Manager Memo #4

How we’re helping employees and leaders navigate the environment, support well-being

All of us are coping with the stressors and challenges we face personally and as an institution. We recognize the serious impact the pandemic has on our people. Our goal, as always, is to focus on the well-being of people and help address the stressors put on our health, safety, financial stability, work and family life balance and professional success. 

With this well-being focus in mind, we want to highlight some of the positive steps and actions we’ve taken for our valuable employee community during the past few months. These steps are directly related to the pandemic:

  • Implemented Special Pay for employees to cover scenarios related to COVID-19 (ended June 2020)
  • Maintained benefits for furloughed or reduced work schedule employees
  • Forgave missed health and dental/vision premiums for laid off employees
  • Extended tuition benefit through FY21 for laid off employees
  • For those with base pay cuts, we froze level of coverage for Short Term Medical Disability, Long Term Disability, and ensured Metlife would pay Basic and Optional Life insurance at prior salary; adjusted medical premiums to the lower Tier 1 rate for anyone whose base pay was reduced below the $50,000 Tier 1 cut off. 
  • Increased number of back up child care and elder care days from 15 to 20 days
  • Re-focused our child care center, the Family Learning Center, to help first responders and essential workers based on state and local government regulations. 

Other actions for our employee community include: reassignment of staff and job search support for furloughed and laid off employees, enhanced online learning courses and programming, increased focus on wellness and mental health, including mindfulness, special well-being Zoom sessions, a Coping with COVID hotline and programming formed through partnerships with WashU Psychiatry, Department of Medicine, diversity and inclusion staff and other university areas focused on providing relevant and meaningful support for employees, implemented virtual engagement activities, re-focused the employee newsletter to highlight well-being, created a Care and Connection toolkit, and developed a Leader’s Resource Guideto help leaders navigate challenges.

New Announcement – An update on CY2021 health benefit premiums: The health premiums for CY2021 will not be increased. Premiums will remain flat for CY2021 to help alleviate the financial pressures and constraints. More information will be available in Open Enrollment communications.

All of these efforts are a part of adapting to the challenges and addressing the pressing needs of our employees and the institution. The health, safety and well-being of our community are more important than ever. View the employee well-being hub on the HR website for more resources and support related to health, mental health, wellness, learning and financial well-being. 

More HR Policy, Pay and Operational Updates:

  • VISA update
  • Special Pay
  • City Earnings Tax
  • On-boarding and orientation
  • Policy Updates
  • Workforce Planning and HRMS Data Updates

Refer to details on each of the above topics in the content below. This memo is viewable online, on the COVID-19 Manager Website.

Visa update
OISS has issued two important documents regarding how employees on a Visa status can be considered during workforce planning and or salary reduction strategies. Please review these documents and address questions to Alma Von Gontard.

Special Pay

The special pay policy related to COVID-19 scenarios is no longer available. It ended in June. References to this policy have been removed from the HR website. 

City Earnings Tax

HR, payroll and General Counsel continue to review and discuss options for addressing the city earnings tax situation for employees who normally work in the city, and have now been located for the foreseeable future to work from their homes, outside of the city. This issue crosses a number of scenarios involving employees who live in Illinois, St. Louis County or other counties. We expect to release more information in the near future to clarify tax obligations for both Washington University and employees.

Onboarding and orientation

The on-boarding process has been re-tooled to once again collect required documents in person. Kim Sander, HR coordinator, will be located in Room 350 of the East Building to meet with new employees at the Medical Center campus. Use the entrance directly across from Olin. Kim has been carefully set up to meet the school’s requirements related to health and safety (thanks to our Occupational Health team’s help). Kim’s office is conveniently located near the badging and parking offices, and only minutes from Occupational Health.

We continue our in-person on-boarding services at West Campus for employees joining the Danforth Campus, located in in the HR suite at 7509 Forsyth, Room 155.

Orientation moved online via Learn@Work
All universitywide new employee orientation sessions, including staff, clinical fellow and postdoc orientations, have been moved from live, in-person meetings to remote eLearning via Learn@Work. With orientation courses in Learn@Work, you can immediately enroll employees as needed without waiting for scheduled dates. All newly hired staff must complete the New Employee Orientation module within 15 days of their hire date. 

Policy Updates:
Updated Accommodation policy:

We recently updated the University’s Accommodation Process to include a new process for faculty or staff whose age or health condition falls within one of the CDC High Risk Categories or who have other special circumstances may seek a workplace adjustment. All other requests for accommodation will continue to use the existing form.  For more information with regard to COVID related work modification requests or other reasonable accommodations, please see

New Flexible Work arrangement policy coming soon

We are currently working on a new policy which combines the option to telecommute along with  policies that allow for flexible work schedules to better support the changing needs of our workforce, and help managers address new operational needs.

The new policy simplify the university’s current telecommuting policy. The primary changes are:

  • Local decision-making and approval; simpler process for putting telecommuting arrangements in place;
  • A statement on how the University supports telecommuting where it is reasonable to do so and still meet the needs of the organization.
  • Simplified forms and a guide to successful telecommuting containing tips and a summary of the legal and practical issues that must be addressed for each arrangement.

Current university policies allow for flexible work schedules to be established where needed to better address business needs and employee situations. In particular, it is permissible and encouraged to grant a modified work schedule to employees who are balancing child care responsibilities with work, whether from home or on campus. As long as legal obligations are met regarding recording of time and the payment of overtime, and departmental needs are met, managers have great leeway in thinking about schedule adjustments. This includes setting days of the week to be worked, defining daily start and stop times which may vary, deciding if lunch is to be worked and paid, determining whether daily work hours need to be contiguous during the day (or split into distinct blocks of work time), setting a different shift (evenings vs days), job sharing between employees, etc. We encourage you to consider the challenges your employees may currently face and be open to having this conversation with them. Contact your employee relations consultant or the compensation team under Tom Kraft for guidance.

Look for the new Flexible Work Arrangements Policy the week of July 12.

Workforce planning and other HRMS data updates
The workforce planning code allows us to project and plan ahead for changes to our workforce, such as furloughs or layoffs, without actually implementing them in HRMS. It also tracks who is on campus vs off campus, so that we can view how our population is working. The week of July 20, you will receive a workforce planning code report for your department.

This report will reflect the correct coding for furloughs and layoffs that have been implemented through July and August. You will receive an email with the report and an explanation of next steps to update location information.

To help us with MyDay, please remember how important data integrity is within HRMS. Pay particular attention to: Supervisor ID – all employees, non-employees, including students require a Supervisor ID. This should reflect the current supervisor assigned to each individual.

Room and floor information – make sure this information is accurate, as it will determine mail stop information in MyDay.

In general, make sure all information is spelled, capitalized and entered accurately.

For School of Medicine: Titles will be changing in HRMS on secondary jobs for faculty who hold appointments at the VA and or hold HHMI titles. To prepare for MyDay, these titles will be changed for July 1 to reflect VA Faculty and Howard Hughes Medical Institute respectively. HR will make these changes.