Over the last week, public employees across Oregon have been hit with frightening news as the Covid-19 pandemic shuts down public events, cancels schools, and has become a public health emergency. Public employees are often on the front lines of these health issues, which also puts us at unique risk for infection. This is why SEIU 503 has been working with the state to negotiate a new Letter of Agreement (LOA) to implement added protections that can keep us safe as this emergency unfolds.
This new LOA, which has just been signed, includes:
- Telecommute Policy
For the period of March 1, 2020 through at least June 30, 2020 all employee telework requests will be presumed to be acceptable unless denied within seventy two hours of the request. For this period, the only criteria an employer may use as basis to deny a telework or telecommute request will be whether the position is suitable for telecommuting or telework, availability of teleworking supplies such as laptops and cell phones, or network adequacy.
- Worksite Closure
If a worksite closes then the employees at that worksite will be placed on paid administrative leave for up to two weeks. After that the Inclement Weather/Hazardous Conditions Leave policy will take effect.
- Vacation Caps and Cash Out Limits for Essential Staff
If an employee is needed for the response to the coronavirus, and as a result would exceed contractual limits on vacation time accrual, the request for vacation payout shall be approved without the employee needing to request vacation time.
Employees have the right to self-quarantine if they are concerned they were exposed. They can telecommute, use leave time, or take leave without pay.
- Immune Compromised Staff
Employees who are immune compromised may telecommute, and if that is not available then they can use any accrued leave to cover the absence, take leave without pay, use up to five months of leave to be accrued in the future (80hrs max), or request donated leave.
- Exposure to Risk
If management has knowledge that an employee may have been exposed to the novel coronavirus, the employee’s manager shall notify the employee within one (1) business day.
- Medical Mandated Employees
For employees who are medically mandated to be at home, telecommuting options will be offered if applicable. If that is not an option then the employee will be placed on administrative leave until they are medically released for work.
- School Closure
Employees who must remain at home due to the school closure may telecommute, and if that is not available then use any accrued leave to cover the absence, take leave without pay, use up to five months of leave to be accrued in the future (80hrs max), or request donated leave.
- Leave Donation
Employees may request donated leave to repay borrowed leave hours or to cover leave if they are immune compromised. An employee may donate sick, vacation, and/or personal leave time to another employee. To qualify to use donated leave, an employee must reduce their sick leave balance down to forty (40) hours or less.
- Essential Staff
The Agency shall maintain a list of essential employees (employees who are required to report to work). Essential employees shall be notified of this designation in writing. All Agencies will notify current essential employees of their essential status in writing. If the Agency needs to designate additional essential employees they will also do so in writing. All essential employees will have 24 hours from that notification to appeal that status based on health conditions.
This LOA is the result of the hard work of union members who stuck together to find a solution during this difficult time. As with any workplace issue, we will get through this crisis by working together and forging a pathway using the tools we have developed as a community.
We will be continuing to reach out to you with updates about resources, policy changes, and safety conditions as we become aware. We are putting the complete LOA below, and please reach out to your organizer if you have any questions.