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A Culture of Care

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Smith College A Culture of Care

COVID-Related Leaves & Accommodations

COVID-Related Leaves & Accommodations

During the COVID-19 pandemic, the college has instituted additional offerings: Advanced Sick Leave, Pandemic Leave,  a COVID-19 related accommodations process and Temporary Reduction in Pay/Hours.  These programs, described below, are designed to supplement the college’s other leave and accommodations offerings during this trying time for our community with a focus on those are considered at increased risk for COVID  by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) or household members at increased risk for COVID-19, and those with additional COVID-19 related responsibilities such as childcare.

For information about the college’s standard non-pandemic related leave, flexible work arrangements and ADA accommodations, see:

Employees at Higher Risk of Severe Illness

Employees who are considered “high risk” for contracting the virus, as detailed by the CDC, may be eligible for a Pandemic Leave, or other standard non-pandemic related leave, flexible work arrangement, or ADA accommodation. Employees taking leave under these laws are entitled to job restoration and can not be subject to retaliation. State and federal leave provisions apply for the serious illness of an eligible employee or family member and require medical certification. These state and federal provisions do not allow the employee time off from work solely due to COVID-19 exposure concerns.

In keeping with college policy, managers must notify Human Resources if an employee is requesting time off that may qualify for FML or is absent from work for personal illness for ten or more days, or when the need is known in advance. The application process for a medical leave is detailed in the Employee Handbook.

Advanced Sick Leave

If the employee is approved for a medical leave, due to a COVID-19 diagnosis, and they have used all of their paid time off, they will be eligible for an advance on future sick time accruals. The college may advance up to 240 hours (30 days) of paid sick leave to a full-time employee, or a prorated amount for a part-time employee. A request for advanced sick leave will only be granted for approved medical leaves. The college will not advance sick leave to an employee when it is known (or reasonably expected) that the employee will not return to work, e.g., when the employee has applied for long-term disability.

Advanced leave may be paid back by accruing earned sick leave or by refund upon separation. Advanced sick leave may be liquidated by subsequently earned sick leave or by a refund upon separation. However, if the employee dies, retires, separates, or resigns because of disability, the requirement to repay does not apply. The college will make the determination as to whether an employee has separated or resigned because of disability.

Pandemic Leave

If an employee is unable to return to work for reasons that are not covered in the college’s other leave of absences, they can apply for a pandemic leave with the Office of Human Resources. Employees approved for Pandemic Leave can use personal, vacation, recess or annual leave time to be paid during this leave. Employees approved for Pandemic Leave cannot use paid sick time.

The college will allow employees to remain on Pandemic Leave for up to 12 weeks. At the conclusion of Pandemic Leave, the employee must return to work or qualify for another leave. During Pandemic leave, the employee's position will normally be filled on a temporary basis only. Employment will be terminated if an employee does not return to work or obtain approval for another leave following the 12 weeks of Pandemic Leave.

COVID-Related Accommodation

Faculty and staff whose age or health condition falls within one of the CDC High Risk Categories or who have other special circumstances may seek a COVID-19 related accommodation.

Temporary Reductions in Pay/Hours

Under this program, interested staff may submit proposals to the Office of Human Resources to reduce their work hours and pay by 10 to 50 percent, for a minimum of two months. This voluntary program offers an option for employees, under terms they propose and as approved by their manager, to take time away from work, providing flexibility for personal/caregiving responsibilities, personal renewal, stress reduction and wellbeing, or a transition to early retirement. Temporary reductions to work hours will not impact eligibility for full-time benefits.