Frequently Asked Questions: Staffing

At the present time, all university faculty and staff are asked to cease small-group and individual meetings effective immediately. Please transition to remote access for these activities and follow the guidance for social distancing whenever on campus. 

Symptoms/Sickness

[Updated] What should I do if I feel sick?

All staff/faculty working on-site in support of critical operations should follow these steps:

  • If you have ANY symptoms (cough, runny nose, sore throat, shortness of breath or fever), you may not work. Call the Duke COVID hotline* (919-385-0429 option 1 for employees) for assessment and COVID-19 testing, and wear a mask. By contacting the hotline, you will register with Employee Health and must complete the Duke employee survey that will be sent to your email. Employee Health will contact you within 24 hours.
  • Self-isolate until cleared by Employee Health to return to work.

Any staff/faculty member not working on-site should follow these steps:

  • If you have ANY symptoms (cough, runny nose, sore throat, shortness of breath or fever) call the Duke COVID hotline* (919-385-0429 option 1 for employees) for assessment, and wear a mask. By contacting the hotline, you will register with Employee Health and must complete the Duke employee survey that will be sent to your email.  Employee Health will contact you within 24 hours.
  • Do not report to work; self-isolate as directed by your healthcare provider and practice good hygiene to limit the potential spread of the virus.
  •  Self-isolate until cleared by Employee Health to return to work.

*Note: The Duke COVID hotline will open on Monday, March 23 from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Beginning Wednesday, March 25, the hotline will operation from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. *Note: The Duke COVID hotline will open on Monday, March 23 from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Beginning Wednesday, March 25, the hotline will operation from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.

If someone calls out sick with respiratory symptoms and a fever, should I tell others who came into contact with that individual?

No. It is important to maintain the privacy and confidentiality of those seeking healthcare. Employee Health, Student Health, or Durham Public Health will be responsible for any contact investigation to assess potential risk of exposure for anyone who has been diagnosed with a suspected case of COVID-19 and will contact those who may have been exposed.

[Updated] What if I’ve been exposed to someone who’s being tested for potential risk of COVID-19?

Staff working on-site who have been in contact with a case of COVID-19 should call the Duke COVID hotline* (919-385-0429 option 1 for employees) for risk assessment and guidance before returning to work.

Others not working on-site who believe they have had an exposure to a suspected or confirmed case of COVID-19 should contact their healthcare provider for risk assessment and guidance and call the Duke COVID hotline* (919-385-0429 option 1 for employees) for risk assessment and guidance before returning to work.

If you believe you have had a work-related illness or injury, please complete the accident, injury, illness report on the Duke Human Resources website.

If a staff member is exposed to a patient with coronavirus and contracts the virus as a result, is this something that is covered under Workers’ Compensation?

Workers’ compensation will apply to specific occupational exposures to the coronavirus. An employee who believes they have had an occupational exposure should first contact Employee Health and then complete an online work-related injury report at hr.duke.edu/injury. If the disease reaches the point of widespread community transmission, it would no longer be an “occupational disease” and thereafter workers’ compensation would not apply.

What if I don’t want to come to work because I don’t want to get sick?

Duke must maintain certain critical services and operations such as patient care, laboratory research and student services regardless of circumstances. There are certain positions that are required to be on-site to support those critical services and operations.

As part of the Standards of Conduct policy, Duke expects staff to attend work as scheduled and be fully prepared to begin work and remain at work through the entire work period. Any time away from work should be discussed and approved in advance with your supervisor.

If a staff member is scheduled to work on-site and does not report to work, the unscheduled absence will count as an occurrence for disciplinary action. Each unscheduled absence is counted as an occurrence, and Duke will follow the corrective action guidelines based on the attendance policy.

Should I be concerned about interacting with people from a certain country or nationality?

Fear and anxiety about a disease can lead to social stigma toward people, places, or things. For example, stigma and discrimination can occur when people associate a disease, such as COVID-19, with a population or nationality, even though not everyone in that population or from that region is specifically at risk for the disease. While safety precautions must be taken during a widespread public health concern, recognize when students, patients or team members are being treated unfairly and demonstrate our commitment to diversity and inclusion by taking the proper steps to intervene and report.

What is being done from a cleaning perspective to slow the spread of COVID-19?

To reduce the risk of infection and maintain a healthy environment for students, faculty and staff, crews will be increasing the frequency of cleaning surfaces in high-traffic areas. These areas include surfaces such as light switches, door hardware, sink faucets, stair railings, etc.

In addition, additional hand sanitizer dispensers are being deploying . Free-standing hand sanitizer units will be placed in high-traffic areas such as food services areas, outpatient screening areas, entryways, retail pharmacies, and waiting areas.

What are the cleaning protocols in administrative areas especially with a person known to be sick and potentially symptomatic?

If there is a confirmed case of COVID-19 on site, Duke will ensure that the appropriate spaces are deep cleaned to limit the potential exposure for others.


Working Offsite

Should I work from home?

Working remotely should be discussed and approved in advance by your direct supervisor. Managers are asked to use discretion regarding who absolutely needs to be on-site and what work could be done remotely. Only those who absolutely need to be on-site should report to or remain at work on-site. Please discuss with your manager. Specific guidance on laboratory and research activity will be forthcoming.

Working remotely requires the physical environment, equipment, and technology. Duke has ramped up its IT capabilities to support more staff to be able to work remotely.

If my manager has informed me that I am not needed to support critical operations on-site and I can’t work remotely, what will be the status of my compensation?

If your manager has confirmed that you are not needed to support critical operations on-site and you cannot work remotely, you will continue to stay in a paid work status regardless of the work location or work schedule and should record their regular work hours. You should continue to submit your regular work hours.

Are non-exempt staff members (hourly paid) eligible to work remotely?

Yes. Non-exempt staff members are eligible to work remotely. However, supervisors need to be mindful of wage and hour laws when evaluating non-exempt staff members’ requests to be aware of potential overtime pay implications.

How do we support staff in working remotely that do not have internet access or a hotspot from home?

If a staff member does not have internet access at home and it is required to work remotely, he or she may not be able to work remotely. In some circumstances, if the staff member has a Duke-owned mobile phone, a department may be able to secure a hotspot/mifi for the individual to use. Please consult with your IT support team for additional information.

If a new hire is set to begin during this time of social distancing, can they work from home?

Yes, assuming the new hire can work remotely and has worked with his or her supervisor on assignments, schedule, communication, and other related issues.


Recording Time

[Updated] If a staff member is required to self-isolate, how should he or she record the time?

Any staff/faculty required to self-isolate by their personal healthcare provider or Employee Health should remain in an active paid status. Staff members are not required to use sick leave/vacation or PTO during this time. Staff should notify their direct supervisor if required to self-isolate by their personal healthcare provider or Employee Health.

If a staff member does not support critical operations on-site (defined by manager), how should he or she record the time away?

Staff who work on-site to support critical operations and those who can work remotely should continue to record their work time as usual. If your manager has confirmed that you are not needed to support critical operations on-site and you cannot work remotely, you will be kept in a paid status based on regular work hours. Time should be recorded as regular work time.

Staff who are not supporting critical operations on-site may be need to be redeployed later to take on new or different duties as Duke’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic evolves.

How should salary and benefits be handled for those supported by external funding sources?

Consistent with the communication from President Price on Monday, March 16, regarding Duke University operations during the continued response to the coronavirus (COVID-19), the following statements provide further information for students, staff, and faculty charges of salary and fringe benefits during reduced on-site operations.

Interim Policy – Continuation of Salary & Benefits Policy During COVID-19 Pandemic
In the event that all or part of Duke University business and academic operations are affected by a declared state of emergency, the President may implement policies to support a continuation of salary & benefits for covered individuals who are unable to perform their regular duties due to the effects of the declared state of emergency.
During the continued response to COVID-19, all Duke faculty, staff, and students will continue to stay in a paid work status regardless of the work location or work schedule and should record their normal work hours.

Individual salary and related fringe benefits for faculty, staff and students who are working remotely should be charged in a consistent manner. For individuals not charging salary or fringe benefits to external funding sources, this will not require action on the part of the individual or department representatives. For individuals charging salary and related fringe benefits to external funding sources, the costs should be allocated to the funding structure in place at the time the individual began working remotely regardless of whether the individual is able to perform their prescribed responsbilities, unless the individual has adjusted effort allocations in order to perform remote responsibilities. This also applies to students, graduate students and postdocs, whether they are funded on the compensatory or non-compensatory payroll. If related to sponsored activity, federal or sponsor guidelines apply.

If a staff member does not support critical operations on-site (defined by manager), how should he or she record the time away?

Staff who work on-site to support critical operations and those who can work remotely should continue to record their work time as usual. If your manager has confirmed that you are not needed to support critical operations on-site and you cannot work remotely, you will continue in a paid status based on regular work hours. Time should be recorded as regular work time.

If a staff member is not fulfilling critical operations on-site and cannot work remotely, does the person need to use/exhaust all accrued time off before being kept in a paid status?

No. If your manager has confirmed that you are not needed to support critical operations on-site and you cannot work remotely, then you will remain in a paid status without having to use/exhaust accrued time off. Time should be recorded as regular work time.

Is there a specific process to identify or designate staffing to support critical operations?

The decisions regarding what staffing is needed to maintain critical operations will be determined by the leadership of each respective department, unit or entity.

If Duke only requires staff supporting critical operations to report to work on-site, are temporary employees eligible for continued pay?

Temporary employees are not considered regular staff and thus are not eligible for continued pay if they are not working. However, temporary employees can work from home with approval by their manager, and temporary employees can be offered on-site assignments to fulfill critical operational needs during this time.

Can staff request time from the Kiel Memorial Vacation/PTO Program to donate vacation hours to those who do not have sufficient benefit time to use in this situation?

No. The Kiel Memorial Vacation/PTO Donation Program can only be used in the event of a catastrophic injury or illness after a four week waiting-period for eligible employees that have exhausted their accrued benefit time. Quarantine based on potential exposure to COVID-19 would not qualify as a catastrophic injury or illness. Additional information is available on the Kiel Program website.

Can a manager require a staff member to go home if they feel the individual is showing signs of the flu or a cold, even if the staff member does not want to go because they may not have enough accrued time off to cover his or her absences?

The manager can make a referral to Employee Occupational Health & Wellness for a fitness for duty assessment. Managers should call EOHW BEFORE sending the staff member to the clinic so that appropriate plans can be arranged. If the staff member has a fever, cough, shortness of breath, and a history of travel to an area with community spread of COVID-19, he or she may be required to self-isolate at home for 14 days or longer before being medically cleared by EOHW to return to work.

How should new staff who have not accrued time off or are not beyond the first 90 days to use accrued time record time away?

If a staff member is not supporting critical operations and cannot work remotely, Duke will keep the new employees in a paid status based on regular work hours. Duke will keep the individual in a paid status based on regular work hours. Time should be recorded as regular work time.

Will Duke’s payroll system allow for use of PTO/Vacation/Sick time for new hires prior to the conclusion of the 90 day introductory period?

New hires do not need to use accrued time for time away related to COVID-19. New hires should continue to record their time as regular work time if they are required to be out for self-isolation or illness related to COVID-19.

Will there be any difference in the handling of recording time away from work for exempt (monthly paid) vs. non-exempt (biweekly paid) staff if they need to be out of work?

No, the same procedures will be in place for recording of time away from work. See responses above for details.

How will employees receive their check if the buildings are locked down? Or there is no staff available to distribute them?

Payroll Services will mail all live checks generated in the regular biweekly and monthly payrolls to employee home addresses.  As a result, it is critical for the employees who have elected not to participate in direct deposit to make sure their home addresses are updated in the Duke@Work self-service website.

How will a longer-term absences for self-isolation be counted toward an occurrence of an unscheduled absence? 

If directed by Employee Health to self-isolate due to illness or potential exposure to an individual with COVID-19, the absence is not considered an unscheduled absence. Please notify your manager of the required self-isolation period and once you have been cleared to return to work.


Travel Restrictions

Are people who have traveled restricted from working?

At this time, Duke is only requiring faculty and staff to self-quarantine for 14 days if they have returned from any area identified by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) at a risk assessment Level 3 or 2. But the situation is rapidly changing, and travel to other areas may be subject to quarantine later. Continue to monitor the CDC travel advisories, and if you develop fever, cough, or other concerning symptoms during travel or within 14 days of your return, contact Employee Occupational Health & Wellness at 919-684-3136, option 2 and ask for a nurse; after business hours call the Blood and Body Fluid exposure emergency hotline at 919-684-8115.

What should I do if I have recently returned from an area where there is community spread of COVID-19 and I have flu-like symptoms?

If you traveled to an area with community spread of COVID-19 in the last 14 days and feel sick with fever, cough or difficulty breathing, you should contact your medical provider right away.

  • Faculty and staff should contact Employee Occupational Health & Wellness (EOHW) at 919-684-3136, option 2 and ask for a nurse; after business hours call the Blood and Body Fluid exposure emergency hotline at 919-684-8115.
  • If you are seeking care, call ahead and advise your provider of your recent travel and symptoms.
  • Avoid contact with others.
  • Do not travel while sick.
  • Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or your sleeve (not your hands) when coughing or sneezing.
  • Wash hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. Use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer if soap and water are not available.

If you are not experiencing any symptoms (fever, cough, shortness of breath), continue to self-monitor for any symptoms. You only need to self-isolate if you are returning from a region identified by the CDC with a risk assessment of Level 3 or Level 2 or have had contact with a known or suspected case of COVID-19.


Campus Services

How will mail and packages be handled? Will the departments need to have someone on site to handle the distribution of mail?

Campus Mail Services is continuing to provide mail service and distribution of mail and packages throughout the University and Health System. The schedule may change to less frequent deliveries per week based on volume and need. Departments should contact Campus Mail Services at dukepostoffice@duke.edu if they are planning to be closed. Departments who would like to place a hold on delivery of mail should provide their department name and box number to Campus Mail Services.


Family

[Updated] If schools or day cares close, how will employees whose jobs require them to be on-site record their time away?

If a staff member who is required to be on-site needs time away to care for a child or children due to school/day care closures during this COVID-19 period, they may continue in a paid status without using accrued paid leave time (sick leave/vacation or PTO) if approved in advance by the supervisor. Time should be reported as regular work hours. The staff member should stay in daily contact contact with the supervisor regarding ability to return to work as soon as possible to support critical operations on-site. While all staff will remain in a paid status during this time, Duke’s Availability For Work Policy guidelines still apply to reporting absences.

Given the recent announcements regarding school closing, may I bring my child to work so I don’t have run the risk of exhausting my accrued paid time?

Due to liability reasons, children cannot accompany staff members in the workplace.

[Updated] How will the Duke Children’s Campus or The Little School be affected by the changes in operations at Duke?

The Little School at Duke has temporarily closed due to low attendance of children at the center. Childcare is still being provided at the Duke Children’s Campus. Any changes will be communicated.