Guidance to Supervisors for COVID-19 Consideration

Note:  This is a dynamic situation and UWM is working to provide information and tools to supervisors as quickly as possible.  This document will be updated as additional information and tools are available, in addition to further guidance from the state and UW System.

Methods to Utilize Social Distancing to Help Curtail the Spread of the Virus

  • Beginning the week of March 16, consider positions that could accomplish work, full or in part, remotely. Allocate the employee’s time to work remotely whenever possible but still consistent with business needs.
  • Hold meetings, regardless of their size, virtually.
  • Request employees to allow 6 feet of distance between themselves and colleagues whenever possible.
  • Be observant of employees and take appropriate action should they begin to exhibit symptoms of acute respiratory illness or the flu. See below for further information.

Employees Working Remotely

  • Information Technology Specialists from across the campus have prepared an excellent document to help you consider many aspects of an employee working remotely: https://uwm.edu/technology/working-remotely/
  • In considering who may work remotely and how that may be accomplished:
    • 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.
    • What resources does the employee need to complete work remotely and in a secure fashion? (Please see the document referenced above)
    • If an employee cannot work remotely and alternative duties cannot be assigned, at present, there is no state policy that allows an employee to be paid unless they work or use paid leave. We are monitoring this situation at the federal, state and System level closely and should the circumstances change, this will be communicated to you and our employees.

Virtual Meetings

Sick Employees in the Workplace

  • If an employee begins to exhibit symptoms such as fever, chills, excessive coughing, or difficulty breathing and that are not attributable to another condition, such as asthma, they should be encouraged to contact their healthcare provider and sent home. This should be done respectfully and compassionately, taking into consideration the employee’s feelings. For example, “you mentioned that you have a fever, and you seem to be coughing a lot. I think you should go home and call your doctor.” If the employee resists, you can say: “As your supervisor, I am insisting that you go home for your own safety and for those around you.”
  • If the breathing difficulty is severe, you should call 911.
  • If an employee approaches you and identifies a colleague who is exhibiting such symptoms, confirm with the reporting employee what they have observed, then ask the employee who is exhibiting symptoms what symptoms they have. If they have chills/fever, excessive coughing or difficulty breathing, encourage the employee to contact their healthcare provider and send the employee home. This should be done respectfully and compassionately, taking into consideration the employee’s feelings as detailed above.
  • A supervisor has the authority to order an employee to leave the workplace due to illness, but the preference is to accomplish this as gently as possible.
  • We are asking supervisors to relax the requirement that an employee must provide medical certification of illness/certification to return to work if an absence reaches five days. Requiring such certification contributes to overloading the healthcare system.

Sick Employees Returning to the Workplace

  • If an employee exits the workplace because they are ill, they may return to the workplace only after they are symptom free and any waiting period recommended by public health officials has expired. Employees should contact supervisors to ensure any waiting period has expired before returning to work; we will provide links to public health recommendations on the COVID-19 website.
  • When a formerly ill employee returns to the workplace, that employee and their colleagues may each feel anxious, nervous or fearful under these circumstances. It is important the supervisor lead in establishing a welcoming tone with the employee who is returning to work by interacting with them, making sure they understand expectations of them and offering assistance as needed/appropriate.
  • Supervisors should be watchful for any signs that colleagues are ostracizing or targeting their formerly ill colleague and take appropriate action to mitigate the behaviors and reestablish a welcoming tone.

Student Employees

  • Student employees should work with their supervisors on their planned work schedules over the extended break and beyond. Student employees are not prohibited or discouraged from working at their UWM jobs under our current COVID-19 guidelines.
  • Because many campus operations will continue, some student employees will be needed to maintain key services and campus functions. You should work with your staff to determine which student employees are needed to work, whether remotely or on site. Additional information will be shared if the situation changes.
  • If the above guidelines for student employees is not sufficient for a supervisor, they should contact their dean/division head and explain what is needed and why. The dean/division head will consult with the Associate Vice Chancellor of Human Resources.