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UPE News Item

 DHA Reopening Plan

6/18/20

UPE met with DHA for the first time on June 18, 2020 to discuss their plan to begin returning workers to the Bureaus.  Workers on paid administrative leave (PAL) are expected to return to Bureaus beginning June 22, 2020.  There are no plans to reopen any bureaus to the public at this time.  This includes no plans to begin face-to-face interviews.  Workers on PAL with underlying conditions or who are over 65 will need to submit a new doctor’s note to take them off work beginning June 22nd.  Workers who are not in the office or teleworking will have to use their own leave balances, emergency sick leave, or emergency FMLA in order to be compensated while off work.  The Department will allow Leave Without Pay (LWOP) in cases where workers do not have sufficient balances.  Workers should contact their supervisor if they cannot return to work on the 22nd. Workers will be allowed to use balances or LWOP while obtaining a doctor’s note. 

UPE received DHA’s plan less than a week ago.  This is despite the fact that since the pandemic began, UPE has been calling for the Department and the County to assess the safety of every worksite where UPE has members and develop plans to reopen safely.  The meeting was frustrating due to a lack of clarity from the Department regarding the reopening plan.  UPE submitted (in advance) a number of detailed questions to which we received general responses. One major outstanding question revolves around the Governor’s new mask order which was announced by the state immediately before the meeting.  UPE’s position is that the Department is obligated to provide masks to their workers.  UPE proposed again that the Department delay returning to work until they have a more comprehensive plan in place, and in particular, are able to provide masks for all their workers.  

Many questions remain unanswered at this point and the two sides will meet again Friday June 19, 2020.  In particular, the Department did not have site specific risk assessments for all worksites available nor did they did they have a time table for completing upgrades needed to increase the safety for all members.  UPE is continuing to press for answers from the Department and we are committed to getting all the information we have to our members.  However, given the lack of preparation on the part of the Department, some of this information may not be available until next week or later. 

Below are the responses we have received from the Department:

1. How will PAL workers be noticed of the return to work?  

a. Supervisors and Managers will contact every employee over the phone and notices will be sent to employee’s home addresses. 

2. How much notice will PAL workers be given before return to work?  

a. PAL notice states the employees should be expected to report to work within one hour after being notified. However, DHA employees are being notified this week that they are to return to work on Monday, June 22, 2020.

3. What is the process for a PAL worker that does not/cannot return to work due to health/age concerns?  

a. If the employee is unable to return to work due to a medical reason, they need to notify their supervisor and go through the FMLA and/or ADA process. They will be required to use their leave balances.

4. If workers have submitted notes with return to work date from PAL (e.g. July 30th) will they be recruited to submit a new note? 

a. If an employee has an original medical note placing them out through July 30th, they would be advised to remain out using their applicable leave balances. If the employee chooses to return to work prior to July 30th, a medical note releasing them back to work would be required. If no sick leave or other leave balances are available, they would be allowed to use Leave Without Pay  (LWOP).

5. Can workers on PAL transition to telework?  

a. No, we are not approving any additional requests for telework at this time. There may be an opportunity in the future if we are able to negotiate a rotation schedule for telework.

6. Will any workers who are teleworking be required to report on June 22nd?  

a. Those individuals on PAL who are not teleworking F/T are required to return to work on Monday, June 22, 2020. 

7. Which staff need to return before locations re-open?  

a. All open lobby staff have to return to work before locations can reopen. 

8. What options will be available now to PAL workers as they return with underlying conditions/over 65?  

a. If the employee is unable to return to work due to a medical reason, they need to notify their supervisor and go through the FMLA and/or ADA process. They will be required to use their leave balances. Paperwork can be obtained from supervisors, PMs, and DPS.  Every request will be treated as high priority and looked at case-by-case.

9. What is procedure if someone tests positive for COVID-19?  

a. If DHA is informed by an employee that they have tested positive for COVID-19, we will instruct them to stay home and self-quarantine and send the appropriate email out to all staff at the worksite in which the employee works.

10. What is the procedure if workers feel their seating areas are too close/unsafe?  

a. They should share their concerns with their supervisor or Supervisor of the Day (SOD).

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