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Managing COVID-19 Related Employee Absences


The University is continuing to monitor the national response to COVID-19 and keeping abreast of CDC recommendations as they evolve. At present, the University is requiring employees to self-isolate for 14 days if they are returning to the U.S. from another country, a cruise, or are showing symptoms of COVID-19 infection.

Employees who live with or have been in close contact with anyone who may have been exposed to the COVID-19 virus are encouraged to voluntarily self-isolate.

Recommendations regarding effective self-isolation practices can be found at https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/about/steps-when-sick.html.

Employees who self-isolate will be expected to telecommute to the extent possible. Employees who cannot perform work via telecommuting will receive paid administrative leave for up to two weeks. No employee will receive more than his or her regular salary or wages. The University will revisit these practices and announce further decisions within the next two weeks.

Employees who choose to self-isolate should contact their immediate supervisor and the Office of Human Resources through this online link. The University may require a physician’s statement of illness before approving paid administrative leave.

Employees who do not meet any of the above criteria may be eligible for two weeks of paid administrative leave if other circumstances necessitate them to remain away from work, e.g., child care or elder care. These employees should contact their immediate supervisor and the Office of Human Resources through this online link, and their eligibility for paid administrative leave will be evaluated on a case-by-case basis.

If an employee is unsure if their situation or symptoms may necessitate self-isolation, then they are encouraged to phone the Tennessee Department of Health’s COVID-19 hotline at 877.857.2945 and their personal health care provider to seek guidance.

All health plan members have access to the carrier-sponsored medical telehealth programs through BCBST and Cigna. You can talk to a doctor by phone, computer, or tablet from anywhere, at any time. The cost is less than a typical office visit. To register for telehealth, please visit this link for specific instructions: https://www.tn.gov/partnersforhealth/health-options/telehealth.html

On a situational basis, the functions, services, and personnel considered essential will be determined and communicated by department heads. Requests from essential personnel may require additional review. Temporary and student employees are not eligible for paid administrative leave. Paid administrative leave should not result in overtime compensation if an employee also performs work from a remote location while in isolation.

Steve Schwab, MD