Category Archives: COVID-19

COVID UPDATES — Week of January 11

COVID Testing Expansion

After much persuasion from unions, primarily URA, Rutgers has expanded the protocols of testing for COVID-19 to include people who are reporting to work in person. In order to be eligible, you must be regularly scheduled on campus at least once a week for operational needs.

You must receive an email and fill out the form (long form first time and short form subsequently) on their platform to make an appointment to be tested. You can also choose to be tested independently using a PCR test and upload your negative results to the platform.

Please notify us if you haven’t received an email for testing but are expected to report to work regularly at union@ura-aft.org.

Using PTO time for COVID-19 Reasons

The change in Rutgers policy to use your Paid Time Off (PTO) time for COVID-19 reasons has begun. We are still advocating for management to reconsider implementing the COVID Paid Leave program from last March.

If your supervisor is not approving your use of PTO time for any COVID related reason, quarantining, care for a COVID positive person, or remote learning for your school aged child, please reach out to us immediately so we can help.

We will advocate for you and help resolve the issue. Use of PTO time can be used in conjunction with your telecommuting agreement.

Exec. Order 192 & Reporting Violations

On October 28th, Governor Murphy signed Executive Order (EO) 192, which provided additional health and safety protocols that employers must follow. This EO gives details of what workplace employers must provide to protect their employees.

Of particular notice is section 1h. where employers are required to, “Promptly notify all employees of any known exposure to COVID-19 at the worksite, consistent with the confidentiality requirements of the ADA and any 9 other applicable laws, and consistent with guidance from the EEOC;”.

Read the EO »

Because the state predicted that employers would try to violate parts or all of EO 192, they have provided several methods to bring them to their attention. I encourage you to notify us, Rutgers, and the state if you see violations. Here are the links to report any violations on protocols of health and safety.

Telecommuting: What to Know (Updated)

11/23/2020 update:

We have been fighting for an extension of telecommuting for all of URA for months. On Friday, November 20th, Sr. VP Vivian Fernandez sent an email that extends the expansion of telecommuting until March 31, 2021.

If you have a currently have a telecommuting agreement, then there is no change. If there is a change to your work schedule, and there is a request for additional in-person work, please ask what has changed other than the growing numbers of COVID positive rates. This is not the time to let our guard down, and we will continue to fight for to keep you healthy and safe.

Steps to protect your rights:

You do not need to reapply for a telecommuting arrangement that was already approved and on file.  Continue to work according to that plan.

  1. If you are told to return to in-person work ask your supervisor: “what is the operational need?”  Important: make sure you get a response in writing. Some managers try to avoid this question and instead explain to you all of the safety measures in place on campus. Continue to insist on a response to only this question.
  2. If there is no true critical operational need for in-person work, contact us immediately.  Your supervisor does not have total discretion to force you to return if your work truly can be performed remotely.
  3. If there is a critical need for in-person work, make sure the safety measures are appropriate.  If not, you should object to working under unsafe conditions.
  4. If you have a medical or family reason for not working in-person (and there is actually a critical need for in-person work), request a flexible work hours arrangement that includes telecommuting or a leave request.  Important: this should be your last option.  Attempt steps 1 through 4 first.

As classes begin and some students return to campus, we have heard from members that some departments are asking them to return to work. Our agreement with Vivian Fernandez, and her subsequent email on August 13th clearly states that the telecommuting rule relaxation policy has been extended through December 31th, 2020 and is automatically updated unless there is a change to your work schedule along with continued encouragement for department heads to be flexible in telecommuting arrangements, which include flexibility in work hours.

If you are requested to return to work in person and there is no operational need to do so, please contact us to help. This is particularly impactful as parents of school age students will require greater flexibility as K‑12 schools reopen.