COVID-19 Frequently Asked Questions

Pay and Benefits

Q: Will I continue to get paid during this crisis?
A: The University will do its best to ensure that changes to our operations caused by the coronavirus will not impact our existing commitments to pay and continue benefits for our employees. At this time, we will honor existing commitments for our benefits-eligible faculty and staff for the foreseeable future. This will include staff paid from grants, in compliance with federal guidance. These policies will be revisited as the situation evolves.

Q: How will the University provide ‘emergency paid time’ and who is eligible?
A: If you are a benefits-eligible staff member who is healthy and able to work, but no alternative work or assignments are available for you to perform, the University will provide emergency paid time off through April 17th. Please speak with your manager and contact the Office of Human Resources for guidance.

Q: Will my Brandeis benefits change or be impacted by the coronavirus?
A: We do not anticipate any changes in our benefit programs at this time.

Q: Does Brandeis’ health insurance cover medical expenses related to the coronavirus and COVID-19 testing?
A: Please review the benefit summary provided by Tufts Health plan for complete details.

Time Off

Q: What time off options are available to me?
A: For benefits-eligible staff, if you have been directed by a doctor or state/federal/state agency to self-quarantine or self-isolate because you are sick with COVID-19 or are caring for a qualified dependent who is self-quarantining or self-isolating because they are sick with COVID-19, you will have 10 work days of paid time. This paid time will be provided up-front and before the use of any accrued and unused time off. If you feel well enough to work remotely and telework is available to you, you are not prohibited from working remotely.

Q: Is there a concise summary of time-off options for employees?
A: Brandeis University’s COVID-19 Pay and Time Off Scenarios will provide guidance on many situations. Because individual questions or needs may vary, we ask that you contact the Office of Human Resources for guidance as needed.

Q: If I am sick with COVID-19 and I run out of available time off, can I borrow time?
A: Yes, but if you are a benefits-eligible staff, you may have access to the University’s short-term disability programs (EIB and STI) after a continuous absence of more than 10 days. Similarly, benefits-eligible faculty also have access to paid disability programs. Generally, faculty and staff should immediately contact their supervisor or manager and the Office of Human Resources if they believe that they are sick with COVID-19, so that public health precautions may be taken and also so that appropriate leave plans are applied appropriately to the individual’s situation. Please consult Brandeis University’s COVID-19 Pay and Time Off Scenarios for additional information.

Health and Wellbeing

Q: What are the symptoms of COVID-19?
A: The CDC has issued information regarding symptoms, prevention and treatment, as well as a number of other frequently asked questions and answers.

Q: What should I do if I have come in contact with an individual that is known to have tested positive for COVID-19 or lives with someone who has tested positive?
A: Those who believe they may have been exposed to COVID-19 should immediately contact their health care provider and should follow their health care provider’s guidelines. If someone has come in contact with individuals who are known positives and the individual displays symptoms of COVID-19, they should immediately seek medical testing. Those who are advised to self-isolate or self- quarantine should immediately inform their supervisor or manager and the Office of Human Resources.

Q: Where can I find information about my own wellbeing and staying healthy?
A: There are several resources you can take advantage off:

Q: I’m feeling anxiety and stress, what resources are available for me?
A: Brandeis has an Employee Assistance Plan which provides confidential counseling by calling 800-828-6025 or visiting online at: New Directions

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Q: How do I know if I am at “high risk” for serious illness from COVID-19?
A: The CDC has identified groups of people who are high risk for serious illness from COVID-19. Employees who are at increased risk for complications from COVID-19 due to underlying health conditions are urged to consult their physician about steps they can take to protect their health.

Q: What work options may be available to me if I am a high-risk individual?
A: If you have concerns about your current role as a high risk individual, please work with your manager and the Office of Human Resources to determine if a temporary change in job location, hours, assignment or duties are possible or if other protective measures to reduce their exposure to others or chances of being infected are necessary. Please note that you may be required to provide medical documentation to the Office of Human Resources so that the University may better understand your restrictions and how to best help you perform the functions of your role. Please contact the Office of Human Resources Employee Relations’ Unit if you have specific questions or need guidance in this area.

Department Operations

Q: How does Governor Baker’s order to close non-essential businesses affect Brandeis?
A: We do have permission to continue to provide the services needed by our students remaining on campus, per Gov. Baker's order allowing essential employees to continue their work, including:

Educators and staff supporting public and private emergency childcare programs, residential schools for students with disabilities, K-12 schools, colleges, and universities for purposes of facilitating distance learning, provision of school meals, or performing other essential student support functions, if operating under rules for social distancing.

The University will remain open and will continue to offer many services virtually. However, essential staff will remain on campus to provide services in support of distance learning, the provision of meals for students on campus, or other essential student support functions, as well as research animal care, and safe operation of critical equipment.

Q: What is the difference between essential and nonessential staff?
A: Each is summarized below:

  • Essential staff: positions that have been designated as critical because their responsibilities include non-deferrable services that must be performed despite a University emergency and/or administrative closure. Positions may be designated as essential on an academic year, seasonal or situational basis, e.g., in the event of a snow emergency or a public health crisis. Examples of departments with essential staff include Facilities, Public Safety, certain student services and research animal care. Managers should talk to their essential staff regarding expectations, work assignments, and relevant operational contingencies.
  • Nonessential staff: positions that are not designated as either essential or back-up to essential positions vital during a University emergency and/or administrative closure. Managers should talk to their staff regarding expectations and proper protocols in the event of an emergency and/or administrative closure.

Q: How will I know if I am expected to be at work?
A: As we move most employees to work remotely, a limited number of employees will be notified that they must work on site. Some staff may need to take on different responsibilities as we experience service reductions in limited areas of the campus. If you have not been told to report to work on site and do not have a remote work from home plan approved by your manager, please contact your manager immediately.

Q: Are there alternative work arrangements that I can take advantage off during this time?
A: Yes. Managers and staff should work together to identify flexible work arrangements (where applicable) that allow for continuity of department operations. Staff not designated as essential should be teleworking at this time. In limited cases, the department may utilize rotational schedules for staff.

  • Teleworking: for eligible staff who are considered non-essential, we encourage the use of a teleworking arrangement allowing staff to work remotely. Please review the Teleworking Policy (PDF), the Telecommuting Agreement (PDF) and the ITS working remotely checklist for more information and guidance. It is important that all staff follow required ITS, Security and Human Resources policies and protocols related to teleworking.
  • Rotational Staff Schedules: Some departments may require rotational work schedules to meet minimum staffing requirements. This arrangement would provide a mechanism for managers to limit the number of non-essential staff to be on site at any one time. For example, in a department with 10 staff, a manager could decide to rotate weekly/daily coverage with 5 staff on-site and 5 staff teleworking.
Q: What if I’m an essential worker and I feel sick?
A: Care for your own health. Stay at home if you are not feeling well with symptoms for any illness and be sure to contact your manager. If you begin to feel ill at work, inform your manager or staff and leave as soon as possible.

Q: What if I am an employee who is part of a collective bargaining unit?
A: Faculty or staff in a University collective bargaining unit must follow the requirements in the collective bargaining agreement regarding benefits, time off and workplace flexibility. Please talk with your manager if you have questions or need guidance in any of these areas.

Q: What if I am a student employee or have student employees working for me?
A: The University values the work and contributions of our student workers. If you have questions or concerns about this group or a specific student worker in your area, please talk to your Dean or Senior Leader.

Q: If essential staff must be on campus for work, can they bring their children or other family members?
A: Employees may not bring children or elders to work with them, even if they are well.

Q: What if I leave something on campus that I need later?
A: Brandeis campus is still accessible if you need to get your laptop or other necessary materials. Please bring your Employee ID card, as many buildings require card access.

Q: Is there more information I can access regarding department guidelines?
A: Yes please review the March 13 Guidance and March 23 Guidance and Brandeis COVID-19 Pay and Time Off Scenarios from the Office of Human Resources.

Q: How can I contact the Office of Human Resources?
A: The Office of Human Resources is working virtually and can be reached by calling the main number at 781-736-4474 or by email at humanresources@brandeis.edu. Individual staff members may be contacted by accessing our department contact list.

Q: I’m concerned about bias, racism and xenophobia related to COVID-19.
A: Viruses don’t discriminate: COVID-19 is not associated with any race, ethnicity or nationality. It is vital that our community work to combat discrimination based on racial bias or appearances and to correct misinformation. Concerns can be brought to the Office of Equal Opportunity.

Professional Training and Development Opportunities

Q: Are there online professional training and development opportunities for faculty and staff who are working remotely?
A: Yes, there are many professional training and development opportunities available online. We encourage you to work with your manager to identify and utilize any of these resources to provided continued development opportunities.

Here are some resources:

The Office of Human Resources offers remote professional development opportunities and will be adding more online training soon, which will be announced in In-Brief and posted on the website.

Webinars are available through the Center for Teaching and Learning

LinkedIn Learning (formerly Lynda.com) offers users of any skill level with more than 5,000 high-quality educational videos on topics ranging from using different technologies to building business and professional skills. All active Brandeis faculty, staff and students have free, unlimited access to this online repository of instructional videos.

Brandeis Library offers workshops and sessions on citation management, research strategies, data analysis and management, GIS, software for quantitative and qualitative analysis, primary sources, subject-specific resources, media production, 3D printing, soldering and more. View a list of the workshop topics currently offered.

Brandeis’ Employee Assistance vendor (E4 Health) offers a variety of live and archived webinars on topics such as Project and Strategic Planning, Providing Effective Feedback, Leading with Emotional Intelligence, etc. The webinars can be accessed through the E4 Website at: www.helloe4.com

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Recruiting and Onboarding

Q: What if I hired someone recently or am in the process of hiring someone?
A: We understand the importance of attracting talent to the University and having the appropriate number of faculty and staff to support our mission. Included below are important considerations to help support your recruiting needs:

  1. Interviews: We are recommending that candidate interviews now take place using video conference technology.
  2. Orientation: Currently, orientation takes place following our new employee’s first day and is generally limited to 6-8 people. At this time, we will offer new employee orientations virtually.

If you have questions or need assistance with your hiring needs, please contact Human Resources.

Additional Support and Guidance

Q: Where can I get additional support and guidance?
A: The following resources are available to you if you have specific questions or concerns: