AU extends operational modifications through Oct. 10

Auburn University continues to prioritize the health and safety of the entire campus community by monitoring and adhering to guidance from public health officials. After careful evaluation, all operational modifications have been extended through Oct. 10, 2020. Employees with questions should consult their supervisor.

Leave Guidelines

FFCRA and Auburn: New Leave Categories

1. FEDERAL LAW - Emergency Paid Sick Leave

Under federal law (the Families First Coronavirus Response Act, FFCRA), all employees receive 2 weeks of Emergency Paid Sick Leave (EPSL) to use for a list of approved COVID-19 related reasons (“Qualifying Reasons”). This leave is available for employees to use through December 31, 2020. 

The number of hours of leave received by an individual employee will be based on the average number of hours the employee is scheduled to work in a two week period (for an employee with a normal work schedule) or the employee’s average number of hours worked in a two week period over the previous 6 months (for an employee with a variable work schedule).  

Although federal law includes a daily cap on an employer’s obligation to pay employees for use of EPSL, Auburn has decided to compensate EPSL at 100 percent of the employee’s normal compensation rate with no daily cap.

2. AUBURN POLICY - Emergency COVID-19 Administrative Leave

Emergency COVID-19 Administrative Leave (ECAL) is a new category of paid administrative leave created by Auburn to address certain COVID-19 related circumstances that may impact Auburn employees. 

Federal law does not require Auburn to provide ECAL to employees. Rather, it is a temporary leave category that will be used by Human Resources during this pandemic emergency only.  ECAL operates similarly to Auburn’s existing paid administrative leave, which is provided to an employee at the discretion of the University. 

ECAL will provide compensation for employees who are unable to work due to a Qualifying Reason (except Qualifying Reason 5), and who have exhausted their use of EPSL. ECAL will be paid at 100 percent of the employee’s normal compensation rate and will not be charged against an employee’s accrued annual or sick leave.

3. FMLA+: A New Reason to Take FMLA

Under federal law (the Families First Coronavirus Response Act, FFCRA), the Family and Medical Leave Expansion Act (FMLA+) expands an employee’s FMLA entitlement to include the employee’s inability to work because the employee must care for a son or daughter whose school is closed or childcare provider is unavailable due to COVID-19 (Qualifying Reason 5).

The FMLA+ does not increase an employee’s overall entitlement to FMLA leave; employees may take up to 12 weeks combined in a 12-month period for any FMLA or FMLA+ qualified reason.  While existing FMLA leave is unpaid, under FFCRA, FMLA+ will be paid.  FMLA+ will be paid at 100 percent of the employee’s normal compensation rate and will not be charged against an employee’s accrued annual or sick leave.

Feeling Uncomfortable Coming to Campus

Employees who wish to take leave because they feel uncomfortable coming to campus due to COVID-19 do not qualify for leave under the EPSL, FMLA+, or ECAL. Such employees will be permitted to use accrued annual leave. Upon exhaustion of all accrued annual leave, employees will be permitted either to use accrued sick leave, accrued comp time, or to enter leave without pay status.

Additional Leave Guidelines

1. The FFCRA and the leave guidelines outlined in this document apply to all employees, whether working remotely or on the jobsite.

2. Any employee, whether working remotely or on the jobsite, who needs to be away from his/her work for any reason other than a Qualifying Reason may take accrued leave in accordance with normal University policies, including supervisor approval for use of annual leave.

3. Employees who can perform their job responsibilities remotely should continue to do so. Remote employees are expected to maintain productivity, responsiveness, and availability at the same levels that would be required during normal operations. 

4. An employee may elect to use his/her own accrued sick leave or comp leave (for Qualifying Reasons 1, 2, 3, 4 or 6) or accrued annual leave or comp leave (for Qualifying Reason 4 or 5) instead of EPSL. An employee might choose to do this in order to preserve EPSL for use at a later time (e.g. if an employee has a childcare situation now but wants to preserve the EPSL to use at a later time). 

5. If any employee exhausts his/her EPSL, ECAL will be available to the employee for additional leave due to Qualifying Reasons 1, 2, 3, 4 or 6. ECAL will only be available once an employee has exhausted his/her EPSL.

6. FMLA+ leave will be paid by Auburn as follows:

  • For the first 2 weeks of FMLA+ (leave due to the need to care for a child whose school or childcare provider is unavailable due to COVID-19), the employee may choose (1) to use EPSL; (2) use the employee’s accrued annual leave; or (3) use the employee’s accrued comp leave. Otherwise, this leave will be unpaid.

     

  • For the remaining 10 weeks of FMLA+, the employee will be paid at 100 percent of the employee’s normal compensation rate and will not be charged against an employee’s accrued annual or sick leave.


7. In order to be eligible for FMLA+, the employee alone must be providing care for the child during the period for which the employee is receiving this type of leave. For example, if there is a co-parent, co-guardian, or another suitable individual who is present to care for the child, the employee will not be eligible for FMLA+.

8. In order to be eligible for any approved COVID-19 leave (qualification for FMLA+ or use of EPSL, accrued sick leave, accrued annual leave, accrued comp time, or ECAL), employees must submit the COVID-19 leave form, identifying the reason for the employee’s absence. This is required to ensure that leave is documented appropriately in compliance with Auburn policies, the FFCRA, and other applicable law.  Except for situations where the need for leave is unknown, employees should submit their COVID-19 leave form no later than 4:45 p.m. on the Thursday prior to the applicable work week.

9. TES employees do not accrue sick or annual leave under Auburn policies but do qualify for benefits under the FFCRA and will also qualify for ECAL as outlined above.

10. Nine-month faculty do not accrue annual leave under Auburn policies but do qualify for all benefits under the FFCRA.

Qualifying Reasons for EPSL

EPSL may be used when an employee is unable to work (or telework) due to a need for leave because the employee is:

1. Subject to a federal, state, or local quarantine or isolation order related to COVID-19;

2. Under self-quarantine due to concerns related to COVID-19 based on the advice of a health care provider;

3. Experiencing symptoms of COVID-19 and seeking a medical diagnosis;

4. Caring for an individual who is subject to an order as described in (1) or who has been advised as described in (2);

5. Caring for a son or daughter of any age whose school or place of care has been closed, or whose childcare provider is unavailable, due to COVID-19 precautions; or

6. Experiencing any other substantially similar condition specified by the Secretary of Health and Human Services in consultation with the Secretaries of Treasury and Labor. 

COVID-19 Leave Form

The COVID-19 Leave Form is hosted in the Auburn University Facilities Request Portal.

Basic Questions and Answers

Important: Unless noted, information on this page is current until Oct. 10, 2020. If you have a question that is not addressed in this section or on this page, please email univhr@auburn.edu with the subject line "Employee question". Please include your title and department in the email. HR will respond to your question as soon as possible. 

Employees, including non-benefits eligible and some student employees, are eligible for up to two weeks of  Emergency Paid Sick Leave (EPSL) if they are unable to work either on campus or remotely because they:

  1. are subject to a Federal, State, or local quarantine or isolation order related to COVID-19;
  2. have been advised by a health care provider to self-quarantine related to COVID-19;
  3. are experiencing COVID-19 symptoms and are seeking a medical diagnosis;
  4. are caring for an individual subject to a quarantine or isolation order as described in (1), or has been advised to self-isolate as described in (2);
  5. are unable to work their scheduled weekly hours either on campus or remotely because they need to care for their child(ren) whose school or place of care is closed, or whose child care provider is unavailable due to COVID-19 related reasons; or
  6. are experiencing any other substantially-similar condition specified by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

Employees, including non-benefits eligible and some student employees, who have been employed for at least 30 calendar days, may be eligible for up to 12 weeks of Expanded Family and Medical Leave (FMLA+) due to qualifying reason #5 above, if they are unable to work either on campus or remotely because they need to care for their child(ren) whose school or place of care is closed, or whose child care provider is unavailable due to COVID-19 related reasons. The first two weeks of FMLA+ are unpaid, but an employee may choose to use their own accrued vacation leave or accrued comp time, or apply the 2 weeks of EPSL to ensure continuity of pay. Then weeks 3-12 will be paid as FMLA+ pay at the employee’s normal compensation rate.

Employees, including non-benefits eligible and some student employees who have been employed for at least 30 calendar days, may be eligible for Auburn University’s Emergency COVID-19 Administrative Leave (ECAL) for qualifying reasons 1-4 and 6 above. ECAL may only be used when an employee has exhausted his/her EPSL and is paid at 100 percent of the employee’s normal compensation rate.  

  • As required by law, access to EPSL and FMLA+ will continue through December 31, 2020. 

  • ECAL is a University provided benefit, and will be offered through October 10, 2020.  Decisions regarding post Oct. 10 will be shared later.

  • EPSL, FMLA+ and ECAL will all be paid at 100 percent of compensation through October 10, 2020. Decisions about whether Auburn continues pay at 100 percent compensation, or if we will follow federal guidelines regarding limits and caps on pay, will be shared later.

  • You are considered to have been employed by Auburn University for at least 30 calendar days if you have been on payroll for the 30 calendar days immediately prior to the day your leave would begin.

  • For example, if you wanted to take leave on April 1, 2020, you would need to have been on the payroll as of March 2, 2020.

  • Under the FFCRA, a “son or daughter” is your own child, which includes your biological, adopted, or foster child, your stepchild, a legal ward, or a child for whom you are standing in loco parentis—someone with day-to-day responsibilities to care for or financially support a child. For additional information about in loco parentis, see Fact Sheet #28B: Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) leave for birth, placement, bonding or to care for a child with a serious health condition on the basis of an “in loco parentis” relationship.

  • In light of Congressional direction to interpret definitions consistently, WHD clarifies that under the FFCRA a “son or daughter” is also an adult son or daughter (i.e., one who is 18 years of age or older), who (1) has a mental or physical disability, and (2) is incapable of self-care because of that disability. For additional information on requirements relating to an adult son or daughter, see Fact Sheet #28K and/or call the Department of Labor toll free information and help line available 8 a.m.–5 p.m., 1-866-4US-WAGE (1-866-487-9243).

Not unless you would have been considered an active employee and scheduled to work during the time for which you are requesting EPSL, FMLA+ of ECAL.

Qualifying Reason 2 applies when a health care provider has advised the employee to isolate/self-quarantine because the employee has COVID-19, may have COVID-19, or is particularly vulnerable to COVID-19 and following the advice of the health care provider prevents the employee from working, either at the worksite on by telework.  

The “symptoms of COVID-19” for purposes of qualifying reason (3) are dry cough, shortness of breath, fever or any other symptoms identified by the CDC (U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention). “Seeking a medical diagnosis” means that the employee is “taking affirmative steps to obtain a medical diagnosis, such as making, waiting for, or attending an appointment for a test for COVID-19.”

The Department of Labor’s Q&As emphasize that you may take EPSL or FMLA+ to care for your child only when you need to, and actually are, caring for your child if you are unable to work or telework as a result of providing care. Generally, you do not need to take such leave if a co-parent, co-guardian, or your usual child care provider is available to provide the care your child needs.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has not yet identified any “substantially similar condition” that would allow an employee to take paid sick leave. If HHS does identify any such condition, the Department of Labor will issue guidance explaining when you may take paid sick leave on the basis of a “substantially similar condition.”

To initiate your FFCRA leave of absence (for any of the six reasons noted above), you should notify your immediate supervisor as soon as possible and complete the COVID-19 Leave Request Form.

Leave and Pay Questions and Answers

You are unable to work if your manager or supervisor has work for you and one of the COVID-19 qualifying reasons set forth in the FFCRA prevents you from being able to perform that work, either under normal circumstances at your normal worksite or by means of working remotely.

If you and your manager agree that you will work your normal number of hours, but outside of your normally scheduled hours (for instance early in the morning or late at night), then you are able to work (paid normally) and leave is not necessary unless a COVID-19 qualifying reason prevents you from working that schedule.

If you are unable to perform the tasks currently assigned to you – including those implemented as part of a remote work agreement because of one of the qualifying reasons 1-6 above, then you are entitled to take up to 2 weeks of EPSL. Upon exhaustion of EPSL and for qualifying reasons 1-4 and 6, you may also take ECAL.

Similarly, if you are unable to perform those remote working tasks or work the required remote working hours because you need to care for your child whose school or place of care is closed, or child care provider is unavailable, because of COVID-19 related reasons, then you are entitled to take FMLA+. Of course, to the extent you are able to work remotely while caring for your child, EPSL nor FMLA+ are available. 

If you are an eligible employee, you are entitled to EPSL under the Emergency Paid Sick Leave Act regardless of how much leave you have taken under the FMLA.

Your eligibility for FMLA+ depends on how much leave you have already taken during the 12-month rolling calendar period used for FMLA. You may take a total of 12 workweeks for FMLA or FMLA+ reasons during a 12-month period. If you have taken some, but not all, of the 12 workweeks of your leave under FMLA during the current 12-month period, you may take the remaining portion of leave available. If you have already taken 12 workweeks of FMLA leave during this 12-month period, you may not take additional FMLA+.

For example, assume you took two weeks of FMLA leave in January 2020 to undergo and recover from a surgical procedure. You therefore have 10 weeks of FMLA leave remaining. Because FMLA+ is a type of FMLA leave, you would be entitled to take up to 10 weeks of FMLA+, rather than 12 weeks. And any FMLA+ leave you take would count against your entitlement to preexisting FMLA leave.

It depends. You may take a total of 12 workweeks of leave during a 12-month rolling calendar period under the FMLA, including the FMLA+. If you take some, but not all, of the 12 workweeks of your FMLA+ leave by December 31, 2020, you may take the remaining portion of FMLA leave for a serious medical condition, as long as the total time taken does not exceed 12 workweeks in a rolling 12-month period. Please note that FMLA+ leave is available only until December 31, 2020; after that, you may only take FMLA leave.

For example, assume you take four weeks of FMLA+ leave in April 2020 to care for your child whose school is closed due to a COVID-19 related reason. These four weeks count against your entitlement of 12 weeks of FMLA leave in a rolling 12-month period. If you are eligible for regular FMLA leave and need to take such leave in August 2020 because you need surgery, you would be entitled to take up to the remaining eight weeks of FMLA leave.

However, you are entitled to emergency sick leave under the EPSL regardless of how much leave you have taken under the FMLA. Paid sick leave is not a form of FMLA leave and therefore does not count toward the 12 workweeks in the 12-month period cap. But please note that if you take EPSL concurrently with the first two weeks of FMLA+, which may otherwise be unpaid, then those two weeks do count towards the 12 workweeks in the 12-month period.

No. You may take up to two weeks—or ten days—(80 hours for a full-time employee, or for a part-time employee, the number of hours equal to the average number of hours that the employee works over a typical two-week period) of EPSL for any combination of qualifying reasons. However, the total number of hours for which you receive EPSL is capped at 80 hours under the Emergency Paid Sick Leave Act.

In general, no, unless you were able to return to light duty before taking leave. If you receive OJI or salary continuation benefits because you are unable to work, you may not take paid sick leave or expanded family and medical leave. However, if you were able to return to regular or light duty and a qualifying reason prevents you from working, you may take paid sick leave or expanded family and medical leave, as the situation warrants.

No. Only hours worked will be counted towards the 40 hours in a workweek for purposes of overtime calculations. 

Yes. An employee’s regular rate of pay will include shift differential pay.

No. The only type of family and medical leave that is paid leave (through EPSL and FMLA+) is FMLA+.

Yes. You will be able to continued group health coverage, including any family coverage in which you are enrolled.

  • The FMLA+ requires that the employee is paid for hours the employee would have been normally scheduled to work even if that is more than 40 hours in a week. However, the total number of hours paid under the EPSL is capped at 80.

  • For example, an employee who is scheduled to work 50 hours a week may take 50 hours of emergency sick leave in the first week and 30 hours of emergency sick leave in the second week

  • Please note that pay does not need to include a premium for overtime hours under either the Emergency Paid Sick Leave Act or the Emergency Family and Medical Leave Expansion Act.

  • A part-time employee is entitled to leave for the average number of work hours in a two-week period.

  • Part-time employee leave hours will be calculated based on the number of hours the employee is normally scheduled to work based on their assigned schedule in workforce (for non-exempt hourly employees) or based on the assigned FTE (for exempt employees).

  • For example, a 1.0 FTE employee would be eligible for up to 80 hours of EPSL and an additional 10 weeks at 40 hours per week of FMLA+ while a .5 FTE employee (or an employee with a 20-hour standard work schedule in workforce) would be eligible for up to 40 hours of  EPSL and an additional 10 weeks at 20 hours per week of FMLA+.

  • If the normal hours scheduled are unknown or varies, we will use a six-month average to calculate the average hours. A part-time employee may take EPSL for this number of hours for up to a two-week period; and may take FMLA+ for the same number of hours up to ten weeks after that. 

  • If this calculation cannot be made because you have not been employed for at least six months, we will use the number of hours that you and your supervisor agreed that you would work upon hiring. If there is no such agreement, we will calculate the appropriate number of hours of leave based on the average hours per day you were scheduled to work over the entire term of your employment.

  • Please note that if seasonal employees are not scheduled to work, they are not eligible.

No. EPSL is in addition to other leave provided under Auburn’s existing policy.

Yes. If you are taking EPSL, you may substitute any accrued vacation leave, sick leave, or comp time, you have accrued.  Please note, however, accrued sick time may not be used for childcare needs due to COVID-19 related closures of your child(ren)’s school, daycare, or childcare provider.

It depends on why you are taking the leave, and if you are working on campus or remotely.

Unless you are working remotely, it cannot be taken intermittently if the leave is being taken because:

  • You are subject to a Federal, State, or local quarantine or isolation order related to COVID-19;

  • You have been advised by a health care provider to self-quarantine due to concerns related to COVID-19;

  • You are experiencing symptoms of COVID-19 and seeking a medical diagnosis;

  • You are caring for an individual who either is subject to a quarantine or isolation order related to COVID-19 or has been advised by a health care provider to self-quarantine due to concerns related to COVID-19; or

  • You are experiencing any other substantially similar condition specified by the Secretary of Health and Human Services.

Unless you are working remotely, once you begin taking emergency sick leave for one or more of these qualifying reasons, you must continue to take emergency sick leave each day until you either (1) use the full amount of emergency sick leave or (2) no longer have a qualifying reason for taking emergency sick leave. This limit is imposed because if you are sick or possibly sick with COVID-19, or caring for an individual who is sick or possibly sick with COVID-19, the intent of FFCRA is to provide such emergency sick leave as necessary to keep you from spreading the virus to others.

In contrast, if you and your manager agree, you may take emergency sick leave intermittently if you are taking emergency sick leave to care for your child whose school or place of care is closed, or whose child care provider is unavailable, because of COVID-19 related reasons. For example, if your child is at home because his or her school or place of care is closed, or child care provider is unavailable, because of COVID-19 related reasons, you may take emergency sick leave on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays to care for your child, but work at your normal worksite on Tuesdays and Thursdays.

If you are working remotely, EPSL, FMLA+ and ECAL may be used intermittently. 

Supervisor Information

Important: Unless noted, information on this page is current as of July 21, 2020. If you have a question that is not addressed in this section or on this page, please email univhr@auburn.edu with the subject line "Supervisor question". Please include your title and department in the email. HR will respond to your question as soon as possible. 
  1. We will strive to ensure the health and safety of our students, faculty and staff first and foremost.

  2. We will strive to ensure the achievement of the mission of the University.

  3. We will do these things through shared governance.

The University is still encouraging remote work, where possible. Supervisors are encouraged to work with employees to be creative and find alternative, meaningful work-related activities for the employee to complete in order to telecommute. Alternative, meaningful work may differ for each position. Some things to consider:

  • What are the employee’s duties and responsibilities and could they be accomplished remotely?

  • Could they be partially accomplished remotely?

  • Could they be accomplished remotely intermittently, i.e., some time spent remotely, alternating with some time spend on-site?

  • If the employee’s current duties require the employee to be fully on-site, could the employee be assigned alternate duties to allow for partial or full completion remotely? The alternate duties should be legitimate and necessary tasks. Some options to consider:

    • Perhaps there were important projects that were delayed previously but that could be started now.

    • A supervisor may assign online professional development training or job-related reading, assign a special project, document business processes, create forms/templates, review and/or publish protocols, and possibly research best practices in your field, etc.

    • Ask an employee to work on their development plan. Have they received feedback on technical or interpersonal skills that need improvement? Target these areas.

    • Have them read! They can catch up on those books, journals, and papers that they have wanted or you have wanted your team to read that can help you all in your particular roles. What can you provide or share digitally?

    • Ask them to tackle long-term tasks or projects that bring value to the organization.

    • What is a program they have wanted to develop? What efficiency would they recommend for the organization? What are some trends they can explore that might bring value to the organization?

    • Encourage them to reinvent organization systems. Would they be more effective in their role if their files were better organized, or if they had a better way to follow up with key stakeholders?

    • If you could create a virtual learning “playlist” for your staff, what would you include? At Auburn, you can do this using Linked in Learning through AU Access.

    • Have a topic area you’d like to engage your team in? TED Talks on a variety of topics can be viewed remotely and then discussed virtually: https://www.ted.com/talks

    • MOOCs (Massive Open Online Courses) are another option: https://www.mooc.org/

    • Have them stay connected. Now is a great time to have them reach out to professional contacts to have richer conversations, brainstorm and problem solve.

When work cannot be done remotely, the following are some guidelines for bringing employees back onto campus to work.

  • Determine if modified work schedules, with flexible start and stop times, or alternating days can encourage physical distancing and provide for a safer work environment.

  • Consider staggered or alternating assignments to accommodate multiple employees and to encourage physical distancing.

  • You may temporarily reassign employees to work outside their usual classifications/responsibilities to the extent they are qualified and can safely perform the work.

  • Compressed work schedules may also be an option.

  • Meal and rest break policies adjusted to stagger times and processes implemented to encourage physical distancing.

  • As per Dr. Gogue’s guiding principles, every attempt should be made to retain TES employees, with remote work encouraged, but onsite is acceptable when physical distancing can be accomplished.

  • TES employees must work or be eligible for one of the FFCRA required leaves in order to be paid.

  • Student employees can work when needed, but remote work is encouraged. You should work with your staff to determine which student employees are needed to work, whether remotely or on site.

  • Students must work or be eligible for one of the FFCRA required leaves in order to be paid.

  • Because some campus operations will continue, some student employees will be needed to maintain key services and campus functions. Proper protocol should be put in place to ensure student employees can work safely, while practicing physical distancing.

  • As required by law, access to EPSL and FMLA+ will continue through December 31, 2020.

  • ECAL is a University provided benefit and will be offered through October 10, 2020. Decisions regarding post Oct. 10 will be shared later.

  • EPSL, FMLA+ and ECAL will all be paid at 100 percent of compensation through October 10, 2020. Decisions about whether Auburn continues pay at 100 percent compensation, or if we will follow federal guidelines and imposed limits and caps on pay will be shared later.

Approvals for taking FFCRA leave are not required, though employees should notify supervisors and give as much notice as possible.
Employees who need to take time off for non-COVID-19 reasons may do so by using their own personal sick and vacation leave and with supervisor approval.
FMLA+ does not add 12 weeks of coverage to FMLA. Instead, FMLA and FMLA+ offer a total of 12 weeks of coverage combined between the two. If an employee has used FMLA in the 12 months before qualifying for FMLA+, the 12 weeks total benefit must be reduced by the number of weeks already taken. Additionally, once FMLA+ time is taken, the ongoing FMLA benefit for future events will be reduced by the amount of FMLA+ time taken.
An electronic form has been created to allow employees to request EPSL, FMLA+ and ECAL. This form will be the only required documentation to request the new leave benefits.
As a reminder, information regarding an employee’s medical condition must be kept confidential.

For More Information

If you have questions that are not addressed on this page, please email univhr@auburn.edu.
Last updated: 07/27/2020