Temporary Telecommuting is Encouraged
To ensure University operations continue in an effective manner and that risk of the spread of COVID-19 is mitigated, managers are encouraged to continue telecommuting for employees who are able to do so, subject to the following guidelines.
This temporary measure for COVID-19 will apply to employees on all three campuses.
Circumstances can change, but this protocol will only be in effect as long as is necessary to respond to the impact of COVID-19 on our employees. The situation will be assessed on an ongoing basis.
Who Can Telecommute
Telecommuting is not ideal for the vast majority of positions, and not all employees will be able to perform their duties away from the workplace. However, managers should have those employees who can perform their work at home do so, as long as doing so (1) does not interfere with continued operations of the University and (2) is consistent with the workplace flexibility guidelines found on this page and the Telecommuting Policy
To be allowed to telework, employees must have the tools to do their job at their alternate work locations. Central IT has provided information about remote working resources here: http://ou.edu/ouit/workanywhere.
Managers may contact their department-level IT teams to help identify resources.
While we encourage telecommuting, there is some work that simply cannot be done from home. In these situations, managers should:
- establish flexible or rotating work schedules for essential personnel where possible, to reduce the number of people working near one another on a given day
- implement social distancing practices meant to reduce close contact in the workplace (e.g., maintain an approximate distance of 6 feet from
- consider transitioning all meetings to phone or virtual formats
Required Tracking for Telecommuting
In light of the current circumstances, Telecommuting Work Agreements are
not required. Managers should work with their department leadership and
HR to approve “work from home” plans until further notice. Hourly
employees should manually track their work time and supervisors should
enter the time if the employee does not have remote access to the time
system. Telecommuting must comply with all Paid Time Off and time tracking requirements.
Staff Flexibility Work Arrangements
If an employee and supervisor do not have an agreement to telecommute, you can complete a Staff Flexibility Work Request here: https://www.ou.edu/together/employees/staff-flexibility
Following are answers to your most frequently asked questions:
1. What if an employee cannot work from home?
During the COVID-19 outbreak, the University encourages work-from-home whenever possible, but we understand there are some jobs that must be performed onsite. To help mitigate the risk to employees, the OU community, and the general public from spreading infection, managers may consider some alternate working options:
Flexible work schedules that alternate days and times between employees can help keep employees an acceptable social distance away from each other and still allow them to maintain their working schedules.
- Use phone and online technologies for meetings and avoid gathering employees.
- Maintain a 6’ distance from other people.
- If employees share an office and are in close proximity, the University recommends alternating work schedules and wiping down work environments with a disinfectant cleaner such as Lysol or Clorox wipes at the beginning and end of each work cycle, at the minimum.
If you have other ideas to keep employees and the public safe, please share these ideas with your HR Business Partner, so the entire organization can adopt these best practices.
2. Who may be eligible to work from home?
If an employee’s position involves working from a computer and is not heavily tied to interaction with the public or other employees, they may be in a position to work from home. Supervisors are encouraged to discuss telecommuting options with individuals who may be able to work at home. As the outbreak continues, social distancing will become more important; this makes working from home an important factor in curtailing the spread of COVID-19. Exempt and non-exempt employees are eligible for work-from-home arrangements as long as their job duties are conducive to a remote environment and the necessary tools to complete their work are available, such as University-approved equipment and an internet Telecommuting arrangement that must comply with the Telecommuting Policy
3. How do I keep track of my time while I’m working from home?
If you are able to access the online service, do so. If you are not, the Health Sciences Center, Norman, and Tulsa campuses all have provisions for timekeeping in non-traditional methods. Visit the sites shown below for instructions on recording your time:
TAL Site: https://financialservices.ouhsc.edu/Departments/Payroll-Services/TAL-Resources/Payroll-TAL
Paper Leave Request
- Use this leave request if you do not have access to the TAL System (NOTE: Supervisor/Payroll Coordinator must input leave in TAL)
Hourly Paper Timesheet
- Use this time sheet if you do not have access to the TAL System (NOTE: Supervisor/Payroll Coordinator must input leave in TAL)
Norman Campus: http://ou.edu/content/dam/payroll/docs/Hourly%20Timesheet.pdf
4. As a supervisor, how do I determine if an employee is eligible to work from home?
Supervisors should consider several factors when determining if an employee can work from home:
5. If access to sensitive information is needed for an employee to work from home, can they still telecommute?
- Is the employee responsible enough to work unsupervised?
- Does the employee have the resources to work from home (i.e. Internet, space)?
- Does the department have the resources to assign to the employee (i.e., computer, VPN, office supplies)?
- Is there any sensitive information needed by the employee to do their job?
While the University does encourage working from home during the COVID-19 outbreak, it is also crucial that employee, patient, faculty, and student information remain confidential, just as it would under normal University working conditions. Above all considerations, the protection of confidential information must be maintained.
Departments and supervisors are responsible for ensuring all work-from-home scenarios are secure and do not endanger any confidential information. The supervisor should contact the area that has oversight of the protected data for specific guidance.
6. As a supervisor, I have decided that some of my employees are eligible to telecommute. What now?
Human Resources understands that each area at the University may operate a little differently, so at this time, we are leaving exact approval instructions to the discretion of each department. Most colleges and offices have established an approval process. Check with your main administrative office for specific guidance.
Generally, all telecommuting employees (staff, student employees, and Graduate Assistants) must be listed on the Telecommuting Tracking Template and approval from the following people or their designees is required in order for an employee to telecommute: Supervisor, Dean/Director, or Vice President. Managers don’t need to receive approval from HR, however, we do ask that departments consult with us if they need guidance. Also, departments should submit the
Teleworking Tracking Template (found here: https://apps.hr.ou.edu/dms/GetDocuments.aspx?q=634D3175424B5951374C6533574542344C5468724567253364253364
) to firstname.lastname@example.org
every Friday along with an email that confirms the requisite approvals from the departmental chain of command.
7. Are there restrictions on how many employees can request to work from home?
The University does not have any restrictions on how many people can work from home. We expect each supervisor to work with their department chairs, deans, and VPs to make those decisions.
8. As a supervisor, how can I avoid having to change my own work schedule to effectively manage employees with flexible work arrangements?
You need to be confident that the work will get done whether or not you are present. You will have the opportunity to review and make suggestions to any work-from-home plans before you approve them.
9. How long will working from home be permitted?
It's unknown how long this situation will last. Currently, working from home is encouraged on all three campuses. However, this is an evolving situation and we do not know for certain when all operations will return to normal. When University leadership and health officials determine it is safe to return to normal operations, we will expect all employees to return to their normal work arrangements.
10. Can the children of employees be brought to campus during the COVID-19 outbreak?
Students and employees may not bring children to the University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center and Tulsa campuses at this time, unless the child is being seen as a patient in a clinical or hospital facility on campus. To limit the spread of COVID-19, the University is restricting access to the OU Health Sciences Center (Oklahoma City and Tulsa campuses) to only employees, students, patients and mission critical vendors. The Norman Minors on Campus Policy
should be followed in Norman.
11. Regarding community spread: If an employee has come into contact with someone who's been diagnosed with COVID-19 or with someone who has COVID-19-like symptoms, after completing the health screening at Health Services and being instructed to self-isolate for 14 days, will this be Admin Leave or PTO?
The answer to this question depends on the employee’s specific situation. It’s possible that the employee may qualify for Administrative Leave under the Families First Coronavirus Response Act. Contact your campus Leave Administrator for guidance.
12. Immuno-compromised employees: If employees report that they are immuno-compromised or are caring for someone who is, and they do not want to report to work, are they required to take PTO if they cannot telecommute? What if they have been deemed an essential employee?
These employees would be required to take PTO while engaging in the interactive ADA process.
13. Student Employees and GAs & Telecommuting: If a student employee or GA can perform their job duties remotely, can they be allowed to telecommute?
14. Should they be included on the Telecommuting Tracking Template?
15. If a staff employee requests to telecommute and their supervisor does not agree, is there any recourse?
Yes, an employee can complete the Staff Flexibility Work Agreement, found here: https://www.ou.edu/together/employees/staff-flexibility
Managers should review their business continuity of operations plans with their teams and consider the following: Who are "essential" personnel and is their contact information current? Are there alternate work facilities that could be used? Will vendors be needed? What equipment and critical software must be available?
To be eligible to telework, employees must have the tools to do their jobs at their alternate work locations. Central IT has provided information about remote working resources here: http://ou.edu/ouit/workanywhere
. Managers may contact their department-level IT teams to help identify resources.
In light of the current circumstances, Telecommuting Work Agreements are not required. Managers should work with their department leadership and HR to implement "work from home" plans until further notice. Hourly employees should manually track their work time and supervisors should enter the time if the employee does not have remote access to the time system. Weekly documentation must be submitted by departments to HR. Read the Telecommuting section of this page to learn more.
While we encourage telecommuting, there is some work that simply cannot be done from home. In those instances, managers should:
- establish flexible or rotating work schedules for essential personnel where possible, to reduce the number of people working near one another on a given day;
- implement social distancing practices meant to reduce close contact in the workplace (e.g., maintain a distance of approximately 6 feet from others when possible); and
- consider transitioning all meetings to phone or virtual formats.
Emergency Child Care Services
The University understands that this is a difficult time, especially for parents. In addition to this stressful time, finding childcare may be difficult. As a resource to our working parents, we want to make you aware that the YMCA is offering emergency child care.
This is not an endorsement, but is offered as a resource and information for our parents who may be struggling to find reliable child care during the Coronavirus pandemic.
Read about their toddler childcare services here
Read about their childcare services here.
The YMCA also offers financial assistance to people who need it. You can apply for assistance here:https://ymcaokc.org/community/emergency-childcare/
Expanded Benefits Related to COVID-19
For employees covered under OU BlueCross BlueShield:
Your OU Benefits team would like to inform you about some enhanced benefits related to your OU medical insurance plan. If you are enrolled in OU’s BlueCross BlueShield PPO Plan or High Deductible Health Plan (HDHP) on any campus, your health care coverage has been expanded to cover the following COVID-19 related items.
COVID-19 Testing and Treatment:
COVID-19 testing and treatment are provided at no cost for BlueCross HDHP and PPO members. COVID-19 testing is covered until the cost-share waiver ends with the end of the HHS public health emergency; COVID-19 treatment is covered at no cost through June 30, 2020.
The University’s health plans will continue to cover behavioral health and medical services through telemedicine and telehealth visits. Members also have access to clinically appropriate medical and behavioral health services delivered through telemedicine with no copays or deductibles for in-network visits through June 30, 2020 in response to the coronavirus outbreak. This will make it easier for members to access care while reducing their risk of exposure. This change applies to both the PPO and High Deductible Health Plan.
Who can provide telemedicine?
BlueCross in-network providers who offer the service through two-way, live interactive telephone and/or digital video consultations may provide telemedicine, based on state statutes. Norman campus employees also have the option to have virtual visit benefits through MDLive.
The recently passed Cares Act restores the ability to use Health Savings Accounts (HSAs) and Flexible Spending Accounts (FSAs) to purchase over-the-counter (OTC) medicines that previously required a prescription from a physician and for the first time, making feminine hygiene products qualified. Click here to see a full list of items that no longer require a prescription.
Contact a Benefits Specialist
Managers are also encouraged to develop and implement telework plans for student employees and graduate assistants where the telework plan supports University operations. While we encourage work from home, there is some work for student employees that simply cannot be done from home, like work in laboratories that cannot be left unattended. Managers should establish flexible schedules for these student employees where possible to reduce the number of people working near one another on a given day.
Read Important Information About Your Student Job
Fraudulent Claims with OESC
The Oklahoma Employment Security Commission (OESC) has reported an elevated level of fraudulent unemployment claims. This problem continues nationwide and is not due to any OU IT or HR security issues. Oklahoma University employees have also experienced these fraudulent claims.
If an employee has received any information from the Oklahoma Employment Security Commission (email, letter, debit card, or other communication) that they did not initiate, they should complete the form on the OESC website: https://My.OK.Gov/Forms/Report%20Unemployment%20Fraud
In addition to contacting OESC, you will need to contact OU Human Resources to report the fraudulent claim. Here are the contacts for each campus:
Cathy Bowers email@example.com
Kyle McKnight Kyle-McKnight@ouhsc.edu
or Jessica Rodriguez at Jessica-A-Rodriguez@ouhsc.edu
Kim Little at firstname.lastname@example.org
OU Information Technology also suggests you report any fraudulent emails sent to an OU email address to OU IT Spam for OU IT Security review.
If You Suspect Fraud
Some employees may have concerns that their information has been used in a fraudulent claim, even if they have not received any information or indication a claim has been filed in their name.
To check if an employee’s information has been stolen:
- Go to the Oklahoma Employment Security Commission website: https://unemployment.state.ok.us/w2.aspx
- The site will ask for a social security number
- To file an unemployment claim, you are required to establish a 4 digit personal identification number (PIN) and answer 3 security questions. Your PIN and security questions are used to verify your identity and used each time you access your claim for unemployment. Do not answer these questions if you do not want to initiate an unemployment claim. If the site asks the user to enter their PIN that they did not create, it is possible a fraudulent unemployment claim has been filed on their behalf and they will need to report the claim with the OESC and contact HR Human Resources:
Norman: Cathy Bowers email@example.com or Tammy Porter firstname.lastname@example.org
HSC: Kyle McKnight Kyle-McKnight@ouhsc.edu or Jessica Rodriguez at Jessica-A-Rodriguez@ouhsc.edu
OU-Tulsa: Kim Little at email@example.com