Valencia College will offer paid sick leave to all employees indefinitely amid the nationwide COVID-19 pandemic – when the school also is adapting to new guidelines aimed to stop the spread of the virus.
“We keep telling people to stay home if they feel ill,” Dr. Amy Bosley, Valencia’s Vice President of Organizational Development and Human Resources, said. “But it’s hard to make that choice if you’re ill and you have to sacrifice pay.”
On Wednesday, Dr. Bosley introduced the program in a memo on The Grove, Valencia’s Employee news website.
Any faculty and staff will be eligible if they feel they must miss work because of a COVID-19 diagnosis for themselves or a member of their household, or if they display any of its symptoms – such as a cough, fever, and body aches.
The second part is critical, as there is a nationwide shortage of test kits for the virus.
“We wanted to provide a way for our colleagues to be taken care of,” Dr. Bosley said. “Whether they’re not feeling well or caring for someone that is ill.”
Currently, the program encourages employees to use whatever paid sick leave they have already been awarded. If they don’t have enough time left, they can personally reach out to Dr. Bosley or their dean.
According to the memo on The Grove, “temporary emergency leave with pay due to COVID-19 of up to 10 consecutive workdays may be available in all other accrued leave has been exhausted.”
It would equate to two weeks of pay with a full salary.
Part-time employees will receive up to 60 hours of paid leave over two weeks. According to the memo, “Part-time faculty who receive paid time off will be required to use that leave first before requesting temporary emergency leave with pay due to COVID-19.”
For part-time faculty, such as adjunct professors, their dean will work with them to transition the class online or find a substitute. They will not lose pay for the classes they are unable to attend.
Part-time staff, such as those who work in the library or learning lab and are paid hourly, do not have paid sick leave under normal circumstances. According to Dr. Bosley, this program will help staff who find themselves in a crisis.
According to Dr. Bosley and her memo, part-time staff will have to contact their supervisor and log their sick leave into their timesheet. They can receive up to 60 hours for two weeks.
No Valencia employee has yet to reach out that they need to use the system, but classes don’t resume until March 23.
“This is something predictive – a plan forward for when we return to a regular work routine over the next couple weeks to make people feel secure.” Dr. Bosley said.
On top of assuring financial security for those affected by the COVID-19, encouraging those who have been sick or exposed to stay home will limit the spread of the virus. The college has already taken precautions for this, such as switching most classes online and closing the physical campuses an extra week after spring break.