On This Page


WSU Employee FAQs

Leave

Do the state of Washington COVID-19 employee communications and rules apply to faculty and staff at WSU?

It depends. Rules and communications that reference “higher education” employees apply to WSU and the other four year state institutions. The term “general government” or “state employee” refers to employees of WA state agencies, for example the Department of Transportation.

HRS knows this can be confusing, when there are public announcements. HRS connects and communicates regularly with the other WA institutions and the OFMHR to ensure WSU is applying the rules impacting our faculty and staff. HRS will communicate any rule changes impacting WSU.

What should I do if an employee or co-worker comes to work and is obviously sick?

Review and follow Washington State Department of Health guidance for handling illness and suspected COVID-19 cases in the workplace. If you are not the employee’s supervisor, report the issue to the supervisor. If you are the supervisor, or a supervisor is not available, report the matter to HRS immediately. In consultation with HRS, you may have a conversation with the employee to determine whether they are sick. If they are sick, they should be separated from other employees immediately and directed to self-isolate at home and to call their health care provider for assistance. If the employee may meet the criteria the state DOH has identified for suspected COVID-19 cases, you should also contact your local department of health. Perform environmental cleaning in accordance with CDC recommendations.

What should I do if an employee or co-worker comes to work who has been exposed to COVID-19?

Review and follow Washington State Department of Health guidance for handling illness and suspected COVID-19 cases in the workplace. If you are not the employee’s supervisor, report the issue to the supervisor. If you are the supervisor, or a supervisor is not available, report the matter to HRS immediately. In consultation with HRS, you may have a conversation with the employee to determine whether the employee may be at risk for COVID-19. If so, the employee should be separated from other employees immediately and directed to self-isolate at home and call their health care provider for assistance. You should also contact your local department of health. Perform environmental cleaning in accordance with CDC recommendations.

Will sick leave rules be relaxed to allow people (hourly and/or staff) to use accrued sick leave while not able to come into work during stay at home measures when remote work isn’t available? (Updated 4/13/2020)

Supervisors must evaluate telework options available and your HRS Service Team member can assist in discussing telework options.  If no telework is available, employees may use leave in accordance with their employment type.  Please refer to the COVID-19 Leave and Work Information for additional details on leave usage.  WSU must follow state civil service rules regarding leave and cannot independently approve additional sick leave usage outside of what is currently allowable.

Additionally, employees and supervisors are responsible for compliance with all WSU policies.  Employees must accurately account for hours including hours worked (on-site and/or telework), annual or sick leave used, and leave without pay. The Ethics in Public Service Act, RCW 42.52 applies to all WSU employees. All state employees have a duty to ensure proper stewardship of state resources and ensure accountability. Employees and supervisors are responsible for compliance with the state ethics laws and university policies and procedures.

If I take LWOP due to the “Stay Home Stay Healthy” order, am I eligible for unemployment compensation?

May I use sick leave if I have been exposed to COVID-19? (Updated 4/9/2020)

Employees are authorized to use up to 14 days of sick leave, who are otherwise healthy and have not tested positive and meet the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines to self-quarantine due to the coronavirus disease (COVID-19):

  • Within the last three weeks, traveled from a country that has been identified as a Level 3 Travel Health Notice by the CDC.
  • Been in close contact with a person with a positive laboratory-confirmed COVID-19 infection.

In limited circumstances either Shared leave or paid leave under the newly passed Families First Coronavirus Response Act may be available.

If you are at higher risk for severe illness due to COVID-19 per the CDC guidance, contact HRS Disability Services regarding leave and alternate work options.

I am currently a benefit eligible employee, and have taken leave without pay (LWOP) during the month. How does LWOP impact my benefits? (Updated 3/26/2020)

A benefit eligible employee must be in paid status for eight hours or more in each month to continue coverage.  In the event a person were on LWOP for a full calendar month, they may lose eligibility as of the end of the month they were in paid status.*

*Exception: benefits can be continued during periods of full Leave Without Pay during Family Medical Leave provided the employee pays their portion of the premiums.

Contact HRS Benefits Services for additional guidance regarding benefit eligibility at hrs.benefits@wsu.edu or 509-335-4521.

I am a non-essential Washington State University employee, if my resident state has an active stay at home directive, how does this impact my ability to physically report to work?

You need to adhere to your resident state’s directive. Communicate with your manager/supervisor to see if there are teleworking/alternative work options available during the directive.

What should I do if I am a student employee who receives work study?

Please review the Work Study Guidance COVID-19 update provided by Student Financial Services.

Do I have to account for my time during the Stay Home, Stay Healthy proclamation? (4/3/20)

Supervisors and employees are responsible for compliance with all state ethics laws and WSU policies and procedures.  Employees must accurately account for time including hours worked (on-site and/or telework), annual or sick leave used, and leave without pay. The Ethics in Public Service Act, RCW 42.52 applies to all WSU employees. All state employees have a duty to ensure proper stewardship of state resources and ensure accountability

In the Event of Closures: WSU will follow Suspended Operations and Emergency procedures as outlined in BPPM 50.40 suspended operations if operations are changed.

If you have other questions about leave and work options please contact your department’s HR Service Team. You may also call HRS at 509-335-4521 or email hrs@wsu.edu.

Telework

When I telework, may I bring documents home or use a WSU laptop with university data? (Updated 3/26/2020)

Refer to Executive Policy #8, University Data Policies and Executive Policy #37, WSU Information Security Policy which addresses, “requirements for safeguarding the confidentiality, integrity, and availability of institutional data and for the protection of institutional information systems and devices that store, process, transmit, and/or release institutional data. Additionally review Guidelines for Working Remotely. Consult with your supervisor regarding compliance with data and security policies.

Is my department/area required to allow me to work from home? (Updated 5/4/2020)

With the Stay Home, Stay Healthy order all employees who can telework without hampering essential operations must do so.

Concerns regarding ability to telework may be referred to Human Resource Services at hrs@wsu.edu or 509-335-4521.

Safe Workplace

How do I disinfect my work place? (5/26/2020)

Please refer to the EHS Disinfectant Website.

If you have additional questions or concerns about disinfecting your work place that are not addressed by the website, please contact Environmental Health and Safety at (509) 335-3041.

How do I develop a COVID19 Distancing and Disinfection plan for my work place? (5/26/2020)

Please refer to the EHS Distancing and Disinfection Plan Website.

If you have additional questions or concerns about your distancing and disinfection plan that are not addressed by the website, please contact Environmental Health and Safety at (509) 335-3041

Are face coverings required in WSU Work Locations? (Updated 6/24/2020)

UPDATE: Beginning June 26, a statewide order requires all individuals in an indoor public space, or outside public space when unable to physically distance from others, will be legally required to wear a face covering. For more on the statewide face covering mandate, visit the Washington State Coronavirus Response (COVID-19) website 

As directed by Governor Inslee’s Safe Start Washington, beginning June 8, all employees will be required to wear a facial covering, except when working alone in an office, vehicle, or at a job site, or when the job has no in-person interaction. Employers must provide facial coverings to employees, unless their exposure dictates a higher level of protection under the Department of Labor and Industries’ safety and health rules and guidance. Refer to Coronavirus Facial Covering and Mask Requirements for additional details. Employees may choose to wear their own facial coverings at work, provided it meets the minimum requirements.

Is the employer required to wash or pay for laundering of the employee’s face covering? (Updated 6/24/2020)

No, a department is not required to wash or pay for laundering of face coverings.  If a department is not using disposable face coverings, each employee should be provided several face coverings so the employee does not have to wash the face covering each day.  Refer to Returning to a WSU Work Location for additional information on face coverings.

Where can I find information on the COVID-19 Statewide Face Covering Requirement? (Updated 7/7/2020)

School or Place of Care Closure

If my child’s school or place of care is shut down by a public official in response to COVID-19, can my supervisor deny a sick leave request and require me to work from home? (Updated 4/9/2020)

A supervisor cannot require* a civil service employee or overtime eligible faculty or administrative professional employee to work from home instead of using their accrued sick leave. However, employers are strongly encouraged to let staff telework when the nature of their work allows it.

*Contact HRS regarding faculty and staff identified in your continuity plan as essential personnel.

In limited circumstances paid leave under the newly passed Families First Coronavirus Response Act may be available.

What accrued leave may be used due to my child’s school or place of care being closed by order of a public official in response to COVID-19? (Updated 4/9/2020)

Faculty, Administrative Professional and Civil Service employees are eligible to use accrued leave including annual leave, sick leave, personal holiday, compensatory time, leave without pay.

In limited circumstances paid leave under the newly passed Families First Coronavirus Response Act may be available.

In the event that a WSU location opens prior to public schools and normal childcare options, will there be executive instruction to maintain telework agreements as long as necessary for staff/faculty due to childcare needs or strong direction to approve BPPM 60.82 requests (children in the workplace)? (Updated 4/13/2020)

Employees should continue to work with their supervisors to evaluate telework options available and your HRS Service Team member can assist in discussing telework options.  If no telework is available, employees may use leave in accordance with their employment type. 

At this time, due to the severity of COVID-19, expanding the children in the workplace policy is still under review.  

Training

What type of learning and development do you recommend for employees who do not have internet access? (Updated 3/26/2020)

Options not requiring internet access include reading professional development articles, training manuals and reviewing written departmental procedures. Utilizing removal media, such as departmental approved USBs to review information electronically. Employees are to work with their departments to assure computers and media being used adhere to university central ITS digital tools, best practices and guidelines.

Employees with cell phone data plans may be able to access WSUs online learning system (Skillsoft). Please note standard data plan usages and charges will apply. Individuals should contact their service providers to determine what usage and charges they may incur.

Is an employee limited to 96 hours of training time? (Updated 3/26/2020)

The 96 hours of release time is for employee requested training. The 96 hours release time does not apply to training when directed by the supervisor.

Refer to BPPM 60.71, Training and Development and BPPM 60.27, Release Time for Training for additional information.

Does Skillsoft record when I complete a training session? (Updated 3/26/2020)

If you complete a training through Skillsoft, it will be recorded on your Skillsoft record. If you attend training outside of Skillsoft, it will not be recorded. 

Early Retirement

Has administration been contemplating an early retirement package if things start looking dire? Will WSU be considering early retirement options, and when might we know? (Updated 4/13/2020)

All WSU retirement plans have early retirement provisions. 

The Department of Retirement Systems Plans (PERS, TRS, LEOFF) currently offer early retirement typically at age 55 with 10/20 years of service depending on the retirement plan, at a reduced benefit.   

The WSURP has no firm retirement age or years of service requirement, and individuals could retire at any time. 

At this time, WSU is not considering additional retirement incentives, and is still in the process of evaluating the budgetary impacts of COVID-19.

Information on retirement plans is available on the HRS website or by contacting DRS and TIAA directly.

Layoffs

Do you anticipate there will be employee layoffs due to the economic impact of COVID-19?

At this time, WSU is still in the process of evaluating the budgetary impacts of COVID-19. Currently, WSU currently has a hiring freeze and additional information is available at COVID-19 Hiring Freeze.

Will I be required to use accrued leave before being able to apply for unemployment compensation due to the reduction in wages? If I use Leave Without Pay will I be eligible for unemployment compensation? (Updated 4/14/2020)

Refer to Employment Security Department website for detailed information on unemployment eligibility. Supervisors must evaluate telework options available and your HRS Service Team member can assist in discussing telework options. If no telework is available, employees may use leave in accordance with their employment type. For civil service employees, WSU must follow state civil service rules regarding leave and cannot independently approve additional leave.

WSU Managers FAQs

Leave

What options do managers have if employees are unable to report to work and cannot perform their normal duties remotely?

Managers and supervisors are encouraged to be as flexible as business operations allow when working with employees who are unable to report to work. Employees who are unable to perform their normal duties remotely are to be assigned work benefitting the department/University.

The following questions may be used as guidelines for managers when evaluating potential work assignments:

Special Projects:

  • Are there projects that have been on the “to do list” without time to complete? Can any of these projects be completed remotely?

Policy Review:

  • When was the last time internal departmental policies were reviewed/updated?
  • Has the department handbook been reviewed/updated lately?

Documenting Departmental Procedures:

  • What would happen if the employee had to hand off duties to someone new? Is there a document/desk manual to help transfer knowledge?
  • Are there already instructional documents in place? Are they up to date/current?

Training and Development:

  • Are there classes your employees could take to help improve their skills?
  • HRS offers a variety of training opportunities through the Skillsoft Online Learning system. Options available include, but are not limited to:
    • Customer Service
    • Staff/Faculty Recruitment Basics
    • Fiscal Management Resources
    • Supervisory Training
    • Research Administration
  • Does the employee have certifications that will be expiring soon?
  • Are there annual trainings that can be completed?

Updating Websites:

  • Review the departmental website for any information that may need to be updated.

Questions? Please contact your HRS Service Team if you have questions or to brainstorm about other potential work assignments.

Can temporary hourly employees and/or student employees use their accrued paid sick leave?

Temporary Hourly employees with a qualifying sick leave event may use accrued paid sick leave in accordance with Paid Sick Leave for Temporary Hourly Employees – BPPM 60.43.

If a school or place of care is closed by order of a public official for a health-related reason, temporary hourly employees may be eligible to use accrued paid sick leave in accordance with WSU policy.

Will a civil service employee’s probationary period automatically be extended due to the “Stay Home, Stay Healthy Order”? (Updated 3/26/2020)

Probationary periods will not be automatically extended for civil service employees. Refer to BPPM 60.31, Probationary and Trial Service Periods for Civil Service Employees

A civil service employee’s probationary period will be automatically extended for leave without pay (LWOP) in accordance with WAC 357-31-355.

Telework

What proactive planning can I do as a manager to prepare for remote work?

HRS encourages employees and managers to collaborate to plan for situations that may require working from an alternative location or from home.

  • Discuss what it would look like operationally and personally if the department were to work remotely. Review WSU’s remote access processes and learn how to access voicemail and email.
  • If approved, a formal telework agreement (BPPM 60.34, Telework Agreements) is not typically required to work from home or an alternate location on an infrequent basis or for a brief period of time  Due to the extension of the “Stay Home, Stay Healthy” order through May 31, 2020, supervisors must document telework assignments in writing.  Supervisors may use the WSU Telework Assignment form or use a similar form of written documentation i.e. email. If an employee requests to regularly work remotely an approved telework agreement is required. Refer to BPPM 60.34, Telework Agreements for additional information.
  • Discuss with staff the Continuity of Operations Plans and ensure emergency contact information is up-to-date within the department.
  • Discuss work schedules and whether the department would accommodate a flexible schedule. Review the HRS Information on the potential temporary schedule change request.
  • Review the HRS information on leave and work options to prepare for the possibility of impacts to employees or a family member.

How can I support my employees during and after their telework?

  • Maintain positivity. As a manager, you can promote a culture of positivity by trusting your employees and measure results achieved by working remotely.
  • Draft a work plan. This can be a list of objectives that are easy to administer, but flexible to change with growing needs.
  • Maintain frequent communication. Managers are responsible for maintaining an open and clear line of communication. Managers must be a resource and be available for questions.
  • Understand applicable policies and resources. Review the HRS information on Telework Agreements and meal/rest periods. Ensure overtime eligible employees participating on their telework continue to receive their meal and break periods in accordance with WAC 296-126-092. WSU’s standard rest period is 15 minutes.
  • Hold a staff meeting after normal operations resume. Assess your employees’ progress at the end of their remote work and delegate additional work or training, as necessary.
    • Discuss questions or concerns that your employees have regarding their telework.
    • Review items that were unable to be completed during the telework and reprioritize workload.
    • What items can only be completed in the work place? Shift your focus to ensure all tasks are completed.

Guidelines for Working Remotely, provided by WSU ITS

Do my responsibilities as a manager change when my employees are teleworking? (4/3/20)

No, your responsibilities do not change when your employees are teleworking. Expectations are that you are continuing to perform your normal job duties as a manager.

The Ethics in Public Service Act, RCW 42.52 applies to all WSU employees. All state employees have a duty to ensure proper stewardship of state resources and ensure accountability. Employees and supervisors are responsible for compliance with the state ethics laws and university policies and procedures. The Office of Internal Audit provides advice and interpretation regarding Ethics in Public Service. It is recommended all employees be familiar with BPPM 10.21 and BPPM 10.22.  Contact Internal Audit for more information on ethics and use of state resources, 509-335-5336 or is.central@wsu.edu.

What are some tips for Teleworking?

Expectations for teleworking can often differ from the perspective of the employee and supervisor. The below tips can ensure a smooth and successful transition.

  • Set clear and concise expectations. Working from home has different challenges than working in the office. Talk to your supervisor about their expectations for your work, for which you are accountable, while you are working away from the office. Ensure you understand policies and procedures regarding hours of availability and any check-in times.
  • Map out a workspace. Our homes have distractions that would not otherwise exist in the workplace. Establishing a workplace, even if it is the kitchen table, can help minimize the distractions.
  • Set and achieve daily goals. Start your day by making a list of daily tasks and track progression. Pay attention to your list throughout the day and ensure you are achieving your goals. Communicate with your supervisor about the goals you have achieved, what you need assistance with, and if you need additional projects to work on.
  • Stay connected and emphasize communication. Ensure you are available during your working hours to take calls, respond to emails, participate in video conferences and meetings, and/or respond to instant messages. When video conferencing, review how your camera is set-up and what is viewable in the background.
  • Ensure privacy. Assess your home environment. Are you taking every preventive measure you can to protect your privacy and the information you have access to? Just like work information, personal information is also important to keep protected.
  • Master the technology needed to work remotely. Accessibility away from the work place is key to working remotely or teleworking.
  • Dress for work. While dressing casually is a perk of teleworking, dressing too casually can make you feel as though you should be relaxing at home, and can make it difficult to concentrate on your work. Getting ready for work, like you would if you were getting ready to head to the office, is a ritual which may help keep you focused and on task, even while you work from a different location.

Do I need to set up an out of office/automatic reply while teleworking?

  • If you are teleworking during normal work hours and actively responding to messages, an out of office message may not be necessary.
  • If you are teleworking and unavailable during normal work hours an out of office message is recommended to notify individuals when they may expect a response from you.
  • If you are not working, or are on leave, setting an out of office message is recommended.
  • If you anticipate delays in your response time, an automatic reply may be beneficial to the individuals trying to contact you.

As always, please follow guidance recommended by your campus/college/area.

SituationRecommendedNot Necessary
Teleworking and available normal operating hours  
Teleworking and unavailable during normal operating hours  
Not working, on leave.  
Delay in response time.  

Sample Automatic Reply Messages

How do you manage performance for employees working from home? (Updated 3/26/2020)

Provide clear and concise expectations regarding working from home including call-out procedures, productivity and regular check-in with employees. Any performance concerns should be addressed immediately. Consult with your HRS Service Team for assistance.

Refer COVID-19 Leave and Work Information for teleworking tips.

If an employee is working from home, but we only have part-time work available, may an employee use accrued leave? (Updated 3/26/2020)

Yes, if an employee is working from home and there is only part-time work available, you may authorize  appropriate leave time  Refer to COVID -19 Leave and Work Options for Faculty and Staff regarding use of leave.

Temporary Work Location Closure

How would temporary hourly employees and/or student employees be impacted in the event of a temporary building or campus closure?

Temporary hourly employees are used to meet short term and intermittent workload needs and typically telework will not be available (Temporary Employment Program – BPPM 60.26).  However, depending on position, temporary hourly employees may work with their supervisor to determine availability of alternative work options including teleworking and/or requesting a flexible schedule.

If a school or place of care is closed by order of a public official for a health-related temporary hourly employees may be eligible to use accrued paid sick leave in accordance with WSU policy.

Equipment

If employees take work equipment home and it is damaged, lost or stolen who is responsible for the cost of those items? (Updated 3/26/2020)

Refer to BPPM 60.34 for guidance regarding lost/damaged equipment.  Additionally, contact your HRS Service Team to discuss and related performance concerns.

Hiring Managers FAQs

Hiring Freeze: Until further notice, hiring of tenure and career track faculty, administrative professional, classified staff and certain temporary hourly employees will be limited to mission-critical positions.

Hiring Freeze

I have an open recruitment, should I continue to actively recruit? (Updated 4/1/2020)

HRS will continue to support recruitment efforts systems-wide. Hiring Managers should work with their department leadership to determine if any changes should be made to active recruitments in accordance with the COVID-19 Hiring Freeze. Hiring Managers and Search Chairs should incorporate social distancing strategies into the recruitment process, including search committee meetings and interviewing. Please contact your department’s HR Service Team for more  recruitment guidance or strategies.

What is best practice for interviewing during the COVID-19 outbreak?

WSU strongly recommends hiring managers follow CDC and the Washington State Department of Health (DOH) guidance regarding social distancing.  This includes adapting recruitment processes to include Zoom or teleconference interviews. If in-person interviews cannot be replaced with Zoom or teleconference interviews, follow the CDC and DOH advice for social distancing. Don’t shake hands, sit 6-feet apart and make sure your interview space is clean and  disinfecting wipes, tissue and hand sanitizer is readily available. Please contact your department’s HR Service Team if you need more guidance.

What things should I consider when hiring a new employee during the COVID-19 outbreak?

Start Date: Work with the applicant and supervisor to determine a feasible start date. If hiring an external candidate, consider the coordination of completing necessary new-employee paperwork and what tasks (if any) can be assigned if working in an alternate location before determining the best start date.

Work Location: WSU is actively evaluating options to address the challenges presented by COVID-19 in order for the University to meet business needs in a safe and effective manner.  WSU is strongly encouraging managers and supervisors to collaborate with their employees to work from home or another remote location. However, certain positions may require on campus work. Consider start date, completing new hire paperwork and what tasks would be assigned for the next several weeks.

New Employee Orientation: Encourage new employees to register for the next available NEO via Zoom if able. Visit the New Employee Orientation page for more information.

Employee Benefits: Ensure you understand or refer the new employee to HRS Benefits regarding when eligible for WSU benefits and how to maintain WSU Benefits. Ensure HRS receives final offer letters and PERMS actions are submitted timely to ensure HRS Benefits Services provides your new employee with appropriate benefit options and information.  Forms must be completed and returned to HRS by the due date to receive preferred coverage; outside of the due date period, certain rights and options may be lost.  Due dates and links to additional information on the benefits offered through WSU can be found on the HRS Benefits page.

How do I ensure a new hire’s I-9 is properly processed if my I-9 coordinator is working from home or my new hire will be teleworking?

The I-9 requires that new hires have their employment eligibility documents inspected in-person so a visit to campus by your department’s I-9 coordinator and the new employee is required. Please contact HRS at 509-335-4521 or email hrs@wsu.edu on issues related to the I-9 policy.  HRS will assist in identifying solutions which may include alternative I-9 coordinators, off campus locations and/or paper I-9.

This information is not intended to be all-encompassing and should not be considered to be providing medical or legal advice. In all instances, you should consult with a relevant expert for guidance specific to your circumstances.

Also visit the “Stay Home, Stay Healthy” HRS website for additional information.

Updated 7/6/2020