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Leave of Absence Options in Response to COVID-19

The following information has been compiled in an effort to help employees and managers explore leave options available in response to COVID-19, including new temporary leave options provided by the State and Federal government.  This guidance is established to assist employees that may be unable to work, (either on-campus or by telework) as a result of COVID-19. 

Many of our employees are currently able to work successfully, either performing essential functions on campus, or through remote work. If this is the case, there is no need to change how you are currently reporting your time. HR continues to encourage employees and managers to explore creative options to support remote work whenever possible, and use the following guidance to support the selection of appropriate leave options when necessary.

A Time Reporting Checklist and Instruction Sheet to assist employees/managers in completing their time reporting under these new options is available - COVID-19 Time Reporting Checklist and Instructions.

Expanded Use of Regular Leave of Absence Options

In addition to reasons for using annual leave or sick leave for a leave of absence as outlined in ISUPP 3070, Leave of Absence Policy for Faculty & Staff, benefit-eligible employees may use their regularly accrued vacation leave, sick leave, and/or compensatory time, if applicable,  if they:

  • Are subject to a federal, state, or local quarantine or isolation order related to COVID-19;
  • Have been advised by a health care provider to self-quarantine related to COVID-19; 
  • Are experiencing COVID-19 symptoms and are seeking a medical diagnosis;
  • Are caring for an individual subject to a federal, state, or local quarantine or isolation order related to COVID-19;
  • Are caring for an individual that has been advised by a health care provider to self quarantine because of COVID-19; or,
  • Are caring for a child whose school or place of care is closed (or childcare provider is unavailable) for reasons related to COVID-19.

AND, 

  • are unable to work, telecommute or be reassigned.

Donating and Using Shared Leave

Effective March 31, 2020, an employee may donate accrued vacation or sick leave to an employee to be used as sick leave, in accordance with the State of Idaho’s Donated Leave Policy

Note: The State of Idaho has issued a temporary rule waiver allowing employees to donate sick leave during this time rather than only being able to donate vacation hours as has been the case historically. This waiver is subject to change at any time.

To donate/receive shared leave hours:

  1. The donating employee must maintain a minimum of 80 hours of vacation/sick time balances accrued in order to donate hours.
  2. The donating employee will not exceed 80 hours of transferred leave in the current fiscal year.

To receive donated leave, employees must 

  1. first exhaust all of their accrued vacation and sick leave balances. 
  2. The receiving employee may receive a maximum of 160 hours in donations in the current fiscal year.  

Employees may use donated sick leave in accordance with the reasons outlined in the previous section of this guidance if they are unable to work, telecommute, or be reassigned. Employees in need of shared leave hours, or those interested in donating vacation/sick hours may contact the HR Office at 208-282-2517 or hr@isu.edu for assistance in completing the State’s Transfer of Hours Forms:

EIS-180 Form - State of Idaho Transfer of Vacation Hours Form

Employees in need of shared leave hours, or those interested in donating vacation/sick hours may contact the HR Office at 208-282-2517 or hr@isu.edu for assistance in completing the form below and submitting via DocuSign:
Shared Leave Donation Request Form

Families First Coronavirus Response Act, (FFCRA)

Effective April 1, 2020, congress enacted the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA). The FFCRA provides 1) expansions to the FMLA, which includes an additional qualifying event, and 2) establishes a new law, the Emergency Paid Sick Leave Act (EPSLA) for Eligible Employees as outlined below. The expansions of the FMLA and the EPSLA expire on December 31, 2020.

Employers are required to update their mandatory employment postings related to these temporary expanded rights related to FFCRA by April 1, 2020 through January 1, 2021 unless directed to remove them at an earlier date. Due to the current situation where a majority of our employees are working remotely, please view the updated FFCRA posting

According to the U.S. Department of Labor, The FFCRA requires certain employers, such as ISU, to provide employees with paid sick leave or expanded family and medical leave for specified reasons related to COVID-19.  The Department of Labor’s (Department) Wage and Hour (WHD) administers and enforces the new law’s paid leave requirements. These provisions will apply from the effective date through December 31, 2020.

Generally, the Act provides that employees of covered employers are eligible for:

  • Two weeks (up to 80 hours - prorated for part-time employees) of paid sick leave at the employee’s regular rate of pay where the employee is unable to work because the employee is quarantined (pursuant to Federal, State, or local government order or advice of a healthcare provider), and/or experiencing COVID-19 symptoms and seeking a medical diagnosis; or
  • Two weeks (up to 80 hours - prorated for part-time employees) of paid sick leave at two-thirds the employee’s regular rate of pay because the employee is unable to work because of a bona fide need to care for an individual subject to quarantine (pursuant to Federal, State, or local government order or advice of a healthcare provider), or to care for a child (under 18 years of age) whose school or child care provider is closed or unavailable for reasons related to COVID-19, and/or the employee is experiencing a substantially similar condition as specified by the Secretary of Health and Human Services, in consultation with the Secretaries of the Treasury and Labor; and
  • After 10 days of FMLA, up to an additional 10 weeks of paid expanded family and medical leave at two-thirds the employee’s regular rate of pay where an employee who has been employed for at least 30 calendar days, is unable to work due to a bona fide need for leave to care for a child whose school or child care provider is closed or unavailable for reasons related to COVID-19.

Covered Employers: The paid sick leave and expanded family and medical leave provisions of the FFCRA apply to certain public employers, such as ISU, and private employers with fewer than 500 employees.  

Eligible Employees: All employees of covered employers, such as ISU, are eligible for two weeks of paid sick time for specified reasons related to COVID-19. Employees employed for at least 30 days are eligible for up to an additional 10 weeks of paid family leave to care for a child under certain circumstances related to COVID-19.

Notice: Where leave is foreseeable, an employee should provide notice of leave to the employer as is practicable.  After the first workday of paid sick time, an employer may require employees to follow reasonable notice procedures in order to continue receiving paid sick time.

Qualifying Reasons for Leave:

Under the FFCRA, an employee qualifies for paid sick time if the employee is unable to work (or unable to telework) due to a need for leave because the employee:

  1. Is subject to a federal, state, or local quarantine or isolation order related to COVID-19;
  2. Has been advised by a health care provider to self-quarantine related to COVID-19;
  3. Is experiencing COVID-19 symptoms and is seeking a medical diagnosis;
  4. Is caring for an individual subject to an order described in (1) or self-quarantine as described in (2);
  5. Is caring for a child whose school or place of care is closed (or child care provider is unavailable) for reasons related to COVID-19; or
  6. Is experiencing other substantially-similar conditions specified by the Secretary of Health and Human Service, in consultation with the Secretaries of Labor and Treasury.

Under the FFCRA, an employee qualifies for expanded family medical leave if the employee is caring for a child whose school or place of care is closed (or child care provider is unavailable) for reasons related to COVID-19.

Duration of Leave:

For reasons (1)-(4) and (6): A full-time employee is eligible for 80 hours of leave, and part-time employee is eligible for the number of hours of leave that the employee works on average over a two-week period.

For reason (5): A full-time employee is eligible for up to 12 weeks of leave (two weeks of paid sick leave followed by up to 10 weeks of paid expanded family & medical leave) at 40 hours a week and a part-time employee is eligible for leave for the number of hours that the employee is normally scheduled to work over that period.

Calculation of Pay:

For leave reasons (1), (2), or (3): employees taking leave are entitled to pay at either their regular rate or the applicable minimum wage, whichever is higher (over a 2-week period).

For leave reasons (4) or (6): employees taking leave are entitled to pay at ⅔ their regular rate or ⅔ the applicable minimum wage, whichever is higher (over a 2-week period).

For leave reason (5): employees taking leave are entitled to pay at ⅔ their regular rate or ⅔ the applicable minimum wage, whichever is higher (over a 12-week period).  An employee may elect to substitute any accrued vacation leave or sick leave for the first two weeks of partial paid leave under this section.

A COVID-19 Time Reporting Checklist and Instructions has been provided, which is designed to assist employees and managers in considering eligibility for new leave options.



Advanced Sick Leave

Advanced Sick Leave is an option available to both benefited and non-benefited state employees specifically due to COVID-19. Advanced Sick Leave provides an advance of up to 80 hours of sick leave to full-time employees (pro-rated for part-time employees based on their average pay period hours during the prior six months). 

By using Advanced Sick Leave, benefits eligible employees acknowledge the requirement to repay Advanced Sick Leave usage through their future sick leave accruals.

All employees are eligible to use Advanced Sick Leave related to COVID-19:

  • To supplement paid leave provided by the Family First Coronavirus Response Act and/or the Emergency Paid Sick Leave Act (see prior section) up to 100% of their normal rate of pay, if the employee has exhausted all their accrued leave balances (except vacation) AND is unable to telecommute or be reassigned. 

OR,

  • Any of the reasons listed in the “Use of Accrued Leave Related to COVID-19” section of this guidance; AND, the employee has exhausted all their accrued leave balances (other than vacation) AND are unable to telecommute or be reassigned.

The HR Office recommends employees consult with HR regarding all other leave options, including requests for donated leave under the State’s Shared Leave Procedure, prior to electing to use Advanced Sick Leave.

 

Paid Administrative Leave for COVID-19

Effective April 1, 2020 , full-time employees are eligible for up to 80 hours of paid administrative leave (pro-rated for part-time employees based on their average pay period hours during the prior six months) as follows: 

  • To supplement paid leave provided by FFCRA or EPSLA up to 100% of their normal rate of pay, if the employee has exhausted all their accrued leave balances AND is unable to telecommute or be reassigned. 

OR,

  • Any of the reasons listed in the “Use of Accrued Leave Related to COVID-19” section of this guidance; 

AND, 

  • The employee has exhausted all their accrued leave balances including Advanced Sick Leave AND are unable to telecommute or be reassigned.

Leave Without Pay

In addition to Leave Without Pay options as outlined in  ISUPP 3070, Leave of Absence Policy for Faculty and Staff, employees may choose to utilize a Leave Without Pay in combination with FFCRA and EPSLA options.

FMLA and ADA Considerations

Managers should apply extra consideration and flexibility for immunocompromised or other high risk employees.  Employees and managers should consult with the HR Office and/or Disability Services in considering leave of absence options under the FMLA and/or ADA as well as when accommodating disabilities with alternative work arrangements from home.