COVID-19 Update

President Barchi announces telecommuting, paid time off flexibility during state of emergency

Rutgers University President Robert Barchi today declared a state of emergency for the university, allowing the university to quickly respond to the evolving COVID-19 outbreak.

The declaration, which follows the declaration of a state of emergency by Governor Phil Murphy on March 9, does not change the operating status of the university, which remains open.

“The declaration does, however, enable the university to quickly respond to the broad issues surrounding COVID-19, to meet our moral obligation to take all reasonable actions to slow the spread of COVID-19 and to fully address our commitment to the staff, faculty and students at the university,” Barchi said.

Vivian Fernández, senior vice president for human resources and organizational effectiveness, also provided preliminary guidance to all faculty and staff at the university regarding leave policies and telecommuting necessitated by the COVID-19 crisis.

The preliminary guidance provides flexibility and relief for employees whose children attend schools that have been closed, must care for loved ones who have contracted COVID-19, who are sick themselves or who are required to self-isolate.

“We are committed to helping slow the spread of COVID-19 and we understand the need to balance employee concerns related to their own health and the health of loved ones while maintaining required operations,” Fernández said.

As a result, she said the following temporary measures will be implemented:

To encourage flexibility in allowing telecommuting wherever feasible, the university’s existing telecommuting guidelines, provision and procedures will be relaxed to expedite decisions regarding telecommuting arrangements.

Supervisors will work closely with their employees and human resources and information technology teams to determine whether telecommuting would be feasible based on position functions and operational needs.

The university’s paid time off policies will be expanded so there will be no requirement to charge paid time off for absences in the following instances:

  • An employee is diagnosed with COVID-19
  • An employee is directed by a medical professional or government agency to self-isolate or quarantine due to suspicion of exposure to or diagnosis with COVID-19
  • An employee is undergoing a period of self-quarantine or isolation pursuant to public health assessment recommendations
  • An employee is providing care to an immediate family member who has been diagnosed with COVID-19, was directed by a medical professional or government agency to self-isolate or quarantine due to suspicion of exposure to or diagnosis with COVID-19, or is undergoing a period of self-quarantine or isolation pursuant to public health assessment recommendations, and/or
  • An employee is staying home to provide care for a child due to the closure of the child’s preschool program, elementary or secondary school, or childcare center related to COVID-19

The measures will be in place at least through March 23, 2020, and employees will receive additional information about establishing a formal emergency telecommuting plan and the relaxation of leave policies.