Information for Employees Regarding COVID-19

Guidance for Employees

Human Resources has compiled a list of frequently asked questions regarding procedures and processes during COVID-19.

On this page:

Memos to All Employees

Memo to All Employees Dated June 3 — Returning UB Employees to Campus in the Near Future

To all employees from Mark Coldren, Associate Vice President, Human Resources

At this time, all employees that are working remotely should continue to do so until further notice. 

UB will begin building plans to return employees to working on campus.  The approach to build a plan has been shared with all UB leaders, Unit Business Officers, and unit HR Administrators.  Plans will be developed by all units and submitted for review and approval in order to be able to support work areas with key operational services. 

Information will be shared by unit leaders for their specific areas when and how plans are finalized for employees to return to campus.  More information on return to campus guidelines is at the following: http://www.buffalo.edu/administrative-services/ub-forward-employees.html

We continue to appreciate all of the folks who have been on campus to keep it operational.  If you have any questions, please contact me at 645-8155 or mcoldren@buffalo.edu

Memo to All Employees Dated May 15 — Extension of Non-essential Workers Working Remotely until May 28

To all employees from Mark Coldren, Associate Vice President, Human Resources

This message is to communicate to the UB community that the governor’s directive advising all non-essential employees to stay at home and work remotely will continue through May 28. The extension, announced this morning, comes as five regions of upstate New York can begin reopening because they have met criteria laid out by the governor's office.

When there is a change in the governor’s directive, UB will provide a planned and phased approach for any changes in operations, services and the return of non-essential employees to the campus. Until then, non-essential employees must continue to work remotely. 

Please let me know if you have any questions or concerns. Again, I would like to express the gratitude of the entire UB community to all of our essential colleagues who continue to work on campus each day to maintain the operations of the university.

Memo to All Employees Dated May 7 — Working Remotely to Remain in Effect for Non-essential Employees

To all employees from Mark Coldren, Associate Vice President, Human Resources

This message is to remind the UB community of the governor’s directive advising all non-essential employees to stay at home and work remotely until further notice is given by the university.

If there is a change in the governor’s directive, you will receive official notification from the university indicating a date when non-essential employees can return to the campus. Until then, non-essential employees must continue to work remotely. 

Please let me know if you have any questions or concerns. Again, I would like to express the gratitude of the entire UB community to all of our essential colleagues who continue to work on campus each day to maintain the operations of the university.

Memo to All Employees Dated April 23 — Key information for All Employees at UB

To all employees from Mark Coldren, Associate Vice President, Human Resources

In response to the continuing COVID-19 public health emergency, Governor Cuomo has extended to May 15 the directive indicating that all non-essential state employees in all New York State agencies and public authorities are not to report to work.

As a reminder, non-essential employees are defined as anyone who does not need to be physically present to perform job functions, or who are not required to meet the core function and programs of their agency or institution during the state’s emergency response.

Essential employees continue to be defined as anyone whose job function is essential to the effective operation of their agency or institution, or who must be physically present to perform their job; and those involved in the COVID-19 emergency response, and individuals who are currently providing a vital service for students who returned to campus and who are enrolled via distance learning. Once again, I would like to express the gratitude of the entire UB community to all of our essential colleagues for their efforts to maintain the operations of the university every day.

Please also note that state-funded student workers are still operating under the governor’s executive order, which provides direction on pay, working from home, and reporting to work only if deemed essential. Supervisors of student employees should continue to submit timesheets for work up until May 15. Federal Work Study (FWS) students should also continue to be paid until the identified funding is depleted. If any department has questions regarding FWS student funding, please contact the Financial Aid Office.

Included with the governor’s May 15 extension is a host of tools for campuses to use, including but not limited to:

  1. The ability to work remotely.
  2. The ability to redeploy staff and provide alternate assignments.
  3. Continuation of pay for full-time and part-time employees currently through May 15 for anyone not working or not assigned to work.
  4. Continuation of pay for any employee quarantined up to 14 days.

In compliance with the State Executive Order for face coverings, UB’s Environment Health & Safety team is currently facilitating the distribution of masks for all essential employees. In anticipation of non-essential employees returning to UB campuses, we will need to prepare for resources and materials, per State guidance and mandates. To be more efficient and effective in this transition, all Personal Protective Equipment and disinfectant materials will be sourced centrally for the entire university. This would include face coverings and disinfectant cleaning materials such as Clorox wipes and hand sanitizer. Centralizing this process will enable consistent, compliance-based and cost-effective purchasing to be accomplished. Individual units should not initiate purchasing transactions for any of these items. Acquisition, storage and distribution will be managed centrally. More information about this process will provided as plans are developed for the return of non-essential employees to campus.

Memo to All Employees Dated April 13 — Update on the Use of Face Coverings at UB

To all employees from Mark Coldren, Associate Vice President, Human Resources

In accordance with the recent Executive Order issued by Governor Cuomo (4/12/20) and guidance provided by the Center for Disease Control (CDC) regarding the voluntary use of face coverings, UB intends to supply our essential employees with suitable face covering materials for use in the workplace.  As was shared previously, we are working to have these materials to be distributed with area supervisors as soon as they are sourced and available.

It is important to note that the use of a face covering is not intended to protect the wearer from exposure to the virus.  Face coverings are a physical barrier intended to stop the spread of respiratory droplets from the wearer into the environment.  While proper social distancing protocols are the best method against transmission, the use of face coverings is an important tool to help prevent the spread of the virus because individuals can be contagious before they develop symptoms of the viral infection, or may not be aware they are infectious.  Higher levels of respiratory protection (N95 masks or other filtering-type respirators) are in short supply and are being reserved for use by medical professionals and first responders.  NYS and the CDC is not recommending these types of respirators for general use face coverings in the workplace or in public settings.

Essential employees are now required to wear a face covering only in situations where they are interacting with a customer, or where they are unable to maintain proper social distancing.  For other job activities where essential workers are able to properly social distance, the face coverings being supplied are for voluntary use.  Supplies of manufactured surgical masks may be prioritized for use by customer interacting personnel. 

The face covering being supplied to employees may vary depending on what is readily available.  Options supplied may include: 

Level 1 surgical mask.

Level 1 surgical mask

Manufactured cloth mask.

Manufactured cloth mask

Homemade cloth masks.

Homemade cloth masks

Scarfs.

Scarfs

*The CDC provides guidance for those wishing to make their own face covering https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/prevent-getting-sick/diy-cloth-face-coverings.html

Some work activities require the use of a higher level of respiratory protection. If an individual is performing a work activity which they believe may require additional respiratory protection, they should contact their supervisor for guidance. Supervisors may consult with EH&S to determine the most appropriate respiratory protection for such activities. 

For additional information University Facilities has created a helpful video for essential employees: (UBITName and password required) https://buffalo.box.com/s/4f1nj7s9x5s141mib6928ypi6r0irq2p

We know that these are challenging and fluid times. Please know that everyone’s health and safety is our top priority.  Thank you for your continued support and cooperation to help us conserve higher levels of respiratory protection for medical professionals and first responders. This guideline is designed to be consistent with local, state, SUNY and federal guidelines so we can continue to protect the well-being of the entire campus community. Again, many thanks to all of our essential colleagues for all that they are doing for our campus community.

Memo to All Employees Dated April 13 — Confirmation From SUNY and GOER for April 29

To all employees from Mark Coldren, Associate Vice President, Human Resources

UB received confirmation in response to the continuing public health emergency for the COVID-19 virus, that the Governor extended his directive for all non-essential State employees for New York State’s agencies and public authorities in every county, to not report to work until April 29.  

Essential employees continue to be defined as anyone whose job function is essential to the effective operation of their agency or authority, or who must be physically present to perform their job, those involved in the COVID-19 emergency response, and individuals who are currently providing a vital service for students who returned to campus and are undergoing distance learning. I know that the entire UB community joins me in appreciation for all our essential colleagues are doing to maintain the operations of the university every day.

As a reminder, non-essential employees are defined as anyone who does not need to be physically present to perform job functions, or they are not required to meet the core function and programs of their agency during this emergency response.

State part time and student workers are still operating under the Governor’s executive order which includes receiving pay, potential working from home, and reporting to work only if deemed essential. With this extension comes a host of tools for campuses to use including, but are not limited to:

  1. The ability to work remotely.
  2. The ability to redeploy staff and provide alternate assignments.
  3. Continuation of pay for full-time and part-time employees currently through April 29, 2020 for anyone not working or not assigned to work.
  4. Continuation of pay for any employee quarantined up to 14 days.

Memo to All Employees Dated April 6 — The Use of Face Coverings on Campus

To all employees from Mark Coldren, Associate Vice President, Human Resources

On April 4 the CDC recommended that, in addition to maintaining 6-feet social distancing, the use of face coverings can help prevent spread of the coronavirus by people who have the virus but who have yet to show symptoms. Based on these new guidelines, we would like to update our recommended safety measures for essential personnel who are still working on UB’s campuses.

It is important to remember that social distancing is still the primary way to slow the spread of COVID-19,  and should be maintained regardless of whether a person is wearing a mask or face covering. If social distancing is not an option or is not feasible, essential staff members are strongly encouraged to wear face coverings when they are in close proximity of other individuals or when providing customer services. Essential staff members are not required to wear face coverings in situations when they are working alone in an area where they are isolated from other staff.

Currently, commercial masks are in short supply and UB may not be able to provide you with a commercial mask at this time. The university is attempting to obtain a supply of masks and as they become available, we will attempt to provide you with one.

Essential staff are welcome to wear a face covering they bring from home. Face coverings from home may include such items as cloth masks, surgical masks, shop/carpenter masks, bandanas, scarfs, etc. CDC guidance for making your own face covering is available here. Cloth face coverings can be laundered at home and used multiple times. UB encourages their re-use, unless the user suspects their face covering has been contaminated.

If an employee brings an N95 respirator from home, they must report their intent to use the equipment to their supervisor.  Because N95 respirators are tight-fitting, filtering face-pieces, their use requires UB to maintain compliance with the OSHA respiratory protection standard. Therefore, the employee may be required to read OSHA appendix D regarding the voluntary use of respirators, and sign off that they have read and understood the material. Your supervisor will assist you with this task.

Individuals who work in patient-care situations or areas of special risk (Dental Clinics, Student Health Services, LAF, and University Police) should continue to wear personal proactive equipment as prescribed by their departmental manager. If anyone has questions, please contact your direct supervisor or you can contact Mark Coldren in Human Resources at 716-645-8155 or mcoldren@buffalo.edu. Thanks very much – be safe and well.

Memo to All Employees Dated March 30 — Update from UB Human Resources

To all employees from Mark Coldren, Associate Vice President, Human Resources

In response to the COVID-19 public health emergency, the Governor extended his directive for all non-essential State employees for New York State’s agencies and public authorities in every county, to continue to work remotely until April 15

With this directive, UB essential employees will continue to follow their assigned work schedules to ensure we are providing vital services for our students, distance learning, and campus-wide essential operations. 

Please know, that this extension includes New York State funded and Federal Work-study student workers. 

As a reminder, employee guidance shared previously will continue. This includes:

  1. The ability to work remotely.
  2. The ability to redeploy staff and provide alternate assignments.
  3. Continuation of pay full-time and part-time employees currently through April 15, 2020.

If anyone has questions, please contact Mark Coldren in the Office of Human Resources at 716-645-8155 or mcoldren@buffalo.edu.  Thank you.

Memo to All Employees Dated March 21 — Update For UB Employees

To all employees from Mark Coldren, Associate Vice President, Human Resources

Hello everyone. I would first like to express a great deal of thanks to everyone for their patience, diligence, concern, and compliance with all of our institution’s efforts this past week in the face of a rapidly changing and evolving situation.  On March 20, the governor issued an executive order mandating that all employees from “non-essential businesses” stay home beginning March 22. This message is to reinforce that UB is still operating under guidance from the governor issued on March 17 regarding essential and non-essential employees at SUNY institutions.

According to this guidance, the essential employee designation includes those employees whose worksite presence is necessary to the continued operation of the university, who are integrally involved in the COVID-19 response effort, or those who must be present at the workplace in order to carry out their work-related duties and responsibilities. Under this guidance, essential employees include:

  • Faculty members who need to access offices to teach remotely
  • On-campus housing employees
  • Food service employees
  • Facilities employees

All non-essential SUNY employees have been assigned to perform their work-related duties and responsibilities from alternate work locations, via telecommuting. Non-essential status may change at the discretion of management; accordingly, employees should contact their supervisor daily to confirm their status. As the operational needs of the COVID-19 response change, management may modify specific job functions and/or work locations. For more information, please refer to UB’s March 17 memo “Information for Employees Regarding COVID-19.”

I encourage all non-essential employees working remotely to stay in regular contact with your supervisors and your co-workers via phone/Webex/Zoom/text, etc. It is very important for us to stay connected as a community. I know we all have a special appreciation for UB’s essential employees as they continue to support our students and University’s operations moving forward.  Please continue to monitor information on UB’s web site focused on COVID-19. Thank you very much.

Memo to All Employees Dated March 17 — UB Guidance and Facilitating Temporary Alternate Work Assignments

To all employees from Mark Coldren, Associate Vice President, Human Resources

In this continuing evolving situation, UB is taking proactive and prudent measures to ensure the health and safety of the UB community in accordance with the guidance provided by Federal and State governments, including the SUNY Chancellor, SUNY Administration, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Erie County Department of Health. It is important that you review UB’s COVID-19 website to receive the latest information and guidance from the University (https://www.buffalo.edu/coronavirus/).

While we understand that the novel coronavirus is creating anxiety and uncertainty, we must follow university policies and practices regarding health and safety issues including the approval of alternate work locations.

University Guidance

  1. Students, faculty and staff are cautioned against making judgments regarding a fellow student or colleague’s health. If you see someone who is clearly ill, encourage them to contact their health care provider or UB’s Student Health Services.
  2. Faculty and staff who are not feeling well are asked to stay home and consult their health care provider as needed. Please notify your supervisor that you will be absent.
  3. If faculty or staff are experiencing symptoms consistent with COVID-19, such as fever, cough and/or shortness of breath, contact your health care provider. Be sure to call ahead and tell your provider about any travel and symptoms you are experiencing.   Faculty or staff must notify their supervisor and then Mark Coldren, associate vice president for human resources, at (716) 645-8155 or mcoldren@buffalo.edu to ensure that the University takes appropriate preventive actions. 
  4. In the event that the Erie County Health Department determines an employee meets the criteria for possible infection, local and state health authorities will work with the university to determine appropriate steps.  Information about an individual’s medical condition is confidential, and should be disclosed only to HR, supervisors, medical and safety personnel and others with a need to know.
  1. If you voluntarily disclose that you have a specific medical condition or disability that puts you at increased risk for COVID-19, or that you are living with someone with such a condition or disability, the department will keep this information confidential.  Your supervisor will consult with their unit HR manager to determine the type of assistance that will be needed to mitigate your risk. The appropriate response will depend upon your job duties, responsibilities, and will be determined on a case-by-case basis.

Temporary Alternate Work Assignments

By direction from the NYS Governor’s office, effective March 17, 2020 and until further notice, all non-essential SUNY employees shall be assigned to perform their work-related duties and responsibilities from alternate work locations, via telecommuting.  This telecommuting assignment is part of a telecommuting pilot program, recently negotiated by New York State and the CSEA, PEF and UUP labor organizations.  Both the telecommuting assignment and the telecommuting program apply to all SUNY employees, including M/C designated employees.

The Essential employee designation includes those employees whose worksite presence is necessary to the continued operation of the University, who are integrally involved in the COVID-19 response effort, or those who must be present at the workplace in order to carry out their work-related duties and responsibilities.  Non-essential status may change at the discretion of management; accordingly, employees should contact their supervisor daily to confirm their status.  As the operational needs of the COVID-19 response change, management may modify specific job functions and/or work locations.

All telecommuters will be required to submit a work plan that includes hours worked and work completed. Employees must treat a telecommuting day as a regular workday in which the employee must maintain a regular work routine. More information about this policy as well as necessary forms will be provided as soon as possible.  Employees will be required to complete the UB Temporary Alternate Work Assignment form (attached to this email).  Completed forms will require unit leadership signatures and then should be submitted to the Office of Human Resources.  If you have any questions, please contact Mark Coldren at mcoldren@buffalo.edu, or 645-8155, or the HR Service Center at 645-7777. 

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Memo to All Employees Dated March 15 — Emergency Alternate Work Location/Assignment Guidelines for UB Employees

To all employees from Mark Coldren, Associate Vice President, Human Resources

Erie County officials declared a state of emergency for the county on Sunday, March 15, 2020. At this time, the University at Buffalo remains open and operational. Employees and supervisors may have questions regarding their work arrangements.The university will provide more guidance on how best to support remote work in the coming days. Supervisors should maintain communication with and support their employees as circumstances evolve. 

These guidelines will remain in effect so long as current circumstances, involving the COVID-19 pandemic, warrant. These guidelines are subject to change, and may be rescinded, at any time. Please continue to monitor official UB communications

In order to consider a remote work option for UB employees, all of the following criteria must be met:

  • All core duties can be efficiently performed from a remote work location.
  • The location must be conducive and appropriate for completing core duties with the same level of privacy or security and productivity as in the usual work environment. Among other things, there must be a stable internet connection, telephone connection and a UB compliant device. 
  • These duties will continue to be performed during the normal work shift or the agreed work shift.
  • The employee must be available and responsive to work related requests and discussions via email, phone or online throughout the work shift.
  • The employee must continue to fulfill their professional obligation and must continue to meet the performance expectations of the position.

Departments should ensure that there is an auditable record of work performed for each employee.

The alternate work location arrangement will be re-evaluated as needed. Remote work assignments may be modified or revoked at any time. Key things for supervisors and employees to work through include:

  • A telephone number where the employee can be reached during the agreed-upon work schedule.
  • The employee will use his/her own equipment, supplies, and telephone/Internet connection to perform his/her job duties.
  • The University is not responsible for operating costs, home maintenance and any other cost associated with the use of the home as an alternate work location.
  • In the event of delay in repair or replacement, or any other circumstance, which makes work from the home location impracticable, the employee understands that the supervisor may require the employee to report to the regular work site or charge appropriate accruals. 
  • All information security, and records management and policies that apply at the regular worksite apply when the employee works from home.
  • Whether or not specifically articulated in these procedures, Alternate Work Assignment employees are subject to the same federal and state laws, and policies and procedures applicable to employees at the regular university worksite.
  • The university is not liable for injuries to third parties at the remote work site. The university is not liable for damages to the employee’s personal or real property.

Commonly Asked Questions

Where can I find the latest information about COVID-19 and how UB is preparing and responding?

What kind of guidance has the New York State Department of Health provided to state employees regarding COVID-19?

Who is at higher risk for developing serious consequences from COVID-19?

What should I do if I feel ill at work or need to call in sick?

Can I stay home from work or work remotely?

At this time, can I travel to countries that the CDC has indicated are a level 2 alert or level 3 warning?

If I return from travel from an area designated by the CDC as having widespread sustained (ongoing) transmission, am I required to stay at home?

If I return from travel from an area that has not been designated by the CDC as having widespread sustained (ongoing) transmission but where there have been identified cases of COVID-19, and I have no symptoms of COVID-19, am I required to stay home?

If I do not have COVID-19 symptoms, am I expected to disclose whether I have a medical condition that the CDC says could make me especially vulnerable?

What if I am unable to report to work because of a non-medical COVID-19 related situation (i.e. caring for a child whose school or day care center is closed, caring for a family member who has an illness associated with COVID-19)?

Does Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) apply if I contract COVID-19? Does FMLA apply if my spouse or child contracts COVID-19 and I must stay home to care for them?

What do I do if I feel unsafe at work because I fear I might be exposed to COVID-19 by coworkers or students who have traveled to an area with widespread sustained (ongoing) transmission?

I meet with students (employees, patients) frequently as part of my job responsibilities. What should I do if I encounter someone who is obviously sick?

What assistance is available to help me cope with the emotional impact of this COVID-19 issue?

Should I cancel my personal travel plans?

What can employees do now to prepare for any potential changes to normal business operations?

Who should I contact if I have further questions about employment and the COVID-19 issue?

Contact for Questions

Customer Service

Human Resources

120 Crofts Hall

Phone: 716-645-7777