Human Resources Update to All Employees

March 13, 2020

Dear Faculty and Staff,

The well-being of our employees and the continuity of our business are of paramount importance during these challenging times. I wanted to offer some additional recommendations and resources to all SMC employees.  These recommendations relate to staying at home if you’re feeling unwell, working virtually, fostering business continuity, and managing performance.

Act Responsibly: Stay Home if in Doubt

  • Since the virus is spread primarily person‐to‐person through coughing or sneezing, it is a priority for all of our colleagues who may be sick, or those known to be contagious, to stay at home. So that we do not compromise the good health of our colleagues by unnecessarily exposing them to potential infection, we ask each of you to act responsibly by staying home and taking advantage of our remote work options and sick leave policy if you or someone in your household are symptomatic or are known to be contagious. If you or someone you live with have been exposed to a person that has contracted COVID‐19, please self‐isolate for 14 days in accordance with CDC recommendations. If employees are worried about a low sick or vacation leave balance, reassure them that their health and the health of others is our top priority. Contact HR if you or an employee on your staff is in this situation.

Ensuring Continuity with College Operations

  • Because the College remains open for business, offices will continue to be staffed. Managers should work with their departments to implement best practices for social distancing, including modifying office space usage and remote work. Supervisors must approve all alternative work arrangements.  As the coronavirus (COVID‐19) continues to spread, we continue to focus our attention on our responsibilities to our employees, students, and the communities we serve. This includes doing our part to help and acting on the recommendations by our state and local officials for social distancing. The goal is to reduce the occasions where large numbers of people come together and may be exposed to the virus that is circulating in our community. Resources to make this move can be found here. 

We Are Looking to The Leadership of Managers

  • If you are a manager or supervisor, this is the time for you to proactively check in with your staff members. As you do, here are a few areas to cover:
  • Take the lead in communicating employee work options if they or a family member are in the vulnerable category, and need to modify work arrangements to keep people healthy. As you do this, use care to prevent any employee disclosure of health issues that they do not want to be disclosed. 
  • Run through potential virtual work scenarios, and make sure employees have the proper information, log-ins, equipment, and clarity about expectations. Zoom training tutorials can be found here.
  • Review work responsibilities, as this fluid situation has created shifts for a variety of departments. It is your job to help create stability and clarity.
  • Assess the job responsibilities of employees that may be in a high-risk or potential exposure situation, and discuss scenarios for their protection and wellness during this time.
  • Re-articulate best practices for physical and emotional health, including the potential use of our EAP program if people are dealing with high anxiety.
  • Have conversations with student workers about their work responsibilities.  It is important for students to know if they need to work; don’t need to work; can work virtually; can’t work virtually or have any shifting roles or practices.  Federal work-study students may still continue to earn federal work-study wages during this time. If their hours are reduced or discontinued due to the circumstances, they are directed to contact Financial Aid for guidance.  

We are all in uncharted territory. Many of us are impacted by this situation in different ways. Be sure to check-in with your colleagues and team regularly on a personal level, treat each other with compassion, and know that everyone is doing the best they can during this difficult time. 

Thank you for remaining flexible and resourceful as we work together to navigate this challenging situation. 

Laurie Panian
Associate Vice President & Chief Human Resources Officer
Title IX Coordinator
Saint Mary's College of California