Policy Regarding COVID-19-Related Alternative Work Arrangements
Lewis & Clark College’s mission requires fostering relationships and building community with students through undergraduate programs in the arts and sciences and postgraduate programs in the closely related professions of education, counseling, and law. The wellbeing of the faculty and staff who carry out this mission is essential.
Lewis and Clark plans to resume in-person classes in fall 2020, with modifications to support the health and well-being of all members of the Lewis & Clark community. Those modifications will include physical distancing, reduced class sizes, modified class schedules, increased use of technology, and other protocols that are being developed. These measures will also include telework, partial telework, or other alternative work arrangements where feasible, while taking into account our belief that in-person teaching and engagement in the classroom is critical to the type of education we provide. We are committed to providing in-person education as much as possible while taking the necessary steps to protect the health and safety of students, faculty and staff.
We recognize that faculty and staff members, particularly those at higher risk of a severe case of COVID, may be reluctant to return to campus. Any employee may request modification to their work arrangement due to COVID. For some employees, particularly staff members, continued telecommuting is a viable and desirable option. In other situations, in which in-person contact with students is essential, other alterations may be available that meet the needs of both the College and employee. The work and personal situation of each faculty and staff member is different, and the College is prepared to consider each situation individually to determine the best path forward for each employee and the College in this extraordinary time.
Who May Request Alternative Work Arrangements
Any employee may request an alternative work arrangement or other reasonable accommodation due to COVID. In cases where telecommuting or other modifications are agreed to between a supervisor and employee, no further action is necessary. In other cases, deans/VPs and Human Resources will need to be involved. Below is a discussion of categories in which requests for alternative work arrangements are particularly likely to arise.
Employees in Higher Risk Categories
Consistent with Governor Kate Brown’s Executive Order 20-28 and the June 12, 2020 joint guidance from the Oregon Health Authority and the Oregon Higher Education Coordinating Commission, the College will provide reasonable accommodations as required by law for faculty and staff who are at higher risk for severe illness from COVID-19, including those with any of the following characteristics:
- People 65 years and older;
- People with chronic lung disease (other than mild asthma)
- People who have serious heart conditions
- People who are immunocompromised
- People with obesity (body mass index [BMI] of 30 or higher);
- People with diabetes;
- People with chronic kidney disease undergoing dialysis;
- People with liver disease; and
- Any other medical conditions identified by the Oregon Health Authority, the Centers for Disease Control, or a licensed healthcare provider.
The accommodation of faculty and staff who are at higher risk for severe illness from COVID-19 may include a telework arrangement or some other accommodation that permits the faculty or staff member to perform the essential duties of their position. The process for such requests is discussed below.
Employees With Household Members in Higher Risk Categories
Faculty or staff members may wish to request alternative work arrangements due to concerns regarding household members who are at a higher risk for severe illness from COVID-19. The College will consider such requests in the same manner as it considers all requests for alternative work arrangements, although the College will prioritize such requests to the extent reasonably possible. If teleworking is not a viable option, the faculty or staff member may request a leave.
Employees Caring for Family Members
Faculty or staff members may wish to request alternative work arrangements due to the need to care for ill family members or due to the employee’s child being home because of closed schools or childcare providers. The College will consider requests for job alterations and will strive to work with employees to address such needs. Modifications might include schedule changes, enhanced flexibility, adjustment to teaching loads or distribution, FTE reduction, etc. Telework arrangements might not be viable in such circumstances due to the simultaneous demands of work and care obligations. If a telework or other arrangement is not agreed upon in such cases, the faculty or staff member may request a leave. Protected leaves will be provided as required by law. As provided in temporary regulations adopted by the Oregon Employment Department, the College understands that employees unable to work because they have to stay home to care for a family member who has COVID or who is subject to a mandatory quarantine, or because they have to stay home to care for a child due to the closure of schools, child care providers, or similar facilities due to COVID, are eligible to apply for unemployment insurance benefits.
Tenure-track faculty members have the ability to seek an adjustment to their tenure clock under our standard processes, and are encouraged to do so or talk with their dean if a tenure-clock adjustment is of interest.
Any employee may request a telework arrangement, and any supervisor may suggest a telework arrangement. The College will work with all employees to identify positions that may be appropriate for telework, partial telework, or other alternative work arrangements, consistent with the College’s mission, the essential duties of the position, and the need to minimize density on campus and promote social distancing due to COVID-19.
Priority and Criteria
When considering whether telework, partial telework, or another alternative work arrangement is reasonably possible, relevant factors include whether the staff or faculty member’s work is conducive to remote work, whether such an arrangement is possible without compromising an employee’s essential job duties, the needs of the department, and the College’s social distancing goals. The College anticipates that there are many situations that will be conducive to telework or other modification. However, given needs related to providing in-person instruction and to serve students on campus, the College may not be able to approve every request, even if the job duties in isolation are conducive to remote work or other modification.
The College will work diligently with faculty members in higher-risk categories to provide reasonable accommodations as required by law, and will strive to reach mutually agreeable resolutions in other cases. The College will attempt wherever possible to provide faculty with an accommodation in which classes are still taught in person. Examples of such accommodations might include providing for greater distance between the faculty member and students, enhanced physical barriers, or other adjustments to the classroom experience.
Procedure for Requesting Alternative Work Arrangements
- Staff members who wish to request alternative work arrangements due to COVID-19 should contact their supervisors. Faculty members who wish to make such a request should contact their deans. Faculty and staff members are encouraged to provide concrete proposals for their desired alternative work arrangements. Because many alternative work arrangements may depend on maintaining sufficient in-person staffing, the College requests that faculty and staff members submit all requests for fall 2020 by July 28, 2020. Employees seeking to immediately initiate the accommodations process of the Americans with Disabilities Act also have the option of reaching out directly to Kris Codron in Human Resources, and should do so as soon as possible.
- The supervisor or dean may agree to the request, suggest modifications, or refer the employee to Human Resources. If the supervisor or dean and the staff or faculty member agree on alternative work arrangements, then no further action is needed and Human Resources does not need to be consulted. The supervisor should ensure that the approved alternative work arrangement is appropriately documented, with a copy to the faculty or staff member, to avoid any confusion.
- Human Resources is available to assist employees, supervisors and deans in these discussions. Requests for assistance from Human Resources should be forwarded to Kris Codron in Human Resources as soon as possible. Unresolved requests regarding alternative work arrangements for fall 2020 should be forwarded to Human Resources by July 28, 2020 if possible. Any unresolved request from an employee in a higher-risk category must be referred to Human Resources as soon as possible by the supervisor or dean.
- If the alternative work arrangement is requested because the employee is in a higher-risk category, Human Resources may request medical documentation to verify the reason for the higher risk and understand what accommodations may be necessary. Such a request will be handled pursuant to the College’s process for reasonable accommodations under the Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA). Human Resources will engage in an interactive process with both the employee and the employee’s supervisor or dean in order to determine and provide appropriate accommodations as provided in our Employee Disability Policy & Accommodation Request Procedure Policy. Human Resources is responsible for making the final decision regarding an accommodation under the ADA.
- If the alternative work arrangement is requested for reasons other than the employee’s status in a higher-risk category, Human Resources will review the request for consistency and engage with the requesting employee and the vice president or dean to consider whether other solutions are possible. The vice president or dean is responsible for the final decision regarding alternative work arrangements other than those falling within the requirements of the ADA.
- If the employee is seeking a leave, whether to care for a family member or child at home or otherwise, the employee should contact Kris Codron in Human Resources. Protected leaves will be provided as required by FMLA/OFLA, and discretionary leaves will be provided as appropriate.
Approved by the Executive Council, July 20, 2020