Information in these FAQs is subject to change and update as new University, DOE, and regulatory guidelines are issued.
Leave and Charging Time
Q: I hear Administrative Leave is an option. When does that apply and who is eligible?
A: The Lab’s policy for Administrative Leave for Emergencies provides paid leave to employees who are prevented from working due to a public emergency (as is the case with the COVID-19 pandemic). While the Lab is in a safe and stable mode, the Lab’s Deputy Lab Director for Operations has authorized paid leave in accordance with this policy and in consultation with both the Department of Energy (DOE) and the University of California (UC). This means that all employees (both represented and non-represented), who are not designated by their division as one of the positions essential for work on-site AND are unable to telecommute based on the nature of their position (as confirmed by your Division Director), may qualify for paid Administrative Leave for Emergencies for the designated total of 16 days, for time charged beginning March 17. Those tending to children who are out of school and are unable to telework may also qualify.
Please see the Administrative Leave guidance for information about eligibility and use.
Q: My child’s school is closed. How can I care for my family and still do my job?
A: We realize that not having your child in school is a challenging issue. You should first work with your supervisor to identify ways you can complete your work-related tasks and commitments, if possible, which may include modifying your work schedules or deliverables. If this is not possible, and you are prevented from working due to childcare demands, you may discuss with your supervisor use of paid Administrative Leave. Keep in mind that Administrative Leave can be taken in increments of half-days or full-days for exempt salaried staff and hourly for non-exempt staff, for up to a total of 16 days (or 128 hours), so it is recommended to consider partial leave to balance with your work responsibilities.
Q: What can be done for employees who have run out of sick time?
A: Employees who are sick or caring for a sick family member, but have exhausted their accrued sick leave balance, may take their accrued vacation under our current policies. If the employee is able to work while at home tending to a sick family member, they may discuss telecommuting options with their supervisor. If certain members of an employee’s family are sick, the employee may be entitled to leave under the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) and California Family Rights Act (CFRA). Please see the related information below for information.
Q: I have a family member who is ill with symptoms of COVID-19. Can I use my sick time to care for them?
A: Yes. Employees who are healthy but whose family members are home sick with COVID-19 should notify their supervisor and refer to CDC Guidance for Implementing Home Care of People Not Requiring Hospitalization for COVID-19 for guidance on conducting a risk assessment of their potential exposure.
Additionally, if certain members of an employee’s family are sick, the employee may be entitled to leave under the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) and California Family Rights Act (CFRA). The FMLA and CFRA entitle eligible employees to take up to 12 work weeks of unpaid, job-protected leave in a calendar year to care for certain family members with a serious health condition. At the Lab, this group includes an employee’s spouse or domestic partner, parents, and children. COVID-19 may qualify as a “serious health condition.” Lab employees may be permitted and/or required to substitute paid leave in certain circumstances, depending on the applicable policy or collective bargaining agreement.
Even if it is not covered by the FMLA and/or CFRA, an employee may nevertheless be entitled to take accrued leave to care for a family member who is ill under applicable policy and collective bargaining agreement provisions. Under LBNL sick leave policy and certain collective bargaining agreements, employees may be entitled to use accrued sick leave to care for ill family members. If an employee has no accrued sick leave, the employee may elect to use accrued vacation/PTO or may be granted unpaid time off to care for an ill family member under applicable policies and collective bargaining agreements. We encourage employees to avail themselves of options available under these policies and agreements.
Q: Can I work from home if I have a family member in an at-risk group related to COVID-19?
A: If you are well yourself and able to work from home, telecommuting is encouraged. Please work with your supervisor to discuss telecommuting options for your position.
Q: I am self-isolating. What options do I have for time charging?
A: If you are self-isolating and not currently sick, and are able to work, please discuss telecommuting options with your supervisor. While the Lab is in a safe and stable mode, and if you are not designated by your division as one of the positions essential for work onsite AND you are unable to telecommute due to the nature of your position, you may qualify for paid Administrative Leave for the designated period of up to 16 days. Please discuss this with your supervisor.
Q: I am teleworking in response to COVID-19 precautions. How do I record my pay?
A: Record time worked while telecommuting as you would regular work time. Time should be coded as usual in LETS.
Q: If I stay home from work because my roommate or significant other is sick, can I use sick leave even if I’m not sick? How about vacation time?
A: Sick leave is to be used for your own illness or to attend to a family member who is sick (spouse, domestic partner, parent, child, sibling, grandparent, in-law, or step relative). If you need to stay home for this purpose, accrued sick leave may be used. Otherwise, if you are not sick yourself and are able to work, you may discuss a telecommuting plan with or request vacation leave from your supervisor.
Q: If my job does not allow me to telework and I have been requested to work on-site for essential operations, but I don’t want to come in so that I can avoid virus exposure, what are my options?
A: An employee who has not been approved to telework and asked to work on-site for essential operations, but has expressed that they do not feel safe coming to work at the Lab site, may elect to use accrued vacation leave to ensure continuity of pay, or they may elect to use leave without pay.
Q: I have a chronic health issue that might put me at higher risk for CoVID-19. What are my options?
A: If you have a chronic health issue, contact your health care provider for consultation. If he/she feels work restrictions are indicated, submit those in writing to Health Services to begin the disability accommodation process. All other recommendations on hygiene and social distancing still apply.
Q: How will I get paid while the Lab is in a safe and stable mode?
A: Pay will be processed in the same manner as it is currently. Employees on current pay status with direct deposit will see their checks in their bank account on payday. Employees on current pay status who receive a paper check will have them mailed to their home address on file. While the Lab is in a safe and stable mode, paper checks will no longer be mailed to mail stops, therefore there may be a delay in receiving your live check. Please make sure that you update your home/mailing address in Employee Self Service.
Q: If I am unable to telecommute and I am out of vacation/PTO, am I eligible for unemployment?
A: Employees who are prevented from working on-site and are unable to telework due to the nature of their jobs should discuss with their supervisor as they may qualify for paid Administrative Leave for up to 16 days. Please see the Administrative Leave guidance for information about eligibility and use.
Employees who do not qualify for paid Administrative Leave and whose hours have been reduced or suspended due to Lab safe and stable operations may be eligible for unemployment through EDD. Please go to the website for more information.
Q: Does the Lab have any resources to assist in finding child care during the Covid-19 crisis?
A: To support employees during the COVID-19 outbreak, the Lab has enhanced the Bright Horizons Back-Up Care program. If care of a family member is needed so you can work, Career and Term employees, and Postdoctoral Scholars can utilize the Bright Horizons back-up care network to request care, or if desired, can select Crisis Care. With Crisis Care, you will receive a reimbursement of $100 to help with the cost of care you arrange with a babysitter, friend or relative of your choosing.
To request Bright Horizons back-up care, follow these steps:
1) Go online to backup.brighthorizons.com or use the mobile app (search “back-up care” on your app store).
2) Login to your profile if already registered OR first-time users must click “Not signed up yet? Register Now” and enter – Employer Username: LBNL and Employer Password: 4Backup then click “Verify Employer” to register. Our regular phone lines are not the recommended option at this time give long wait times.
3) Once you create a profile and care recipients are added, navigate to “Reservations” to request a new reservation.
4) If Bright Horizon is unable to fill your request through their care network, you will then be offered an “Out of Network” $100 reimbursement per daycare is requested up to 15 uses per year (minus any uses already used) to help secure your own care (neighbor, friend, babysitter, etc.). You will be prompted to sign the confirmation and release in advance of care and submit a completed “Request for Reimbursement” form within 10 days after each care date.
Questions about the Bright Horizons COVID-19 policy?
- Go to: https://www.brighthorizons.com/covid19 for the latest information.
Q: I don’t have direct deposit. Where can I pick up my check?
A: Paper checks will be mailed to your home address on file. We encourage everyone to sign up for direct deposit to avoid any delays from receiving their pay. If you want your next paycheck via direct deposit, please update your banking information by March 23rd through Employee Self Service. Click on the direct deposit tab on the left-hand side and follow the instructions.
Q: How do I sign up for direct deposit?
A: This can be done through Employee Self Service. Click on the direct deposit tab on the left-hand side and follow the instructions.
Q: How do I access LETS from home?
A: LETS is a web-based program that can be accessed from off-site. You will need your LDAP username and password to access. LETS and payroll related questions can be directed to [email protected] or call 510-486-6543.
Q: How do I report my time in LETS?
A: If you are teleworking, please continue to charge your time to the benefitting project/activity. If you are using paid Administrative Leave (administrative leave requires prior management approval), vacation/PTO, or sick leave, please choose the appropriate Earnings Type on your timecard. Payroll related questions can be directed to [email protected] or call 510-486-6543.
Q: What if I am teleworking and become ill. How should I code my time?
A: If you become sick, notify your supervisor, and then code your time in LETS to sick leave.
Q: How do I reach payroll for any questions while the Lab is in a safe and stable mode?
A: Payroll related questions can be directed to [email protected] or call 510-486-6543.
Q: Is the Lab looking for solutions to support additional pay and leave issues that are not covered in the current policy?
A: We realize that this is a stressful time, and questions about how you are going to get paid and how you are going to take care of yourself and your family are critical. In the March 24 LeaderLine for supervisors, we announced guidance related to the use of paid Administrative Leave based on guidance from the Department of Energy (DOE) and the University of California (UC) for temporary paid leave provisions in light of the COVID-19 pandemic. This guidance leverages the Lab’s existing Administrative Leave for Emergencies policy, which provides –, upon authority from Lab Management — paid leave to employees who are prevented from working as a result of a public emergency. Please see the Administrative Leave guidance for information about eligibility and use.
We are continuing to actively work on additional answers to some important questions you have asked such as, “Can I donate vacation leave to someone?” The simple answer is, we don’t have all the answers — yet. We are working on getting direction on issues around pay and leave, balancing both DOE and UC rules and we will communicate updates to those policies as information becomes available.
Q: If an employee refuses to telework even though they qualify for telework, what should a supervisor do?
A: Supervisors should discuss all options to create a path to work for their employees, which may include flexible options to ensure the employee can be productive while working remotely if possible. If an employee qualifies for telework and they refuse to telework due to extenuating circumstances, they may take an appropriate leave per policy.
If an employee communicates that they are unable to telework due to the nature of their jobs or other extenuating circumstances, they may qualify for and request paid Administrative Leave for up to 16 days, for time charged beginning March 17. Please see the Administrative Leave guidance for information about eligibility and use.
Q: If an employee does not qualify for telework and is requested to work on-site for essential operations, but refuses to come to the Lab because they are fearful for their health, what should a supervisor do?
A: Telecommuting during this period of time is encouraged to the extent possible. An employee who does not qualify for telework, but has expressed that they do not feel safe coming to work at the Lab site, may elect to use accrued vacation leave to ensure continuity of pay, or they may elect to use leave without pay.
If the employee is not designated by your division as one of the positions essential for work onsite AND they are unable to telecommute, they may qualify for paid Administrative Leave for the designated period of up to 16 days.
For those who have a chronic health issue, please ask your team member to contact their healthcare provider for consultation. If the healthcare provider feels work restrictions are indicated, submit those in writing to Health Services to begin the disability accommodation process. All other recommendations on hygiene and social distancing still apply.
Q: My employee is telecommuting but they also have children home from school due to school closure. They are unsure they can effectively meet their position expectations with children around them. What can I do to help them?
A: Thank you for being flexible with your employees. This is a new situation for all of us, so look at your team from a different perspective. Can you modify working hours or other deliverable expectations so that employees can execute their work and tend to children? Supervisors should work to find creative solutions to the challenges presented by this situation, and consult with your group’s HR Division Partner to help with this as there may be many solutions to this problem.
If your employee is prevented from working due to childcare demands, they may qualify for use of paid Administrative Leave. Keep in mind that Administrative Leave can be taken in increments for up to 16 days (or 128 hours) so it is recommended to consider partial leave to balance with work responsibilities.
Q: How should a supervisor stay in touch with employees who are working from home?
A: It is good practice for supervisors to have contact information for employees such as home telephone number, mobile telephone number, and personal and Lab email addresses. Set up a schedule to check-in with employees on a regular basis so team members can feel connected.
Q: Where can I get the expedited telework form?
A: The Lab has a new expedited telework form. This is a fillable pdf that can be used by managers as they consider temporary telecommuting agreements for qualified employees. This process will help ensure we responsibly manage the risks associated with telework. Ask your employee to sign this agreement and keep it for your records. Review the Lab’s telecommuting policy for guidance on who is eligible and in what situations.
Q: What types of online training and professional development opportunities are available to Lab staff?
A: From technical training to the development of managers and leaders, HR has several online programs that provide professional development opportunities and resources that are open to all LBNL employees. Professional Development tools such as Linkedin Learning or the UC Learning Center provide development on a wide variety of topics and can be accessed while working remotely. Click here to access a listing of all the HR online resources.
Recruiting and Hiring
Q: Will newly hired employees be processed/onboarded while the Lab is in a safe and stable mode?
A: Yes. HR Shared Services has developed a temporary remote onboarding process to facilitate all hiring actions and to provide new hires with important information for their start. The hiring manager will need to work with their new hire to ensure they are provided with instructions on how to begin contributing, including all necessary training and property needs, etc.
Q: Due to the new travel restrictions, could new hires from foreign countries still start in person or be hired remotely?
A: Due to the current safe and stable mode, there are no onboarding appointments occurring on the Lab site, however, all new hires are being onboarded remotely, including new hire orientation and employment eligibility verification taking place virtually. HR Shared Services is working closely with hiring managers and hires to coordinate changes in start dates, when necessary. At the present time, there is only a mechanism in place for domestic onboarding (whether working onsite or from a domestic remote location), or international hires if the employee is starting work in CERN. Due to international employment laws and tax implications, we are unable to hire individuals abroad to directly work from an international location.
Q: Is my Recruiter still available to help me while the Lab is in a safe and stable mode?
A: Yes, recruiters are teleworking and providing full recruitment services and support while the Lab is in a safe and stable mode. We are encouraging hiring managers and search committees to continue working on filling their open positions.
Q: Since I’m teleworking, can I continue to interview candidates?
A: Yes, by conducting interviews using Zoom or another teleconference tool. Here is a best practice guide on Video Conference Interviewing to help you prepare and conduct video-based interviews. Please be sure you partner with your recruiter when coordinating video or phone interviews.
Q: Are supervisors allowed to hire Student Assistants into remote work arrangements during this safe and stable mode timeframe?
A: During this period of time, hiring managers should consider what work is essential now or may be appropriate to defer. If determined necessary, any employee who is able to work remotely may do so under the temporary telecommuting agreement. Supervisors must ensure that the nature of the work to be performed is conducive for telework and that they can appropriately evaluate the performance of tasks.
Q: How will employee exits be handled?
A: HR Shared Services has developed a temporary process for handling employee exits (appointments ending, terminations) remotely, and will facilitate the process with the exiting employee and their supervisor.
Q: How will UC’s retirement services be impacted by the shelter in place period?
A: In accordance with the order, the UC Retirement Administration Service Center (RASC) is adjusting operations. RASC representatives are transitioning to remote operations to ensure access to critical services. Staff or retirees who have an urgent question or service request should contact RASC by sending a secure message through their UC Retirement At Your Service (UCRAYS) account. Representatives will respond to secure messages as soon as possible. For how-to guides and resources to getting started on UCRAYS and taking care of essential tasks related to your retirement account, check out Getting help with UC Retirement At Your Service (UCRAYS). See the UCNet article for more information.