• COVID-19 HR UPDATES:  Policy and more.

    Employees who think they may be eligible for paid emergency leave should contact the Caswell County Schools Human Resources Department at 336-694-4116 ext 21 or nmcghee@caswell.k12.nc.us

Q&A Employee Information

  •  

    Revised ruling for FFCRA Effective September 16, 2020-Dec 31, 2020

    The revisions do the following:

    • Reaffirm and provide additional explanation for the requirement that employees may take FFCRA leave only if work would otherwise be available to them.
    • Reaffirm and provide additional explanation for the requirement that an employee have employer approval to take FFCRA leave intermittently.
    • Revise the definition of “healthcare provider” to include only employees who meet the definition of that term under the Family and Medical Leave Act regulations or who are employed to provide diagnostic services, preventative services, treatment services or other services that are integrated with and necessary to the provision of patient care which, if not provided, would adversely impact patient care.
    • Clarify that employees must provide required documentation supporting their need for FFCRA leave to their employers as soon as practicable.
    • Correct an inconsistency regarding when employees may be required to provide notice of a need to take expanded family and medical leave to their employers.

    State Plan COVID-19 Updates 

    Family First Coronavirus Response Act Poster (FFCRA)

    The Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA or Act) requires certain employers to provide their employees with paid sick leave and expanded family and medical leave for specified reasons related to COVID-19. These provisions will apply from April 1, 2020 through December 31, 2020. Click the link above for more information. 

    Families First Coronavirus Response Act: Questions and Answers

     https://www.dol.gov/agencies/whd/pandemic/ffcra-questions

     

    UPDATED: Employee Leave Information (Ended June 15, 2020)

    State of Emergency Leave is available to employees in local education agencies for the period covering April 1 – June 15, 2020, and maybe extended by the State Board of Education.

    On April 30, the State Board of Education approved an extension until May 31 of its emergency sick leave policy, which is allowing districts to continue to pay and provide benefits to eligible staff who cannot work remotely, who have childcare or eldercare needs, are at high risk of COVID-19 and others.

    Stress and Coping 4/20/2020 

     

    COVID-19 CCS Employees Q & A (Informal Guidance: from State Board of Education State of Emergency COVID-19 Sick Leave Policy and others.)

    (For the Feeding Program Q&A scroll down to the bottom) 

    Below are frequently asked questions and answers that have come about since Governor Cooper issued the Stay-at-Home Order for the state of North Carolina.

     1. Who is a mandatory employee? Non-mandatory employee? 

    Mandatory employees are employees who are directed by their supervisor to work at a designated worksite, other than home, at specified dates/times.  Mandatory employees are generally those whose work is essential to the functioning of the LEA and must be performed on a work site identified by a supervisor (as opposed to teleworking).  School nutrition staff and bus drivers will likely be designated as mandatory employees.

    Non-mandatory employees are all other employees who have not been assigned to report to a site.  They are expected to work from home and have been assigned duties to complete via telework.

    Employers should offer teleworking (i.e., non-mandatory status) whenever possible. 

    Employers should encourage high-risk, mandatory employees to take State of Emergency Leave.  The designation of employees as mandatory or non-mandatory should be determined by the individual context of each LEA.  Note: LEAs have the authority and discretion to reclassify employees as “mandatory” or “non-mandatory” as circumstances evolve and the employers’ needs change.  

     2. Why are school buildings still open for mandatory employees since the Governor issued the Stay-at-Home Order?

    Educational institutions are exempt from stay-at-home order if employees are performing essential functions that are critical to the school districts and its stakeholders.

     3. Why are some employees still having to report while others are allowed to work from home?

     The purpose of requiring mandatory employees to report is to continue business operations which are critical to the school district and its stakeholders.  Operations that are continuing are based on mandates (feeding program) and maintenance/transportation (completion of projects while adhering to CDC guidelines).

    4. What leave is available if I am unable to work due to COVID-19?

     There are guidelines from the federal and state emergency leave policy that provide assistance in extenuating circumstances if certain criteria are met.

     5. Does the policy allow our school nutrition workers and bus drivers who are currently working food service to stop and still get paid?

     Employers have the authority to designate any employee as mandatory when he or she is needed to provide support to operations at an agency worksite.

     Any mandatory employee must work as directed by their supervisor, or may use emergency leave only under the following, as outlined by the policy:

    • The employee is high risk;
    • Are sick due to symptoms consistent with COVID-19;
    • Are caring for a dependent with such symptoms;
    • A health care provider has advised the employee to self-quarantine due to concerns related to COVID-19; or
    • Is unable to report to work because of childcare or eldercare needs because of COVID-19 facility closures and no other suitable person is available in the home to provide such care.

     6. Who are “High Risk” Employees?

    • Employees over 65 years of age;
    • Employees who have underlying health conditions, or a weakened immune system or as identified by state or federal health authorities as high risk.
    • Employees providing care to someone at high risk are also considered high-risk employees.
    • Has a high-risk condition that includes:
      • Chronic lung disease or moderate to severe asthma
      • Heart disease with complications
      • Compromised immune system
      • Severe obesity - body mass index (BMI) of 40 or higher
      • Other underlying medical conditions, particularly if not well controlled, such as diabetes, renal failure or liver disease
      • Pregnant women should be monitored closely since they are known to be at risk for severe viral illness. However, data

     Employers shall provide opportunities to telework to all high-risk employees where feasible. In the event that teleworking is not feasible, the leave provisions of this policy shall apply.

     7. Am I required to provide a medical note if I am a “high-risk employee” or it is automatically based on my request?

     If an employee has requested leave because of “high risk” status, the LEA may request medical documentation (reference FMLA guidelines in Section 8.2.16 of the NC Public Schools Benefits Manual) only if needed to substantiate the employee’s high-risk status.

     Older adults and people who have severe chronic medical conditions like heart, lung or kidney disease and those with weakened immune systems seem to be at higher risk for more serious COVID-19 illness if they become infected with the virus.

     8. Do employees have to exhaust all leave balances (i.e., comp time, sick, annual) before the State of Emergency Leave can be used?

     No. The State of Emergency Leave policy may be used before other accrued leave.

     9. During spring break, can an employee use State of Emergency Leave?

     Employees are only permitted to use this State of Emergency Leave on days that are workdays.  Therefore, if the LEA has built-in annual leave days for spring break, the employee may NOT use the State of Emergency Leave.  If an employee does not have sufficient accrued leave for the built-in annual leave days, the employee will be leave without pay.

     10. Are employees who have signed a telework agreement ineligible for this leave?

     All eligible employees have access to this leave, regardless of the ability to telework.  If the employee can telework, then he/she is not eligible to use the State of Emergency Leave unless another factor outlined in the policy applies (e.g., caring for a dependent or is sick with COVID-19).

     11. Are there State guidelines that define “unable to telework?”

     No. As with other employee-specifics decisions concerning work assignments, the LEA is responsible for determining the status of their employee’s ability to telework.

     12. Are employees who have telework options but report they are unable to do so due to childcare or eldercare needs eligible for State of Emergency Leave?

     Yes, if childcare or eldercare prevents the employee from productively teleworking and there is no other suitable person in the home to provide such care, then the employee may utilize the leave consistent with provisions of the SBE policy and any local policy or procedure in place to implement the SBE policy.

     13. How do we make this equitable to those employees who are working? Some employees will be paid leave for the month without working and some having to work for the same pay?

     The intent of the leave is to provide pay to employees who do not have the opportunity to work or are unable to work due to COVID-19 related circumstances.  LEAs are encouraged to rotate employees between teleworking and leave status when the work hours have been reduced.  As with the emergency leave conferred by the State, the UNC system, and the community colleges, the primary goal of the SBE policy is to advance public health objectives by slowing the spread of COVID-19.

     14. If we offer the employee work, I assume they cannot file for unemployment or if they do we will respond as such and they will likely be disqualified.

     Where work is available, the employer should respond to the claim as “Still employed -Full Time or Part Time”, if there is no reduction to hours.  Where work is available and the employee refuses to work, then unemployment benefits should not be awarded.

     15. Who are temporary employees?

    As used in these policies “temporary employee” means a person who is either:

    1. Employed to fill a vacancy working less than 20 hours per week, or
    2. Employed to fill a vacancy for less than six full consecutive months of employment.

       16.  Is the State of Emergency Leave applicable only to employees in a full or partial benefit status? 

    No, employees who are not eligible for benefits are eligible for a pro-rata the State of Emergency Leave benefit.

      17. Should we use the State of Emergency leave to get all permanent PT and FT to their standard hours for this time frame whether they chose to use leave or not? For example, can employees who did not receive their standard hours to work access the State of Emergency Leave?

     Non-mandatory employees (including temporary and permanent employees, as well as employees who report to work for reduced hours) who are unable to telework and who have not been authorized by the supervisor to continue to report to work will receive paid State of Emergency Leave up to the maximum hours allowed if they (i) cannot telework because their position duties cannot be performed remotely and (ii) reasonable alternate remote work is not feasible or productive, as determined by the employer.  Mandatory employees who have a reduced on-site schedule, may at the discretion of the employer take paid State of Emergency Leave for the balance of hours where they have not been assigned on-site or remote duties.

    Emergency leave may be used to bring an employee, who is working reduced hours, to the employee’s usual full day’s pay.  The combination of work and leave, however, may not exceed the employee’s regular schedule or 40 hours per week, whichever is less.

     18. Is it permissible to grant emergency leave to employees currently on a leave of absence in lieu of charging them leave they have already earned (if they have conditions that qualify pursuant to the new policy)?

    Non-mandatory employees who were on other pre-approved leave, choose not to work, or are unavailable for reasons other than provided for in this State of Emergency Leave provision must use available and applicable leave types, such as vacation/annual leave, paid parental leave, bonus leave, or compensatory time.

     19. How does this affect teachers who are doing remote learning?

    Generally, teachers are considered like other teleworking employees.  LEAs are encouraged to consider and provide remote work opportunities for teachers.  As stated above, employees (including teachers) do not have the right to rescind teleworking agreements or reject a temporary reassignment of duties that would allow teleworking.  However, if a teacher is unable to telework because of one of the qualifying emergency reasons, they are eligible to take leave.

     20. Are districts required to put “high risk” employees on this leave, or can the high-risk employees still choose to work? 

    If feasible and productive, high-risk employees should be offered telework opportunities.  If the employee is mandatory, the employer should inform the employee of the leave options.  Ultimately, if a mandatory employee is high-risk, it is the employee’s decision regarding whether to work or take eligible leave.  Non-mandatory high-risk employees should continue to telework unless another eligible leave basis applies.

     21. If the Americans with Disabilities Act protects the identity and medical information of people with communicable disease, can a LEA require documentation from the Certification of Health Care Provider for Family Member’s Serious Health Condition (FMLA) form?

    The employer may require the employee to provide the identifying reason why he or she is seeking leave.  If the employee is seeking leave because they have been advised by medical provider or governmental entity to self-quarantine, the employer may ask for the name of the medical provider or governmental entity who issued the order. If the employee seeks extended leave because of the employee’s own or family member’s “serious medical condition” under the FMLA, refer to the Section of 8.2.16 of the NC Public Schools Benefits and Employment Manual for guidance to employers on acceptable medical documentation.  Any medical information received about an employee should be kept confidential.

     22. Is it necessary for employers to ask employees for documentation of childcare or eldercare needs due to COVID-19 related facility closings, or should we grant the leave upon request?

    LEAs should have a procedure in place that is consistently applied to all employees.  An LEA may ask for the name of the child, the name of the childcare provider that is closed, and whether another suitable person is available in the home to provide such care.  Where the employee is assigned teleworking duties, the employer may ask whether and what extent the employee is unable to telework because of these childcare and eldercare needs.

      23. Which employees are eligible for the State of Emergency Leave?

     March 16-March 31 96 hours (LEAs may require documentation for leave during this time period that is consistent with the documentation for the April 1-April 30 period)

    • All employees who requested leave during the school closure period of March 16-March 31, 2020 for reasons set out in the policy.

     April 1 - April 30 168 hours

    • Temporary and permanent employees are eligible for this leave.  Part-time employees are eligible for a prorated portion of the leave. 

     24. If this paid leave is the employee’s paid leave, which types of leave will they be able to use?  Sick, annual, personal, bonus, extended sick leave, voluntary shared leave?

    If the employee meets the conditions for leave under policies 9.4.1 or 9.4.2, then he or she is paid using the leave codes provided.  The employee would not be shared leave from his/her accrued leave balances.

     25. Why does this only cover April 1- April 30 while the Governor’s order extends through May 15?

     It is anticipated that this policy will be revisited as the pandemic evolves.  This time period is consistent with the approach taken by OSHR for state employees.

     26. Are non-mandatory employees who have been reassigned other work assignments and refuse those assignments eligible for SBE State of Emergency Leave?

    Non-mandatory employees who were on other pre-approved leave, choose not to work, or are unavailable for reasons other than provided for in this State of Emergency Leave provision must use available and applicable leave types, such as vacation/annual leave, bonus leave, or compensatory time.

     27. Does the policy allow our school nutrition workers and bus drivers who are currently working food service to stop and still get paid? 

     Employers have the authority to designate any employee as mandatory when he or she is needed to provide support to operations at an agency worksite. 

     Any mandatory employee must work as directed by their supervisor, or may use emergency leave only under the following, as outlined by the policy:

    • The employee is high risk;
    • Are sick due to symptoms consistent with COVID-19;
    • Are caring for a dependent with such symptoms;
    • A health care provider has advised the employee to self-quarantine due to concerns related to COVID-19; or 
    • Is unable to report to work because of childcare or eldercare needs because of COVID-19 facility closures and no other suitable person is available in the home to provide such care.

    28. Are Child Nutrition and Bus Drivers who are 65 years or older and are currently working with food services automatically eligible for the State of Emergency Leave if they choose to no longer work?  A memo was sent to CN Directors Friday (4/03/2020) urging “high risk” to stay home. In this policy, “high risk” employees are those who are over 65 and have underlying health conditions.

    LEAs should consider the health and safety of high-risk employees and take all efforts to reduce the risk of all on-site employees by implementing social distancing and other safety and sanitation protocols to the greatest extent possible.  If a mandatory employee who is “high risk” requests leave, then the employee is eligible for the State of Emergency Leave.

     29. Can we define the age of a child that is being cared for?

     Under the present guidance, the State of Emergency Leave does not distinguish a dependent by age.

Feeding Program Q & A

  • Below are frequently asked questions and answers that have come about since Governor Cooper issued the Stay-at-Home Order for the state of North Carolina. 

    1) Who is a mandatory employee?  Non-mandatory employee? 

     Mandatory employees are employees who are directed by their supervisor to work at a designated worksite, other than home, at specified dates/times.  Mandatory employees are generally those whose work is essential to the functioning of the LEA and must be performed on a work site identified by a supervisor (as opposed to teleworking).  School nutrition staff and bus drivers will likely be designated as mandatory employees.

     Non-mandatory employees are all other employees who have not been assigned to report to a site.  They are expected to work from home and have been assigned duties to complete via telework.

    Employers should offer teleworking (i.e., non-mandatory status) whenever possible. 

    Employers should encourage high-risk, mandatory employees to take State of Emergency Leave.  The designation of employees as mandatory or non-mandatory should be determined by the individual context of each LEA.  Note: LEAs have the authority and discretion to reclassify employees as “mandatory” or “non-mandatory” as circumstances evolve and the employers’ needs change.  

    2) Why are school buildings still open for mandatory employees since the Governor issued the Stay-at-Home Order?

     Educational institutions are exempt from stay-at-home order if employees are performing essential functions that are critical to the school districts and its stakeholders. 

     3)  Why are some employees still having to report while others are allowed to work from home?

    The purpose of requiring mandatory employees to report is to continue business operations which are critical to the school district and its stakeholders.  Operations that are continuing are based on mandates (feeding program) and maintenance/transportation (completion of projects while adhering to CDC guidelines). 

    4) What leave is available if I am unable to work due to COVID-19?

     There are guidelines from the federal and state emergency leave policy that provide assistance in extenuating circumstances if certain criteria are met. 

     5) Does the policy allow our school nutrition workers and bus drivers who are currently working food service to stop and still get paid? 

     Employers have the authority to designate any employee as mandatory when he or she is needed to provide support to operations at an agency worksite. 

    Any mandatory employee must work as directed by their supervisor, or may use emergency leave only under the following, as outlined by the policy:

    • The employee is high risk;
    • Are sick due to symptoms consistent with COVID-19;
    • Are caring for a dependent with such symptoms;
    • A health care provider has advised the employee to self-quarantine due to concerns related to COVID-19; or 
    • Is unable to report to work because of childcare or eldercare needs because of COVID-19 facility closures and no other suitable person is available in the home to provide such care. 

     6) Who are “High Risk” Employees?

    • Employees over 65 years of age; 
    • Employees who have underlying health conditions, or a weakened immune system or as identified by state or federal health authorities as high risk.  
    • Employees providing care to someone at high risk are also considered high-risk employees.
    • Has a high-risk condition that includes:
      • Chronic lung disease or moderate to severe asthma
      • Heart disease with complications
      • Compromised immune system
      • Severe obesity - body mass index (BMI) of 40 or higher
      • Other underlying medical conditions, particularly if not well controlled, such as diabetes, renal failure or liver disease
      • Pregnant women should be monitored closely since they are known to be at risk for severe viral illness. However, data

     Employers shall provide opportunities to telework to all high-risk employees where feasible. In the event that teleworking is not feasible, the leave provisions of this policy shall apply. 

     7) Am I required to provide a medical note if I am a “high-risk employee” or it is automatically based on my request?  

     If an employee has requested leave because of “high risk” status, the LEA may request medical documentation (reference FMLA guidelines in Section 8.2.16 of the NC Public Schools Benefits Manual) only if needed to substantiate the employee’s high-risk status. 

     Older adults and people who have severe chronic medical conditions like heart, lung or kidney disease and those with weakened immune systems seem to be at higher risk for more serious COVID-19 illness if they become infected with the virus. 

     8) Are child nutrition and bus drivers who are 65 years or older and are currently working with food services automatically eligible for the State of Emergency Leave if they choose to no longer work?  A memo was sent to CN Directors Friday (4/03/2020) urging “high risk” to stay home. In this policy, “high risk” employees are those who are over 65 and have underlying health conditions.

    LEAs should consider the health and safety of high-risk employees and take all efforts to reduce the risk of all on-site employees by implementing social distancing and other safety and sanitation protocols to the greatest extent possible.  If a mandatory employee who is “high risk” requests leave, then the employee is eligible for the State of Emergency Leave. 

     9) Are districts required to put “high risk” employees on this leave, or can the high-risk employees still choose to work? 

    If feasible and productive, high-risk employees should be offered telework opportunities.  If the employee is mandatory, the employer should inform the employee of the leave options.  Ultimately, if a mandatory employee is high-risk, it is the employee’s decision regarding whether to work or take eligible leave.  Non-mandatory high-risk employees should continue to telework unless another eligible leave basis applies. 

     10) Which employees are eligible for the State of Emergency Leave?

     March 16-March 31 96 hours (LEAs may require documentation for leave during this time period that is consistent with the documentation for the April 1-April 30 period)

    • All employees who requested leave during the school closure period of March 16-March 31, 2020 for reasons set out in the policy.

     April 1 - April 30 168 hours

    • Temporary and permanent employees are eligible for this leave.  Part-time employees are eligible for a prorated portion of the leave. 

    11) If this paid leave is the employee’s paid leave, which types of leave will they be able to use?  Sick, annual, personal, bonus, extended sick leave, voluntary shared leave?

    If the employee meets the conditions for leave under policies 9.4.1 or 9.4.2, then he or she is paid using the leave codes provided.  The employee would not be charged leave from his/her accrued leave balances. 

     12) Do employees have to exhaust all leave balances (i.e. comp time, sick, annual) before the State Emergency Leave can be used?

     No. The State of Emergency Leave policy may be used before other accrued leave.