As a follow-up to my communication last week, the following is the guidance promised explaining how COVID-19 leaves will be managed as we transition from Rutgers COVID-19 Paid Leave (CPL), which will end on May 8th, to the Emergency Family and Medical Leave Expansion Act (“E-FMLA”) and Emergency Paid Sick Leave Act (“EPSLA”) provisions of the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (“FFCRA”). These new processes and guidelines will be effective May 9, 2020 through December 31, 2020. We continue to urge all supervisors to use their discretion in working with employees to allow for flexible telecommuting workplans, flexible work schedules, and split shift agreements to the extent possible.
CPL was rolled out to the university community on March 12, 2020 to support social distancing as a way in which to protect our campus community amidst the spread of the coronavirus. To date, nearly 3,000 Rutgers employees have requested paid leave for COVID-19 diagnosis, self-quarantine, the care of a sick family member, or to care for their children as a result of a school or daycare closure, without having to tap into their accrued paid leave time. This was an important measure to support our employees by providing some degree of security in these very uncertain times. However, we are now faced with the massive economic impact brought about by the coronavirus pandemic and have begun to put mitigation strategies in place. While difficult, these strategies will allow Rutgers to responsibly advance its mission, protect the academic and clinical enterprise, while preserving access and affordability.
Effective May 9, 2020, leave taken for reasons permitted by the E-FMLA and/or EPSLA, shall follow the guidelines below. Beginning on May 9th, employees may apply for E-FMLA and/or EPSLA through OneSource. In order to facilitate the process, employees wishing to continue a COVID-19 related leave will have until May 22, 2020 to apply for E-FMLA and/or EPSLA without a disruption in leave. All E-FMLA and EPSLA requests that meet the eligibility criteria will be approved subject to submission of appropriate documentation to OneSource. If the necessary documentation is not received, the employee will be required to charge paid leave time in accordance with university policy/corresponding appropriate negotiated labor agreement.
EMERGENCY PAID SICK LEAVE ACT (“EPSLA”)
Leave Eligibility and Compensation
Employees who are unable to work or telecommute and meet one of the criteria detailed below may be provided with up to 80 hours (prorated for part-time employees) of EPSLA at their regular rate of pay. Employees may request leave under the following circumstances:
- The employee is diagnosed with COVID-19 or is experiencing symptoms of COVID-19 and seeking a medical diagnosis;
- The employee is subject to a federal, state, or local quarantine or isolation order related to COVID-19 or has been directed to self-quarantine by a government agency;
- The employee is under self-quarantine or isolation due to concerns related to COVID-19 based on the advice of a health care provider or pursuant to public health assessment recommendations concerning suspected exposure to COVID-19;
- The employee is providing care to an immediate family member or other individual with whom the employee has a similar relationship (such as an individual with whom the employee resides or an individual with whom the employee has a close relationship and who expects and depends on the employee’s care) who is subject to the provisions above;
- The employee is caring for a son or daughter whose school or place of care has been closed, or whose child care provider is unavailable, due to COVID-19 precautions.
Employees may apply for EPSLA through OneSource beginning May 9, 2020. Employees transitioning from CPL to EPSLA will have until May 22nd to apply for EPSLA and provide supporting documentation without an interruption in leave or the requirement to charge other accrued paid time off.
Employees who have exhausted EPSLA time but are still in need of additional leave should contact OneSource to explore whether other forms of leave may be available, such as leave under university policy and/or the terms of applicable collective negotiations agreements, accrued and available paid time off, or leave as a disability-related accommodation.
EMERGENCY FAMILY AND MEDICAL LEAVE EXPANSION ACT (“E-FMLA”) FOR EMPLOYEES CARING FOR A CHILD WHOSE SCHOOL OR CHILD CARE HAS CLOSED OR IS UNAVAILABLE DUE TO COVID-19
Effective May 9, 2020, employees who have worked at Rutgers for 30 or more days and are not able to work or telecommute and request leave to provide care to a child whose school or place of care is closed (or child care provider is unavailable) for reasons related to COVID-19 may be eligible for up to 12 weeks of leave under the Emergency Family and Medical Leave Expansion Act (“E-FMLA”).
Leave Process and Compensation
Employees may apply for E-FMLA through OneSource beginning May 9, 2020. Employees transitioning from CPL to E-FMLA will have until May 22nd to apply for E-FMLA and provide supporting documentation without an interruption in leave or the requirement to charge other accrued paid time off. The following guidelines will apply for all new and existing leave requests under the E-FMLA, which cannot exceed twelve (12) weeks in duration:
- The first two weeks of E-FMLA are unpaid except that the employee may elect to apply their available EPSLA time or other accrued paid time off (Vacation, Administrative Leave, Personal Holiday, Mandatory Leave (RBHS only), or New Jersey Earned Sick Leave (“NJESL”)) to be charged concurrently with the first two (2) weeks of leave taken under the E-FMLA.
- For the remaining period of up to ten (10) additional weeks of the employee’s E-FMLA leave entitlement, the employee may make the following election: (i) shall be compensated at 2/3 their regular daily rate of pay up to $200 per day, or (ii) employees may choose to charge accrued Vacation, Administrative Leave, Personal Holiday, Mandatory Leave (RBHS only), or New Jersey Earned Sick Leave (“NJESL”). Employees who exhaust accrued Vacation, Administrative Leave, Personal Holiday, Mandatory Leave (RBHS only), or New Jersey Earned Sick Leave (“NJESL”) shall then receive 2/3 their regular daily rate of pay or up to $200 per day for the remaining period of their E-FMLA leave entitlement.
- All other terms of FMLA leave shall be followed, except that, for the purpose of E-FMLA, the university will apply the leave prospectively and not deduct previous FMLA time. However, E-FMLA shall count as FMLA leave prospectively.
Certain Healthcare Providers and Emergency Responders are generally excluded but may qualify for E-FMLA or EPSLA on an exception basis. (See Special Notes #6)
E-FMLA Protected Leave
Typical FMLA leave ensures workers’ positions are job-protected until they return to work, if the position exists.
Working Remotely During the Period of Self Quarantine
If an employee is under self-quarantine as indicated under EPSLA, but is asymptomatic and otherwise able to work, such employee will be required to work remotely if deemed feasible by the supervisor.
Employee is Not Eligible for EPSLA or E-FMLA
If an employee does not meet the conditions set forth above for E-FMLA or EPSLA and the employee requests a leave of absence, the employee will be required to follow university policy and/or the applicable Collective Negotiations Agreement to seek a leave of absence.
Use of Other Leave
All E-FMLA and EPSLA requests that meet the eligibility criteria will be approved subject to submission of appropriate documentation to OneSource. If the necessary documentation is not received, the employee will be required to charge paid leave time in accordance with university policy/corresponding appropriate negotiated labor agreement.
Approved E-FMLA and EPSLA shall not count toward the completion of the probationary period for any qualified employee.
Casual and Student Employees
Casual and Student employees who are unable to report to scheduled work shifts due to circumstances provided above may also be eligible for E-FMLA and/or EPSLA. In addition, Casual and Student employees may be eligible to charge earned New Jersey Earned Sick Leave (“NJESL”) for such absences.
Healthcare Providers and Emergency Responders
Healthcare Providers and Emergency Responders are defined by the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (“FFCRA”) and can be found under Frequently Asked Questions - E-FMLA and EPSLA on OneSource.
Senior Vice President for Human Resources & Organizational Effectiveness