Frequently Asked Questions: Employees
Note: These FAQs address issues related to employment status and leave in the event of an influenza outbreak or pandemic. Issues related to faculty teaching, clinical, or research responsibilities are addressed separately.
Work Schedules/Alternative Worksites
- 1. What type of leave is available to me in the case of an influenza outbreak or pandemic?
- There are no specific policies establishing special types of leave relating to an influenza outbreak or possible pandemic. Various types of leave may be available to you under University policy.
For Staff Employees:
For faculty employees:
You should consult with your supervisor or department head to determine if you qualify for leave. You may contact Human Resources Employee Relations at (859) 257-8758 for interpretation of Human Resources Policy and Procedure. For interpretation of Governing Regulations and Administrative Regulations, you may contact the Legal Office at (859) 257-2936 or the Office of the Associate Provost for Faculty Affairs at (859) 323-6589.
- 2. Is the University developing any alternative leave provisions to address absences due to an influenza outbreak and possible pandemic?
- No. Existing policies for faculty and staff will apply in the event of an influenza outbreak or pandemic.
In extreme cases, the Staff Shared Leave Pool (SLP) may be available if a staff employee cannot come to work but has no available leave to use. The Staff Shared Leave Pool is a pool of donated Vacation Leave time, which a staff employee who has suffered a catastrophic illness or injury and exhausted all accrued paid leaves may be eligible to use. To be eligible for the SLP, an employee must meet all eligibility requirements, complete and submit and application, and be approved by the SLP Committee. For more information about the SLP: http://www.uky.edu/HR/emprel/SharedLeavePoolOverview.html.
- 3. What if I am not sick, but I need to stay at home to care for a sick family member?
- Various types of leave may be available to you under University policy to care for a sick family member.
For Staff Employees:
For faculty employees:
Temporary Disability Leave used to care for family members is limited to 30 days per year. You should consult with your supervisor or department head to determine if you qualify for leave to care for a sick family member. You should discuss your options with your supervisor or a Human Resources Employee Relations representative.
For Temporary Disability Leave purposes, a "family member" is defined as spouse, child, grandchild, mother/father, grandmother/grandfather, brother/sister (and steps, halves and in-laws of the same relationship), legal dependent of the employee, and another who resides in the employee's household and for whom the employee has an obligation to provide care.
- 4. Do I need to notify my supervisor that I cannot come to work because of the influenza outbreak or pandemic?
- Yes. If you cannot come to work for any reason, you must promptly notify your supervisor or department head of the reason for your absence. You must provide notice of your absence in accordance with established departmental procedures and standards. You must keep your supervisor or department head informed of your absence and anticipated return to work date. Your supervisor or department head may require medical documentation of your illness.
- 5. I am not ill nor are my children, but their school district or day care is closed and I have no one to watch them. What should I do?
- As with any absence, you must promptly notify your supervisor or department head of the reason for your absence. Established departmental policies regarding absences and attendance apply for providing notice of your absence. You need to keep your supervisor or department head informed of your absence and anticipated return to work date. Your supervisor may require documentation of the school district or day care closure. If approved, and if you have accumulated vacation leave, you may be able to take off work with pay by using your available vacation leave. If you have no accumulated vacation leave balance available, you may also request a Special Unpaid Leave through your supervisor or department head and higher-level administrators; however, approval is not guaranteed. For more information on Special Leave: (http://www.uky.edu/HR/policies/hrpp085.html).
- 6. What if I become ill and am unable to contact my supervisor?
- If you are unable to contact your supervisor because you are incapacitated, another family member or a friend should contact your supervisor for you. It is imperative to follow the established departmental policies and process for reporting your absences.
- 7. Can my supervisor make me leave work if I am ill or become ill during work time?
- Yes. Applicable leaves may be used if available. If no paid leave is available, the absence may result in an unpaid leave. As with any serious or contagious illness, persons who become ill with the symptoms of influenza should immediately minimize contact with others to avoid transmission of the disease. Established departmental policies or practices will apply in this situation.
- 8. If I do not have enough accumulated paid leave to cover my absence from work due to the influenza outbreak or pandemic, how can I afford to stay at home until I am completely well before returning to work?
- If you exhaust your temporary disability leave and vacation leave balances, you will be placed in an unpaid status. In extreme cases, the Staff Shared Leave Pool (SLP) may be available if a staff employee cannot come to work but has no available leave to use. The Staff Shared Leave Pool is a pool of donated Vacation Leave time, which a staff employee who has suffered a catastrophic illness or injury and exhausted all accrued paid leaves may be eligible to use. To be eligible for the SLP, an employee must meet all eligibility requirements, complete and submit and application, and be approved by the SLP Committee. Documentation from your health care provider will be necessary. For more information about the SLP: http://www.uky.edu/HR/emprel/SharedLeavePoolOverview.html.
You are encouraged to educate yourself now regarding the potential risks of an influenza outbreak or pandemic and how to prepare. One way to prepare is to make every effort to accumulate sufficient Temporary Disability Leave to cover health emergencies. Visit UK's home page at www.uky.edu to obtain information about the Novel H1N1 influenza virus.
- 9. What if I am not sick, but do not want to come to work for fear of becoming ill. Is my supervisor required to approve my vacation leave request?
- No. The University expects every employee to make a diligent effort to meet his or her job responsibilities. If you have accrued vacation leave, you may request to take vacation leave. However, your request is subject to the approval of your supervisor or department head.
It is important to educate yourself about the Novel H1N1 virus and its transmission. Visit UK's home page at www.uky.edu to obtain information about the virus and UK's response to the outbreak and possible pandemic.
- 10. What if I use public transportation to travel to and from work, and, due to the influenza outbreak or pandemic, the public transit system shuts down and I am unable to get to work. Will I be paid for the day(s) I am unable to get to work?
- No. You will not be paid for the days you are unable to get to work, unless you request to use accrued vacation leave and your supervisor or department head approves. If you are unable to arrange alternative transportation, and you do not have accrued vacation leave, you should discuss the situation with your supervisor or department head. Your supervisor or department head will consult with the Human Resources Office of Employee Relations to determine the best course of action.
It is important to plan ahead and look for other ways to travel to work. You may be able to ride-share with other employees. The Parking and Transportation Department offers an on-line matching service for employees who are interested in ride-sharing. http://www.uky.edu/Parking/transportation-ridematch.html
- 11. Can my supervisor cancel vacation leave requests that have been already approved because of an influenza outbreak and possible pandemic?
- Yes. Your supervisor or department head has the authority to cancel any pre-approved vacation leave requests when it is in the best interest of your department or the University, such as in circumstances where there are serious staff shortages as a result of illness. Your vacation leave also could be cancelled if your job is considered "essential" under the University emergency policy (http://www.uky.edu/HR/policies/hrpp071.html). Check with your supervisor to determine if your job is considered essential.
- 12. How do I know if I am considered an "Essential" employee for purposes of an influenza outbreak or pandemic?
- If your job is considered "essential", your supervisor or department head will notify you annually. If you are unsure, please check with your supervisor or department head to find out if your job is considered essential. However, any position may be designated as essential at any point during a University state of emergency, even if not designated essential prior to the emergency. For more information, see the University emergency policy (http://www.uky.edu/HR/policies/hrpp071.html).
- 13. If the Governor shuts down state government buildings, services, or roads, will the University also be closed?
- No. The President and senior University leadership will decide if a partial or full-closure of the university is necessary. If there is a partial or full closure of the University, essential support services will still be needed. Check with your supervisor or department head to determine if your job is considered essential. Announcements regarding the cancellation of classes, closure of offices or delays are normally made by 6 a.m. through the local media. You can also find up-to-date and complete information from the UK Infoline at (859)257-5684, UK TV Cable Cannel 16 and 19, channel 49 on campus, UK Alert or the UK Web site at www.uky.edu.
- 14. What if I am a member of the Uniformed Services and I am called for training or active duty due to an influenza outbreak or pandemic?
- If you are called for training or active duty in the Uniformed Services of the United States, you are eligible for Uniformed Services Leave, provided you give appropriate notice of your military obligations. For more information about Uniformed Service Leave, please see: (http://www.uky.edu/HR/policies/hrpp075.html).
"Uniformed Services" means the Armed Forces (Army, Navy, Air Force and Marines), the Army National Guard and the Air National Guard when engaged in active duty for training, inactive duty for training or full-time National Guard duty, the commissioned corps of the Public Health Service, and any other category of persons designated by the President in time of war or emergency.
NOTE: Temporary employees are not eligible for Uniformed Services Leave.
- 15. If I am a certified disaster service volunteer of the American Red Cross, may I leave work to provide disaster relief?
- If you are a certified disaster services volunteer of the American Red Cross, or wish to volunteer with any outside agency, you must apply and be approved for special leave under http://www.uky.edu/HR/policies/hrpp085.htm. Depending on the duration of the leave requested, the leave must be approved by your supervisor or department head and the appropriate Executive Vice President, the Provost, the President, or the Board of Trustees. Any applicable accrued leave that you have will be applied prior to the initiation of special leave.
- 16. Is telecommuting an option during an influenza outbreak or pandemic?
- Most University positions are not suited for telecommuting due to specific job duties that cannot be performed at home. However, you should speak with your supervisor or department head about the possibility of telecommunicating during an influenza outbreak. For more information about flexible work schedules, including telecommuting, please see: http://www.uky.edu/HR/WorkLife/.
- 17. Can my supervisor schedule me to work hours or shifts that I normally do not work?
- Yes. You may be asked to work more hours and/or different hours than normal, especially if your position is considered Essential, or the university is short-staffed. There are no federal or state laws that limit the number of hours an employee may be required to work; however, the university will honor all state and federal laws as they relate to wages paid and hours worked.
- 18. If there are large numbers of employees who are unable to come to work because of the influenza outbreak and possible pandemic, is there a maximum number of hours my supervisor can require me to work?
- There are no federal or state laws that state a maximum number of hours that an employee may be required to work in a week. In the event of a serious outbreak or pandemic, different work schedules or additional hours may be necessary to ensure that our students are supported and the University continues to function. You may be asked to work different or more hours than normal, especially if your position is considered Essential, or the university is short-staffed as a result of the influenza outbreak.
- 19. If an influenza outbreak occurs in the community, what assistance will be available to help me cope with its impact emotionally?
- UK provides resources to help employees and eligible dependents cope with these types of life events through its Employee Assistance Program (EAP) REFER. REFER provides affordable sliding-scale payment options, confidential sessions, and flexible scheduling. You can contact REFER by calling (859) 257-1467 or (859) 257-7755. In addition, the Work-Life Office has a new resource, "Work + Life Connections", which allows you free visits (five per year) to help deal with stress and other life situations. The staff of Work + Life Connections can be reached at (859) 257-9433.
- 20. Will UK's health insurance plan cover medical expenses associated with an influenza outbreak or possible pandemic?
- Each health insurance plan offers different levels of benefits. You should contact your individual plan administrator for details about your coverage. UK recommends you consult the Human Resources Benefits web site at http://www.uky.edu/HR/benefits/ for information about your medical plan. You also may call 859-257-9555 option 3.
Tips for Instructors and Faculty
The information below is based on recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Healthcare subgroup of UK's Pandemic Planning team, the Office of the Provost, and the Division of Crisis Management and Preparedness .
- Proper hand hygiene is the best way to combat illness, especially the flu. Encourage students to wash hands regularly and carry their own personal sized container of alcohol-based hand sanitizer. This is especially true for teaching environments in which students come in contact with commonly used equipment (i.e., computer labs). Consider modeling this behavior by also carrying your own personal sized container of alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
- Self-isolation of the sick is extremely beneficial in controlling the spread of any illness, especially the flu. The government reports healthy young adults are considered at high risk for contracting the Novel H1N1 virus. This includes a large majority of our University student population. Therefore, it is imperative that if a student is ill, he/she NOT attend class or any activities on campus. Please discuss your attendance/absenteeism policy with your class. Students should be clear on their responsibilities related to class attendance/learning. It should also be clear that we do NOT want ill students in class. If they must miss due to illness, it is their responsibility to notify you and make arrangements regarding missed instruction.
- Students who display influenza-like illness symptoms in class may be asked to leave the classroom. The instructor should handle the situation with care, asking the student to step outside the classroom where an exchange may be conducted privately. The student must be reassured that he or she will be permitted to make-up missed class work or reschedule an exam.
Students who live on campus and have flu-related illnesses should be encouraged to self-isolate themselves (i.e., stay away from others) in their residence hall room or apartment while they are ill, except to get medical care or for other necessities. Students should be told to return to class only after they are fever-free (without the use of a fever-reducing medicine) for at least 24 hours.
It is appropriate for an instructor to remind students not to attend class if they have flu-like symptoms. Students should notify the instructor when they will be absent. Other helpful information on the Novel H1N1 Flu can be found at the UK website.
- Although the young adult population is contracting the illness in greater numbers, it appears that they are experiencing milder symptoms and don't always require medical attention to recover. In order to avoid overcrowding doctor's offices and hospitals, the CDC recommends to schools to NOT require a doctor's excuse for Novel H1N1. Except for extreme cases (i.e., common exams) please consider this as well.
- Utilize the Academic Alert Systems webform to report unusual numbers (~25% or more) of class absences and/or anecdotal information (student communication stating they have the flu) to the Office of the Provost. This information is essential to the University as we continually assess the impact of Novel H1N1 on our campus.
- Encourage social distancing in class (when an option). The goal is to have at least 6 ft between each person. This might be achieved by having students stagger their seating arrangements (i.e., leaving an empty seat between).
- Have a personal preparedness plan. Just as a large number of student absences affect learning, large numbers of instructor absences are also an issue. Please develop a personal preparedness plan. Consider a teaching "buddy" or substitute who could cover your class in the event you need to be out. Make plans for your family. Who will care for your children if schools and/or childcare facilities are closed? Will you need to be out to care for an ill family member?
Employees: Vaccine Information
- Is there a vaccine for the Novel H1N1 virus?
- When will the Novel H1N1 vaccine be available?
- The Novel H1N1 vaccine is currently available. Please consult your personal physician, local health department, or retail pharmacy chain for vaccine availability.
- Who is recommended to receive the Novel H1N1 vaccine?
- Vaccines are the most powerful public health tool for the control of influenza, and the U.S. government recommends that all who are eligible receive the vaccine. The CDC's Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) has recommended that certain groups of the population receive the 2009 H1N1 vaccine first. These target groups include:
- pregnant women,
- people who live with or care for children younger than 6 months of age,
- healthcare and emergency medical services personnel,
- persons between the ages of 6 months and 24 years old,
- people ages of 25 through 64 years of age who are at higher risk for 2009 H1N1 because of chronic health disorders or compromised immune systems.
- Will UK be providing the Novel H1N1 vaccine to students or employees?
- Please contact University Health Services to obtain information on walk-in clinics to distribute Novel H1N1 vaccine to the UK community. Please consult your personal physician, local health department or retail pharmacy chain for vaccine availability.
- Do I even need to get the SEASONAL vaccine?
- Yes, the CDC encourages individuals to get their seasonal flu vaccine as usual. The SEASONAL flu is a different strain than the NOVEL H1N1 and is expected to cause illness this year as normal.
- Is UK providing SEASONAL flu vaccine to employees?
- Please contact University Health Services for information on flu vaccine availability. Please check with your personal physician, local health department, or retail pharmacy chain for availability.
- Can the seasonal vaccine and the Novel H1N1 vaccine be given at the same time?
- Depending on the form of the vaccine, yes it may be given at the same time. Please consult your vaccine provider for more information.
- Are there other ways to prevent the spread of illness?
- Yes, take everyday actions to stay healthy.
- Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze. Throw the tissue in the trash after you use it.
- Wash your hands often with soap and water, especially after you cough or sneeze. Alcohol-based hands cleaners are also effective. (UK recommends that you carry your own personal sized container of hand sanitizer.)
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth. Germs spread that way.
- Stay home if you get sick. CDC recommends that you stay home from work or school and limit contact with others to keep from infecting them.
The University of Kentucky encourages all persons to have a personal preparedness plan in the event of any emergency. A variety of resources are available to assist you with this, including: