Pandemic and Communicable Disease Emergency Policy

Title

Pandemic and Communicable Disease Emergency Policy

Introduction

Purpose

The purpose of this policy is to outline provisions covering the following human resource areas in case of a communicable disease or other serious public health threat that is declared by the public health officials to be a public health emergency, including:

  • Designation of mandatory employees
  • Compensation for mandatory employees
  • Accounting for absences
  • Emergency furlough provisions

Scope of Applicability

This policy applies to all University employees. Leave and additional compensation benefits may apply to employees in certain appointment types as defined below.

Policy

Policy Statement

Responsibility

In case of a public health emergency, the Governor has broad powers to issue an emergency order to protect the public health. In accordance with North Carolina General Statute (N.C.G.S.) 166A, Article 1A, the Governor may close all schools, community colleges, universities, childcare and adult day care facilities and order that no public events will be held where large numbers of people are gathered in one physical location. The Governor may also close all non-mandatory State services and order mandatory services to remain operational.

In case of a public health emergency, the University will adhere to any communicable disease orders of the State or local public health agencies to prevent transmission of a communicable disease. While awaiting a decision by the Governor or State or Local Public Health Director, the Chancellor has the authority to make emergency closing decisions he/she deems appropriate for the University. If circumstances permit, the Chancellor or Chancellor's designee will confer with local/State public health officials to determine the severity of the individual situation and to determine what actions will be taken (including closure of the University). All closings must be reported to the State Human Resources Director and the Governor within five days after the occurrence, and the University must notify public health officials as soon as reasonably possible.

Management will inform employees, and employees will inform management, of any evidence of a communicable disease that could seriously endanger the health of others in the workplace. Management must immediately notify the University's Department of Environment, Health & Safety, which will notify the local health department.

In accordance with N.C.G.S. 130A-145, the State Health Director and local health director are empowered to exercise quarantine and isolation authority. Quarantine and isolation authority will be exercised only when and so long as the public health is endangered, all other reasonable means for correcting the problem have been exhausted, and no less restrictive alternative exists. (See "Leave" section below regarding compensation during a quarantine or isolation.)

Note: The most recent list of reportable diseases as compiled by the State Health Commission is found in the North Carolina Administrative Code (NCAC) 10A NCAC 41A.0101. The list is constantly updated as new diseases emerge.

Possible Actions During a Communicable Disease Outbreak

During a communicable disease outbreak, any of the following may occur:

  • Closing of one or more parts of the University by order of the Governor;
  • Closing of one or more parts of the University as authorized by the University President or the Chancellor while awaiting a decision by the Governor or State or Local Public Health Director;
  • Closing of one or more parts of the University by agreement between Public Health officials and the University authority or by order of Public Health officials;
  • Concurrence by Public Health officials and/or the University that employee(s) should be excluded from the workplace;
  • Isolation of an ill or symptomatic employee(s) by Public Health officials; or Quarantine of an exposed or potentially ill employee(s) by Public Health officials.

Social Distancing

In order to minimize transmission from person to person, the University will implement immediately social distancing provisions upon orders from the Chancellor, the Governor, and/or Public Health officials.

Social distancing is designed to limit the spread of a disease by reducing the opportunities for close contact between people. It can be accomplished by administrative and engineering controls. Examples include:

  • reducing face-to-face exposure by using conference calls and video conferencing;
  • avoiding unnecessary travel;
  • canceling meetings, workshops, training sessions, and scheduled events; requiring employees to work from home to reduce exposure in the workplace;
  • establishing flexible working hours to avoid mass transportation, at least during peak hours;
  • installing protective barriers between work stations or increasing space between workers;
  • reinforcing hand washing and requiring the use of protective equipment such as hand sanitizers and masks (provided by the University);
  • scheduling employees in shifts;
  • controlling access to buildings; and
  • requiring asymptomatic individuals traveling to affected countries/areas not to return to work until one incubation period has passed after returning home.

Employees required to work under social distancing provisions will receive regular pay and the policy on Flexible Work Arrangements for SHRA and EHRA Non-Faculty Employees may be waived.

Communicable Disease Mandatory Employees (CDMEs)

In accordance with guidance issued by the UNC System Office on March 17, 2020 specific to the COVID-19 event and in effect through March 31, 2020, for the purposes of the COVID-19 event, 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. The institution should revise the list of mandatory employees to reflect this definition and the University’s operational needs specific to the COVID-19 event. These designations may be changed by management at any time due to the operational needs of the University and COVID-19 developments.

Each department must predetermine and designate mandatory operations in case of a pandemic emergency or communicable disease outbreak, designate the employees to staff these operations, and develop an alternative plan for personnel in case the designated personnel are quarantined or ill. Alternative workers may include current employees who are not designated as mandatory but who possess the skills to fill in for mandatory employees, retirees, contract workers, or other temporary employees. This will be especially important in an event that may last for several weeks or months.

The University must maintain a list of CDMEs by position, including current employee name and contact information. Department management will notify employees of their mandatory personnel designation and the requirement to report for or remain at work in emergency situations, or to work from home or other alternative location as deemed appropriate. Employees will receive appropriate information and training as needed. If CDMEs are required to remain at the worksite for an extended period of time, the University will provide adequate housing and food.

Individuals designated as mandatory employees may be subject to disciplinary action, up to and including termination of employment, for willful failure to report for or remain at work. Each situation will be reviewed on a case-by-case basis to determine appropriate action.

Compensation For CDMEs

Under the guidance issued by the UNC System Office on March 17, 2020 specific to the COVID-19 event and in effect through March 31, 2020, the Office of State Human Resources has not authorized additional compensation for mandatory employees. Subject to the availability of funds and Office of State Human Resources approval, management may grant time and one-half pay for all hours worked during a University closure to permanent SHRA and permanent EHRA non-faculty CDMEs who are required to report to work at a designated University worksite other than their personal residence, at specific dates and times. This additional one-half compensation may be provided as pay, subject to available funds, or as paid time off. This compensation provision applies to employees who are exempt and non-exempt under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA).

EHRA permanent employees are eligible for this compensation with the exception of the following:

  • Faculty;
  • Senior officers of the University of North Carolina who are subject to the provisions of Section II of the policy on Senior Academic and Administrative Officers (UNC System Office Policy Manual: 300.1.1);
  • Associate and assistant vice chancellors;
  • Associate and assistant provosts; and
  • Associate and assistant deans.

However, at the discretion of the President or Chancellor or their designees, employees in positions listed above may be eligible for pay at time and one-half, or may be granted compensatory time in lieu of time and one-half pay, following the emergency event.

Only employees designated as CDMEs who are required to report to work at a designated University worksite other than their personal residence, at specific dates and times, during university closure, will be eligible for time and one-half compensation. It does not include temporary employees under any circumstances. When necessary and available, payment of salaries normally funded from non-State funds may be made from State funds. Administrators will aggressively pursue reimbursement from other funding sources where possible.

Communication of University Operations Status*

The University administration will monitor communicable disease events and, after consultation with public health authorities, indicate the general operations level of the University:

  • Communicable Disease Condition I: Classes are being held, offices are open for business. All employees are expected to report to work as usual. Social distancing practices may be employed as deemed appropriate. Public health officials may issue isolations or quarantines of small populations as deemed appropriate.
  • Communicable Disease Condition II: Classes are canceled or, if possible, transitioned to alternative modes of instruction. Offices are open for business. Permanent and non-student temporary employees are expected to work and are encouraged to work remotely if possible. Social distancing practices must be used. Public health officials may issue isolations or quarantines of small populations as deemed appropriate.
  • Communicable Disease Condition III: Classes are canceled; offices are closed. Non-mandatory permanent employees are on paid leave if flexible work arrangements are not possible. Only CDMEs must report to work as directed by their management.
  • Communicable Disease Condition IV: Emergency furlough (unpaid leave) of non-mandatory employees; CDMEs report to work or perform their duties from alternate work locations as directed. The total number of CDMEs actively working and the duties they perform in any areas deemed critical may vary over the course of the Condition IV period.
  • Communicable Disease Condition V: Continued emergency furlough (unpaid leave) of non-mandatory employees and emergency furlough for all CDME employees except for those CDMEs whose duties may be essential to continuing patient care operations or providing for the public safety. These include individuals who provide direct patient care; are medically licensed healthcare professionals; provide critical support to patient care operations; support facility infrastructures/systems critical to healthcare operations; or provide public safety services. The latter CDMEs deemed essential to the continuity of patient, health care, and public safety operations may be directed to report by management dependent upon current conditions.

* These University Operations Status Conditions are only for instances of pandemic or communicable disease and might differ from Conditions in other policies like the Adverse Weather and Emergency Closing Policy.

The operational status of the University will be provided on the UNC homepage, the Alert Carolina website, and on the Office of Human Resources website.

Leave

Permanent employees will not be penalized for using leave in order to encourage those with symptoms associated with a communicable disease to stay home so that they do not infect other employees and to allow employees with ill family members to stay home to care for them.

Quarantined by a Public Health Official: When an SHRA employee (permanent or temporary) or an EHRA permanent employee is quarantined, the employee must be granted paid administrative leave (i.e. not charging leave) until the specified period of time ends or the employee becomes ill with the communicable disease, whichever comes first.

Employee is required by the University to stay home: If University administration believes that an employee has symptoms associated with a communicable disease, the University may require the employee not to report to work and to use available accrued paid time off, or available vacation, bonus, or sick leave.

If the University is closed (Condition III): Although all efforts should be made to allow non-mandatory employees to work from an alternative location, it may not always be possible. When the University is closed or when the university administration determines that only mandatory employees are required to report to work, the non-mandatory SHRA permanent employees who are not required to work must be granted paid administrative leave for up to 30 calendar days. Non-mandatory EHRA permanent employees, at the discretion of the University President or Chancellor or Chancellor's designee, may be granted paid administrative leave for up to 30 calendar days. The employee's pay must continue at the same rate the employee would have received had the employee been working (including any premium pay normally received). If adjustments need to be made, they will be made in the next paycheck after returning to work. If a non-mandatory employee elects to work when the agency is closed, the employee will not receive additional pay. Employees who are on prearranged vacation leave or sick leave must charge leave to the appropriate account until the end of the scheduled days off. Also, employees on leave without pay must continue on leave without pay until the scheduled leave without pay period ends.

If an employee becomes ill: If the employee becomes ill and it is determined to be work related (exposure is greater than that of the general public) in accordance with the Workers' Compensation Act, the Workers' Compensation Policy applies. If the employee is isolated or becomes ill as a result of off-the-job exposure, the Sick Leave Policy applies. The provisions of the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) Policy and the Family Illness Leave Policy will also apply.

Advisory Note: Should an employee not have sufficient sick leave available, the University may work with the employee to advance a reasonable amount of leave or make arrangements for the employee to make up the time within 24 months.

Verification

Employees who have symptoms of a communicable disease and are required to stay home or who are ill with the communicable disease should be cautioned not to return to work until they are sure they are fully recovered.

The University may require certification of fitness to work from a health care provider. If quarantined, it is the employee's responsibility to provide the University with a written verification of his or her status from a Public Health official.

Day Care, School Closings & Eldercare

When the University is open but an employee who is a parent (or guardian) is required to stay home with a child (as defined in the FMLA) because of the closure of a day care facility or a public or private school, the employee may, with approval of the supervisor, be allowed to work at home or elect to:

  • use vacation leave;
  • use bonus leave;
  • use sick leave;
  • use compensatory leave;
  • take leave without pay; or
  • take paid leave to be made up within 24 months. If the time is not made up within 24 months, appropriate leave will be deducted or the appropriate amount of pay will be deducted from the employee's paycheck.

These provisions also apply for eldercare. The University has the right to request appropriate documentation to substantiate need.

Review of Policy Decisions

In the event this policy is triggered, the Chancellor or Chancellor's designee must review the compensation and leave provisions every 30 calendar days and, as appropriate, take any of the following steps:

  • Renew the compensation and leave provisions for another 30 calendar days;
  • Revise the compensation and leave provisions for up to another 30 calendar days; or
  • Terminate the compensation and leave provisions if the public health emergency has ended.

Any changes in the compensation and leave provisions must be communicated to employees in a timely manner. Pending a renewal or revision, the employee may be allowed to take leave (compensatory, sick, vacation, bonus) until a decision is made.

Emergency Furlough

The University President or Chancellor, in consultation with the Governor's Office and the State Budget Director, may declare an emergency furlough (Communicable Disease Conditions IV-V) if the University remains totally closed or partially closed for an extended period of time. A furlough is a temporary layoff from which employees are expected to be recalled.

Permanent employees who are on an emergency furlough:

  • Continue participation in State Health Plan. The University must continue paying the employer contribution on behalf of the employee. The University will pay both the employee and employer contribution for the month following the initiation of the furlough, with the provision that the employee must repay the State for any contribution made on his or her behalf unless otherwise directed by the State.
  • Continue to accrue vacation and sick leave, as applicable (however, employees will not be allowed to use the leave during the furlough period).
  • Continue to accrue Total State Service.

An employee may be eligible for unemployment benefits through the North Carolina Employment Security Commission while on emergency furlough. Employees should contact the North Carolina Employment Security Commission for further details. If, at the end of the emergency furlough period, it is determined that the University no longer requires the services of these employees, normal University layoff provisions would apply.

Special Hiring Provisions

During the communicable disease emergency, if new hires are needed to cover emergency operations, the Chancellor or Chancellor's designee is authorized to execute the immediate hiring of an individual who is determined to be qualified and able to do the work by:

  • waiving the Job Posting, Recruitment and Selection in Career Banding Policy;
  • waiving the Minimum Qualifications Policy;
  • waiving the Employment of Related Persons (Nepotism) Policy; and
  • authorizing the University to offer competitive salaries for the duration of the emergency.

Employees hired under these conditions should be given a temporary or time-limited permanent appointment.

Employee Reassignments

The Chancellor or Chancellor's designee is authorized to assign employees where they are most needed and compensate them accordingly for the duration of the emergency.

Exceptions

None.

Definitions

  • Administrative Leave: Paid leave during which the employee is not required to charge sick or personal leave.
  • Communicable Disease Mandatory Employees (CDMEs): Employees who are required to work during a public health emergency because their positions have been designated by the University as mandatory to operations during the emergency.
  • Epidemic: A disease occurring suddenly in a community, region or country in numbers clearly in excess of normal. This includes the occurrence of several cases of a disease associated with a common source.
  • Furlough: A furlough is a temporary layoff from which employees are expected to be recalled.
  • Incubation Period: The time, usually in days, between exposure to an illness and the onset of symptoms.
  • Isolation: Restriction of movement and/or action of individuals infected with a communicable disease to reduce the chance of spreading disease. [Authority: N.C.G.S. 130A-2(3a)]
  • Pandemic: The worldwide outbreak of a serious communicable disease in numbers clearly in excess of normal.
  • Quarantine: Restriction of movement and/or action of individuals who are known to have been exposed to or may reasonably be suspected to have been exposed to a communicable disease and who do not yet show signs or symptoms of infection. [Authority: N.C.G.S. 130A-2(7a)]
  • Social Distancing: Actions taken to reduce the opportunities for close contact between people in order to limit the spread of a disease.

Related Requirements

External Regulations and Consequences

University Policies, Standards, and Procedures

Contact Information

Policy Contact

If you have questions regarding this policy, contact the Employee & Management Relations Specialist assigned to work with your department.

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Details

Article ID: 131793
Created
Thu 4/8/21 9:16 PM
Modified
Thu 7/29/21 12:39 PM
Effective Date
If the date on which this document became/becomes enforceable differs from the Origination or Last Revision, this attribute reflects the date on which it is/was enforcable.
03/19/2020 12:09 PM
Issuing Officer
Name of the document Issuing Officer. This is the individual whose organizational authority covers the policy scope and who is primarily responsible for the policy.
Issuing Officer Title
Title of the person who is primarily responsible for issuing this policy.
Associate Vice Chancellor
Last Review
Date on which the most recent document review was completed.
03/19/2020 12:09 PM
Last Revised
Date on which the most recent changes to this document were approved.
03/19/2020 12:09 PM
Origination
Date on which the original version of this document was first made official.
11/30/2007 11:00 PM
Responsible Unit
School, Department, or other organizational unit issuing this document.
Office of Human Resources