Message from Human Resource Services

March 26, 2020

 



The UM Human Resource Services logo

Dear UM Family,

Thank you all for the incredible job you have been doing in not only supervising and managing your staff over the past few weeks, but also in supporting them, offering them guidance and providing them with outstanding leadership during a challenging time.

I know you have been inundated with information and that it has been hard to keep track of where to get answers to your questions. Today, I want to provide some clarity regarding where you can get you questions answered and by outlining some of the new information available. This note is rather long because I want to answer some of the immediate questions that have emerged over the past few days. In the future, please refer to the updated Keep on Working website, where we will communicate all new information and changes.

In this communication, I will share information on the following topics:

  • The Keep on Working website
  • Encouragement of telework options
  • Flexibility in scheduling and work models
  • Support and professional development opportunities
  • Paid-leave policy details
  • Self-screening guidance for those returning from travel
  • Student employment
  • Federal work-study guidance
  • Upcoming town hall meetings
  • Access to past communications and details

KEEP ON WORKING

Please know that we are collecting employment information and resources in one place, allowing us to be comprehensive and timely with updates. Please visit the Keep on Working website, where we post new items as the situation warrants. Check back often and point your employees to this resource.


TELEWORK

We strongly encourage all managers to allow their employees to work remotely for the health and safety of all. Encouraging telework in cases where it is possible will reduce the number of people on campus and provide a safer working location for those employees who work in positions where telework is not possible. Be especially cognizant of those employees with underlying health issues, those in an advanced age group, those who have had recent travel and those who must be under quarantine. Although campus is generally the worksite for all employees, there is a telecommuting procedure available on the HRS website, which can be found as the very last item on that list. It is the procedure that should be applied in all instances for employees who are able to telecommute.

Faculty should complete the Faculty Telecommuting Agreement,and staff should complete the Staff Telecommuting Agreement. Please be sure to review the Telecommuting FAQ. Once the forms have been completed, please send them to HRSCommunications@umontana.edu.


FLEXIBILITY IN SCHEDULING AND TELEWORK

This is an unprecedented time on our campus and in the world. If ever there was a time to be flexible and creative, this is it, especially when it comes to our new telework models. In University Marketing, one married couple with a young child and no current daycare adjusted their schedules so they are working a 12-hour shift in the office every other day, splitting Fridays into six-hour shifts and working from home the rest of the time. Neither of them is missing a beat, and the work is getting done both in the office and remotely.

Other offices are encouraging their staff to invest this time in professional development opportunities. Still others are giving staff long-term projects to work on that there is just no time to complete during normal workdays. Other offices have completely broken their organizational structure and assigned staff from one area to another to help meet a need (after a conversation with HRS, of course). And other offices are working together to accomplish larger projects that require shared resources and thinking outside our usual boxes to get results.

That is the beauty of telework. It does not necessarily mean having employees do their EXACT same work from home. Some can; many cannot. But being creative and thinking about the needs of your area and matching them with skillsets or strengths of current employees will help keep the University moving forward. This is the time to be flexible. To be creative. To try some new things and to ask your staff how they might do things. While the work of the University has to get done, to be sure, it does not have to be done the same old way.

Now is the time to complete the telework agreements in each of your offices. Take the time to sit with each of your employees and determine together how to best complete both the daily tasks that have to get done and the medium- and long-term projects that have been put off. What professional development areas could they focus on remotely? Are there any joint projects they could lead or undertake? Could they learn a new skill? Could they teach a skill? Could they set up a new system or process at the University for others? How can we make the best use of everyone’s time right now?

The paperwork is easy to complete and should be turned into the HRS office no later than Tuesday, March 31.


SUPPORT AND PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT

The Office of Organizational Learning and Development is busy standing up support for all of us during this challenging time. Some examples include:

Manager discussion about recent workplace challenges

Thursday, April 2, 9:30-10:30 a.m., via Zoom
This Zoom meeting for supervisors will provide a space to discuss managerial challenges related to recent work disruptions and to brainstorm solutions with campus colleagues. Bring your questions and suggestions about topics like connecting with your team while working remotely, prioritizing and organizing workloads, supporting employees, addressing health and mental health concerns, and more. Many people face similar challenges, so let’s get together and offer one another strategies, resources and support. Please RSVP.

MUS Employee Assistance Program

Wednesday, April 1, 3:30-4:30 p.m. Via Zoom
Join us to learn more about how the MUS Employee Assistance Program can offer no-cost support to MUS employees and their household members for a wide variety of challenges. The program provides access to counseling services, 24-hour crisis help, resources for supervisors, emotional wellness support and even financial consultations. Services can be accessed online and are confidential. Learn more about how EAP can support you and your colleagues. Please RSVP.

Tips on working remotely

Visit this OOLD clearinghouse of resources on how to adapt to a virtual workspace, maintaining well-being and connection with others, and leading a virtual team.


PAID LEAVE

The Montana University System will provide a new “Paid COVID-19 Leave” for up to 30 calendar days, subject to certain eligibility requirements and in coordination with regular statutory sick-leave requirements for state government employees. Your campus and system HRS officers are implementing plans to administer this special leave in accordance with state guidelines. This leave program will be managed consistently with steps taken in other agencies, departments and branches of state government.

As the State of Montana prepares for potential impacts of coronavirus, also known as COVID-19, MUS employees are encouraged to review the following information, including the Frequently Asked Questions. Questions or concerns should be discussed with your supervisor in consultation with your campus human resource services staff.

This guidance is provided given the circumstances relating to the coronavirus and is not applicable to any past events and does not create an expectation that these guidelines will continue beyond the COVID-19 situation.

This guidance will be updated as this situation continues to evolve. Your supervisor will keep you informed as we move forward. Our priority is the health and safety of our employees and the continuity of the critical services we provide.

Generally, the Paid COVID-19 Leave will assist in situations where individuals are told by public health officials or health care providers to quarantine because of potential exposure or in situations if employees are diagnosed with COVID-19. The employees whose job duties and responsibilities do not allow a work-from-home arrangement may be eligible to use Paid COVID-19 Leave for the time periods specified below for medical needs or reasons of illness that sick leave would normally cover before having to use accrued sick leave.

  • An employee who is quarantined because of potential exposure to COVID-19 and is unable to work remotely is eligible for 14 calendar days of Paid COVID-19 Leave. Under these circumstances, the employee does not need provider documentation to take the leave, but the employee may be required to provide a letter from the employee’s health care provider or local health department indicating that the employee has completed the required monitoring, isolation or quarantine period. The employee also may be required to provide medical documentation releasing the employee to full duty prior to returning to work.
     
  • An employee who is unable to work remotely is eligible for up to 14 calendar days of Paid COVID-19 Leave if the employee or a member of the employee’s household is experiencing a compromised immune system. The employee may provide a letter from a health care provider indicating the requirement to be away from the workplace to reduce possible exposure to COVID-19 because of the employee’s or household member’s compromised immune system.
     
  • An employee who misses work to care for an immediate family member who is quarantined as a result of COVID-19 may be eligible for up to 14 calendar days of Paid COVID-19 Leave. Remote work may be an option for the employee if it is available. The employee does not need provider documentation to take the leave, but the employee may be required to provide a letter from the employee’s health care provider or local health department indicating that the employee’s immediate family member has completed the required monitoring, isolation or quarantine period prior to returning to work.
     
  • An employee who is diagnosed with the COVID-19 virus is eligible for up to a maximum of 30 calendar days of Paid COVID-19 Leave. This maximum 30-calendar-day period includes any calendar days absent while under quarantine for COVID-19. Remote work may be an option for the employee if it is available. The employee may also be required to provide a letter from the employee’s health care provider or local health department indicating that the employee has completed the required monitoring, isolation or quarantine period as well as provide medical documentation releasing the employee to full duty prior to returning to work. If the employee is absent from work for more than 30 calendar days, the employee can use accrued sick leave, annual leave or compensatory time or be in an unpaid leave status.
     
  • An employee who is required to stay home due to closure of a school, childcare or elder care facility in connection with the monitoring or management of the coronavirus or as a result of a declared public health emergency by the governor and is not eligible to work remotely or is unable to telework because the employee’s child needs full-time care, is eligible for up to 80 hours of Paid COVID-19 Leave. This paid leave can be taken intermittently and is available effective March 16, 2020. This paid leave will not deduct from accrued leave balances. After having used 80 hours of Paid COVID-19 Leave, the employee may use accrued annual (vacation), compensatory (comp) time or sick leave.

Paid COVID-19 Leave is only available for the employee’s actual worked hours as scheduled by the employee’s immediate supervisor. Paid COVID-19 Leave is not provided during weekends or workdays when the employee is not scheduled to work, and no work has been performed.

During the COVID-19 situation, the 90-day sick leave and six-month annual leave waiting periods for new-hire employees are waived.


SELF-SCREENING FOR THOSE RETURNING FROM TRAVEL

For those faculty, staff and students who have returned from travel to one of the current hotspots for COVID-19 or who may have come in close contact with someone from one of those areas, please complete the Returning to Campus Questionnaire for Employees. The form will help you determine the next steps, if any, you should take.


STUDENT EMPLOYMENT

We understand there is quite a bit of consternation about student employment at this time. We are working to keep as many students employed on campus as possible. However, with many of our operations closed or closing at this time, we do not have the need for as many student workers as we did even just a few weeks ago. We will, as much as possible, work to move student resources into areas of need on campus — the Student Enrollment Communication Center, the Admissions Office, etc. — to keep students on the payroll.

Many of our students have lost their jobs in the community. Missoula County has stood up a website with links to myriad resources throughout the county.


FEDERAL WORK-STUDY GUIDANCE


Federal Work-Study — The federal regulations and State of Montana decisions include provisions for Work-Study funding based on the current status of the University and assumes the student is still enrolled in at least six credits for spring 2020. Work-Study supervisors should contact Ellen Smith (ellen.smith@mso.umt.edu) with any additional questions.

Employers

If your department is able to provide the same or similar job duties for the Work-Study employee – either on campus or remotely:

  • The student employee can continue to work and earn Work-Study wages through the end of the semester. 
     
  • Work-Study students may work remotely. If your Work-Study student employees can complete their duties remotely, please update their job description in your records to reflect work that can be accomplished off-campus. (The financial aid office does not need a new hire form with these changes reflected.)
     
  • Student employees and their supervisors are encouraged to maintain proactive lines of communication, including discussions pertaining to work schedules and expectations. As always, supervisors must oversee the work of any Work-Study recipient and submit time sheets in a timely fashion by required deadlines.  
     
  • If your department can provide the same or similar job duties for the student – either on campus or remotely — but the student does not wish to continue working — they forfeit the remaining unearned portion of their Work-Study award for the 2019-20 year.

If your department is unable to provide the same or similar job duties for the student or has closed:

  • For example, the student employee’s job duties provided front-line servicing but the office is now closed as a result of coronavirus, and the duties cannot be moved remotely, the student can no longer meet the job duties – therefore they are considered “unable” to work. 
     
  • Students deemed “unable to work” can be paid through the end of the semester based on the number of hours they were scheduled to have worked each week.
     
  • Please continue to use Griz Time Online to record employee hours.
     
  • If a student has a permanent shift schedule, please use that to enter their hours in GTO.
     
  • If a student's shift changes regularly, please contact Ellen Smith in the financial aid office for guidance. (ellen.smith@mso.umt.edu)
     
  • Students cannot earn more than their Work-Study award for the aid year. If you are not sure of the student’s balance, please email their name and 790 # to Ellen Smith (ellen.smith@mso.umt.edu).

TOWN HALL MEETINGS

We will be scheduling some remote Town Hall meetings with Human Resource Services and other University staff to help answer your questions about teleworking, Federal Work-Study, payroll and other topics as we work through our new normal together. Please watch both the UM Events Calendar and UM Today/Tonight for announcements of times and dates. Registration will be limited so discussion can flourish. However, we will have several sessions so all who wish to attend may. We will also record them and make them available online for all.


PAST COMMUNICATION


DIRECT FEEDBACK

If you have a question about a topic you do not see covered in this message or on the website, or if you would like to provide us with some direct feedback, please email us at AskHR@mso.umt.edu. We will respond as quickly as we can.

If you have questions/concerns of a confidential nature please email me directly, terri.phillips@mso.umt.edu.

Be safe and take care of one another,

Terri Phillips, Associate Vice President
Human Resource Services
406-243-5703

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