March 05, 2020

Over the past two months, members of the university community have received communications regarding suggested health precautions and strategies to prevent the spread of the COVID-19 virus. This memorandum is intended to provide additional guidance to supervisors in managing COVID-19 virus-related employment issues.

As a preventive measure, we ask that you meet with your employees as soon as possible to discuss the information contained in prior communications to the university community related to the COVID-19 virus (links below). In concert with the guidelines issued by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), employees should be advised that if they exhibit fever, cough, shortness of breath, or other flu-like symptoms, they should stay home and contact their primary care physician. Employees should remain home from work until they are fever free (less than 100.4°F) without the use of fever-reducing medications for at least 24 hours. This is an important measure to protect colleagues, co-workers, students, and others from the spread of the virus.

Should an employee call out of work, reporting symptoms of fever, cough, shortness of breath, or other flu-like symptoms, generally you should handle the situation in the same manner that you would any other illness an employee may report. Employees are to be provided sick time pursuant to the Earned Sick Leave Law, university policy, and collective negotiations agreements, where applicable. Per the CDC’s current recommendations and guidance for travelers returning from CDC Level 3 travel notice countries, or those exposed to COVID-19, we are providing the flexibility of paid-time-off policies during this crisis for self-isolation. If an employee does not have any sick time available, he or she will have the option to utilize accrued vacation, administrative, or personal leave days. In these cases, I encourage you to seek the advice of the Office of Labor Relations or the Office of Academic Labor Relations to advise you on a course of action.

If an employee comes into work exhibiting symptoms such as fever, cough, shortness of breath, fatigue, sweating, body aches, etc., you should instruct the employee to go home. If the employee does not wish to go home, you may contact your local Occupational Health Office below to seek guidance.

Rutgers University New Brunswick, Newark and Camden Campuses:
848-932-8254

RBHS Newark Campus:
973-972-2900

RBHS New Brunswick/Piscataway Campus:
848-445-0123 ext. 2

RWJMS Faculty and Staff:
732-235-6559

If there is a question as to whether an employee should be allowed to return to work due to concerns regarding the spread of the virus, supervisors should consult with Occupational Health.

Below are some Frequently Asked Questions that may prove useful in the coming months. If you need assistance during this time, please do not hesitate to contact University Human Resources.

Frequently Asked Questions from Supervisors
  1. Can I send an employee home from work if he or she is showing fever, cough, shortness of breath, or other flu-like symptoms?
    If you have an employee who is showing flu-like symptoms (e.g., fever above 100.4ºF, cough and/or sore throat, body aches, headache, chills) or symptoms consistent with COVID-19 (fever, cough, shortness of breath) you should direct them to leave work. If your employee appears too ill to drive, offer to call a family member to pick them up. If they ask for an ambulance or appear very ill, call an ambulance.

    In advising the employee, be mindful of current recommendations from Rutgers’ Senior Vice Chancellor of Health Affairs and the CDC regarding COVID-19 – it is generally recommended that employees remain home from work until they are fever free (without the use of fever-reducing medications) for at least 24 hours.

  2. I asked an employee to go home who I believe is showing fever, cough, shortness of breath, or other flu-like symptoms, but he/she is refusing to go. What should I do?

    If an employee refuses to go home, you may call Occupational Health (OH) and transfer the call to your employee for discussion with a physician or nurse. After a discussion with the employee, OH will advise both employee and you whether the employee will go home and the expected duration of absence. OH will also provide direction to the employee about when to return to work. If your employee is sent home, the employee may return to work only when he/she has been fever free (and off fever-reducing medications) for the past 24 hours.

  3. If I do send an employee home, can I require that he/she use sick time that is available?

    Yes. Regular sick leave absence policies apply in this situation.

  4. I have an employee who has fever, cough, shortness of breath, or flu-like symptoms and was directed by his/her physician, or is following Rutgers’ guidance on COVID-19, to stay home for several days. However, he/she doesn’t have any sick time available. How do I charge the time?
  5. Per university policy you may advise the employee to use other paid time off available such as unused vacation, administrative leave, or personal holiday time.
  6. Should I inform other employees in my department if one of their co-workers has been diagnosed with COVID-19?

    No. You should inform your local Occupational Health Office and they will provide guidance on the matter.

  7. Am I required to report any case of COVID-19 infection to any university department?

    As stated above, you should contact OH if an employee has a seen a physician and has been diagnosed with COVID-19.

    For more information, or if you have any other questions or concerns about COVID-19, please refer to the University’s webpage here:

    https://academichealth.rutgers.edu/coronavirus?utm_source=hr&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=coronavirus

    Prior University communications:

    https://academichealth.rutgers.edu/about/messages
    https://president.rutgers.edu/public-remarks/letters/messages-community