Updated: April 1, 2020

UChicago Staff Q&A: Spring Quarter and Other Coronavirus Information

Is your question not answered here? Email us at coronavirusinfo@uchicago.edu


General Questions

What does the plan to move to remote learning for Spring Quarter mean for staff?

While we are moving to remote learning for Spring Quarter, the University will remain open and will continue the activities central to research, education, and patient care. At the same time, we are putting additional measures in place to protect our community’s health and well-being. Anyone who feels ill should not report to work. Human Resources will work with offices and departments across the University to ensure that our approach related to sick leave and related issues can accommodate a range of contingencies. In addition, in furtherance of efforts to contain the spread of COVID-19, we encourage remote work as appropriate.

What is the guidance for remote work?

With the approval of managers and unit directors, staff may work remotely where possible. Remote work is available for staff whose responsibilities do not require them to be on campus and can take effect as soon as plans are agreed upon between relevant staff and their supervisors.

The University has prepared UChicago Remote Work Guidelines & Best Practices to help you adapt to working away from campus – with guidelines and tips on everything from creating an effective, at-home work environment to ensuring IT security to facilitating team collaboration.

We expect managers to ensure close communication and coordination among teams and within their departments as the structure and patterns of our work shift during this exceptional time. Moving to remote work where feasible reduces the risk for others whose duties require being on campus. Additional resources for working remotely can be found here.

What can staff who need to come to campus do to help slow or prevent the spread of COVID-19?

There are many roles on campus for which responsibilities cannot be accomplished remotely. In those cases, please take steps to limit close contact in the workplace, including: maintaining a distance of at least six feet from others; holding meetings by phone or online whenever possible; and establishing staggered work schedules if needed to reduce the number of people working near each other at the same time.

Pay

Will I still receive my paycheck on time?

If you are paid through direct deposit: You will receive pay without disruption and do not need to take further steps.

If you currently receive paper paychecks: Payroll operations will be managed remotely during this time, making distributing physical paychecks across campus unrealistic. To make sure you continue to receive your pay on time, we strongly encourage you to enroll in direct deposit if you haven't already. In addition to protecting your personal information, direct deposit guarantees that your pay is automatically added to your bank account(s) each payday. It also eliminates the future hassle of physically picking up, cashing, or depositing paper checks.

To learn more about how to enroll in direct deposit please click here. If you enroll now, you can expect the following:

  • If you are paid monthly and enroll in direct deposit by March 19 at 12:00 p.m., your pay will be directly deposited for your March pay period.
  • If you are paid bi-weekly and enroll in direct deposit by March 24 at 12:00 p.m., your pay will be directly deposited for your March pay period.

If you elect not to enroll in direct deposit, we will send your check to your home via the US Postal Service. Checks will be mailed prior to payday but the date you receive it is dependent on your local mail service. Please ensure that your home address is correct in Workday. To verify that your information is correct or to make changes, please log-into Workday and follow these instructions.

Please note, if there are exceptional circumstances and you cannot enroll in direct deposit or don’t have an address to which the check can be mailed, the Payroll team will work with you on another option.

If you have questions, need further assistance enrolling in direct deposit, or would like to discuss your options, please contact the Payroll team by submitting a request via ServiceNow, emailing payroll@uchicago.edu or calling Shared Services at 773-702-5800. More information is also available on the Payroll Services website.


Time-Off

What time away from work benefits are offered for staff at UChicago, and how do I request time out of the office?

The University offers vacation, personal holidays and sick leave to support time away from work for staff. On March 19, the University announced another step to help staff members navigate this uncharted territory. During this pandemic, staff employees – both benefits and non-benefits eligible employees, including temporary and seasonal staff employees and those who are part of collective bargaining agreements – will be eligible for up to 6 weeks, based upon regularly scheduled hours, of additional paid time off that can be used for all reasons related to COVID-19 during the Spring Quarter, including the inability to work remotely, personal illness, and the need to quarantine or provide family care.

If a staff employee uses all 6 weeks and requires additional time off, the employee can use their sick, vacation time, or personal holidays. If the staff employee exhausts this time, the University will advance an additional 14 days of sick time. As always, staff employees should discuss time off requests with their managers.

  • See the policy about this additional time off.
  • Read these FAQs for specific questions about this additional time off.


What if I am supposed to come to campus to work but am concerned about COVID-19 or fall in a high-risk group?

Exempt and non-exempt staff who are scheduled to work, but do not work due to personal decisions when the University is open, may, after consultation with their manager, charge the time to sick leave or vacation (in accordance with those policies). This includes staff who are concerned about working due to a colleague being sick (flu, cold, or quarantined coronavirus case).

In addition, with approvals from managers and unit directors, staff may work remotely when possible. Remote work is available for staff whose responsibilities do not require them to be on campus and can take effect as soon as plans are agreed upon between relevant staff and their managers.

What if my child’s school is closed, and I must provide childcare?

We understand the difficulty of schedule changes regarding childcare and encourage staff to discuss their case-by-case situations with their managers. If you have the ability to complete your job functions remotely, you should discuss the possibility of a flexible work arrangement/remote work with your manager. If you are working from home, you will continue to receive your regular pay or if non-exempt, pay for hours worked.

If working from home is not an option for you, the University has also provided staff employees – both benefits and non-benefits eligible employees, including temporary and seasonal staff employees and those who are part of collective bargaining agreements – up to 6 weeks, based upon regularly scheduled hours, of additional paid time off that can be used for all reasons related to COVID-19 during the Spring Quarter, including the inability to work remotely, personal illness, and the need to quarantine or provide family care.

If a staff employee uses all 6 weeks and requires additional time off, the employee can use their sick, vacation time, or personal holidays. If the staff employee exhausts this time, the University will advance an additional 14 days of sick time.

Human Resources will provide instructions for recording this time in Workday, and as always, staff employees should notify their managers if they require time off.


Am I eligible for a leave of absence if I need to care for a family member who has been diagnosed and/or quarantined?

Under FMLA, eligible staff is entitled to take leave to care for an immediate family member. You should contact your local HR Partner or leaveadministration@uchicago.edu to request FMLA.

Please refer to the FMLA Policy for further guidance.


Health & Wellness

I am experiencing COVID-19-like symptoms or may have come into contact with someone who was diagnosed. What should I do?

If you believe you have been in contact with someone who may have been exposed to COVID-19, and you begin to feel sick with fever or cough, or have difficulty breathing:

  • Please contact your primary care provider. If you do not have a primary care provider, please contact by phone your nearest emergency room/hospital, urgent care facility or CVS MinuteClinic. Staff without a primary care provider can also contact UChicago Medicine at 773-834-2411 or covidhelp@uchospitals.edu. Tell them about your recent travel and your symptoms. In the case of a medical emergency, call 911. If you are enrolled in a BCBS plan, you also have access to tele-health with MD live. You can schedule a virtual appointment at https://patient.mdlive.com/ or by calling 888.676.4204. If you have never used the service, you will need to register on the website to use the service.
    • Avoid contact with others.
    • Do not travel while sick.
    • Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or your sleeve (not your hands) when coughing or sneezing.
    • Clean your hands often by washing them with soap and water for at least 20 seconds or using an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains 60%–95% alcohol immediately after coughing, sneezing or blowing your nose. Soap and water should be used if hands are visibly dirty.


What does my UChicago medical insurance cover related to COVID-19 diagnostic testing?

UCHP Plan: The University is waiving the copays for all diagnostic testing related to COVID-19. This will cover the test kit for patients who meet CDC or CDPH guidelines for testing, which can be done in any approved laboratory location.

BCBS Plans: BCBSIL will not require prior authorization and will not apply member copays or deductibles for testing to diagnose COVID-19 when medically necessary and consistent with Centers for Disease Control guidance.

For additional questions, please contact the benefits office at: 773-702-9634 or email: benefits@uchicago.edu


I need to see a doctor, but worry about exposure to the virus at a medical office. Is telemedicine covered through my UChicago insurance plan?

The following telemedicine options, which include live interactive telephone communication or digital video consultations and can help limit potential exposure in physician offices, are available through UChicago benefit plans:

Blue Cross Blue Shield (BCBS) PPO Plans

BCBS offers telehealth through MD live. You can schedule a virtual appointment at https://www.mdlive.com/or 888.676.4204. If you have never used the service, you must register on the website.

Effective March 10, 2020, BCBS covers telehealth virtual visits with in-network Illinois providers for eligible BCBSIL PPO and Blue Choice members. This means qualified covered employees whose provider offers the telehealth service will now have that benefit covered as a regular office visit.

BCBS has expanded telehealth for PPO members who receive medically necessary services from an in-network PPO provider who offer telehealth services. If a PPO member sees an in-network provider who offers telehealth services, those telehealth services will now be covered as a regular office visit.

BCBS HMO of Illinois

BCBS has expanded telehealth for BCBSIL HMO members who receive medically necessary services from providers in their medical group who offer telehealth services. If an HMO member sees a provider within their medical group who offers telehealth services, those telehealth services will now be covered as a regular office visit.

UCHP Plan (Aetna)

This plan offers zero copays for telemedicine visits for any reason for 90 days. Aetna members should use telemedicine as their first line of defense in order to limit potential exposure in physician offices. Cost sharing will be waived for all video visits through the CVS MinuteClinic app.

CVS Pharmacy MinuteClinics

MinuteClinics allow patients to request a video visit in most states and Washington, D.C. (Anyone can use a MinuteClinic. Cost is waived if you are covered by CVS for Rx benefits.)

Will the University's recreational facilities be open during Spring Quarter?

Due to recent national, state, and city guidance related to COVID-19 and public spaces, the University has made the decision to close Ratner Athletics Center and Henry Crown through at least April 30 for recreational use. If Ratner is re-opened in the Spring Quarter, Summer Interim Hours will be used, and Henry Crown will remain closed.

The University will automatically be extending all memberships, locker services, and towel services by the duration of this closure. As stated previously, all patrons are able, should they choose, to suspend their memberships for the duration of the adjusted hours due to the remote learning for Spring Quarter. Any patron who wishes to suspend their membership past this initial closure should contact Bob Petrowski directly through email (bpetrowski@uchicago.edu).

If you plan on using Ratner once it opens, you do not have to do anything – the University is planning to automatically extend everyone due to the closure. Given the situation, flexibility will be given with the timing and duration of suspensions.

Information about the University's recreational facilities can be found here: https://athletics.uchicago.edu/facilities/index


Additional Support

What back-up childcare options do you recommend?

Our current environment and the swift and significant responses to it pose new challenges for parents. Below are options to assist you with childcare needs during this time.

  • Staff and Faculty Assistance Program: Perspectives, the Staff and Faculty Assistance Program (Username: UNI500, Password: perspectives) or 800.456.6327), offers referrals for childcare and sitters to all faculty, OAAs, staff, and postdoctoral researchers.
  • Hyde Park Neighborhood Club: For an annual fee of $25, the Hyde Park Neighborhood Club (773.643.4062) provides nanny referrals.
  • Bright Horizons: Bright Horizons now operates one of its two onsite childcare centers at the University of Chicago. Currently, that center is available to the children of workers deemed essential in accord with Governor Pritzker’s directive. Bright Horizons will follow the COVID-19 guidance from city, state, and federal authorities, including closing the center if advised. Bright Horizons serves children of faculty, other academic appointees, postdoctoral researchers, staff, and students in space designed to meet the childcare and educational needs of children ages six weeks to 5 years old. You may call the center to discuss enrollment opportunities, particularly for preschoolers. Enrollment paperwork is available at https://enroll.brighthorizons.com/ by using the menu to select “Illinois” and then providing the information applicable to the child. Bright Horizons will conduct a verbal health screening by phone to confirm program eligibility before scheduling a center tour. During that call, they will discuss availability and documentation needed before the child's first day. See Bright Horizons’ Covid-19 policy. For more information, contact uchicago.drexel@brighthorizons.com or Shirley Neiman, the center’s director, at 773.256.0000.

If you are working on campus during this time, please do not bring your children to work with you, as the of University of Chicago has prohibited visitors, including minors, on campus or in University buildings.


What other support is available to staff?

You can visit the Staff and Faculty Assistance Program (Username: UNI500, Password: perspectives) to find additional resources. You can also call 800-456-6327 if you would like to speak with a counselor.

Information for Managers

Can I allow my staff to work from home?

If your staff are able to reasonably perform working activities, contribute to operations and/or serve as essential staff and able to work remotely, you are empowered to support remote working.

If a staff member’s essential functions require physical presence on campus, remote working likely is not an option for them. For support in reviewing staff’s ability to work remotely, please contact your local HR Partner or Employee and Labor Relations at elrelations@uchicago.edu.

What if my staff have questions or need support when working from home?

For general technical inquiries related to how to connect and perform general duties remotely, visit https://its.uchicago.edu/workingremote/. Please see below for guidance about managing productivity and communication while working remotely.

How do I best manage productivity with a remote team?

Consider establishing daily report outs, virtual meetings and calls to stay connected with your remote workers. During this time, the University has also created Guidelines and Best Practices for Managers to assist with this process.

Additional considerations include:

  • Priorities and essential work: Evaluate priorities, consider customer impact and assess feasibility of completing remotely.
  • Create a plan: Managers, in partnership with their unit leadership and HR, should develop a plan for remote work for each team.
  • Determine who is able to work remotely. Can positions be modified to allow remote work, temporarily? Maximum flexibility is encouraged during this time to help minimize the spread of illness and support business operations.
  • Identify those who have a University issued laptop or assess whether a back-up laptop is available.

o Web Conferencing with Zoom

o Resources for Working Remotely

  • Contact Information: Compile cell phone numbers for those you supervise. Establish a plan for virtual meetings and regular contact.
  • Schedules: Discuss how schedules will be established and communicated to colleagues and partners.

What if I have a staff member whose child-care provider and/or school is closed as a result of COVID-19 and the staff member cannot come to work?

If the staff member can reasonably work from home, you may allow them to do so. While they are working from home, they will continue to receive their regular pay. If the staff member cannot work from home, they should utilize vacation, personal holidays and sick leave according to the respective policies and in consultation with their manager.

In addition, staff employees – both benefits and non-benefits eligible employees, including temporary and seasonal staff employees and those who are part of collective bargaining agreements – will be eligible for up to 6 weeks, based upon regularly scheduled hours, of additional paid time off that can be used for all reasons related to COVID-19 during the Spring Quarter, including the inability to work remotely, personal illness, and the need to quarantine or provide family care.

If a staff employee uses all 6 weeks and requires additional time off, the employee can use their sick, vacation time, or personal holidays. If the staff employee exhausts this time, the University will advance an additional 14 days of sick time.

Human Resources will provide instructions soon for recording this time in Workday, and as always, staff employees should notify their managers if they require time off.

For support in reviewing staff’s ability to work remotely, please contact your local HR Partner or Employee and Labor Relations at elrelations@uchicago.edu.

What if I have staff who cannot perform their work functions remotely because of their role?

Not every role at the University is conducive to remote work. At this time, staff who perform work that requires on site presence are expected to report to work. In those cases, please take steps to limit close contact in the workplace, including: maintaining a distance of at least 6 feet from others; holding meetings by phone or online whenever possible; and considering establishing staggered work schedules if needed to reduce the number of people working near each other at the same time.

To aid with assisting those who cannot come to work or work from home, the University is also providing up to 6 weeks, based upon regularly scheduled hours, of additional paid time off that can be used for all reasons related to COVID-19 during the Spring Quarter, including the inability to work remotely, personal illness, and the need to quarantine or provide family care. This applies to all staff members, including both benefits and non-benefits eligible employees, temporary and seasonal staff employees and those who are part of collective bargaining agreements

If a staff employee uses all 6 weeks and requires additional time off, the employee can use their sick, vacation time, or personal holidays. If the staff employee exhausts this time, the University will advance an additional 14 days of sick time.

What if I have extended an offer of employment and the new hire wants to delay their start?

If there is a mutual decision to extend the start date, you are able to renegotiate the start date. Because each role is unique, please review on a case-by-case basis with your human resources partner and/or manager.

Should my team delay hiring until we have a better understanding of how COVID-19 will affect operations at UChicago?

At this time, it would be prudent to review all hiring decisions and to proceed with only critical hires until more information is known. For additional questions, please contact your unit leadership.


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