ACTION NEEDED: Nonessential state employees should work from home tomorrow, March 17

SUNY New Paltz is publishing important messages and news updates related to the College’s response to COVID-19 on the campus news website. Use this link to view all these posts in one place.

The update below was shared with faculty and staff on Monday, March 16.

Campus community members can view updates at the Coronavirus Information and Coronavirus FAQs webpages, which are being updated regularly as this situation evolves.

This afternoon, Governor Cuomo issued a directive that, statewide, nonessential state employees should work from home starting tomorrow. Where practicable, you should work from home tomorrow and contact your supervisor for guidance on your work tomorrow. And supervisors reserve the right to request that some people will need to come in tomorrow. For the purpose of this directive, the definition of essential employee is not the same as with weather emergencies. (see definition below). The campus remains open. This is not a directive to close the campus, but rather to comply with the directive to de-densify the number of people working on campus due to the (COVID-19) coronavirus.

If you arrive at work tomorrow, please consult with your supervisor as soon as possible to make arrangements as defined below. If you are unsure if you are essential or nonessential under these new definitions, please consult your supervisor. Academic faculty are considered essential employees to provide continuity of instruction via distance learning. They have the option of doing this remotely or from their offices. Keep in mind that the spirit of this directive is to thin out density of employees on campus to protect health and safety. Therefore, where possible we encourage you to work from home.

The rest of your week and the coming weeks will be defined as we continue our planning. We appreciate all those areas who have begun to plan for off-site work and encourage all others to make planning and communicating an off-site work plan their top priority tomorrow (March 17). We will provide supervisors with strategies for supporting this plan. We recognize that as you plan, employees may need to return this week to retrieve essential files, etc., to do this work remotely.

For the purpose of this directive, essential employees are any person whose job function is essential to the effective operation of the campus, or who must be physically present to perform their job, or who is involved in the emergency response to COVID19. Non-essential employees should be considered any person who does not need to be physically present to perform their job functions, or they are not currently required to meet the core functions of their agency or authority during this emergency response.

Throughout state government, non-essential employees will not be charged accruals during this time. Non-essential state employees are being directed to work from home, to the extent practicable. While they are home, these employees may be assigned work outside of their normal duties. The campus may change an employee’s designation as either essential or nonessential at any time and will provide notice if that change is necessary.

This morning we provided information and guidance to employees and supervisors regarding request to work off-site.  This afternoon we have been informed by SUNY and GOER (Governors Office of Employee Relations) that a statewide telecommuting pilot program has been approved for UUP, M/C, CSEA, and PEF-represented employees.

Much of the guidance provided in this morning’s email remains but the new pilot program does include a few additional provisions.  You can see the full outline of the pilot program here.  If you have already finalized your off-site or telecommuting arrangements with your supervisor and HRDI, you do not need to duplicate your efforts by completing the form. All others, except for academic faculty, must complete the form here.

We draw your attention to the following, which may be particularly critical to planning:

  • This pilot program is for a temporary period of 2 months beginning with an effective date of March 17, 2020 through May 14, 2020.
  • Upon receiving a request to work off-site, supervisors have 48 hours to review and make an initial determination on the request.
  • Supervisors who are reviewing the off-site proposal should inform HRDI of the decision.  HRDI will provide final approval within 48 hours of receiving the request in their office.
  • If the request is disapproved or if an employee wishes to contest mandated telecommuting, they may appeal to the agency head or designee (Jodi Papa) in writing within 24 hours of the denial. The appeal shall state the reasons for disagreement with management’s determination and a decision on that appeal shall be provided within 7 calendar days. If the appeal is denied, the reasons for denial must be provided.
  • Any denials of request for telecommuting are not grievable under any collective bargaining agreements.

We remind you that this week HRDI is providing WebEx training to supervisors to help plan for these requests. A message about registering for this training was also sent today.  In addition, we will soon be providing some training on best practices for telecommuting to support those who will be working off-site.  HRDI is available to help our campus community as we all look to meet the operational needs of the college and maintain important services for our students.