IMPORTANT UPDATE ON COVID-19
Payroll Practices and COVID-19
Frequently Asked Questions
(Paid Time Off (PTO), Unpaid Time and Paid Medical Leave)
We have created this document to assist our leaders as they respond to various employee situations relating to COVID-19. The information in this document applies to:
Where there are processes and language different than the terms and conditions set out in the current Collective Bargaining Agreement, this difference is meant as a one-time, non-precedent setting exception.
We will monitor and update these FAQs for any actions taken by federal, state or local government action that would require any additional potential leave benefits to our employees
For purposes of this document, please refer to following CDC Definitions for COVID-19 Symptoms and Close Contact:
Symptoms of the COVID-19 Virus: The following are the symptoms of the COVID-19 virus (“COVID-19 Symptoms”):
• Fever (temp. of 100.4°F or greater)*;
• Difficulty Breathing*
* without the use of fever-reducing or other symptom-altering medicines (e.g., cough suppressants)
Close Contact with the COVID-19 Virus: The CDC defines close contact (“Close Contact”) as
being within approximately 6 feet (2 meters) of a COVID-19 case for a prolonged period of time. Close contact could, under certain circumstances, occur while caring for, living with, visiting, or sharing a healthcare waiting area or room with a COVID-19 case.
having direct contact with infectious secretions of a COVID-19 case (e.g., being coughed on). Contact does not include activities such as walking by a person or briefly sitting across a waiting room or office from them.
Question 1: Will the Company count time taken off because of the COVID-19 pandemic toward an unscheduled/absence attendance occurrence under the CBA absenteeism policy?
Answer 1: Absences up to 14 calendar days that are legitimately related to time away from work due to the COVID-19 pandemic will not be counted as an unscheduled/absence occurrence(s) under the CBA absenteeism policy. The Company reserves the right to require documentation, if requested. Consistent with normal policies and practices, all employees should be communicating with their leaders regarding the need for time away from work. Absences in excess of the 14 calendar days that are legitimately related to time away from work because of the COVID-19 pandemic will be reviewed on an individual, case-by-case basis.
Question 2: If an employee is exposed to COVID-19 during the normal course of their work duties, is unable to report to work, will the Company pay the employee at the Company’s expense for the duration for that absence?
Answer 2: The Company will pay the employee for basic hours missed (no overtime hours) at the Company’s expense for the duration of that absence – the duration of any quarantine period required by the Company or federal or state health authorities. Additional paid absences for an employee in this scenario will be assessed for potential workers’ compensation benefits under applicable state law.
If the employee tests positive for COVID-19 and continues to miss work for the duration of the illness, the Company will continue to make employee whole by providing pay for the lost basic hours without requiring the employee to use PTO or unpaid time under applicable pay practices.
Question 3: Will the Company provide any COVID-19 paid time for absences not the result of exposure during the normal course of work duties?
If an employee is asymptomatic for COVID-19 but the employee is in a mandatory quarantine (e.g., because he/she has been in Close Contact with an individual (not in the normal course of work duties) who has tested positive for COVID-19, should the asymptomatic employee take PTO or other unpaid time off during the potential incubation period?
Answer 3: The employee will be required to take PTO if available; thereafter, time away related to the quarantine would be unpaid through the quarantine period. COVID-19 illnesses may be eligible for Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) / Short-term Disability benefits if the illness is qualifying and approved by The Hartford. The Company will continue to look for and consider flexible work arrangements including remote work opportunities, which will depend upon the essential functions of the job and may vary by work group.
Question 4: If an employee is unable to report to work because of day care issues (e.g., due to school closings) related to COVID-19, will the employee be allowed to use PTO or unpaid time off?
Answer 4: If PTO is available, it will be used for day care issues. If PTO is not available, unpaid time off will be allowed.
Question 5: Can employees use PTO in less than full-day increments?
Answer 5: Yes. Available PTO can be used in increments as provided in the applicable bargaining unit agreements.
Question 6: If I choose to travel for personal reasons to a foreign country or a domestic location that has been identified as high risk for COVID-19 by the CDC and I am required to self-quarantine, will I have to use paid time off even if I am asymptomatic?
Answer 6: At this time, the CDC has announced the COVID-19 is a pandemic and issued a strong recommendation against both international and domestic travel. If an employee chooses to travel and is impacted by the CDC's COVID-19 self-quarantine requirements, the employee may first take PTO, then unpaid time. Please note, though, if the employee becomes symptomatic, STD benefits may be available if qualifying and approved by The Hartford.
Question 7: Is COVID-19 an FMLA-covered serious health condition?
Answer 7: It depends on the circumstances. If an employee or their immediate family member is being treated for a serious health condition, then it could be covered under FMLA guidelines if they are being treated by a medical professional and approved by The Hartford for FML. Absences due to mild or moderate illnesses generally will not meet the requirements for FML.
Question 8: May an employee refuse to come to work due to a fear of becoming infected with COVID-19? And, if they refuse to report to work will they be paid?
Answer 8: If an employee has a reasonable, good faith belief their safety is at risk, they should report that to their leader.
If an employee chooses to stay home without management approval, it will be deemed a counted absence against the absenteeism policy and handled in the same manner as any other absence without approval.
Question 9: Will employees who do not have PTO and/or FMLA/STD benefits under current policies or applicable bargaining agreements who are away from work due to COVID-19 receive be paid for time away?
Answer 9: Consistent with current practice absences for these employees would be unpaid unless such time away from work is due to exposure to COVID-19 during the normal course of their work duties. In that case, see Question 2.