Working during COVID-19

Toolkit to support caregivers

As a caregiver, you were already juggling the responsibilities of work and home, and are currently facing unprecedented challenges due to the COVID-19. Use this toolkit to consider different ways you can request to perform your job duties.

Approach

Every caregiving situation is unique and the support you have for balancing work while caring for your family may be quite different from your colleagues.

The work you do is valued and needed, and we have encouraged managers to provide flexibility for you to perform your job duties at full capacity by supporting telework and flexible scheduling. These changes maintain your full pay, workload, and time off accruals. However, your caregiving situation may present challenges that require you to reduce your weekly scheduled hours, take time off, or a combination of the two. When approaching your manager request for flexibility, consider looking at:

  • Where you think you can reasonably perform your work
  • What work you perform
  • When you do your work
  • How much work you can do
  • The period of time or duration you need to do this work differently

Anytime – Consult with UWHR

Your HR Consultant is here to help! Contact HR to discuss options that may be available to you. Also consider starting with the caregiver flexibility planning tool to help you think through approaches.

Step 1 – Can you telework?

President Cauce has encouraged departments to provide caregivers with maximum flexibility, so departments should have evaluated job duties for telework feasibility and already considered whether your job duties lend themselves to telework. However, circumstances and attitudes change.

Not all job duties lend themselves to telework. If, you feel that you can reasonably perform your job duties through telework and have not been allowed to do so:

  • Engage your manager in a conversation about telework, considering also whether:
    • partial day or partial week telework might be an option
    • a portion of your duties lend themselves to telework
  • Discuss with your human resources consultant

For more information about teleworking, visit UWHR’s teleworking during COVID-19 webpages.

Step 2 – Can some of your job duties change?

The work you do is generally outlined in your job description, but the actual specifics of your work, such as deadlines and priority are set by your manager. If you’re struggling to balance your work responsibilities, consider discussing with your manager whether certain job duties may be moved, reprioritized, or reassigned to others. Your HR consultant is available to help you think through options prior to meeting with your manager, if that would be helpful.

Step 3 – Would changing your schedule help?

You may find that logging your child onto Zoom or preparing lunch for family members may disrupt your work day so much that a work schedule change may be helpful for you to perform your job duties at different times with fewer interruptions. Changing your work schedule will likely require you to be extra thoughtful about how you communicate and collaborate with others, but may also allow you to thrive because of fewer distractions.

Consider different types of work schedules and work with your manager to see if they might work for your situation:

Option & definition Example Considerations Population(s) Link to policy
Flexible work arrangement: Informally 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
🙁 OT eligible staff need to account for “flexing” in their timekeeping system
All staff and students Flexwork policy and process
“Nonscheduled work schedule:”
Perform work and account for hours across the entire Monday to Sunday FLSA workweek in which you commit to completing your weekly scheduled hours, but without specific daily work hours
Instead of having a work schedule of five 8-hour days, consider spreading the work out so you work 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, touchpoints with colleagues/meetings may not overlap
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 such as these for full-time employees:

  • A compressed schedule: four 10’s
  • A spread out schedule: 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
😐 With holiday weeks, may result in holiday credit or hours owed
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 Create 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

Step 4 – Would taking time off or a leave of absence help?

If you are unable to complete your job duties through telework and work schedule changes, you may want to consider taking time off. Using your accrued time off balances does not change your FTE and work hours expectation. It allows you to regularly use time away from work and, if you are in a regular, fixed duration, and professional staff project position, you will continue to accrue time off at your full accrual rate.

If you are an OT exempt employee who regularly exceeds your weekly scheduled hours, we highly encourage you to first discuss work expectations with your manager to determine whether a better solution is to remove work assignments, priorities, or deadlines.

For all uses of time off for caregiver purposes, UWHR strongly encourages employees and managers 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 Use your own accrued time for regular absences 🙂 Continues to receive full wages and time off accruals
😐 Less work is accomplished, so be mindful of setting work expectations with your manager
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 Use unpaid time off for caregiver absences once accrued balances are exhausted 🙂 Acknowledges that you are unable to meet hours expectation, but maintains employment
🙁 Impacts pay
🙁 For employees in regular, fixed duration, or professional staff project positions, potentially results in the same time off accruals 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 you are unable to meet hours expectation, but maintains employment
🙂 Maintains employment with UW [and maintains benefits for employee if 8 hours of paid time in a month]
🙁 Work is not accomplished
🙁 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

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

Your caregiver commitments and needs may dramatically impact the amount of work you are able to do, necessitating a reduction in weekly scheduled hours or work effort. While a reduction in FTE reduces your hours expectation, pay, and time off accruals, it preserves employment, maintains benefits, and, depending on circumstance, may allow you to benefit from unemployment insurance benefits because schools are closed by a public official due to COVID and you have no child care.

Option & Definition Example Considerations Population(s) Link to policy
Voluntary FTE reduction You request to reduce your FTE reduced because scheduled hours in the week cannot be met 🙂 Acknowledges that you are unable to meet hours expectation
🙂 Not considered a layoff
🙁 Less employee pay and lower time off accrual
All employees in regular, fixed duration, and professional staff project positions N/A
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
🙂 More flexibility
🙁 Requires strong coordination between job share partners, including for absences
🙁 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 Your FTE is permanently reduced because scheduled hours in the week cannot be met 🙂 Acknowledges that you are unable to meet hours expectation
🙁 Less employee pay and lower time off accrual
All employees in regular, fixed duration, and professional staff project positions Layoff and reduction

Anytime – Consult with UWHR

Your HR Consultant is here to help! Contact HR to discuss options that may be available to you.

Resources

Caregiver flexibility planning tool