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COVID-19 Employee HR Bulletin

COVID-19 Guidelines for Spokane Transit Authority

DATE

March 16, 2020

DESCRIPTION

Currently, Spokane County has four (4) reported positive cases of COVID-19 (coronavirus).

This guidance is intended to help our employees reduce the transmission of COVID-19 among their peers, and to protect employees who are at higher risk for adverse health complications.  It will also assist in maintaining business operations while minimizing the effects to our customers.

This is general HR guidance as of the date of this document.  As circumstances change, advice and guidance may change as well.  Please contact HR with specific questions or concerns not addressed below.

Spokane Transit Authority employees can minimize the spread of viruses, including COVID-19, by taking the following actions at work and at home.  The Spokane Regional Health District advises these measures:

  • Wash your hands often with soap and water
  • Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, or the inside of your elbow
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces
  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick
  • Stay home when you are sick

These are all important steps we can take to help limit the impact of COVID-19 at Spokane Transit Authority.

The following FAQ’s are intended to help manage the risk associated with COVID-19.

  1. Q:  How do I contact HR if I have questions?

A:  Call 325-6008 (x6008) or email HRHelpDesk@spokanetransit.com

 

  1. Q:  What should I do if I feel sick?

A:  If you feel sick, stay home.  If you have symptoms of COVID-19 including fever, shortness of breath, or coughing, please inform your supervisor/manager of your absence and seek care from your healthcare provider.

 

  1. Q:  What are the symptoms of COVID-19?

A:  Symptoms can include fever, coughing and shortness of breath.

 

  1. Q:  When do symptoms appear?

A:  The CDC believes the symptoms will appear between two (2) and 14 days after exposure to the virus.

 

  1. Q. Can employees, who are exhibiting the COVID-19 symptoms, be required to go home?

A:  Yes.  Employees are encouraged to stay home if they are experiencing respiratory symptoms -  especially fever, cough or shortness of breath - and to remain at home until they are symptom free and fever free for at least 72-hours. If an employee arrives with symptoms or develops symptoms while at work, they should be advised to go home. If the employee refuses, supervisors may require the employee to go home and not to return to work until they are symptom free (without the use of medication) for at least 72 hours.

Employees should follow existing policies, guidelines, or applicable collective bargaining agreement regarding the use of leave, including their accrued sick leave.  If the employee has exhausted sick leave, they may be eligible to use vacation and/or floating holidays depending on position, please follow-up with your supervisor/manager.  If none are available, the employee may request "unpaid" leave (up to 30 calendar days).  If an employee is on an unpaid leave of absence, the employee should consult with HR to discuss continuity of benefits.

 

  1. Q:  Can I ask my employee if they have COVID-19 symptoms?

A:  No.  Employers may not ask employee if they have COVID-19.  However, they can ask if they suffer from shortness of breath, fever or coughing. 

 

  1. Q:  Can an employee be required to use sick leave?

A:  No.  The use of sick leave, based on Washington L&I, is the employee’s choice.  The employer cannot require the employee to use their sick leave.  However, STA policy states an employee cannot go into an unpaid status if they have other leave accruals available.

 

  1. Q. Will employees who call out sick with COVID-19 symptoms be required to provide a doctor's note?

A:  Documented verification from your physician recommending self-quarantine may be required.

 

  1. Q. Should employees be informed if one of their coworkers has been diagnosed with COVID-19?

A:  Yes. Fellow employees should be informed of their possible exposure in the workplace to COVID-19 but the confidentiality of the sick employee shall be maintained as required by the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and HIPAA protections. Employees exposed to a sick coworker should monitor themselves for symptoms.

 

  1. Q:  Will I be able to work from home?

A:  Each department should evaluate the ability of their employees to temporarily work from home, if the need arises.  Not every position is conducive to working from home.  Employees unable to work from home due to their type of work will be allowed to use accrued vacation leave with manager approval.

 

  1. Q:  What leave/pay options are available to the employees who are impacted by COVID-19?

A:  Sick leave, vacation time, and floating holidays may be available.  FMLA, WPSL, and PFML may be available as well as an "unpaid" leave up to 30 calendar days.  Please talk to your supervisor and Human Resources for additional information on various leave options.

 

  1. Q. What if travel restrictions are placed on employees either work-related or personal?

A:  Spokane Regional Health District has advised that travel restrictions are not necessary at this time. And STA does not restrict an employee's choice to travel on their personal time. However, some employees may want to avoid traveling for their own personal reasons. STA has cancelled all work-related travel through the end of April, 2020 until further notice.

For updated information on travel restrictions, check the CDC Traveler's Health Notices for the latest guidance and recommendations for each country to which employees may travel. This can be found on the CDC website at https:\\www.cdc.gov.

 

  1. Q. What other leave benefits are available to employees?

A:  Employees may qualify for Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA), Washington State Paid Family & Medical Leave (PFML) depending on the severity and nature of their specific circumstances.  Please contact Employment Security Department for PFML or COVID-19 leave: https://www.doh.wa.gov/Emergencies/Coronavirus

 

  1. Q: What if an employee who is well has a sick family member at home with diagnosed COVID-19?

A:  They should notify their supervisor, Spokane Regional Health District, and stay home and monitor their health using the CDC’s guidance for how to conduct a risk assessment.

 

  1. Q: What do I do since schools are now closed and I don’t have childcare?

A: Employees may use their WPSL if they are eligible while they are home with the child and trying to find childcare.

 

Spokane Regional Health District -- https://srhd.org

Washington State Department of Health – https://www.doh.wa.gov/Emergencies/Coronavirus

Center for Disease Control and Prevention – https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-nCov

 

ACTION REQUIRED

No action required by the employee. This is for informational purposes only.

EFFECTIVE DATE:

Immediately.

CONTACT

If you have any questions, please contact Human Resources x6008 or HRHelpDesk@spokanetransit.com

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