Covid-19 is causing major changes to the way that we go about our lives and work as health care professionals. Social distancing and telework can be difficult to achieve, depending upon your particular workplace. Here are some general work guidelines for UAPD workers, distilled from individual departments, organizations, and government edicts.
Employees at Highest Risk
As the disease progresses, morbidity and mortality of various age groups will become clearer. What is currently accepted is that people over 65 and those with chronic conditions are highest risk for poorer outcomes. If you are in this category, you can request all viable options for flexible scheduling and telework. You can request leaves of all types if your position is not conducive to working from home. Paid administrative leave (ATO) should be requested if you have no leave balances and face hardship due to illness, caring for sick family members or children whose schools have closed. Employees subject to quarantine or self-monitoring should ask for telework or ATO. Those who test positive for COVID-19 should expect leave credits of all types 14 days after the quarantine begins. They may also be eligible for FMLA. Most paid ATO is at least 14 business days in duration.
These general policies vary by specific department, organization, and state. As previously mentioned they are subject to change. Listed below are some of your rights and suggestions to protect yourself:
1. Carefully read the Health and Safety section of your contract. You have the right to a safe workplace.
2. Bring your own health conditions to your employer’s attention. You may be entitled to a reasonable accommodation under the ADA.
3. Bring unsafe, unsanitary, and/or dangerous working conditions to your employer’s attention.
4. Maintain a paper trail for a possible grievance, complaint or disciplinary defense.
5. Band together with your colleagues.
6. Explore alternative options for completing your work assignments.
7. Talk with your Union Rep.
A couple of actions not to take are as follows: 1) a blanket refusal to care for a COVID 19 patient and 2) keeping your employer out of the loop.
Since there are different rules and regulations across facilities and organizations, I propose that UAPD hold regular teleconference town halls to address your specific issues as well as learn and interact with your colleagues. These next few months will be times of great stress and adaptation. As your Union community, we stand ready to offer help in any way that we can. Please participate in our first COVID teletown hall this Thursday evening at 6:30 pm PST. We will have medical and legal experts to discuss what this pandemic means to you as health care workers. The call-in number is (310) 372-7549 and the access code is 386201.
Until then stay safe and work smart.
Stuart Bussey, MD, JD