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Human Resources

University of Mississippi

Workplace Considerations

March 23, 2020

Work from Home (Telecommuting)

While the university remains open, we encourage managers to develop and implement telecommuting opportunities for employees, so that the university can maintain operations while taking every precaution to reduce the spread of infection.  Reducing the number of employees in the workplace is a critical step to protect the health of our colleagues whose jobs cannot be performed from home.

Faculty and Staff Who Cannot Work from Home
(including employees currently designated for required attendance)

While we encourage telecommuting when possible, there is some work that simply cannot be done from home. For those employees whose duties cannot be completed at home, managers will adopt practices to minimize the spread of infection and protect the well-being of our community, including the following:

  • Utilize the University’s flexible work schedule policy for staff where possible to reduce the number of people working near one another at the same time; this may include spreading the work day out while maintaining coverage a minimal presence during the core business hours, of 8-5pm.
  • Establish a compressed work schedule. This arrangement allows you to change the number of hours you work each day to permit fewer workdays per week. For example, if you’re regularly scheduled to work 40 hours per week, you might work four 10-hour days, with Dean/Department Heads approval.
  • Implement social distancing practices meant to reduce close contact in the workplace (e.g., maintain a distance of 6 feet from others). This may include utilizing vacated classrooms or conference rooms.
  • Transition all meetings to phone or virtual formats

Clean and Safe Work Spaces

We all have a part to play in contributing to a healthy community by preventing the spread of infectious illnesses. While there is no vaccine to prevent the COVID-19 infection, the following are everyday habits that can help prevent the spread of respiratory viruses.

  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. Use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol if soap and water are not available.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands.
  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
  • Stay home when you are sick.
  • Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.

We commend the Custodial Services staff for all of their efforts.  During the potential spread of COVID-19, Clorox wipes, surface sanitizer spray, and hand sanitizer (pumps) will be provided at each location and you are encouraged to help maintain clean surfaces throughout the day.

Caring for Dependents

If your child’s school or regular care provider is closed, discuss with your supervisor the option to telecommute.  If telecommuting is not an option, during these unprecedented times, all employees who are unable to work for any reason, including to care for a dependent, will be placed on administrative leave with pay until further notice.

If you are unable to report to work due to your own or family member’s illness or injury, you should generally use accrued major medical leave for this purpose.

Required Self-Quarantine

Student, faculty or staff member returning from international travel will be required to self-quarantine, self-monitor, fill out the Travel Reporting Portal, and follow the CDC recommendations for what to do for a minimum of 14 days.

Faculty and Staff who visited countries outside the U.S. should contact Employee Health at 662-915-6550.

As this is a requirement of the University, this would be considered Administrative leave.  Employees, exempt and non-exempt, required to self-quarantine must report their time appropriately as “administrative leave.”

If symptoms develop during 14 day self-quarantine, the employee is still eligible for 10 administrative leave days, and then 1st day illness and then major medical, if needed.

Suspected Illness & Leave Time

Employees who feel ill should remain home and use the appropriate leave, first day illness and major medical leave.  If you believe that you have been exposed to or contracted the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19), you should contact your doctor and Employee Health by phone (915-6550) immediately.

Just like with other illnesses, you are required to contact your supervisor to inform them that you are unable to report to work.  However, you are not required to disclose your illness or medical condition.

If you report to work ill, your supervisor may request that you clock out and go home.  Supervisors cannot require you to “go to the doctor.” It is recommended that even individuals who are mildly ill with COVID-19 do not go to work.

We recognize that these conversations may be difficult and confusing. Human Resources representatives are available to assist (hr@olemiss.edu  or 915-7431).

Student Employment

Reducing the number of employees, including student workers, in the workplace is a critical step to protect the health of our colleagues whose jobs cannot be performed from home.

During the extended spring break and during the period when only online classes will be available, students may continue to work on campus in mission critical areas whereas the conditions and work environment provide adequate social distancing,  students need to work for their livelihood, and their role is essential.

If the tasks and assignments can be performed remotely, i.e., tutoring via Zoom or Google Meet, hourly students may work remotely with adequate supervision.

Students cannot be required to report to work while the University is working to mitigate and slow the spread of COVID-19 and to protect the continuing good health of our university community.

Worker’s Compensation Implications

Similar to other work-related injuries and illnesses, if an employee contracts COVID-19 while performing work-related activities during the course of business, including travel, the employee may be eligible for workers’ compensation.  Supervisors must continue to be aware of working conditions and of our workers’ compensation practices, https://hr.olemiss.edu/benefits/workers-compensation/

Questions?  Human Resources representatives are available to assist (hr@olemiss.edu or 915-7431).

Frequently Asked Questions