What Supervisors Need to Know about Returning to the Workplace
The following videos will assist supervisors address issues they may encounter as employees return to campus.
Managers should show flexibility and empathy when discussing the appropriate timeline for each employee's return. The health information of employees and their families must be maintained in a confidential manner.
- Managing and Communicating Return to Work Phases and Decisions
- Managing Confidential Communications and Time and Attendance
- Managing Employee Safety and Productivity
These videos were recorded on May 27, 2020. Information is subject to change. Videos are restricted to employees.
The university requires face coverings to be worn at all times inside all campus buildings – except when alone in a private office or when eating. All individuals on campus in outdoor areas are expected to wear a face covering whenever physical distancing (six feet or more) is difficult or the risk of infection is high.
Policy UNIV 3.04 Communicable Disease Outbreak Mitigation Measures [pdf] includes specific directives concerning the need for and use of face coverings on campus.
Certain health conditions can make it difficult to wear a face covering. These can include respiratory disabilities like COPD or asthma, anxiety related concerns like PTSD or claustrophobia, and other conditions like autism or cerebral palsy.
Employees who have health conditions that make wearing a face covering difficult are encouraged to talk with their direct supervisor about accommodations. Depending on the situation and the needs of the unit, these accommodations may include using a face shield rather than a face covering, modifications to a physical workspace such as a transparent physical barrier, or remote work. You may ask for documentation from the employee's heath care provider. The documentation should not provide specific information about the employee's health condition, but should confirm that there is a medical reason the employee cannot wear a face covering safely.
Encourage employees to daily self-monitor for symptoms of COVID-19. Employees who are sick are to stay home and employees who exhibit symptoms of illness at the workplace are to return home.
- If an employee experiences COVID-19 symptoms, such as fever, chills, cough, loss of sense of smell or taste, headache, or sore throat, they should call UofSC’s Coronavirus 24/7 Phone Bank at 803-576-8511 or contact their health care provider. The Phone Bank will walk them through the isolation protocol and initiate contact tracing.
- Employees should also notify Environmental, Health and Safety (EHS) at 803-528-8191 so EHS can investigate and determine if this potential illness meets the OSHA’s reporting requirements for a workplace illness.
Student Health services offers quick tips for appropriate actions to take if an employee has been in close contact with someone who has tested positive for COVID-19 or is experiencing symptoms of COVID-19.
Supervisors can help create a safe work environment by identifying ways to reduce points of shared contact, increase physical distancing, and encourage employees to follow the safety guidelines.
Units are encouraged to employ a broad range of solutions to address their specific circumstances including:
- Restricting or prohibiting non-essential visitors
- Utilizing video or phone conferencing instead of face-to-face meetings
- Reducing the number of workstations or staggering schedules/days of the week
- Placing plexiglass wellness screens or other barriers that would limit the connection to other workstations or in areas such as check-in stations, customer service greeting areas etc.
- Reducing the number of chairs in waiting areas
- Reassessing flow patterns throughout the building to allow for reduced contact and discourage congregation
- Ensuring signage to encourage physical distancing, hand washing, etc.
Transitioning Personnel Back to the Workplace
During the spring and summer substantial work has been done to create a safe work environment. Enhanced cleaning protocols have been adopted, workplace modifications have been made, protective equipment and cleaning products have been acquired by the university and distributed to units and safety guidelines have been adopted campus wide. Departments and administrative units have developed plans for a phased return of personnel to support the return of students to campus and sustain university operations.
Throughout this process units have been directed to take appropriate steps to protect members of the campus community who are at higher risk and are particularly vulnerable to COVID-19 and its effects. Units are also encouraged to be aware of the constraints created by limited availability of child care and modified schedules of K-12 schools.
Continuation of remote work may be the best option for some employees, particularly for those who are at high risk, but remote work is not the right solution for every situation. Some jobs cannot be done remotely, other positions require direct interaction and offices must be open to support our students. Supervisors need to be creative and flexible to find the right balance between operational requirements and individual concerns, drawing upon a variety of options and a broad range of resources such as:
Staggered schedules can help reduce traffic in the workplace by having employees arrive and depart at different times.
It can also provide flexibility for personnel who might need additional time in the morning or in the afternoon to cover their family responsibilities.
Alternating schedules provides continuous coverage in the office but reduces the number of employees who are in the workplace on any given day. Personnel spend part of their time working on campus and part of their time working remotely, alternating days with other members of your team or cycling through a planned rotation.
Alternating schedules may be particularly helpful for working parents whose children are attending school on a modified schedule, working on campus the days their children go to school and working from home on days their children are learning remotely.
Whether working on campus or working remotely some employees may benefit from modified work hours, performing some or all of their work in the evenings or on weekends. Supervisors will need to ensure that employees working non-standard hours have opportunities to connect with other members of the team, receive clear guidance, and obtain adequate input on their work.
Employees who can effectively perform their work from home may continue to perform some or all of their work remotely. Highest priority for remote work should be for those employees in a high risk category, but it may also be an effective solution for employees who have childcare responsibilities.
Employees working remotely during the fall should have a Temporary Remote Work Authorization[pdf]. This agreement should be kept on file in your department.
With supervisor approval employees may use accrued time off for related absences (compensatory time, annual leave, or sick leave, as applicable) to cover time during which they are unable to work. This may be because the nature of the job does not allow for remote work or because their personal responsibilities make it difficult to complete a full day of remote work.
An employee may be eligible for Emergency Paid Sick Leave if they meet one of the six qualifying conditions:
- The employee is subject to a Federal, State, or local quarantine or isolation order related to COVID–19.
- The employee has been advised by a health care provider to self-quarantine due to concerns related to COVID–19.
- The employee is experiencing symptoms of COVID–19 and seeking a medical diagnosis.
- The employee is caring for an individual who is subject to an order as described in paragraph 1 or has been advised as described in paragraph 1.
- The employee is caring for a son or daughter of such employee if the school or place of care of the son or daughter has been closed, or the childcare provider of such son or daughter is unavailable, due to COVID–19.
- The employee is experiencing any other substantially similar condition specified by the Secretary of Health and Human Services in consultation with the Secretary of the Treasury and the Secretary of the State.
An employee may be eligible for Emergency Family and Medical Leave if their child's school or place of care is closed. This would include days in which the child is expected to engage in remote learning but not days in which the child is able to attend school.
The Emergency Family and Medical Leave Act (EFMLA) amends and expands the federal Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), on a temporary basis, to provide qualifying employees 12 weeks of leave if the employee is unable to work, including work-from-home, due to the need to care for the employee’s child (under 18 years of age) if the child’s school or place of care is closed or the child care provider is unavailable due to a public health emergency. A public health emergency is “an emergency with respect to COVID-19 declared by a Federal, State, or local authority.”
Depending on the complexity of the situation, including the requirements of the unit and the needs of the employee, a hybrid solution may be required that incorporates more than one option, for example combining an adjusted schedule with periods of remote work and leave.
In situations where all other options have been exhausted it may be necessary to place an employee on Leave Without Pay.
- SC Child Care provides information about local child care providers and the SC Voucher Program
- Child Care Resource and Referral provides information to families such as child care locator, childcare voucher and tax credit information, child development information, home activities, household budget & planning calculator, and other resources.
- Palmetto Pre-K- One-stop shop for finding free or subsidized educational pre-k programs in South Carolina.
As the university enters Phase 4 of the Return to Work Plan you may have employees who continue to work remotely during some or all of their work hours as a consequence of their own health risk, the health risk of others they live with, their child care responsibilities, or the nature of their work.
Coordinate with your unit HR Contact to be sure the right documentation is completed for staff and administrators who are working remotely.
- Employees working remotely during the fall should have a Temporary Remote Work Authorization [pdf]. This agreement should be kept on file in your department.
- Employees who will be working remotely on a long term basis, beyond December 31, 2020, need to complete a Telecommuting Agreement[pdf] in accordance with the telecommuting policy [pdf].
Your HR Contact is available to assist you as you transition employees back into the workplace, support employees who are continuing remote work, and adapt to a changing campus. Your college or administrative unit also has a Deployment Team that is available to answer questions. If you need additional support please reach out to Human Resources.
- COVID-19 Basics
- COVID-19 Diagnostic Testing
- COVID-19 Faculty and Staff Information
- COVID-19 24/7 Phone Bank: 803-576-8511
- Employee Assistance Program
- Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA)
- Face Coverings
- Frequently Asked Questions
- Remote Work - Strategies for Success
- Safety Guidelines
- Student Health Services
- Summary of Leave Benefits
- Training Courses
- UofSC Employee Emergency Relief Fund