unit logo

Institutional Recovery and COVID-19 Return to the Workplace

Type of Policy: Human Resources
Last Revised: May 18, 2020

Purpose

This policy provides guidance on what is required of UF employees for COVID-19 screening, returning to work, and working to create a safer environment, in support of the UF Institutional Recovery Strategy. UF is actively taking steps to contain the transmission of COVID-19 as the University returns faculty and staff to UF work locations, and this policy sets forth guidance to supervisors and requirements for employees to promote safety measures in the UF community.  This policy is subject to change with the introduction of additional University or governmental requirements.

Policy Statement

The University has created an Institutional Recovery Strategy, a multi-faceted model for aligning UF’s response to COVID-19-related challenges with its short- and long-term recovery needs. In support of the Institutional Recovery Strategy, employees are required to be screened, return or continue to work in a UF work location after being cleared to do so, and follow practices for promoting a safer work environment.

Scope

This policy applies to all employees of the University of Florida.

Policy Requirements

I. Screening for COVID-19

Requirements

UF employees who are returning to UF work locations must be screened for COVID-19 and cleared prior to returning to work. Essential employees who are already working at a UF location will be screened in accordance with this policy and scheduling priorities. Employees who are screened but not cleared to return to work must isolate at home, notify their supervisor and follow instructions from UF Health, and cannot return to work until cleared.

Employees are required to complete a COVID-19 Screening Questionnaire within 48 hours of receipt of the notification email from UF Human Resources. As part of the screening process, it is UF policy that the employee also take a COVID-19 nasal swab test administered through UF Health to confirm that they are not COVID-19 positive. Outside of the return to work determination described in this policy, COVID-19 testing samples will only be used in accordance with Florida Department of Health rules and regulations. Access to an individual’s test sample and results will be held in a confidential manner by UF Health in a confidential database and/or the Florida Department of Health. The testing will be offered at no charge to employees.   Employees may elect to opt out of the COVID-19 test.

Actions for noncompliance

Employees who refuse to be screened for COVID-19 may not return to a UF work location. Supervisors should instruct essential employees who are performing work at a UF work location and refuse to be screened, or are screened but not cleared, to leave their work location and isolate at home immediately. The supervisor should immediately contact their HR Liaison, who will consult with Employee Relations. If any employee does not comply with a directive to leave their work location or returns to a work location before being cleared, the supervisor should contact their HR Liaison, Employee Relations, and if necessary, the University of Florida Police Department to escort the employee from their work location.

If, for any reason, an employee fails to complete the COVID-19 Screening Questionnaire, the Dean or Director will issue a formal letter of counsel to the employee, and the employee will have two (2) calendar days to complete the COVID-19 Screening Questionnaire. After being counseled, employees who fail to comply with screening requirements are subject to unauthorized leave without pay and are subject to disciplinary action, up to and including dismissal.

II. Return to the UF Work Location

Requirements

As part of the Institutional Recovery, the University will expand physical operations incrementally and after careful review by University leadership. Colleges and units will determine the order in which their employees return to UF work locations. Employees who have been coming to campus periodically prior to the issuance of this policy should limit visits to essential needs until screened and cleared. Non-essential employees who have not been routinely coming to campus should wait until screened and cleared before returning. Once employees have been individually notified of the requirement to return to the workplace, they are expected to return after they have been screened and cleared to return.  If an accommodation is needed after clearance and notification to return to the workplace, employees may request an accommodation through the UF ADA accommodation process, which requires justification and medical documentation.

Actions for noncompliance

If there are no accommodations that can be offered, employees are expected to return to the workplace as instructed. If an employee refuses to return, or returns to the workplace before being cleared , the supervisor should contact the HR Liaison, who will consult with Employee Relations. The Dean or Director will issue a formal letter of counsel to the employee, and the employee will have two (2) calendar days to return to work. After being counseled, employees who fail to return to their work location, are subject to unauthorized leave without pay and are subject to disciplinary action, up to and including dismissal.

III. Employee Responsibility for Working Safely

Requirements

A face mask or cloth face covering will be required everywhere on campus and other UF work locations except when in a private office, a work area separated by at least six (6) feet from others or in an outdoor area separated by at least six (6) feet from others. This requirement extends to invited guests, including, but not limited to visiting professors, academic consultants, and guest speakers. People not using a face mask or covering (outside of the exceptions noted) will be asked to put one on or leave the area to help maintain the safety of our staff, faculty and students. While face masks and coverings may provide the wearer with some protection, their primary purpose is to decrease the risk of spreading viruses and other respiratory diseases by protecting people exposed to the wearer, as the wearer may not be showing outward signs of infection.

  • A face mask meant for a health care worker (e.g., an N95 mask) is not necessary, unless the employee is in a setting where there is the potential for direct exposure to a person/persons infected with COVID-19.
  • Note that the face mask/cloth face covering is not a substitute for social distancing and proper hand washing.

Washing hands aids in keeping employees healthy and preventing the spread of COVID-19 to coworkers we care about.  All employees should adhere to the following CDC recommendations on hand washing:

  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds especially after you have been in a public place, or after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing.
  • If soap and water are not readily available, use a hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol. Cover all surfaces of your hands and rub them together until they feel dry.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.

If employees are feeling sick, they must stay home until better, and consult with their physician if necessary.

If employees are experiencing COVID-19 related symptoms or have had prolonged exposure to someone who has tested positive, they are required to report this to their supervisor and HR Liaison, and may not report to work on campus or other University of Florida facility. Employees who test positive for COVID-19 must be cleared by UF Occupational Medicine. The clearance by UF Occupational Medicine will be communicated to UF Human Resources, and UF Human Resources will notify the HR Liaison.

Actions for noncompliance

If an employee does not comply with a directive for wearing an appropriate face covering in their work location, does not follow physical/social distancing requirements, or otherwise does not comply with requirements for working safely, the supervisor should direct the person to leave the work location immediately, and contact the HR Liaison, who will consult with Employee Relations. The employee’s behavior may be considered disruptive under University Regulation 1.008.  If the employee refuses to comply or leave the work location, the supervisor should contact their HR Liaison, Employee Relations, and if necessary, the University of Florida Police Department to escort the employee from their work location.

Employees who exhibit signs of illness at work will be sent home by their supervisor. If any employee does not comply with a directive to leave their campus work location, the supervisor should contact their HR Liaison, Employee Relations, and if necessary, the University of Florida Police Department to escort the employee from their work location.

Employees who fail to comply with the working safely requirements are subject to counseling or disciplinary action, up to and including dismissal.

Invited guests who fail to comply with the safety requirements of this policy will be asked to leave campus. It is the responsibility of the unit that invites the guest to ensure compliance.

IV. Accommodation

Employees who seek an accommodation through the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) shall submit a Request for Reasonable Accommodation Based on Disability Form to the ADA Compliance Office.  A review of the request and analysis of the identified impairment will determine whether the reported condition meets the criteria of disability under the ADA and whether the accommodation(s) requested is/are reasonable and appropriate.

Resources

University of Florida COVID-19 Updates

UF Americas with Disabilities (ADA) Office

UF Employee Assistance Program

Center for Disease Control and Prevention

Definitions

Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) is a civil rights law that prohibits discrimination against individuals with disabilities in all areas of public life, including jobs, schools, transportation, and all public and private places that are open to the general public.

Authority

  • UF Regulation 7.048 Academic Affairs; Suspension, Termination, and Other Disciplinary Action for Faculty: Definition of Just Cause, Termination, Suspension, and Other Disciplinary Action, Suspension pending Investigation, Notification and Records of Disciplinary Action
  • UF Regulation 3.046 Discipline, Suspension and Dismissal for Cause of Technical, Executive, Administrative, and Managerial Support (TEAMS) Staff
  • 6C1-3.047 Finance and Administration; University Support Personnel System; Disciplinary Procedures
  • UF Regulation 1.1017 Separations from Employment and Layoff
  • UF Regulation 1.008 Disruptive Behavior

Reporting Questions or Violations

The following is the department, office, or individual is responsible for overseeing implementation of and assuring compliance with this policy. Any individual with questions about the policy may contact:

UFHR – Employee Relations
903 W. University Avenue
P.O. Box 115000
Gainesville, FL 32611
https://hr.ufl.edu/manager-resources/employee-relations/contact-us/
Email: EmployeeRelations@hr.ufl.edu