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A Culture of Care

Read Smith’s plans for the spring 2021 semester.
Current Operating Mode: GREEN

Smith College A Culture of Care

Manager Guidance

Manager Guidance

As a community, we have a shared responsibility to keep one another safe. Managers play a vital role in this effort. Managers are essential in upholding proper safety protocols and practices as well as in providing guidance and support to employees.

Approving Time-Off

As a manager, you will be faced with striking a balance between approving time off to support employee wellness and meeting the operational needs of your department. The Manager Guidance: Approving Time-Off section of the Workplace & Employees FAQ on this page addresses some of these issues.

General Guidance

Both management and individual employees share in the responsibility for protecting the health of our community, but managers have the additional responsibilities listed below:

  • Stay informed. As the college proceeds with a phased reopening, it is vital that managers stay abreast of all COVID-related communications from the college by attending community forums and webinars and by visiting this site for current information, guidance and changes.
  • Assess your physical environment. For all work performed on campus, managers are responsible for assessing their department’s work spaces and instituting measures to physically separate and increase distance between employees. Managers may also consider rotating or staggering employee work schedules to allow space for physical distancing in smaller groups. Lower occupancy limits for common-use areas such as break rooms, conference rooms and restrooms must be implemented to maintain adequate physical distancing.
  • Monitor who is on campus. Managers must work with their respective Cabinet member and the CIRT team to obtain approval for an employee to return to work on campus by following the Return to Campus guidance. If approval is granted, managers are required to know who is on campus and when, by maintaining accurate records of on-campus work. In order to limit the number of individuals and interactions among those on campus, departments can schedule partial staffing on alternating weeks (preferred, to reduce the amount of cleaning/disinfecting required) or days. Such schedules will help enable physical distancing, especially in areas with large common workspaces. In addition, the beginning and end of the workday typically bring many people together at common entry/exit points of buildings. Staggering reporting and departure times by five to ten minutes will reduce traffic in common areas to meet physical-distancing requirements.
  • Enforce policy. Managers are required to educate and provide resources to employees about policies and procedures. If an employee is not complying with policies and procedures, managers should notify the employee of the violation and detail the change needed to remedy the violation. If an employee continues to violate policies and procedures, the manager should notify the Office of Human Resources to determine corrective action.
  • Serve as a resource. Returning to work during these uncertain times might create uneasiness for some employees. Managers must prepare for increased communication with their staff members and should be particularly attentive to issues of employee morale. This might take the form of reminding employees about the Employee Assistance Program (EAP), scheduling regular check-ins and providing status updates from senior leadership to promote employee trust and continued engagement.
  • Provide a flexible work environment. Employees are facing many challenges through these phased campus transitions. In addition to performing their work, employees may have to negotiate child care and elder care and may experience elevated levels of emotional stress. Managers should provide guidance and flexibility with employees as they juggle multiple priorities. This may take the form of a flexible schedule, approving a day off for mental health or sharing job responsibilities. If you have questions about what kinds of flexibility you are empowered to offer, please contact human resources.
  • Actively solicit and provide feedback. Provide feedback often to help your employees address work issues quickly. As much as possible, feedback should be delivered over Zoom, not over email, to ensure understanding and to allow employees to ask for clarification as needed. Frequently soliciting feedback from your employees can catch small problems before they turn into large issues. Here are some examples of questions to ask.
    • How can I help you to meet your current commitments and responsibilities?
    • What roadblocks are you facing?
    • What remains unclear on expected outcomes, and how can I clarify expectations?
    • What help do you need prioritizing work and/or deliverables?

Workplace & Employees FAQ

Will faculty and staff continue to be allowed on campus?
There are no changes at this time to the college’s Return to Campus policy for employees. Employees must be authorized to return to campus as part of their departments’ operating plans.

Can any employee work on campus if they choose to?
No. Only employees whose positions have been deemed critical to perform on-campus work may return to campus. These employees must request authorization to return. To initiate this request, employees should submit the Return to Campus form (Smith login required). Once approved to return to campus, the employee will receive communication from the Office of Human Resources with instructions on additional requirements that they must complete before they are able to return to work on campus.

How can I submit a COVID-19–related accommodation request?
Employees can request accommodations using this form (Smith login required).

Can an employee not required to be on campus for work visit campus?
No. Employees who have not been approved for on-campus work may not enter any campus buildings. Public walkways through campus, however, remain open so long as masks or approved face coverings are worn and physical distancing is maintained. If an employee needs to visit campus but is not required to work on campus, they must get approval from their supervisor. The supervisor will initiate the Return to Campus form and inform the employee whether they are approved to visit campus.

Will employees be allowed to use campus athletic facilities?
Indoor facilities are closed for the semester. Outdoor athletic facilities, including the tennis courts and track, are open to any member of the Smith community—but remain closed to the public. Masks must be worn at all times and physical distancing must be practiced.

Can employees approved for on-campus work use kitchenettes and common spaces in their office buildings?
Yes, under the following restrictions. Capacity must be set at a low enough level to permit physical distancing. For most spaces, this will be limited to one individual at a time. To encourage physical distancing, chairs should be removed from common spaces. Shared food or community items, including coffee makers, tea kettles, mugs and silverware must be removed. No items should be left in kitchenettes overnight. Any equipment (including sink handles) must be sanitized before and after use.

Will on-campus employees be tested for COVID-19?
Yes. Testing protocols are in development and will be announced to employees as soon as they are finalized.

What if I am unable to wear a mask or face covering due to a documented medical condition?
Employees should contact the Office of Human Resources for guidance on this issue. Employees can initiate this process by completing the Faculty/Staff COVID-related Accommodation Request form.

What will happen if I do not follow the return to work guidance?
Failure to meet or uphold these requirements could lead to corrective action up to and including termination from the college.

What if I am concerned about returning to work?
Discuss your concerns with your supervisor regarding the return to work plan. You may also contact human resources for additional information.

How can I report concerns about safety on campus?
Smith College is an organization with strong values of responsibility and integrity. Professional conduct at the college is governed by the Code of Conduct. If you wish to place a confidential report of violations of policies or standards, Smith encourages you to use this service, provided by EthicsPoint.

What if I am part of the CDC-defined high-risk population?
If an employee has an underlying medical condition that makes them more susceptible to serious illness from COVID-19, they should contact the Office of Human Resources. Human resources and the manager will reach out to the employee to discuss ways to safely return to work. If no resolution can be determined and the employee cannot work from home, the Office of Human Resources will determine if other COVID-related accommodations can be provided, including any paid or unpaid leave options.

What if I have an immediate family member with an underlying medical condition that makes them more susceptible to serious illness from COVID-19?
Where possible, the college encourages employees to work with their manager to enable working from home. For work that cannot be performed from home, the college has implemented protocols and policies to reduce the risk of transmission on campus. Employees with family members at high risk should be hypervigilant, practice rigorous hygiene and take every precaution to protect at-risk family members. Employees whose work cannot be performed from home and who do not wish to return to campus to work because of an at-risk family member can request leave time. That employee must return to work when their vacation time is exhausted.  If that employee’s family member is ill with a serious medical condition, the employee should contact human resources to determine eligibility for Family Medical Leave or Pandemic Leave.

What should I do if I am exposed to a person who is confirmed or presumed positive for COVID-19?
Employees who are exposed to a person with COVID-19 should stay home and call their supervisors. In general, close contact involves living in the same household as a sick person, caring for a sick person or being within 6 feet of a sick person for a period of 10–30 minutes or more. Managers, in turn, should notify the Schacht Center and the human resources department. Employees will be asked to provide a note from their doctor indicating the recommended period of self-isolation, which is generally up to 14 days. Employees will work with human resources to determine eligibility for a medical leave.

What if I believe that I contracted COVID-19 at work?
If an employee believes they have contracted COVID-19 in the course of their employment, they should stay home, notify their manager immediately and fill out the First Report of Injury form. A member of the human resources team will follow up, as soon as the report is received, to discuss next steps.

Do employees still have to purchase parking passes?
A parking permit will be required for any employee who works on campus. There is no charge for the 2020–21 permit. As usual, all employees will be expected to park in designated areas on campus.

What happens if my position requires me to return to work, but I am unable to because of childcare needs or other COVID-19–related issues?
Employees should discuss their individual work situations with their supervisors and the human resources department to explore flexible scheduling. In those cases where alternative arrangements are not possible, employees can work with human resources to determine options and eligibility for a potential leave of absence.

Can employees required to work on campus bring children to campus?
No. Children are not permitted in the workplace, especially during the pandemic. Off-campus visitors are not permitted in any Smith building.

How should I enter my time in Workday?
The college has created a new way to enter your time in Workday. These changes ensure that Smith can continue to pay employees and simultaneously provide data to help our HR team understand the impact of COVID-19 on employees’ pay and time-off banks. Please visit the Workday help site for job aids and a flowchart to help determine how to enter time and time-off on your timesheets.

What if I have a sick family member?
Employees who are well but are caring for a family member at home with a confirmed case of COVID-19 should notify their supervisors, follow CDC recommended precautions, stay at home and contact the Office of Human Resources about potential leave options.

How are employees' benefits affected during the furlough period?
Benefit information for furloughed employees can be found on the HR website.

What if I suspect a coworker is a member of a high-risk population and susceptible to serious illness?
Employees are entitled to protections against discrimination based upon age, disability and a number of other protected categories. Such conduct could implicate the college’s Equal Employment Opportunity/Affirmative Action policy. Others should not presume to determine if someone is in a high-risk category. Each employee should assess their own health with their health-care provider to determine if they believe it is safe to come to work. If a co-worker learns of a high-risk factor for a co-worker, they should maintain confidentiality about that information, only reporting it to the Office of Human Resources or a supervisor.

What if I become ill with COVID-19 and my sick time accrual is already depleted or becomes depleted during my time off?
Employees who have depleted their sick leave balances will have the ability to take additional sick time as needed without penalty. For other health-related absences, employees should follow regular procedures for using their sick time and requesting a leave of absence.

How long are furloughs expected to last?
When we know more about the fall semester, we will re-evaluate furlough decisions. Managers will stay in active contact with furloughed employees, and we will keep the community informed of our planning.


Manager Guidance

What if one of my employees believes that they contracted COVID-19 at work?
If an employee believes they have contracted COVID-19 in the course and scope of their employment, they should notify their manager immediately. You are responsible for helping them fill out the First Report of Injury form and submitting it to the Office of Human Resources immediately. A member of the HR team will follow up, as soon as the report is received, to discuss next steps.

Is there still a hiring freeze?
A staff hiring freeze was announced in March and will remain in effect for the foreseeable future. Any exceptions, which will be very limited (e.g., grant- or endowment-funded staff), will require approval from the cabinet and Position Justification Committee. 

What should I do if I have an employee who is afraid to return to work?
It is important to be sensitive and compassionate during these unprecedented times. When addressing an employee’s fear of returning to work due to safety concerns, the manager should reinforce that the college is maintaining and enforcing all recommended guidelines by the CDC and other reputable agencies, including how to handle employees exposed to the coronavirus. The college will regularly communicate and consistently enforce safety standards such as routine cleaning, physical distancing, regular monitoring, and any recommended or required PPE (personal protective equipent). Employees will be able to bring safety concerns to the college's attention using Ethicspoint, and their concerns will be immediately addressed.

If, after reviewing the circumstances, the employee continues to refuse to work, and work is available to them, please consult the Office of Human Resources to determine options available to the employee.

What should I do if I have an employee who is not following the Return to Campus policy?
The college will take corrective action in cases where employees do not follow safety guidelines. Managers are required to notify the Office of Human Resources if an employee that they supervise is out of compliance with the Return to Campus policy. Managers should support employees who cannot follow safety guidelines because of a certified medical accommodation, by connecting them with the Office of Human Resources to start the interactive accommodation process.

What if one of my employees comes to work sick?
Employees who come to work sick should be directed to complete the Health Monitoring Daily Checklist with their supervisor and follow the guidance. If the employee is not exhibiting symptoms of COVID-19, but is exhibiting other symptoms of illness, managers should send the employee home and direct them to return to work when they have recovered.

Will further budget cuts be necessary?
We continue to assess the impacts of the pandemic on the college’s finances. As has been noted in other forums, we have already worked to close a $27 million budget gap in the fiscal year 2021 operating budget. We will take a phased approach to further actions by assessing impacts on the college’s major revenue sources—net student income, endowment income and philanthropic gifts—as more information becomes available.


Manager Guidance: Approving Time Off

How far in advance should vacation requests be made?
You should set a deadline to receive vacation requests. This will help you plan for adequate staffing and ensure that your department will be disrupted minimally during busy periods.

Under what circumstances can I deny a time-off request?
If your department is experiencing a particularly high volume of work, you can deny a time-off request for operational reasons or consider letting your employee take off less time than they have requested. As a manager, it is your right to say no to a request if the needs of the department require everyone's efforts. In conveying the denial to your employee, you should explain your reasons and listen to the employee’s needs and concerns. Try to find a resolution that works for the employee and the department.

How can I be flexible about a request?
If a longer vacation isn’t possible, you could approve a personal or vacation day so that your employee can extend a weekend or to take a day off during the week. If it works for your department operationally, you could approve a flexible schedule that provides room to begin or end the day earlier or later, or you could consider letting the employee take off half days for a specific period of time.

What if two employees have requested time off for the same period?
It is important that you maintain consistency and transparency in the employee time off decision-making process to avoid claims of discrimination. If you find yourself constantly denying a certain employee time off because of a function only they can fulfill, it may be time to train someone else to do that job as well.

What if I’m having trouble resolving time-off issues in my department?
Reach out to your human resources business partner to discuss.