Working during COVID-19

Manager toolkit to support caregivers

This toolkit will help managers understand how they can provide operational flexibility and manage workloads in order to support staff with caregiving responsibilities during the return-to-work transition period until September 10, 2021.

Approaches for work management

Not every caregiver’s situation is the same – some may be able to perform job duties without any flexible approaches, while for others you may need to think creatively and try multiple strategies to enable caregivers to continue to perform their job duties while meeting their family’s unique needs.

The first priority should be to find solutions that give the employee caregiver the flexibility to perform all of the duties of their position. Managers should first try to remove workplace barriers in order for them to perform their job duties at full capacity (FTE). The more obstacles that remain, the less capacity the employee may have to perform, increasing the likelihood they may need to reduce weekly scheduled hours, take time off, or a combination of the two. Managers can evaluate the department’s ability to provide flexibility regarding:

  • Where the work occurs
  • When the work is completed
  • What the work is
  • How much work can be completed
Getting started – Define flexibility

President Cauce has asked managers to continue to provide flexibility to employees trying to manage full workloads who are also serving as caregivers during the COVID-19 pandemic and return-to-work period until September 10, 2021. While the definition of flexibility may vary by department and position, consider the following when establishing your department’s definition of what flexibility means:

  • Grounding your definition in the University’s values
  • Promoting collaborative and creative solutions
  • Supporting employee well-being
  • Being honest about what may not get done so there is visibility into resource discussions
  • Trying something out instead of assuming an approach won’t work
  • Communicating clearly about department realities and workload expectations
  • Extending grace to colleagues and recognize that we are all navigating challenges
  • Focusing on the long-term by valuing employee well-being, retention, and talent
  • Actively engage employees to understand their needs and involve them in arriving at a solution
  • Communicating with all of your employees — not only those who are caregivers — about the University’s commitment to caregiver support and your department’s approach to workplace flexibility.
Step 1 – Evaluate telework

All departments should have evaluated job duties for telework feasibility in response to the COVID-19 emergency and allowed employees whose job duties lend themselves to telework to do so. If a job’s duties were not evaluated previously, or if circumstances have changed, consider:

  • Whether partial day or partial week telework is an option
  • Whether a portion of the caregiver’s job duties lend themselves to telework

For more information about teleworking, visit UWHR’s teleworking webpages.

Step 2 – Consider work schedule changes

With the goal of maintaining the employee’s weekly total number of scheduled hours, departments may consider allowing an employee with caregiving responsibilities to modify their work schedule. Work schedule changes require being thoughtful about communication, collaboration and scheduling; you may need to mitigate impacts of a schedule change with others on the team due to reduced availability for meetings, longer response times, etc. However, altered work schedules can allow independent workers to thrive with fewer distractions. Provide the employee with the Caregiver Flexibility Planning Tool (MS Word) to help think through approaches.

Option & Definition Example Considerations Population(s) Link to policy
Informal flexible work scheduling: Modify work schedule on a week-by-week basis to “flex” with changing demands Work 9 hours one day and 7 the next four days 🙂 A good option for emergent issues
🙁 A temporary solution that results in an inconsistent schedule
😐 Overtime eligible staff need to account for “flexing” in their timekeeping system
All staff and students Flexwork policy and process
Nonscheduled work schedule: Work is performed and hours are accounted for across the entire Monday to Sunday FLSA workweek in which the employee commits to completing their weekly scheduled hours, but without specific daily work hours Instead of having a work schedule of five 8-hour days, work hours are spread out so the employee works 40 hours in a 7-day week. 🙂 Allows for work to be done when possible and avoids daily overtime calculations for OT eligible employees
🙁 With only weekly expectations and no specific work hours per day, additional effort may be need to ensure touchpoints with colleagues
😐 Overtime eligible classified staff need to change their work schedule to “nonscheduled” to avoid daily overtime calculations (Workday user guide)
All staff and students Collective Bargaining Agreements and Overtime webpage
Alternate work arrangement: Formally adjust work days and hours per day across the entire Monday to Sunday FLSA workweek Establish a regular, expected alternate work schedule for full-time employees, such as:

  • A compressed schedule of four 10’s
  • A spread out schedule of six 6’s and a 4.
🙂 Creates consistency
🙁 May result in work being performed at atypical times with less availability during typical work hours for meetings
🙁 May result in holiday credit or hours owed during weeks including a holiday
All staff and students Flexwork policy and process
Adjust regular scheduled hours in the work schedule: Within a consistent regular schedule, formally establish new work hours A “donut” schedule where there is a “hole” in the middle of the day, e.g., weekdays 5am – 9am; 5pm-9pm 🙂 Creates consistency
🙁 May result in work being performed at atypical times with less availability during typical work hours for meetings
All staff and students Flexwork policy and process

Policy considerations:

  • Shift differential – When certain contract classified and classified non-union employees work in night or evening shift blocks, they are entitled to a shift differential premium if the majority of the work falls in the premium shift block windows. However, classified non-union employees and those under SEIU 925, WFSE, and WNSA (NW Hospital only) who are not already eligible to receive shift differential and who, due to childcare or eldercare needs, voluntarily request and are approved to have a flexible work schedule that results in the majority of their time being worked daily or weekly within evening or night shift are not eligible for payment of shift premiums.
Step 3 – Evaluate job duties

Positions are defined by job duties. However, certain duties may be moved, reprioritized, or reassigned to others. Be mindful not to overburden employees who are taking on moved work, and think about ways the temporary responsibilities may help build their skills and knowledge.

Policy considerations:

  • Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA): Duties of overtime eligible positions may be reassigned to other overtime eligible employees. The duties of overtime exempt employee may be reassigned to other overtime exempt employees. Review the FLSA considerations for movement of job duties during emergency situations.
  • Skimming of union work: Changing job duties may result in “skimming,” a prohibited practice that occurs when an employer assigns bargaining unit work to a non-bargaining unit employee or employees in a different bargaining unit. In general, work covered by a bargaining unit (e.g., SEIU 925 Nonsupervisory) must remain within that bargaining unit. If you are unsure whether job duties changes could be considered skimming, consult with your human resources consultant.
Step 4 – Consider time off or leave of absence options

Time off use may be appropriate for employees with caregiving responsibilities who are unable to change their work schedules or who are unable to modify their job duties. Time off use maintains a position’s FTE and work hours expectation, but acknowledges and plans for regular use of time away from work. It may be intermittent or ongoing.

For all uses of time off for caregiver purposes, UWHR strongly encourages departments to plan absences, to the extent possible, considering:

  • Amount of time off used per week, whether the time off is paid or unpaid
  • Changes that may alter the planned absences such as:
    • Return to in-person school, reopening of a child/elder care center
    • Exhaustion of time off balances
Time off and leave of absence options
Option & Definition Example Considerations Population(s) Link to policy
Paid Time Off: Ongoing use of paid time off Employee uses their own accrued time for regular absences 🙂 Employee continues to receive full wages and time off accruals
🙂 Reduces an employer’s time off liability
🙁 Less work is accomplished for the same amount of salary
😐 Qualifying conditions for time off use (e.g., child care vs. eldercare) vary by time off type. Policies must be reviewed and understood.
All time off accruing staff Vacation, Sick,
Shared leave,
NWH or UWNC carryover time, Personal holiday,
Holiday credit,
Compensatory time, Discretionary time, PFML,
Family care emergency,
For detailed scenarios, visit the Time off options for caregivers webpage.
Unpaid Time Off: Ongoing use of unpaid time off Employee plans to use approved unpaid time off as needed for caregiver absences 🙂 Acknowledges that employee is unable to meet hours expectation, but maintains employment
🙁 Employee’s salary is reduced
🙂 Employees in regular, fixed duration, or professional staff project positions may continue to accrue time off at their regular rate, provided unpaid time off does not exceed a sum of 10 equivalent days in a month
🙁 Less work is accomplished
All employees in regular, fixed duration, and professional staff project positions Unpaid time off
Personal, unpaid leave of absence Employee formally takes a leave of absence 🙂 Acknowledges that employee is unable to meet hours expectation, but maintains employment
🙂 Maintains benefits for employee if employee reports 8 hours of paid time in a month
🙁 Work is not accomplished
🙁 Employee’s salary is reduced, time off accrual is negated, and months of service are not earned
All employees in regular, fixed duration, and professional staff project positions Leave of absence without pay

Policy considerations:

Step 5 – Consider a reduction in weekly scheduled hours (FTE)

Some caregiver commitments and needs may dramatically impact the amount of work an employee is able to do, necessitating a reduction in weekly scheduled hours or work effort. While a reduction in FTE reduces hours expectation of employees, pay, and time off accruals, it preserves employment, maintains benefits, and, depending on circumstance, may allow employees to receive unemployment insurance benefits.

Option & Definition Example Considerations Population(s) Link to policy
Voluntary FTE reduction May be permanent or temporary Employee’s FTE is reduced at employee’s request because scheduled hours in the week cannot be met 😐 Acknowledges that employee is unable to meet hours expectation
🙂 Frees up FTE that can be backfilled
🙂 Not considered a layoff
🙁 Employee’s salary and time off accruals are reduced
All employees in regular, fixed duration, and professional staff project positions
Job sharing: Two employees share a workload (typically 50/50) Employee 1 works Monday and Tuesday and half a day on Wednesday. Employee 2 works half a day on Wednesday, plus Thursday and Friday. Wednesday is the overlap day that provides for time to allow for collaboration and for Employee 1 to hand off ongoing work to Employee 2. 🙂 Same amount of work is accomplished
🙂 Retains employees, while giving them flexibility
🙂 Two brains instead of one
🙁 Requires strong coordination between job share partners, including for absences
🙁 Time needed to establish partnership and norms
🙁 Employees’ salaries and time off accruals are prorated based on 0.5 FTE
All employees in regular, fixed duration, and professional staff project positions Job share considerations and guide
Permanent position FTE reductions Employee’s FTE is reduced by the department because scheduled hours in the week cannot be met 😐 Acknowledges that employee is unable to meet hours expectation
🙁 Results in less employee pay and lower time off accrual
🙁 For classified staff, involuntary FTE reductions are considered a layoff and may have ramifications such as bumping.
All employees in regular, fixed duration, and professional staff project positions Layoff and reduction

Resources

Caregiver Flexibility Planning Tool (MS Word)