COVID-19 Frequently Asked Questions

For general information regarding the coronavirus (COVID-19), refer to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) website at cdc.gov.

What is the University’s current operational status?

Effective May 5, 2020, employees who would like to return to campus to work or who have been unable to perform their work remotely, may return (based on the availability of work) with supervisory approval. Although on-campus operations remain restricted, departments may allow employees to return to their work location as long as no more than 25% of staff are present at one time. Employees who are able to work remotely may continue to do so.

It is still strongly encouraged that employees who do return to campus continue to practice social distancing. Faculty will continue to hold classes online through Summer C. The amount of people present on campus will be restricted to 25% to mitigate the spread of COVID-19. Deans, Directors, and Department Heads, in conjunction with managers and supervisors, are responsible for coordinating work schedules and ensuring that no more than 25% of staff are present in each location.

For more details, please read the Phase 1 Important Announcement distributed on May 5, 2020. For information regarding the resumption of research activities, please read the Phase 1 for Resuming Research Announcement and the Phase 1 Expansion of Research Activities page.

How can departments begin preparing for Phase 2?

An announcement that Florida has advanced to Phase 2 will not automatically trigger a move to Phase 2 by the University. Once Phase 2 is announced, the University will review the plan and continue to assess the COVID-19 situation to determine if further guidance should be issued at that time. We anticipate requiring an in-person presence for all departments beginning in Phase 2. Departments should begin preparing for Phase 2 by developing a plan and schedule for employees to physically return with no more than 50% on campus at any given time.

Departments should develop rotating schedules for staff. Examples include:

  • Departments may alternate their presence in the department on a daily or half-day basis.
  • Departments may rotate on-campus presence weekly.
  • Departments may allow employees to come to their work location as needed to perform their job duties by checking in with the supervisor first to ensure a reduced footprint is maintained.

I am designated as an on-campus essential employee. What does that mean for me?

At this time, essential employees are defined as employees designated to report to the workplace while on-campus operations are restricted. Deans, Directors, and Department Heads have the authority to identify those employees who are essential and are required to perform their duties on campus. Your supervisors will inform you if you are among the employees providing on-campus essential services, which include but are not limited to those ensuring the safety and security of campus facilities and information technology; protection of University assets; maintenance of research labs and utilities that cannot restrict operations; and student resources, such as housing and health services. In some cases, employee may be designated essential on certain days and not others depending on the nature of the tasks being assigned. On-campus essential employees will continue to be compensated as they would under regular operations and compensation guidelines.   

I am not designated as an on-campus essential employee and my position can work remotely. What does that mean for me?

Employees who are able to work remotely can continue to do so with supervisor approval. Employees who are working remotely are required to complete the Temporary Remote Work Acknowledgement form. Supervisors and employees are still required to adhere to the Temporary Remote Work Guidelines to ensure the continuity of operations in each respective unit.

My position is not designated as on-campus essential and I do not have duties that can be performed remotely. What does that mean for me?

Employees who have previously be unable to perform their work remotely may now return to campus to perform their job duties if the work is available. Employees who report to campus should obtain supervisor approval and continue to practice the CDC Guidelines for Social Distancing. Flexible or rotating schedules for on-campus employees may be appropriate to reduce the amount of people in the department. Continue to refrain from conducting in-person meetings with groups of people. The Governor recommends wearing a cloth face covering when able, especially in situations where social distancing may be difficult.

How do I know if my position is suited for remote work?

Remote Work is a work arrangement in which an employee's regular duties and responsibilities are performed from home or another off-site location. In general, regular office hours are adhered to and deviations from an employee's normal work schedule require supervisory approval in advance. Remote work is for positions with duties that can be done from any location and involve reading, writing, research, working with data, and communication that can be done via phone or email. In general, all or some components of a job may be done off-site without disruption to the flow of work and communication. This applies to any position at the University.

My duties can be done remotely, but I don’t have the necessary equipment, internet access or software. What should I do?

Employees must have the necessary tools to perform work remotely, such as internet access, a laptop or desktop, and any other tools necessary to complete assigned tasks. Employees may now return to campus to perform their job duties if work is available and with approval from their supervisor.

Will the University provide a cell phone allowance if I work remotely?

Employees that request to work remotely need to have appropriate equipment and technological access to ensure duties can be completed remotely. The Cellular Allowance policy provides an allowance for University employees who are required to routinely utilize third-party cellular communication services in the performance of job duties.  While  many employees are working remotely for the temporary emergency period and may be using personal equipment, the Cellular Allowance policy does not apply. However, faculty and staff are eligible for a discount on personal cellular plans with Verizon and AT&T. For more details on this discount benefit, please contact your cellular service provider.

I have been approved for remote work, but I have school-age children at home. Will I still be able to work remotely?

Yes. We understand the dynamics of this situation has had a significant personal impact on our employees. The University will allow employees to care for children at home while working remotely. We urge supervisors to be as flexible as possible in approving alternative work schedules and/or leave, if needed.

How do I report my time while working remotely?

Employees must continue to follow the same procedures for timekeeping as if they were working on campus using the OMNI timesheet. However, we also want supervisors and employees to be realistic about their work hours when working remotely. It is obvious that working at home may cause distractions that are inherent in dealing with day-to-day family life. Many positions may not be able to dedicate eight hours to work remotely alongside other family obligations. Additionally, employees are expected to use sick leave as needed for medical appointments (i.e., doctor and dentist appointments) or if they are unable to work because they are not feeling well, and annual leave when the employee is unavailable for personal reasons. The same procedures for requesting approval of leave apply. Please also reference the leave plans available under to the FFCRA to see if the employee qualifies to take intermittent Emergency Sick Leave or Emergency FMLA Expansion.

Are H-1B employees or employees on training visas allowed to temporarily work remote?

Employees on certain work authorizations have previously been restricted from telecommuting. In an effort to promote social distancing, departments can have employees on these types of work authorizations work remotely.

I’m not sure what remote work options are available to me. What should I do?

Please discuss your concerns with your supervisor. We understand that some employees are only able to perform a portion of their duties remotely or that work may be limited due to curtailment of certain operational processes. In these cases, employees may need to supplement their duties in other ways. Here are some options that should be explored:

  • Special Projects: Employees who are limited in duties that can be performed remotely may be able to work on special projects as deemed appropriate by the supervisor or department head.
  • Online Training: Florida State University's Office of Training & Organizational Development (TOD) offers many learning opportunities in an online or remote format. Supervisory approval is required if an employee attends a class during their assigned work hours, which is then considered time worked. Classes are free of charge to FSU employees. Contact TOD at training@fsu.edu if you need assistance with registration or cancellation.
  • Leave: An employee may be unable to perform their duties remotely due to other personal reasons. In these instances, the employee can request vacation or sick leave, whichever is appropriate.
  • Mixture of Leave and time-worked: Employees who may not be able to fulfill their normal work schedule have the option to report leave for any hours not worked during their scheduled work hours. For example, with appropriate approval, an employee may report 6 hours of work time and 2 hours of annual leave if their job duties only required 6 hours of work that day.
  • Flexible Work Hours: Employees who are balancing childcare during the Leon County School closure may want to request approval from their supervisor to adjust their work hours to work during non-traditional hours, if appropriate.
  • Return to campus with supervisor approval.

What do I do if I need to self-quarantine?

If you are employed in a position that is suitable for remote work, you should continue to perform your duties remotely unless you are unable to do so for some other reason. Individuals who have recently traveled outside of the Tallahassee area should not return to campus until they have been COVID-19 symptom free at their normal place of residence for 14 days. Individuals who have experienced COVID-19 symptoms within the last two weeks should not return to their work location until they have been symptom free for 14 days. Symptoms of COVID-19 include:

  • Fever
  • Cough
  • Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
  • Chills
  • Repeated shaking with chills
  • Muscle pain
  • Headache
  • Sore throat
  • New loss of taste or smell 

Are employees restricted from traveling?

The University has cancelled all international and domestic university-related travel as a precautionary measure. In accordance with the Governor’s most recent Executive order, Faculty and staff are expected to refrain from personal international or domestic travel, unless the reason for such travel is designated as essential. In addition, the University strongly recommends that all students, staff and faculty refrain from non-essential domestic and international travel. Individuals who travel internationally, on any cruise to any location, and/or travel to domestic high-risk COVID-19 areas will be required to self-quarantine for 14 days. If you believe this applies to you due to your personal travel plans, please notify your supervisor and contact Human Resources for guidance.

Are there alternative options to completing Section 2 of the Form I-9?

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) announced that it will defer the physical presence requirements for completing Section 2 of the Form I-9. Employers with employees taking physical proximity precautions due to COVID-19 will not be required to review the employee’s identity and employment authorization documents in the employee’s physical presence. However, employers must inspect the Section 2 documents remotely (e.g., over video link, fax or email, etc.) and obtain, inspect, and retain copies of the documents within three business days for purposes of completing Section 2. Once normal operations resume, employees will be required to complete a physical inspection. Please submit a Remote Hire with Agent Request form and indicate if the employee will be working remotely upon hire. The employee will then receive a link to complete Section 1 of the I-9 remotely. It is recommended the employee meet with a remote authorized agent for Section 2 documents verification. With this option, the I-9 requirement is fulfilled immediately and no further action is needed. If a remote agent cannot be obtained due to remote work, HR can complete a virtual verification and will complete in person verification once operations have returned to normal. Departments will need to contact Christie Riley to set up the virtual verification option via email. If documents are verified virtually, this will require an in-person verification within three business days of resuming normal operations.

I received communication that the University has implemented a hiring freeze effective immediately. My department has a vacancy, when can I expect to be able to hire again?

In response to the continuously changing circumstances involving COVID-19, the University is suspending all hiring, with the exception of 9-month faculty, Graduate Assistants, Postdoctoral Scholars and critical need-based positions. The hiring freeze is effective immediately and until further notice. We are continuously evaluating the situation and will provide communication when regular hiring practices can resume. For additional information, please see the Hiring Freeze Frequently Asked Questions.

The person who is the notary public in my department is working remote. Who can notarize the required loyalty oath form for new hires?

In response to the continuously changing circumstances involving COVID-19, many employees may be working remote and are not available to meet in person to complete and notarize the required loyalty oath. In addition, businesses that have offered notary services in the past, may be closed to the public at this time. Departments and candidates are able to use an online notary if possible. If that is not available, we will accept a signed version of the loyalty oath in onboarding. Once campus has returned to normal operations, a notarized loyalty oath will need to be submitted to Human Resources. Information on how department notaries can register as an online notary public and a listing of current online notaries can be found here.  

My department has advised me that work is unavailable beginning May 1, 2020. What leave should I use?

If you were approved for Emergency Paid Sick Leave, you should ensure those hours have been exhausted. Once they have been exhausted, you may use any type of personal accrued leave (sick, compensatory/vacation, or personal holiday).

Are employees required to exhaust a certain type of leave first?

If the reason for the absence is COVID-19 related, employees should exhaust their Emergency Paid Sick Leave fist. Once this has been exhausted, they are not required to use sick, compensatory/vacation, or personal holiday in any particular order. The only exception is that FSU does have a policy that requires compensatory leave to be exhausted prior to using vacation leave.

I am currently working my normal scheduled hours (FTE) and need to request a day off for personal reasons. What should I do?

Upon approval, employees can use compensatory/vacation or their personal holiday for a personal day off. Please follow your department’s protocol to submit these requests and ensure they are approved in advance.

My department has advised me that my hours have been reduced beginning May 1, 2020. What leave should I use?

On an unscheduled day, you may use any type of personal accrued leave (sick, compensatory/vacation, or personal holiday) after all Emergency Paid Sick Leave has been exhausted. If you must be absent on a scheduled day, the reason for the absence would dictate the type of leave. For example, if you could not work due to illness, you would report sick leave.

I am currently working remotely and do not have enough tasks to account for my scheduled hours. What should I do?

Employees who are not working their scheduled hours should report this to your supervisor immediately. The supervisor can temporarily assign the employee alternative tasks or work projects. If alternative work is not available, the employee should report personal accrued leave (sick, compensatory/vacation, or personal holiday) for the hours they are not working.

I’ve exhausted all paid leave options. What should I do? Will I be eligible for unemployment benefits?

Once an employee has exhausted all paid leave options, they must report Leave Without Pay. Employees may be eligible for unemployment benefits due to a partial or total loss of wages due to COVID-19. Faculty, A&P, USPS, and OPS employees can apply for benefits through the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity’s (DEO) website. DEO makes the determination regarding eligibility and benefit payments. Information regarding eligibility, what you need to apply, and other frequently asked questions can be found on the Reemployment Assistance Resource Guide – COVID-19 document.

Tue, 05/05/2020 - 03:19 PM