Returning to the Workplace

Overview

Beginning the week of June 15, 2020, employees who cannot perform all or portions of their job duties from home will be required to report to work to perform those specific on-campus functions. If you can perform all your job duties from home utilizing current telecommuting arrangements, you will continue to telecommute. Please contact your supervisor to determine if you will be required to return.

All employees must follow UAlbany’s policies for proper public health practices to ensure the safety of our community. The University has prepared a “Guide for Returning to the Workplace,” along with campus-wide recommendations. Employees working at off site and leased locations must follow these protocols, in addition to any established at their work locations.

The return of additional employees to campus will be coordinated to minimize potential risks and ensure the safety of faculty and staff, as well as the communities we serve. No unit or department should increase staffing levels beyond current needs to support critical on-site operations without approval from the respective dean, vice president or vice provost. 

Note: Union employees should refer to their respective collective bargaining agreement (CBA). Where the information conflicts with or is silent on a topic that is covered by a relevant CBA, the CBA governs. 
 

Training Requirement 

All employees must complete return to work training before returning to the workplace. Employees who have already returned to their worksite and employees who have remained on-site as essential staff throughout the pandemic must also complete the training. The training is a brief, asynchronous online session that reiterated safety protocols. A June 11, 2020, email to employees provided instructions.

 

Staffing Options 

The University anticipates the need to reduce density, or the number of people on campus, will continue for some time. For now, occupancy of office building space is limited to 50% capacity. All or portions of support units that can continue to effectively work remotely are encouraged to do so. Supervisors will determine who must report to work to perform job assignments.

Employees who will be on campus must complete a health screening assessment each day they are on campus before or within one hour of reporting to work. Please visit our Health & Safety page for additional information on symptom monitoring protocols.
 

Remote Work

Employees who can effectively work remotely to fulfill their work responsibilities may continue to do so. These arrangements, which must be approved by the immediate supervisor, can be done on a full or partial day/week schedule as appropriate, given the employee’s ability to complete their work from home.  

A completed Pilot Telecommuting Program form must be on file with Human Resources. You don’t need to complete a new form if you already have one on file.  

Alternating Days

To limit interactions between employees who need to be on campus, departments should consider scheduling partial staffing on alternating days or on mornings and afternoons.  

Alternating schedules will help enable physical distancing, especially in areas with large common workspaces. This does not change employee’s professional obligations or the number of hours they are obligated to work. 

Staggered Arrivals and Departures

The beginning and end of the workday typically brings many people together at building entries and exits. Staggering reporting and departure times by at least 15 minutes will reduce traffic in common areas to meet social distancing requirements. (See “Entrance and Exits” section below for further details).  

Working Part-time

Employees who wish to reduce their work percentage should speak to their supervisor. Human Resources can provide information regarding options, impact and procedures. 

Accommodations

The University is committed to working with vulnerable employees who need to return to campus by providing them with alternative work locations and other reasonable accommodations. Additionally, managers and department chairs will be required to develop a contingency plan to cover work and classes missed due to COVID-19-related illness or exposure.
 

Child Care

Employees who cannot telecommute and cannot secure daycare due to COVID-19 closures should contact Human Resources at 518-437-4700 or ohrm@albany.edu

Higher Risk Individuals

The University is taking many precautionary measures to mitigate the risk of COVID-19 infection for all employees. However, according to the CDC, certain individuals may have a higher risk for COVID-19 severe illness. This may include individuals:  

  • age 65 or older  
  • who are immunocompromised (Many conditions can cause a person to be immunocompromised, including cancer treatment, bone marrow or organ transplantation, immune deficiencies, poorly controlled HIV or AIDS)
  • and/or who have
    • Asthma (moderate-to-severe)  
    • Chronic lung disease  
    • Diabetes  
    • Serious heart conditions  
    • Chronic kidney disease being treated with dialysis  
    • Severe obesity  
    • Liver disease  

Employees who have been instructed to return to work on-site and have concerns about doing so should review the existing Policy and Procedure to Request a Reasonable Accommodation. Please contact HR at 518-437-4700 or ohrm@albany.edu

Health & Safety Guidelines

The information below applies specifically to employees. Please visit the Health & Safety page for additional, University-wide guidance. 
 

Entrances and Exits

At this time, entry to buildings will continue to be regulated. Your UAlbany Card is required for entry to all buildings, and you may not hold, or prop open, exterior doors for any other person.  

Employee arrival and departures should be scheduled in 15-minute increments, if possible, to reduce physical interactions at building access points, hallways, stairs, elevators, etc.  

Visitors will be limited on campus during this time. 

Violation of these guidelines may result in the immediate revocation of building access privileges, as well as corrective action.

Signage

The Office of Facilities Management will install adjusted capacity limit signs on elevators and outside classrooms, as well as queuing marks, pedestrian directionals and other types of signs around campus, as detailed in the COVID Signage Implementation Guide

To request floor decals, directional signage or other modifications, please contact the Facilities Customer Service Office at 518-442-3480. Offices are encouraged to print out downloadable signs and post them on bulletin boards, doors and other approved surfaces as needed.

Open Office Environments

If you work in an open environment, be sure to maintain at least 6 feet distance from co-workers. (Brief encroachments on this distancing, for example passing in a hallway, are acceptable when wearing a mask).  

If possible, have at least one workspace separating you from another co-worker. Offices where coworkers’ desks are separated by cubicles will provide proper physical distancing and no additional barriers, such as plexiglass, are necessary.  

Two or more people should not be in the same room, unless 6 feet of distancing can be consistently maintained, or a barrier exists between co-workers. Otherwise, masks or face coverings are required. 

You should always wear a face mask or covering while in a shared workspace or room, whenever 6 feet distance can’t be maintained or as directed by your supervisor. Masks must be worn when engaging with the public, including students. 

You must also wear a mask while walking down narrow hallways, working in a reception or receiving area, or spending time inside breakrooms and meeting spaces. 

Public-Facing Counters 

The University will install plexiglass shields in work areas that involve a high level of interaction with others — such as the mail room, Registrar and library reference desk counters. 

Requests for plexiglass shields should be made by your department’s Facilities contact, using the AiM online work request system.  

The need for plexiglass installations will be determined by the volume of public interaction and the ability to practice other means of social distancing, such as floor decals or delivering service remotely / by appointment-only. 

Contact the Facilities Customer Service Center at 518-442-3480 with general questions. 

Meetings and Communication

Convening in groups increases the risk of viral transmission. Meetings should be held in whole or part using Zoom, Microsoft Teams and phone calls.  

Employees are also encouraged to communicate with colleagues and supervisors using technology (email, instant messaging, phone calls, etc.) rather than face-to-face. 

The University will post revised maximum occupancy limits outside commonly used meeting rooms on campus. For all other rooms, gatherings should not exceed 50% of a room’s capacity — assuming individuals can still maintain 6 feet of separation for physical distancing requirements.  

Signage and proper scheduling should be used to ensure six feet of distancing inside conference rooms and other public spaces. Removal of furniture may not be possible, given limited storage. 

Personal Protective Equipment

Masks

Supervisors can request one cloth face covering for each of their staff members by sending an e-mail to ehs@albany.edu. Please list the office/department name, number of masks and employee name(s).

The Office of Environmental Health & Safety will respond via e-mail with instructions on when and where the masks can be picked up. 

Please visit the Health & Safety page for campus mask guidelines.
 

Gloves, Goggles and Face Shields

Healthcare workers and a limited number of others in high-risk areas should use gloves. Otherwise, according to the CDC, gloves are not necessary for general University employee use. Employees also don’t need to wear goggles or face shields as part of general activity on campus.  

Washing your hands often and avoiding touching your face is considered the best practice for common, everyday tasks. Contact the Office of Environmental Health & Safety with any questions or concerns about personal protective equipment.

Disinfecting Supplies

While custodial crews will continue to follow CDC guidelines by cleaning and disinfecting high-use common areas and workspaces at regular intervals, additional care should be taken to wipe down and disinfect public-facing surfaces used by multiple people. 

Offices with high traffic service counters will be provided with cleaning products so employees can wipe surfaces down throughout the day. 

Contact the Office of Environmental Health & Safety to request more hand sanitizer, disinfectant spray and other cleaning products.

Resources for Faculty and Staff  

UAlbany Employee Assistance Program: EAP is available to all employees with the goal of offering support and promoting a healthy state of mind and wellbeing, both in and out of the workplace. You may contact EAP by calling 518-442-5483 or visiting the EAP website. Additional COVID-related resources have been compiled by EAP.  

New York State Employee Assistance Program: Contact their office at 518-486-9769 or 800-822-0244.  

Health insurance: Should you or a family member need access to your health insurance benefits related to COVID-19, here are the quick links that outline the coverage and assistance you can get from your plan: