FAQ: Employment-Related Information Concerning COVID-19

Office of Human Resources




I need to report a COVID-related illness or exposure. Where can I do that?

All employees and their managers are highly encouraged to report COVID-19 related illnesses or exposures. If you have been exposed to or test positive for COVID-19, please make a report via the COVID-19 hotline, 903.565.5999. This will allow campus officials to act quickly to prevent a possible spread on campus.

If there has been no recent contact within campus community, please report using the UT Tyler COVID-19 Reporting Form here.



What is the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA)?

Effective April 1, 2020, the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) will help the United States combat and defeat COVID-19 by providing employees with paid leave, either for the employee’s own health needs or to care for family members. The highlights of this act include paid family and medical leave (EFMLA) and paid sick time (ESPL) to eligible employees. For more information, visit the Department of Labor website or contact the Office of Human Resources.

Summary of Employee Rights Under this Act:

If an employee is returning from travel to high risk countries, should they return to work?

Absolutely not. Employees who are traveling back from countries with risk levels of 2 or 3 and without virus symptoms, should self-quarantine away from their campus work or school location for at least a 14-day period, per the latest Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidelines. For more information from the CDC, including the latest updates, please access Coronavirus-19 Disease 2019 (COVID-19).

If an employee has traveled to high risk countries and has self-quarantined as instructed, what type of leave should they use?

Faculty and staff in benefits-eligible positions: Supervisors should encourage a temporary remote work arrangement for employees who are under self-quarantine. For those employees whose work responsibilities or environmental situation prohibits a remote work assignment, alternative leave options should be discussed on case-by-case basis.

If an employee is diagnosed with Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) while under quarantine or isolation, should the employee utilize sick leave?

Yes. If an employee is officially diagnosed with this disease, or the employee has the symptoms of this or any other illness or disease, the employee should take sick leave in accordance with UT Tyler HOP 4.18.4 Sick Leave

Does Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) leave apply to absences due to the COVID-19?

Yes, COVID-19 qualifies as a "serious health condition" under FMLA, allowing an eligible employee to take FMLA leave if either the employee or an immediate family member contracts the disease.

Can supervisors ask for a doctor's note from an employee returning from self-isolation?

No. Supervisors may accept a doctor’s note if it is voluntarily provided by the employee, but they may not require or ask for any specific documentation. However, employees will be required to notify their supervisor and/or the HR Director prior to returning to work. Employees must be asymptomatic prior to their return from self-isolation or quarantine.

If an employee is coughing or displaying other symptoms, can a supervisor require them to go home?

Yes, at the supervisor’s discretion, employees may be sent home. However, the employee cannot be penalized for being sent home.

If an employee is coughing or displaying other symptoms, can a supervisor require them to go the doctor?

No. Supervisors should encourage employees to seek medical advice, but they cannot require an employee to go to the doctor. They can require the employee to be asymptomatic before returning to work.



What approval is needed for employees to work from an alternate work location?

Supervisors, with concurrence of their respective Vice President, can approve temporary telecommuting arrangements for self-quarantined employees or employees who need to stay home to care for self-quarantined dependents. The circumstances for the temporary work location should be documented and include consideration such as equipment needs and maintenance, employee safety, communication and supervision, and adherence to state and federal laws. Short-term telecommuting arrangements related to 14 -day self-quarantine or self-isolation, must be approved by HR. For more information, please see UT Tyler HOP 4.16.6 Telecommuting.

Note: President Tidwell has temporarily waived the requirement for a formal telecommuting agreement. However, supervisors are expected to exercise careful consideration and establish telecommuting arrangements that comply with UT Tyler policy.



Are there any details that may be helpful regarding my benefits should I or my family member need care related to COVID-19?

Yes. The University of Texas Office of Employee Benefits (OEB) is closely monitoring activity around COVID-19. You may find key benefit details at https://www.utsystem.edu/offices/employee-benefits/resources/covid-19.

Is there a way to seek medical care without going to the doctor?

Yes. The following options are available for employees and their dependents who participate in UTSELECT:

- Virtual doctor visits through MDLIVE continue to be available with no out-of-pocket costs and can be used when appropriate.

- The BCBS 24/7 Nurseline is available to you and your family at no additional cost. Get answers to your health care questions, information about major medical issues, chronic illness support, and lifestyle change support. Call toll free: 1-888-315-9473, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

What resources are available to an employee experiencing emotional challenges (such as anxiety) due to the COVID-19 outbreak?

Employees should contact their physician and/or the University of Texas Employee Assistance Program (UTEAP). UTEAP offers a variety of services including consultations with clinicians for anxiety, depression, stress, grief, loss, life adjustments, relationship challenges, marital conflicts, etc. Additional information is available from the UTEAP website.

Due to closing of day care centers, am I eligible to reduce or end my UT FLEX Dependent Daycare election?

Yes. Given the current COVID-19 situation and mandatory closure of many if not most day care centers, reducing or ending a UT FLEX Dependent Daycare Election is considered a Qualified Live Event. Please contact the HR Office at humanresources@uttyler.edu to change your benefit.

What are my loan and distribution options under the CARES Act?

On March 27, 2020, the CARES Act took effect, authorizing economic relief to those impacted by COVID-19. Among the many features of the CARES Act were several provisions that allow impacted participants to have expanded access to their retirement plans. This expanded access does not apply to the UT Optional Retirement Program or the Teacher Retirement System. You may find information at https://www.utsystem.edu/sites/default/files/documents/publication/2020/ut-cares-act/utcares-covid19-2020-041420.pdf.



Will the university release information about faculty and staff with suspected COVID-19 infections?

No. Due to the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) and campus privacy policies, we are unable to disclose specific information (e.g., residence location or class attendance) for individuals with suspected infection. If necessary, however, people who are in close contact with a COVID-19-infected patient will be contacted and monitored by the local health department.

Where should I direct employment-related questions concerning the COVID-19?

Employees and/or supervisors may send an email to Gracy Buentello, HR Director, gbuentello@uttyler.edu.