This policy provides direction for UW–Madison’s implementation of interim workplace policies, procedures and expectations for all university faculty, staff and other campus community members in response to ongoing exigent circumstances impacting the University of Wisconsin–Madison due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Office of Human Resources, Workforce Relations
Associate Vice Chancellor for Human Resources
Workforce Relations Director
This policy provides direction for UW–Madison’s implementation of interim workplace policies, procedures and expectations for all university faculty, staff, and other campus community members in response to ongoing exigent circumstances impacting the University of Wisconsin–Madison due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
This policy applies to all University of Wisconsin–Madison employees. For purposes of this policy, the term “employee” includes, but is not limited to, Faculty, Academic Staff, University Staff, Limited Appointees, Graduate Assistants (Teaching Assistants, Research Assistants, Lecturer Student Assistants and Project/Program Assistants), Post-Degree Training (research interns, research associates, postdoctoral fellows, and postdoctoral trainees), student-hourly employees and other campus community members (e.g., emeritus faculty members, volunteers, etc.) working in university-owned or controlled facilities, as well as when working on behalf of the university in non-university facilities.
The purpose of the University of Wisconsin–Madison COVID-19 Workplace Safety Policy is to promote the safe and orderly performance of on-site work. Colleges, schools, and divisions will review and approve the specific plans appropriate to those area(s) and function(s) returning to the on-site workplace consistent with this policy.
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, a significant percentage of University of Wisconsin–Madison faculty and staff has been working remotely since March 2020 with only limited numbers of personnel required to report to the workplace. Designated employees who have been working remotely are returning in a gradual, controlled manner to on-site campus workplace locations. This policy provides direction and expectations for on-site campus work.
This policy is subject to modification as new regulations, information and guidance become available. The university relies on guidance from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the State of Wisconsin Department of Health Services (DHS), and Public Health Madison & Dane County to prevent the spread of COVID-19, and for purposes of returning employees to the workplace in a gradual and controlled manner.
The university works closely with the aforementioned agencies, as well as relevant campus units, including (but not limited to) the Office of Human Resources (OHR), Environment Health and Safety, University Health Services, the campus Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) Coordinator, Employee Disability Resource Office, the Office of Risk Management, the Office of Legal Affairs, and others to revise, update, and rescind these policies and procedures as public health guidance evolves.
COVID-19 is not specific to an ethnicity or race–disease does not discriminate. Racist behaviors or stereotyping are not tolerated at UW–Madison. Employees who experience harassment or discrimination may file a complaint with the Office of Compliance.
When returning to the workplace, employees are expected to complete the COVID-19 Training for On-Site Workers. This training will provide employees with important information regarding the return to on-site work in a manner which protects the health and safety of co-workers, students, and visitors. Note, as governmental agencies such as the CDC and Public Health Madison & Dane County update their information, tools, and resources, this training may also be updated. Employees may take an initial version of the training and then be informed there are updates of which the employee needs to be aware. Employees currently in the workplace are also expected to complete the required training.
Employees should also be sure to engage with their supervisors or managers, so they are aware of important process and procedural information about returning to their particular work area or unit. If employees have concerns or questions about their return to on-site work, they are encouraged to first discuss these concerns or questions with their supervisor or manager. If the concern is related to a disability or medical condition, or that of a member of the employee’s household, the employee should contact their Divisional Disability Representative (DDR). Divisional human resources offices in the college, school or division and/or campus Workforce Relations in OHR are also resources available to help answer employee questions or concerns.
Employees who are directed to report to the on-site workplace and fail to do so without supervisor approval may be placed on a leave of absence and may be subject to disciplinary action up to, and including, dismissal.
All colleges, schools, and divisions that plan to have one or more employees return to on-site work will be required to maintain specific plans appropriate to those area(s) and function(s) returning to the on-site workplace, consistent with this policy. These plans may be coordinated by the Dean/Director’s office or delegated within the college, school, or division. Plans may include a summary of the functions and how the duties returning to on-site work support the university’s interests in teaching, research and outreach.
The university cares for its students, faculty, staff, and other campus community members. As such, the university is doing its part to mitigate risk and support a safe and healthy campus environment during the challenges presented by the COVID-19 pandemic. In order for the university to be successful in maintaining a safe and healthy campus environment, we expect that all faculty, staff, and campus community members do their part to support these objectives.
Faculty, staff, and other campus community members must periodically review the information provided by the university to remain aware of up-to-date university information on continued preparedness, action, and response to COVID-19. Policies provided by the university rely on recommendations from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the State of Wisconsin Department of Health Services, and Madison and Dane County Public Health. As information changes and is updated by these governmental agencies, there may be changes to this policy, required training, policy support resources and policy tools. Faculty, staff, and other campus community members who come to the on-site workplace and have a reason to utilize university facilities, or engage with our students, faculty, staff, and/or volunteers, will be provided with information necessary to stay up-to-date with the university’s COVID-19 information and resources, understand what the university is doing to help keep the campus healthy and the safety precautions that are in place for COVID-19 prevention, and be knowledgeable about what they can do to directly contribute to a safe and healthy campus during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Employees who can successfully work remotely – in full or in part – should continue to do so, with supervisor approval, taking into account the mission and function of a given unit and other relevant factors. Maintaining reduced density of faculty and staff in the on-site workplace reduces risk of transmission of COVID-19 and protects vulnerable members of the campus community.
Faculty and staff placed in full furlough and/or telecommuting since March 2020, and who will be returning to the on-site workplace under approved college, school, division, or departmental plans, will receive communication from their department or supervisor in advance of the expected return to on-site work. Topics covered in these communications should include information regarding COVID-19 Workplace Safety policies and procedures, health and safety requirements, as well as procedures to address concerns faculty and staff members may have regarding returning to the on-site workplace. Additionally, faculty and staff returning to on-site work will be provided with training regarding how to comply with this policy to support a safe and healthy working environment for themselves and their colleagues.
Reasonable accommodations will be made for employees with disabilities in accordance with applicable laws. Employees are encouraged to contact their DDR to discuss a potential request for accommodation. If an employee with a disability makes a request for an accommodation to reduce their risk of exposure to COVID-19 and/or due to another COVID-19 related issue (e.g. limitations related to wearing a face covering, limitations related to the use of cleaning supplies in their workspace, etc.), the DDR will make an individualized assessment to identify if a reasonable accommodation can be made.
Effective testing and contact tracing are needed to help slow the spread of COVID-19 by identifying positive cases for isolation and treatment.
If an employee develops symptoms while at work, they must leave the workplace and follow their normal absence notification procedures, which typically includes notifying their supervisor or divisional HR they are leaving. Individuals with these symptoms or combinations of symptoms may have COVID-19, and they are strongly encouraged to test immediately and contact their healthcare provider for medical guidance and evaluation. If an employee tests negative for COVID-19, the employee should follow standard illness protocols for returning to work. Example: The employee may return if 24 hours fever-free, 2 days after their last episode of vomiting or diarrhea, when they have been on antibiotics for at least 24 hours, or as approved to work by a doctor.
If an employee who is exhibiting no symptoms of COVID-19 tests positive within 90 days of a previous positive test, the employee may continue to work and does not need to isolate. People who have COVID-19 can test positive for many weeks after they recover and are no longer infectious.
Any changes to these requirements must be reviewed/approved by Environmental & Occupational Health (EOH) and UHS before they are implemented to ensure that appropriate public health practices are followed.
To be clear, faculty, staff, and other community members are not to report to the workplace with any of the above identified symptoms. The university has developed guidance to support supervisors and HR managers who become aware of employees who may be exhibiting one or more symptoms of COVID-19.
All faculty and staff and other community members must stay away from the on-site workplace if they have tested positive for COVID-19, are experiencing symptoms of COVID-19, or have been exposed to COVID-19 (e.g., close contact with an infected person, see definition below).
Employees are strongly encouraged to consult with their personal healthcare provider for medical advice and guidance around care, testing, and quarantine information.
Note that “close contact” is defined as being within 6 feet of an infected person for a prolonged period (cumulative 15 minutes or more) starting from 48 hours before a positive test or illness onset, whichever occurs first.
Contact tracing experts will contact you if their investigation discovers you have been in close contact with a confirmed positive case. The DDR, in consultation with the employee’s supervisor and the local HR department, will determine whether the employee needs to remain out of the workplace as a result of the exposure or contact. Employees may not return to the on-site workplace until they have consulted with their DDR, who will ensure that the criteria established by federal and state agencies to quarantine have been met.
Note: Certain clinical operations may have modified procedures related to exposure or close contact to COVID-19 positive individuals or patients.
The best way to prevent illness is to avoid being exposed to the virus. Increasing the physical distance between individuals reduces the risk of airborne transmission of COVID-19, which is considered to be the primary route of exposure. Physical distancing between individuals should be maintained both indoors and outdoors while on campus, in combination with wearing face coverings.
Colleges, schools, and divisions with employees approved to return to the workplace will be required to follow these guidelines:
Frequent handwashing and sanitizing are simple but effective ways to reduce the risk of viral transmission. Each unit with people working on-site will be required to do the following:
All faculty, staff, and employees are required to wear either a reusable cloth face covering or a single-use disposable face covering on/in UW−Madison lands and buildings in the following contexts: (1) in all indoor public spaces except when alone in a private, unshared office or lab; (2) while riding a campus bus or when two or more people are present in a university vehicle; and (3) outside when not able to physically distance or when traveling in a group of two or more individuals. Additional information about face coverings is available in the Campus Guidance on the Use of Face Coverings.
Per the campus Public Health Protocols, the requirements for the use of PPE to mitigate identified job-specific hazards will not change. Campus units are experienced in these areas and must continue to ensure that employees are using the correct PPE for their jobs in addition to PPE used to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
Reusable cloth face coverings and single-use disposable face coverings differ from personal protective equipment (PPE) such as N-95 respirators and surgical masks. The university will continue to provide PPE to employees who may face potential exposure to COVID-19 or other hazardous substances related to their work. These types of PPE will be reserved for this purpose and they will not be used in lieu of face coverings. Information about PPE procurement is available at covidresponse.wisc.edu/content/uploads/2020/07/PPE_Procurement.pdf.
Each campus unit is responsible for the regular cleaning and disinfection of its work areas, tools, and equipment.
Please note that certain cleaning supplies, particularly hand sanitizer and cleaning wipes, may be in short supply. Units are encouraged to establish internal controls as needed to ensure supplies remain adequate. Free cleaning supplies from campus inventories can be obtained by completing an online request.
If faculty, staff, and/or volunteers have allergies or chemical sensitivities to cleaning supplies and/or the use of cleaning supplies in their work area, they should consult their Divisional Disability Representative (DDR).
All faculty, staff, and other community members who are approved to return to on-site work are required to follow the workplace safety procedures outlined in this policy and the UW–Madison Reopening Public Health Protocols, in addition to any procedures or expectations from their college, school, or division leadership. In situations where UW–Madison employees are working in facilities owned or controlled by another entity, these policies continue to apply to UW–Madison employees. UW–Madison employees working in facilities controlled by other non-UW entities may be subject to additional workplace expectations. In the event that there is conflict between these policies and the expectations of another employer or facility, the employee should consult with their UW–Madison supervisor or human resources representative immediately.
Employees returning to the on-site workplace, or in the case of personnel already performing on-site work, continue to be in the on-site workplace, are expected to successfully complete the COVID-19 Training for On-Site Workers and comply with these policies and procedures.
1In monitored buildings, visitors (neither employees nor students) with clearly identified uniforms who have business on campus—such as US Postal Service employees, FedEx employees, vendors and contractors, as well as law enforcement and emergency responders—will be able to enter without using the Badger Badge. These uniformed visitors can be given access permissions for the building via an alternate entry point if the facility manager or unit head, or other person designated by the unit head, ensures they are wearing a face covering and properly physically distancing. Invited visitors without uniforms who have business on campus must be escorted into the building by an already verified building occupant. The person hosting the visitor is responsible for ensuring the visitor follows all campus health protocols, including wearing a face covering and physically distancing.
University employees who violate this policy and/or associated policies, protocols, or procedures may be subject to disciplinary action, up to and including termination of employment, in accordance with the relevant policies and procedures applicable to their employee category.
ADA Accommodations Guidelines (coming soon)
COVID-19 Symptoms in the Workplace (coming soon)
Other Campus Community Members: Includes Emerita, zero-dollar appointees, lecturers, volunteers, contractors, service providers and other members of the campus community who perform services in the on-site workplace on behalf of the university.
Close Contact: Defined as being within 6 feet of an infected person for a prolonged period (cumulative 15 minutes or more) starting from 48 hours before illness onset.
All faculty, staff, and campus community members to whom this policy applies are responsible for becoming familiar with and following this policy.
University supervisors are responsible for promoting the understanding of this policy and for taking appropriate steps to help ensure compliance with it.
Employees are expected to:
Supervisors are expected to:
Supervisors are expected NOT to:
The Office of Human Resources (OHR) Responsibilities: