September 21, 2020

More questions answered from Sept. 11 employee town hall

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rep emp town hall stairs credit 550pxIn a virtual town hall Sept. 11 (watch the full video here), President Ray Watts, Provost Pam Benoit and other senior leaders provided updates and data from the first weeks of the fall 2020 semester.

Employees submitted dozens of questions and comments before and during the hour-long event. Many were answered in the town hall and these were included in the comprehensive wrap-up that the Reporter published this past week. Here are answers to questions that could not be answered live due to time constraints.


Scroll down to read the complete summary or use the links below to jump to specific topics


Office and classroom safety

UAB Medicine questions

Healthcheck

Employee Health

Employee recognition

Working remotely

Other

Child care

Parking

Travel

Financial projections



Office and classroom safety

What should I do when employees are using the same computers and phones in my office and the amount of wipes available is low?

Considering safety and health is always top priority. The established COVID-19 safety protocols for sanitizing high-touch areas are critically important. It is everyone’s responsibility to sanitize shared work devices after each use.

It is important to note that some work environments require the use of shared equipment; however, safety protocols specific to these areas should be documented and all employees informed of how to reduce any potential spread of infection. The UAB United Expectations and Guidelines are posted online at uab.edu/uabunited/operation-plan, as are Personal Safety Practices. Everyone who returns to campus is expected to comply fully with these safety protocols and any specialized guidance from their particular departments, units or schools. We also ask that — to protect the UAB family and our broader community — you practice safety guidelines when you are off campus.

If you observe that health and safety rules are not being adhered to or enforced on campus, discuss your concerns with your supervisor. If non-compliance persists, you may contact Human Resources or report it anonymously through the UAB Ethics Hotline. The feedback you provide will be used to address safety concerns and improve processes to help keep the UAB community safe and healthy. Anyone who reports non-compliance is protected against retaliation, and concerns of retaliation should be reported to Human Resources or the Office of Compliance and Risk Assurance.


If we have to continue in hybrid mode in the spring, is there any thought to putting up plexiglass barriers in the classrooms? Dr. Sloane mentioned [in his remarks during the town hall] that he has one, but I have not seen that in Heritage Hall and other buildings.

There are not any plans to install additional plexiglass barriers. UAB has provided two face shields and two cloth masks to each instructor. [For more information on the safety of face shields, see the response to a question during the town hall.]


I have seen clear masks being used specifically for hearing impaired individuals. Is UAB able to purchase clear masks for instructors?

There are clear face shields available for use and additional ones can be ordered through each school or college.


How many persons can attend an indoor meeting if all persons are wearing masks but social distancing is not optimal in the space?

Meetings can only take place if social distancing (a minimum of six feet) is possible.


I am constantly seeing people with their mask below their nose. Is there a way to educate everyone on the importance of wearing it properly?

Yes, some communications have been promoted about this, and we are looking to promote new ones. These include


There was a recent news report where Northeastern University suspended 11 students for an unauthorized gathering. What measures might UAB take for students who won’t comply with the social distancing requirements?

Students found in violation of safety requirements are being addressed swiftly by Student Conduct. At least three students and two registered student organizations have been referred to conduct for violating safety requirements; temporary suspensions have been used for individuals and groups.



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UAB Medicine questions

Why do the wound care techs not get an incentive for working extra shifts like patient care techs on other floors? Some wound care techs would work extra if there was an incentive.

Shift incentives are set up in areas where we have difficulties covering certain shifts. Requests for shift incentives must go through the chain of command; many of these incentives are for a specified period.


When will we receive the reimbursement for the pay cuts we took during COVID-19?

All reimbursements for COVID-19 pay cuts have been reimbursed. Most of these payments occurred on August paychecks.


Why can’t we get hazard pay in EVS?

UAB Medicine does not pay hazard pay. We have offered shift incentives in certain areas that are difficult to cover.


Will we receive hazard pay in the near future?

UAB Medicine does not pay hazard pay. We have offered shift incentives in certain areas that are difficult to cover.



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Healthcheck


If someone has indicated possible exposure on the Healthcheck and has been quarantined, do they continue to indicate possible exposure for the 14 days?

No; Healthcheck is only for new exposures or symptoms.


I am having trouble using Healthcheck within the UAB App. I frequently have to sign out/un-install for it to work. Are others having this problem with the app?

In some cases, this may be a cache issue; closing the open phone browser typically resolves it. UAB has plans to develop a native app for Healthcheck instead of a web link, but if you are having trouble accessing the link from the UAB app, you can also use the link on the myUAB portal or save the link to your mobile device’s home screen.


Are non-UAB guests to campus (attending meetings, events, etc) required to use the same GuideSafe HealthCheck Passport as UAB personnel, or is there a different link / process for non-UAB guests?

This process is being finalized now. Please look to eReporter for updates.


If you forget to do the Healthcheck on the weekend or scheduled days off, will there be any leniency?

Healthcheck is required seven days a week for on-site or hybrid employees.



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Employee Health


What happens if we run out of sick/vacation time waiting on COVID-19 test results if it's mandatory for us to be off campus while the results are pending?

According to the published Compensating Employees for COVID Symptoms and Exposures guidelines (effective 09-13-20), all employees who are instructed to test by Employee Health after reporting a close-contact exposure or COVID-19 symptoms will receive pay until test results are received, typically within 24-48 hours — if the employee tests at UAB or is directed in writing by Employee Health to use an external test facility. If an employee tests elsewhere without approval from Employee Health, they must use benefit time until test results are received.


What should we do if someone tests positive in our office and we are told to still keep coming into the office? If available, can we request to work from home for the 14 days?

If you follow mask and social distancing requirements, it is very possible that someone in your office could test positive and you can continue to work on-site. Only those with a close-contact exposure — defined as being within six feet of someone who tests positive for COVID-19 for 15 minutes or more over a 24-hour period — would need to quarantine.


What is the possibility that we will have a rapid combination COVID/flu test available for the flu season?

UAB will have a combined SARS-CoV-2/FluA/FluB RT-PCR test, developed in-house, by the end of September. When available, the lab also will make the transition to combination kits for the Roche and Cepheid commercial platforms it currently uses for SARS-CoV-2 testing.


UAB has successfully planned for all eventualities for staff and students. Are there resources available to staff and students for ways to do preparation in the event of personal or family illness, healthcare directives, living wills or wills?

UAB offers group life insurance (through The Standard). This affords employees access to the Life Services Toolkit, which is an excellent resource that provides support for both now and in the future. Visit this link to access comprehensive resources to assist you in important areas of your life such as funeral planning, identity theft, grief and loss, wellness, legal/financial and self-assessments. It also includes online will prep and discount services. Helpful resources and interactive tools make it easy to locate services, calculate costs and savings, and create a will online. To learn more, connect for immediate and confidential assistance for life stages and events.


Will a shingles vaccine be available?

UAB does not provide the shingles vaccine to employees but it can be obtained from the employee’s primary care provider.


Testing

I got a sentinel test notification, and I registered for the test. How soon after my registration for the test do I need to show up to a testing center?

Within the same week.



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Employee recognition


Will there be a holiday bonus this year instead of a raise?

Updates on recognition strategies were announced to campus in an email Sept. 21. UAB and UAB Medicine employees will receive extra holidays Dec. 24 and 31, 2020. As with all UAB holidays, most operations will be suspended, although essential services will continue. Managers should provide employees advance notice of the holiday work schedule, and employees of Callahan Eye Hospital, UAB Hospital, UAB Police, UAB Call Center and units that receive personal holidays instead of designated ones should check with their supervisors regarding staffing. UAB’s holiday schedule is available online.


While merit increases are not available this year, has administration considered other ways to compensate/recognize staff for the above and beyond work they have done related to COVID-19?

In addition to the extra holidays mentioned above, UAB and UAHSF employees will increase the maximum annual carryover of unused vacation days, and employees will have until the end of 2022 to use those days as vacation. For information on PTO/ETO for UAB Health System and Callahan employees, see the FAQ here.

Premiums in 2021 for UAB, UAHSF, UABHS and Callahan health/vision/dental insurance plans will not increase. And, following a decision by the University of Alabama System Board of Trustees this past week, the employer match/contribution for 403(b) retirement plans will resume in October. This applies to UAB and UAB Medicine entities.

In addition to these strategies, university and UAB Medicine leadership will continue looking for opportunities to recognize and reward employees as operational considerations and financial projections allow.

For more details on these actions, see the FAQ here.



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Working remotely


When is the new remote working plan going to be published? We need to know how to make plans for the new fiscal year: What are we allowed to reimburse employees for to be able to work from home, and/or what can we purchase for them and let them take home?

Currently, the remote-work arrangement is temporary and no long-term changes should be made. Equipment needs should be reviewed and discussed with your supervisor.


Has there been any discussion on revising job descriptions to include working remotely?

Currently, the remote-work arrangement is temporary. Therefore, there are no plans to revise job descriptions to reflect working remotely. In the instances where remote work has continued during modified business operations, the Temporary Telecommuting Agreement provides and documents the understanding of this temporary alternative work arrangement.



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Other


What would you suggest to employees who have children attending school virtually?

UAB has identified a number of resources to assist our working parents as they try to balance work requirements and their families. Please review available Childcare Network and Resources for more information. Employees are also encouraged to work with their leaders to explore a variety of alternatives that will help balance each of these commitments. Please contact your HR Consultantfor assistance in this area.


Is there a way I can sublet my deck parking while I work remotely?

No. Policy does not allow the transfer or sale of a parking assignment.


When will domestic or international travel to scientific meetings be allowed by UAB?

The restriction on all non-essential international and domestic travel will be assessed as public health conditions warrant and in consultation with other entities within the University of Alabama System. UAB has implemented a waiver form for travel that is deemed essential and unavoidable.


What is your perspective concerning state and federal COVID19 economic stimulus initiatives? Are previous projections of financial loss through the end of the year still applicable?

Our initial projections anticipated the implementation of expense-reduction countermeasures and additional external support related to COVID-19 would put us in a position to not end the year in a deficit. We are currently projecting to end the year with a positive result.


Has UAB considered offering early retirement for employees that are eligible?

The university is not considering an early retirement plan at this time.



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