COVID FAQS Human Resources

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COVID19 Human Resources

Human Resources


Remote Telework and its Effects on Locality Pay, May 8, 2021

 

Q1: Will NPS grant me leave if I get sick with COVID-19?

A1: Employees will generally be required to take accrued sick leave if they experience symptoms of COVID-19. If you run out of leave, sick leave may be advanced, in accordance with applicable limitations. Employees may also be able to enroll in the Voluntary Leave Transfer Program (VLTP) if they have expended all sick and annual leave and have administratively sufficient medical documentation substantiating the need. To discuss civilian leave options, contact the NPS Human Resources Office at hro@nps.edu.

*Military recovery time would be considered in the line of duty.
     
Q2: Can NPS grant me Weather and Safety Leave if I need to telework because I was exposed to a confirmed case of COVID-19?

A2: If you are symptomatic, you may use sick, annual or other accrued time off.  If you are asymptomatic and telework ready, you will be required to either telework, take annual leave, or use other accrued time off. You will not be eligible to use sick leave or Weather and Safety Leave for a mere exposure. However. weather and Safety Leave may be authorized if an asymptomatic person who is not telework ready is quarantined under the authority of local or public health officials.

Q3:  What happens if I am subject to a 14-day quarantine period and do not have the ability to work from home or at another approved location?

A3: If you are not telework ready, Weather and Safety Leave may be authorized for an asymptomatic employee who is subject to movement restrictions (quarantine or isolation) under the direction of public health authorities due to a significant risk of exposure to a communicable disease, such as COVID-19. Ask your chain of command and Human Resources Office to determine your course of action.

Q4: If I run out of sick leave due to my own or another family member’s illness from COVID-19, can I receive advanced Sick Leave?

A4: Sick Leave can be advanced at the Agency’s direction under the following circumstances:

  • 30 days/240 hours can be advanced if the employee will jeopardize the health of others by exposing them to a communicable disease.
  • 3 days/104 hours may be advanced if the employee is providing care for a family member who would jeopardize the health of others by exposing them to a communicable disease.

Q5: How do I find information on Worker’s Compensation benefits related to COVID-19?

A5: Information can be found at:

https://www.dol.gov/owcp/dfec/InfoFECACoverageCoronavirus.htm

Q6: If an employee comes to work and shows symptoms of illness, what should the supervisor do? May the employee be placed on excused absence (administrative leave), and if so, for how long? What is needed before the employee can return to work? 

A6: When a supervisor observes an employee at the workplace exhibiting medical symptoms, he or she can express general concern regarding the employee’s health and remind the employee of his or her leave options for seeking medical attention, such as requesting sick or annual leave. If the employee has no leave available, supervisors are authorized to approve requests for advanced leave or leave without pay in certain circumstances. When these leave options are not practical, a viable alternative, when the employee is covered by a telework agreement, is for the employee to work from home for social distancing purposes pursuant to an ad hoc arrangement approved by the employee’s supervisor. Supervisors should not place an employee on excused absence (administrative leave) without first consulting with HR. Before an employee returns to work, the employee’s supervisor should also consult with HR. 

Q7: What happens if an employee does not have a sufficient amount of work to perform to cover the entire telework day during incidences of COVID-19? 

A7: An employee must always have a sufficient amount of work to perform throughout the workday when he or she teleworks. An employee performing telework who does not have enough work must notify his or her supervisor and receive additional work or discuss leave options such as annual leave, advanced annual leave, other paid time off (e.g., earned compensatory time off, earned credit hours), or leave without pay. 

Q8: Are there additional leave benefits available during the pandemic? 

A8: The Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) provides additional leave benefits to employees impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Q9: What does the FFCRA do?

A9: The FFCRA requires the federal government to provide all of its employees with paid sick leave for specified reasons related to COVID-19 from April 1, 2020 through December 31, 2020. In lieu of or in conjunction with the benefits established by the FFCRA, supervisors and employees are encouraged to utilize alternative work and leave flexibilities, such as Telework, Alternative Work Schedules, and Weather and Safety Leave. For more information, see the DO Fact Sheet here.

Q10: How do I qualify for Emergency Paid Sick Leave related to COVID-19 under the FFCRA?

A10: A Federal employee is entitled to take leave related to COVID-19 if the employee is unable to work, including unable to telework, because the employee:
 

a)  Is subject to a Federal, State, or local quarantine or isolation order related to COVID-19;

b)  Has been advised by a health care provider to self-quarantine related to COVID-19;

c)  Is experiencing COVID-19 symptoms and is seeking a medical diagnosis;

d)  Is caring for an individual subject to an order described in item (a) above or is self-quarantined as described in item (b) above;

e)  Is caring for his or her child whose school, or place of care, is closed (or child care provider is unavailable) due to COVID-19 related reasons; or

f)   Is experiencing any other substantially-similar condition specified by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. (additional information pending)

Q11: What are the paid leave entitlements for Emergency Paid Sick Leave granted under the FFCRA? 

A11: Entitlements include up to two weeks (80 hours, or a part-time employee’s two-week equivalent) of Emergency Paid Sick Leave under the FFCRA at:
Full rate of pay for qualifying reasons (a) – (c) above, up to $511 daily and $5,110 total;

Two-thirds an employee’s rate of pay for qualifying reasons (d) – (f) above, up to $200 daily and $2,000 total.

Q12: What are the paid leave entitlements for Emergency Family and Medical Leave granted under the FFCRA? 

A12: Because this provision only applies to individuals covered by Title I, employees at NPS do not qualify for this benefit. 

Q13: How do I apply for benefits under the FFCRA? 

A13:  Employees who cannot work, or telework, for the circumstances listed above may request leave under the FFCRA by submitting the following to HRO@nps.edu:

  The date(s) requested for leave and number of hours

The reason for leave, and

A statement explaining the reason why you are unable to work 

Q14: Is there any additional information I need to provide? 

A14: If the leave is due to an order to quarantine or isolate, you must specify the government entity or healthcare provider who gave the order or advice to quarantine or isolate.

If the leave is to care for a child whose school or place of care is closed, or child care provider is unavailable you must specify:
  The name of the child or individual being cared for,

The school, place of care, or child care provider that has closed or become unavailable

A statement that no other suitable person is available to care for the child.

Q15: Will I incur any debts if I collect benefits through the FFCRA? 

Q15: Because using this leave may result in a debt that will be collected at a later date and debt waivers will not be approved, supervisors and employees should consider other forms of available leave and/or work flexibilities prior to using emergency paid leave through the FFCRA. Please click here for additional information on Federal Employee Rights under the FFCRA, and HRO@nps.edu for further information.  

Q16: If an employee is unable to use leave due to the COVID-19 pandemic, will leave be forfeited?

A16: If an employee schedules “use or lose” annual leave in writing before the third biweekly pay period prior to the end of the leave year, and the leave is canceled due to an exigency of the public business (i.e., an urgent need for the employee to be at work), the employee may request restoration of the forfeited annual leave. (5 CFR 630.306(a)(2))

Human Resources Archive

Q6: If I am pregnant or in a high-risk category, but I am not telework ready, may I be granted Weather and Safety Leave?

A6: Yes. NPS encourages all eligible employees to use telework flexibilities to the greatest extent possible. The CDC has advised that special populations and those with high risk complications may be granted Weather and Safety Leave, if they are not telework ready. These CDC-identified populations include older adults and individuals who have chronic health conditions, such as high blood pressure, heart disease, diabetes, lung disease or compromised immune systems. Depending on the circumstances, self-identification that the employee is in one of these populations may be accepted, without certification by a medical professional.

Q7: If an employee, who has been receiving weather and safety leave due to exposure to COVID-19 becomes symptomatic, should he or she continue to receive weather and safety leave? 

A7: No. Sick leave would be used to cover such a period of sickness, as provided in 5 CFR 630.401(a)(2). Agencies must grant sick leave when an illness, such as COVID-19, prevents an employee from performing work. 

Q8: Can agencies approve weather and safety leave for an employee who has been quarantined due to exposure to a communicable disease, such as Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19)? 

A8: Agencies may authorize weather and safety leave for an asymptomatic employee who is subject to movement restrictions (quarantine or isolation) under the direction of public health authorities due to a significant risk of exposure to a quarantinable communicable disease, such as COVID-19. 

Q9: If an employee must stay home to care for an asymptomatic family member who was exposed to a quarantinable communicable disease, such as COVID-19, should an agency authorize weather and safety leave? 

A9: No. An agency should not authorize weather and safety leave in this instance. An employee who is healthy and is caring for an asymptomatic family member may request annual leave, advanced annual leave, other paid time off (e.g., earned compensatory time off, earned credit hours), or leave without pay for the period of absence from his or her job. In addition, an employee who is caring for an asymptomatic family member who has been exposed to a quarantinable communicable disease and who is covered by a telework agreement may also request to telework pursuant to an ad hoc arrangement to the extent possible. If the employee's family member becomes symptomatic (ill) with a quarantinable communicable disease, such as COVID-19, sick leave to care for a family member with a serious health condition would be appropriate. 

Q10: Must an employee have a doctor’s note if requesting to use sick leave for 3 days or more due to an illness from a quarantinable communicable disease, such as COVID-19? 

A10: Not necessarily. Under OPM’s regulations (5 CFR 630.405(a)), an agency may grant sick leave only when the need for sick leave is supported by administratively acceptable evidence. An agency may consider an employee’s self-certification as to the reason for his or her absence as administratively acceptable evidence, regardless of the duration of the absence. An agency may also require a medical certificate or other administratively acceptable evidence as to the reason for an absence for any of the purposes for which sick leave is granted for an absence in excess of 3 workdays, or for a lesser period when the agency determines it is necessary. Supervisors should use their best judgment and follow their agency’s internal practices for granting sick leave. Agencies should also be mindful about the burden and impact of requiring a medical certificate. 

Q13: Support services available through the DON Civilian Employee Assistance Program (DONCEAP)?

A13: DONCEAP provides free and confidential access via staffed professional 24/7 to provide answers to questions, research information, link employees to a variety of local services and provide licensed confidential support to help with difficult issues. Resources include but are not limited to: 

Access to licensed counselors for wide range of concerns including relationships, legal, financial, family, substance abuse, etc.

Assistance with short-term problem solving, management coaching or crisis management

Access to work/life specialists who provide information, resources and referral to childcare, eldercare, daily life, family (adoption, prenatal), legal and financial, and more!

See DONCEAP’s May Newsletter focusing on managing emotional well-being here. vVsit DONCEAP’s public portal site (open to all with a CAC): https://portal.secnav.navy.mil/orgs/MRA/DONHR/DONCEAP/Pages/default.aspx

For questions, contact the Human Resources Office at HRO@nps.edu.