What’s the Deal with Expanded Sick Time Usage?

Your child was sent home from school for two weeks, your husband was exposed to COVID and has symptoms, or you need to self-quarantine.  You can use your own sick time for any of these options.  In short, try to telecommute first.  If telecommuting is not an option, use sick time instead.

  1. Article 44 – Sick Leave of the URA-AFT Agreement is already strong.  Even pre-pandemic, you could use your own sick time to care for yourself if you were ill or injured.  The only requirement in Article 44 is to call out no less than 15 minutes before your work day starts.  Doctor’s notes can be requested by a supervisor but cannot be a requirement for using your earned sick days.
  • Article 44 always permitted 15 days to care for family or pick up a child from school. You might need to fill out the form in Appendix I or have the school nurse sign off.
  • Article 44 always permitted sick days for medical, dental and wellness visits.  COVID testing and vaccination visits count as medical visits too. You can use sick time for planned or unplanned visits for medical or dental reasons or for wellness visits. If unplanned, use the same 15 minute advanced call out rule (or inform your supervisor that you are ill and need to leave early for the day).
  • For remaining needs related to COVID, Sick Leave Expansion is in effect through December 31.  Refer to Vivian Fernandez’ memo announcing the temporary expansion of permissible use of accrued paid sick time.  10 days are allowed for quarantine even if you are not actually sick.  Unlimited sick time can be used for school closure or child care necessities.
  • If you have no remaining sick days, consider applying for an unpaid leave of absence or using remaining V, PH or AL days.  You might also be eligible for the New Jersey Temporary Disability Insurance, Family Leave Insurance or Unemployment Insurance programs while on unpaid leave status (check with the New Jersey Department of Labor directly). Article 22 of our union contract allows for requests for unpaid leave for personal reasons.
  • Having issues with using these benefits? If your supervisor is being unreasonable, contact union@ura-aft.org immediately.

Reference: 

Can I still telecommute?

In short, yes. 

Telecommuting Policy Relaxation Through December 31, 2021

Our union has pushed for this policy expansion since the pandemic began last year.  However, we’ve received concerns from union members recently about unreasonable supervisors who ignore the policy.  Some supervisors are reasonable but getting pressure from above to restrict your telecommuting or make unreasonable changes.  Here is our recommendation for utilizing the policy:

  1. Quote from Vivian Fernandezmemo: telecommuting “provides flexibility necessary to balance…operational and service needs…with employee well-being”. 
  2. Make a request in writing.  Request the continuation of your current arrangement or propose a new arrangement.  Make sure you say, “I need to telecommute to maintain my well-being.”  Your well-being might be impacted by how you arrange child care, school closures, and quarantining of yourself and household members.  Do not hesitate to request telecommuting if a potential exposure to COVID is suspected.
    Note: you are not making a medical accommodation request under the Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA) which is a separate process that can be reserved for later.
  1. Was your request ignored, delayed or refused?  Ask tough questions in writing. “What is the operational and service reason for your denial?”  “Please explain how you balanced the operational needs against my personal well-being as required by the policy.”  “Do you need any further information from me about why telecommuting is critical to my well-being right now?”  “When will you be providing me with a response in writing?”  If a supervisor says, “we just need you on campus” or “because I said so”, continue asking the tough questions. Do not settle for an unreasonable response.
  1. Is the operational need legitimate? If your supervisor provides a reasonable explanation for why you cannot telecommute, consider: (1) requesting a medical accommodation, (2) requesting telecommuting the usual way—exempt staff always could request telecommuting according to Article 59 of our union contract, or (3) using your own sick time to stay home without working.
  1. Join colleagues to create collective pressure.  Telecommuting can be requested by anyone.  Colleagues can submit a request at the same time, ask the same questions and demand updates together.
  1. If all else fails, union representatives may be able to file a formal grievance on your behalf.  Send information to union@ura-aft.org.  Use Sick, AL or PH days if your situation at home is truly urgent. 

FEMOA and Deferred Raises

In last Friday’s paycheck, many of you should have seen an increase in your pay.

For state-funded employees, this new rate includes the deferred 3% raise contracted for July 1, 2020 and the difference (retro) from July, 1, 2021-August 62021, due to the delay of Rutgers’ implementation of payment. For state-funded employees, the July 1, 2021 raise of 2.5% is deferred and will be paid in March 2022. 

Our 100% grant or contract funded employees received their 3% increase effective July 1, 2020 and retro for the period of July 1, 2020-August 6, 2021 in August 6, 2021 paycheck. We learned last Thursday that Rutgers has delayed the payment of the additional 2.5% raise effective July 1, 2021 until the August 20thpaycheck. Those who are eligible should receive an additional 2.5% and the retro from July 1, 2021- August 20, 2021. Grant and contract funded employees are funded from external sources that should not be “subject to” the fiscal emergency language invoked due to the reduction in state appropriations. Their raises should have never been delayed but for Rutgers’ desire for more profit. 

In order to confirm that you have received your proper pay, go to Employee Services and check your paystub. Please do the math and verify that the amount is correct.

Also, check Compensation History to see your new rate of pay. Verify that the amount is correctly calculated. While you are looking at your paystub, if you had chosen to change your health insurance plan during the special open enrollment period that URA fought for in May, you should see a reduction in the cost of your benefits. 

Additionally, if you purchased your parking permit, deductions may have begun for that payment. All of these changes to your paycheck may not be immediately evident but are happening in a short period of time. I encourage you to verify every change so we can assist if there are corrections that need to be made. 

Local 1766