COVID-19 3/18 guidance

Before we get to the new guidance letter released from DAS/OPM...I want to thank the A&R stewards who have been putting the member questions to their commissioners and keeping the pressure on agencies who continue to ignore the Governor's recommendation to allow for schedule changes and telework.  First, we need the Governor to actually mandate telework a directive!  So far, Gov. Lamont has let agency discretion guide telework, he needs to give the clear message of: telework is the best method to ensure containment of the disease and continuity of government...Governor Lamont, just make it a directive..  We have buildings with hundreds of employees and public windows...yet we remain open and refuse to honor telework.  If a world-wide pandemic isn't the obvious time to limit direct social contact and to embrace 21st century technology, then we don't know what is...the Governor is trying to contain this disease and some agencies are refusing to help...this is reckless...make the directive to buy laptops and implement the obvious...more on this later.

From our shop, A&R is trying to respond to everyone who has called and emailed as well as push for the common sense measures...and of course, keep you updated and conduct normal business as well (side note: congrats to the DOL Unit Managers who are now part of A&R as a result of a win at the Labor Board last Friday!  Further, congrats to DOI and DOT employees who also successfully won their bids to unionize over the past couple of weeks!  We are trying to get your impact bargaining done and submitted to the legislature, clearly some obstacles though).

This is the latest guidance released from DAS/OPM.  It includes a helpful Q&A. 

The synopsis so far:

Sick with Coronavirus, caring for someone sick with Coronavirus, or Coronavirus-like symptoms: stay home, 14 calendar days paid leave  LOPD , telework if possible
Returned from: Iran, South Korea, China, Europe: stay home, 14 calendar days paid leave LOPD, telework if possible
Child/Elder care closing:  stay home, 14 calendar days paid leave LOPD, telework if possible
Transportation impossible:stay home, 14 calendar days paid leave LOPD, telework if possible
Compromised Immune System:  submit a doctor's directive to stay home...then stay home, 14 days, telework.

All others: report to work, telework, or use accrued time.

There have been numerous informational documents, so we are attempting a quick synopsis of the guidance and Q&A...this is not a substitute for actually reading the latest guidance...but a quick run-down of some of the items contained within them.

  • The 14 days are calendar days and run consecutively starting from the day you first access them.
  • If you are under the "14 days paid leave" but teleworking....this means give as many hours as you can under your normal time codes and the balance of the time is LOPD.
  • Telework is NOT limited to 50% of the week.
  • Titles not previously allowed for Telework are now allowable
  • If you are declared essential...this does NOT override the above directives and this does NOT mean that you can't telework...essential designation is not a way of ignoring health concerns to ensure continuity of government, telework is the way you ensure continuity of government and maintain health.
  • To request telework under these circumstances: the normal paperwork can be by-passed, just a brief statement of duties and a proposed schedule is all that is needed.
  • If you wish to create "odd" hours during the crisis, this is allowed.  If you only need to provide childcare coverage until 1pm, you can come in to the office at 2pm and work later.
  • HEP requirements timelines are being extended (not sure exactly what this means yet, but for those trying to meet their 2019 requirements, the timeline before removal has been extended).
  • If both parents are state employees, only one at a time can access the 14 days for child/elder care.
  • Taking temperature of staff: only in a healthcare setting...please don't try to play doctor at your office, unless you are a doctor.



Coronavirus 3/17/2020

On behalf of the 2,800 state employees represented by A&R, we made a demand to the Governor today to close non-essential functions and release A&R employees on paid leave until this pandemic is contained.

We will continue to push this position as this crisis continues to dig deeper.  The Governor will need to face the reality, that our workplace conditions put us all at increased risk of infection for not only ourselves, but the families we go home to.



COVID-19 Update & Union Response 3/15/2020


The coalition of state employee unions has put together a statement to ensure that everyone is up-to-date on what we know so far and what we are continuing to see as areas that need improvements/answers.

View the latest on where we are...

This chart came out from DAS/OPM on Friday 3/13/2020 and seems to be the best guide for understanding the expectations of employees during this healthcare alert:

Please communicate with your supervisor before imposing any quarantine or 'social distancing".

Here are a few key situations:
Sick with COVID19 or caring for someone with COVID19: stay home.
If your health is compromised and a doctor orders you to stay home:...submit the doctor's directive to your agency and stay home.
If you return from a Level 3 designated area such as Europe, China, Iran, South Korea: stay home and self-monitor for 14 days
If you need to care for children or other dependents because school, daycare or eldercare has closed:  Either Telework or take up to 14 days of paid leave if Telework is not possible.
A change in visits to Level 2 countries: not required to self-quarantine.
This is an evolving situation and we can presume more guidance will be forthcoming.


Where Are We With COVID 19 Planning?

This is an evolving situation so today's news may be different from tomorrow's news...clearly, telework is the best way for the State to ensure the work gets done while maintaining "social distance", so we continue to push for the State to embrace telework in a much more serious and aggressive manner...but this is where we are now:

If you are ill with COVID 19 (or exhibiting similar symptoms): use sick time as normal.  If you will be out for 5 days, then utilize FMLA.

New A&R Stewards

We would like to welcome several newly approved A&R stewards who will be the next wave of warriors for our union.  Each new steward of A&R undergoes a 3-year evaluation period before final confirmation by the RA.

Telecommuting, FMLA and COVID-19 Virus: OPM/DAS Guidance Issued

UPDATE (3/9/20):
OPM/DAS had issued guidance to the agencies regarding novel coronavirus.  Over the weekend, OPM/DAS updated their guidance to restrict out-of-state travel by employees and to limit out of state contractors coming into the state (along with the normal “wash your hands” and Lysol your workstation message).