COVID-19 WITHIN SPECIFIC GEOGRAPHICAL AREAS OF THE WORLD, ARE PARTICULAR GROUPS ESPECIALLY AT RISK?

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.

IF I BELIEVE THAT I MAY HAVE COME INTO DIRECT CONTACT WITH THE COVID-19 VIRUS, DO I NEED TO SELF-QUARANTINE?

At the advice of local public health officials, if you or someone living in your household have come into direct contact with someone who has been confirmed to have COVID-19, we would ask you to self-quarantine for 14 days to help us reduce the likelihood of exposing others in the community.

Employees should immediately contact their healthcare provider if they experience any symptoms (fever, cough, shortness of breath) associated with coronavirus.

 

  

Workplace Operations Related Questions

CAN I WORK FROM HOME or another location during a public health emergency?

Effective March 18, 2020, only employees designated as mandatory should report to work onsite. Non-mandatory employees must move to teleworking, wherever feasible, with the approval of their supervisor. Non-mandatory employees whose positions cannot be performed remotely should not report to their physical on-campus work space and will be allowed paid administrative leave. Employees should also become familiar with WCU’s guidance regarding flexible work arrangements:

FLEXIBLE WORK ARRANGEMENTS

FLEX WORK GUIDELINES FOR SUCCESS

Is there any way to improve my internet at home?

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

if i contract covid-19, am i eligible for workers' compensation?

If you become ill and it is determined to be work-related in accordance with the Workers’ Compensation Act, the Workers’ Compensation Policy applies. If your illness is determined not to be work-related, the Sick Leave Policy applies.

WHAT OPTIONS ARE AVAILABLE TO EMPLOYEES SHOULD PUBLIC SCHOOLS AND/OR CHILD CARE FACILITIES IN THE AREA CLOSE?

All employees, including temporary and student employees, who cannot work because they have childcare or eldercare needs due to COVID-19 related facility closings will receive paid administrative leave for the time they are unavailable.

I HAVE BEEN QUARANTINED BY A PUBLIC HEALTH OFFICIAL. WHAT LEAVE CAN I USE?

In the event an employee is quarantined by a public health official, they will be eligible to receive paid administrative leave for the duration of the quarantine period. Written verification from a public health official is required to confirm this status as soon as practicable. Effective March 16, 2020, if you are sick due to symptoms of a cold, flu or COVID-19 or are caring for a dependent with such symptoms you will receive paid administrative leave for missed work time.

 

IF CAMPUS is CLOSEd, WILL I GET PAID?

If the emergency is severe, the governor, public health officials, the UNC System president or chancellor may order an institution, or part of an institution, to close for a period of time. If alternative work locations or teleworking are available, employees should plan to work remotely. In the event that the institution is closed or that non-mandatory employees are ordered to not report to work and cannot work remotely, then employees may be granted paid administrative leave for up to 30 days.

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

I AM A MANDATORY EMPLOYEE, HOW WILL I be compensated for work performed during a communicable disease emergency?

Mandatory employees are those employees who are directed by their supervisor to report to work, at a designated university worksite other than their personal residence, at specific dates and times. Mandatory emplyees are employees who perfomr functions that are critical to ensuring the continuity of core university operations. These designations may be changed by management at any time due to the operational needs of the university and COVID-19 developments.

Compensation for mandatory employees remains their normal rate of pay while the university remains open. In the event that the University closes, mandatory employees (other than senior officers of an institution and faculty) who are required to report to work receive time‐and-a‐half compensation for all hours worked on site.

HOW WILL I MAKE OR RECEIVE CALLS IF STAFF ARE NOT ABLE TO OCCUPY THEIR NORMAL OFFICE SPACES?

In preparing for a potential coronavirus response, many departments have inquired about making and receiving calls if staff are not able to occupy their normal office spaces. The WCU phone system offers the following six features for handling phone calls in remote locations:

  1. Move a Phone - Need to move temporarily to a different office space on campus? Take your Mitel desk phone with you! Your desk phone will work almost anywhere on campus as long as it is plugged into an active ethernet jack.   NOTE: Desk phones do NOT work if removed from campus. (There is no charge for this service)
  2. Call Forwarding – Need to work from off-campus or from home? Forward your calls to your cell phone. NOTE: Make sure to forward your calls BEFORE leaving your office, as you must use your desk phone to turn Call Forwarding on or off. (There is no charge for this service)
  3. Mobile Softphone – Department phone lines (aka “7000 numbers”) often need a more professional solution than call forwarding. A softphone is an app that allows you to make and receive WCU phone calls from anywhere using your iPhone or Android phone. The softphone includes the same call controls as a desk phone (hold, transfer, and conference) and also allows Call Center agents to log into Call Centers to receive calls. The cost for a softphone license is $1.50 per extension per month. NOTE:  If you are interested in the softphone option, please open an IT ticket ASAP, as this service must be approved by an Accountable Officer and configured by IT in advance. (This service is $1.50 per extension per month)
  4. Conference Calls – Need to arrange a phone call for a group of people? WCU uses Zoom conferencing service for audio and video conferencing. Please contact the IT Help Desk at x7487 for assistance setting up a Zoom account. (There is no charge for this service)
  5. Check Voicemail Remotely – Need to check your voicemail from off-campus?  Dial 227-6000. When prompted for your mailbox ID enter your 4-digit extension number. (There is no charge for this service)
  6. Voicemail to Email – Want to receive voicemail messages in your email Inbox instead of on your phone? Voicemail-to-Email sends each new voicemail message to your email account as an audio file.  NOTE:  If you are interested in Voicemail-to-Email please open an IT ticket ASAP as this service must be configured in advance by IT. (There is no charge for this service)

Please visit phones.wcu.edu for instructions and additional details regarding any of these services.

  

Travel Related Questions

what are the current business-related travel restrictions for university employees?

Until further notice, the following university-sponsored travel is prohibited:

  • All non-essential travel (both within and outside of North Carolina)
  • International travel
  • Travel by air

Limited exceptions for essential travel may be approved by the appropriate Division Head and may only be for the following reasons:

  • Essential out-of-state travel by vehicle (limited to gatherings of 25 or less)
  • Essential in-state travel by vehicle (limited to gatherings of 50 or less)

Will I be reimbursed for travel expenses that I incur when I cancel my travel?

All university-sponsored travel outside of North Carolina has been suspended, as has travel within the state to gatherings of 100 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.

If I am stranded on personal travel in an affected location and do not have adequate leave to cover my absence, what should I do?

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.

If I am returning from a location under travel restrictions, whether for work or personal travel, am I allowed to return to work immediately?

Effective March 18, 2020, only employees designated as mandatory should report to work onsite. Non-mandatory employees mush move to teleworking, wherever feasible, with the approval of their supervisor. Non-mandatory employees whose positions cannot be performed remotely should not report to their physical on-campus work space and will be allowed paid administrative leave. Mnadatory employees returning from a location under travel restrictions may be required not to return to their workplace for the duration of one incubation period, as defined by public health officials. Maintain contact with your supervisor and the Office of Human Resources and Payroll.

  

      

Questions Related to Supervision

i currently supervise non-work study student employees. are they allowed to work now that a decision has been made to offer instruction via online/distance methods?

Effective March 18, 2020, only employees designated as mandatory should report to work onsite. non-mandatory employees, including temporary, non-work study, and work study employees, must move to teleworking, wherever feasible, with the approval of their supervisor. Non-mandatory employees whose positions cannot be performed remotely should not report to their physical on-campus work space and will be allowed paid administrative leave.

 

Can my supervisor make a temporary change to my job assignment so that the university can continue to deliver primary (mandatory) functions during a communicable disease outbreak?

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.

Can my supervisor make a temporary change to my assigned shift and/or assigned work schedule during a communicable disease outbreak?

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.

can the university require an employee to work elsewhere than their primary duty station?

Pursuant to federal law that employers provide a workplace free from recognized hazards causing or likely to cause death or serious physical harm, the supervisor, in consultation with the Office of Human Resources & Payroll, may temporarily assign an employee to an alternate work site.

Effective March 18, 2020, only employees designated as mandatory should report to work onsite. non-mandatory employees, including temporary, non-work study, and work study employees, must move to teleworking, wherever feasible, with the approval of their supervisor. Non-mandatory employees whose positions cannot be performed remotely should not report to their physical on-campus work space and will be allowed paid administrative leave.

is it possible that mandatory employees will be expected to remain at their workstation around the clock?

Yes. In the event of a public health emergency that requires mandatory employees to remain at their location 24/7, the state will provide meals and overnight accommodations.

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