COVID-19 Employee Health FAQ

What signs and symptoms may indicate that an employee has become ill with COVID-19?

The CDC reports that COVID-19 symptoms include fever, cough and shortness of breath. At present, the CDC also includes epidemiological risk factors such as a history of travel from affected geographic areas within 14 days of symptom onset, as well as close contact with a laboratory-confirmed COVID-19 patient within 14 days of symptom onset, as criteria for health care professionals to identify individuals as patients under investigation (PUI). Refer to the most current CDC guidance because criteria will likely change as further information becomes available.

What steps should be taken if an employee on campus is ill with fever, cough or other symptoms that may evidence COVID-19?        

If you are sick with a fever and cough, please stay home and seek medical assistance if necessary. Employees working on campus who are sick with a contagious acute respiratory illness should remain at home for at least 24 hours after they are free of fever (more than 100° F / 37.8° C) and signs of fever — without the use of fever-reducing medications — to minimize the spread of illness. Employees should seek immediate medical care if symptoms become more severe (e.g., high fever, difficulty breathing, etc.)

May the campus send an employee home if they have symptoms of COVID-19?

Yes. A manager can consider sending an employee home if they are showing symptoms of being ill. The symptoms of COVID-19 are fever, cough or shortness of breath. The decision to send an employee home who is exhibiting these symptoms or others is to be made on a case-by-case basis. If possible, consult with the campus Human Resources Office and University Health Services staff before sending an employee home. An employee sent home shall remain in pay status for the remainder of the day and use accrued leave or unpaid leave thereafter.

May the campus prohibit an employee from coming to work if the employee is known to have had close contact with someone who has been confirmed to have COVID-19, or who has contracted COVID-19?

Yes. The campus is obligated to provide a safe workplace and may take necessary and reasonable steps to minimize health risks for its employees, such as requiring that employees not come to work if they have COVID-19. If an employee has had very close contact with a person who has COVID-19 (such as living in the same household), the employee should be told to watch carefully for symptoms including fever, cough or shortness of breath. Employees should stay home if COVID-19 symptoms develop and should go home immediately if COVID-19 symptoms occur at work.

Will the campus require an employee who contracted COVID-19, or who was possibly exposed to COVID-19 and directed to remain quarantined, to provide certification before returning to work?

Yes. We will require a certification from a local public health department clearing an employee to return to work if they have contracted or been exposed to COVID-19 and been placed in quarantine.

What if a co-worker becomes ill with COVID-19? Will employees still be required to come to work?

It will be a decision of the University’s public health professionals to assess the situation and advise employees and managers on the best course of action, which may include quarantine.

What if an employee wants to go home because the employee doesn’t want to risk exposure to illness but are not ill?

Employees may be granted time off by their supervisor under the relevant collective bargaining agreement or policy. Such employees must use their accrued time or unpaid leave.

Are additional considerations made for employees on campus who are at risk for serious illness from COVID-19?

Employees 60 and older, pregnant employees, and employees who have serious chronic health conditions such as heart disease, diabetes or lung disease may be more susceptible to serious illness and may request alternative work assignments. Please contact central Human Resources at 413-687-2283 or to discuss further.

What precautions can employees can take to remain healthy when sharing workspace?

The CDC has recommended many steps employee can take to minimize contact and guard against illness.

Will the campus grant leave to an employee who is sick with COVID-19?

Yes. Employees who are ill with COVID-19 should be advised to remain at home until cleared by their local public health department to minimize the spread of the virus. Employees will be able to use accrued leave or unpaid time for any period of absence. We are exploring additional options for employees who exhaust or have exhausted paid leave time in order to remain in pay status.

Will the campus allow designated onsite employees who are parents or caregivers time off from work to care for sick family members with COVID-19?

Designated onsite employees who are healthy but whose family members are home sick with COVID-19 should contact central Human Resources at 413-687-2283 or, and they will contact public health officials for guidance on conducting a risk assessment of their potential exposure. A designated onsite employee may be entitled to take leave to care for a family member who is ill under applicable policy and collective bargaining agreement provisions.

If I work off campus at a remote location, what guidance do I follow?

Employees working remote will follow the measures announced in the communication from Chancellor Subbaswamy released on March 13, 2020. This applies in Amherst, the Mount Ida Campus in Newton and at the UMass Center in Springfield.

Does the foregoing advice also apply to academic employees?

The basic principles set forth above regarding steps that the University may take to ensure a safe workplace apply to the University’s academic employees. Academic leaders and supervisors should Please contact central Human Resources at 413-687-2283 or to discuss further.


Updated March 14, 2020