Coronavirus: HR Guidance for FSU Departments and Employees

This message to all faculty and staff has been approved by Renisha Gibbs, Associate Vice President for Human Resources and Finance & Administration Chief of Staff.

As Florida State University continues to closely monitor advisories and updates from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), University leadership is working to prepare the campus should we need to respond to an outbreak of the COVID-19 coronavirus. FSU will continue to coordinate with state and local health officials and emergency management personnel, and we will continue to distribute updates via email and through the FSU Alert system as specific information becomes available.

At this time, departments should work to ensure optimal preparation by minimizing the potential for disruption of business operations. We recommend departments adhere to the following:

  • Disseminate reliable information (CDC, Florida Department of Health (FDOH), and official University communications) about the disease and its potential transmission promptly to the students, staff, and faculty in your department. Communications should include guidelines for preventing the spread of germs such as proper hand washing, encouraging sick employees to stay home, and checking with healthcare providers should they experience flu-like symptoms.
  • Review applicable University policies and procedures related to business operations and evaluate whether business tasks could continue during an extended campus closure. Evaluation should include identification of essential personnel, the feasibility of remote work options, an inventory of equipment necessary to connect to essential resources, and the prioritization of essential business tasks that must continue. Departments need to consider specific operations that will need to continue if campus experiences a partial or full closure.
  • Because University software applications can be accessed via the internet from remote locations, employees will still be expected to enter time worked and leave used in accordance with University policy & guidelines. Employees who have administrative responsibilities, including payroll processing, should make appropriate preparations to check myFSU BI (Actives, Cost Center) and make any needed corrections to their department’s payroll from a remote location.

FAQs for Supervisors (Click here for printable PDF)

Should an employee stay home even if they are sick with a common cold?
Generally speaking, staying home when you are sick is good advice for all employees. This is to prevent the transmission of any illness. Supervisors are encouraged to get this message out to employees. If employees are sick, they should stay home until the symptoms have subsided for 24 hours and/or contact their physician for guidance. The
normal protocol for notification of the absence to the supervisor and use of accrued sick leave would apply.

Does the University have the right to send sick employees home?
Yes. If an employee reports to work and presents with symptoms of being ill, we cannot diagnose what the illness is since we are not medical professionals. It is best to err on the side of caution and advise the employee that it is in their best interest to go home and suggest that they seek medical care. The employee should use their available sick leave for the absence.

What should I do if I or one of my employees is exhibiting symptoms?
Our best defense against the virus is prevention. If you are or one of your employees is exhibiting symptoms consistent with COVID-19 (fever, cough, shortness of breath), please contact your doctor and remain off campus until you have confirmed your diagnosis. Employees should notify their supervisor of the concern so that sick leave can be requested and approved.

What do I do if an employee shows signs of illness but does not want to go home?
If an employee does not want to go home, you can require them to provide medical documentation stating that they are fit for duty. You must contact Human Resources (HR) to discuss the situation and evaluate the circumstances on a case-by-case basis. Decisions must be made in consultation with HR to ensure that the University is reviewing all cases fairly and systematically.

How do I know if an employee needs to self-quarantine?
The University has restricted travel to Level 2 and 3 countries, which currently include China, Iran, Italy, Japan, South Korea, and any layovers in these areas. If an employee is returning from one of these countries, even for personal travel, we request that they self-quarantine for 14 days and not return to campus until this time has elapsed.

Is telecommuting an option for an employee who needs to self-quarantine?
Telecommuting may be an option if an employee needs to self-quarantine but not for an employee who wants to avoid contact with the general public. If it is determined that a self-quarantine is appropriate and job duties can be completed by telecommuting, a formal telecommuting agreement is not required. The supervisor and department
head, in consultation with HR, can develop work hours and a work plan for the impacted employee.

How does the self-quarantine need to be reported for timekeeping purposes?
If telecommuting is approved, the hours should be designated as time worked for any time spent performing work duties. If telecommuting is not appropriate, the employee can use their accrued annual leave for the quarantine period. If the employee develops symptoms during the quarantine period or requires medical care, they can use their available sick leave. If the employee does not have the sufficient leave available, the absence will need to be documented as leave without pay on the timesheet.

Since the self-quarantine period is over 10 days, do we need to request a doctor’s note to return to work?
A doctor’s note would only be required if the employee develops symptoms during the quarantine period and/or requires medical care related to exposure.

Can an employee stay home if he or she has a general concern about being exposed to the virus?
The University understands the concern about potential exposure, but at this time the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) has advised that the overall immediate threat to the public remains low. The University will continue to evaluate the situation as information is made available. At this time, employees are expected to report to work, and are still required to follow their department’s attendance and leave procedures. If an employee believes they or an immediate family member has a specific medical reason impeding their ability to report to work, they are encouraged to contact the FMLA manager in Human Resources to initiate the FMLA application process.

Refer to the FSU Alert page for the University’s emergency information and instructions. Additional information regarding the basics of the disease as well as interim guidance for U.S. institutions of higher education can be found on the CDC website.

For faculty and staff matters related to this issue, please contact Tracey Pearson (staff) at (850) 644-3694 or Rebecca Peterson (faculty) at (850) 645-2202.