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Coronavirus (COVID-19) Employee Guidance

Last updated: January 3, 2022

As guidelines and legislation regarding COVID-19 protocols change, the UT Health Science Center will continue to follow CDC guidelines and Tennessee state law.  Our regional campuses will follow the procedures of the county or city where they reside and will abide by the policies and procedures of our partner hospitals. In Memphis, clinical rotations will follow the rules and guidelines of our partner institutions.


Preventing the Spread of the Illness and Taking Care of Yourself

As UTHSC re-opens and employees return to campus, it is important for everyone to understand the new rules that must be followed to ensure we are keeping each other as safe as possible and to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Therefore, all employees and students will be REQUIRED to complete COVID-19 training prior to coming back to the UTHSC campus.

You may access your training via Blackboard. After you enter your NetID and password, click on the COVID-19 training under the "My Courses" header at the top right. You will need to watch the training video, and then successfully pass the quiz. If you have any questions regarding the safety protocol required as we come back to campus, please contact Tim Barton, Chief Safety Officer, at or 901.448.7374.

We understand that members of the UTHSC community may be experiencing heightened levels of anxiety during this time. We encourage employees who feel anxious or worried about friends and family because of the coronavirus to contact our Employee Assistance Program (EAP) who is available to help.  Simply call 855.437.3486 or go to

Additional resources include: a) Your State Medical Insurance and COVID-19; b) How to use Telehealth; c) Mail order Pharmacy Benefits and; d) Mental Health And Emotional Well Being (EAP) option are available at the following link: 

What should I do if I encounter someone who is obviously sick?

As of December 1, 2021, masks are not required on the UTHSC campus. However, as new strains of COVID-19 continue to appear, all individuals are strongly encouraged to wear PPE (i.e., masks) at all times while on campus.  All individuals should maintain a safe distance of at least six feet from other people. Employees should be mindful of hygiene protocol and practice good hygiene including washing hands often and thoroughly, with soap and warm water, for at least 20 seconds. Alcohol-based hand sanitizer may be used as a backup. Other infection-control measures include not shaking hands, coughing into elbow, cleaning and disinfecting frequently touched objects and surfaces with a regular household cleaning spray or wipe, and avoiding touching your eyes, nose, and mouth.

All employees should stay home when feeling sick or experiencing any COVID-19-related symptoms. Employees are encouraged to immediately get tested. For testing sites and additional resources, please visit:

What should I do if I am sick or have symptoms?

Anyone with symptoms of COVID-19 disease (fever, headaches, body aches, difficulty breathing, shortness of breath, loss of taste or smell, or gastroenteritis), regardless of vaccination status, should get tested immediately. While waiting for test results, isolate at home.

To find testing available near you:

COVID-19 testing is available at University Health Services (UHS) for faculty, staff, and students who are asymptomatic (no symptoms) and have had no exposure to COVID-19. Testing is available on Mondays and Fridays, 2:00 – 4:00 pm. Appointments are recommended. You can schedule an appointment by visiting your patient portal or calling 901.448.5630. UHS is located on the 9th floor of the 910 Madison Building on the Memphis campus. Spouses, family members, and friends of UTHSC faculty, staff, and students cannot be tested at UHS and should go to a community testing site.

All health plan members have access to the carrier-sponsored medical telehealth programs through BCBST and Cigna. You can talk to a doctor by phone, computer, or tablet from anywhere, at any time. The cost is less than a typical office visit. To register for telehealth, please visit this link for specific instructions:

What should I report to HR related to COVID-19?

Please continue reporting the following situations on the COVID-19 form:

  • You have a positive diagnosis of COVID-19,
  • You have been tested for COVID-19 and awaiting results,
  • You are required to self-isolate or quarantine per University or physician direction, or
  • You live with someone who has a positive diagnosis of COVID-19.

What should a supervisor do if an employee reports a COVID-19 exposure or diagnosis?

Employees must notify HR using the COVID-19 Form. However, if the employee is unable to fill out and submit the form on their own, the supervisor should fill out and submit the form on the employee’s behalf. {Please see the Leave and Pay Procedures tab below.}

For a list of “Dos and Don’ts”, refer to the Supervisor Guidance for COVID-19 Case Management Form.


The UTHSC administration, along with University Health Services, encourages all students, faculty, and staff to receive their COVID-19 vaccine(s) as soon as possible.With eligibility now open to everyone 16 and older, and a solid supply of the vaccine available from several providers in the state, you have options to get vaccinated soon.


  • Visit for a list of public vaccination locations, information about the vaccines, first and second doses, and whether appointments are necessary.
  • Individuals without internet access can call 901.222.7468 (SHOT) or 615.552.1998 from 9:00 am – 6:30 pm, seven days a week.


  • Visit the Hamilton County Health Department website for FAQs and appointment information, a vaccine data dashboard, and to schedule first or second appointments.
  • Appointments: 423.209.5398
  • Bilingual COVID-19 hotline: 423.209.8383


You may also use the VaccineFinder website to locate COVID-19 vaccines available near you.

We understand you may have questions about the COVID-19 vaccine and are unsure about getting vaccinated.

University Health Services has a well-educated staff of primary care providers who are available to answer any questions you might have about the vaccine. Please call University Health Services at 901.448.5630 to speak with one of our primary care providers from 8:00 am – 1:00 pm, Monday through Friday, and 2:00 – 5:00 pm on Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Fridays.

Leave and Pay Procedures

How will I be paid?

Many UTHSC employees can telecommute and will record hours worked just as if they were in the office. 

What should I do if I need to take care of personal obligations during my telecommuting?

When employees need time away from work to attend to other obligations, employees are expected to request sick or annual time from the supervisor. Once approved, the sick or annual leave should be recorded appropriately on the timesheet. During the approved, requested time off, the employee will not be available to the campus for telecommuting activities.

How does FMLA work at this time?

Employees who require family and medical leave (FMLA) during this time should follow the HR0338 Policy and Procedure. Please notify Human Resources ( with a subject line “FMLA Request.” Complete as much of the FML request form as you can and attach it to the email request. More guidance on the Family and Medical Leave Act .

Has FMLA been expanded for Coronavirus and how does that impact me as a UTHSC employee?

FMLA benefits were expanded on April 1, 2020 with the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA or Act). The Department of Labor’s regulations provide an exception to the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) for post-secondary educational institutions, such as UTHSC, that “offer instruction in healthcare, medical school,... laboratory or medical testing... ” consistent with the nation’s response to the COVID-19 global pandemic. Therefore, no entitlements under FFCRA are available to UTHSC employees. For additional information regarding FFCRA, visit the U.S. Department of Labor’s website. Should you have any questions or concerns about this, please contact Human Resources at 901.448.5600 or

The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) was established by The U.S. Department of Labor Wage and Hour Division and was created to protect qualified employees from the loss of employment and benefits while off for their own illness or injury or that of an eligible family member. The FMLA is designed to help qualified employees balance their work and family responsibilities by allowing them to take reasonable leave for up to 12 workweeks and an additional 4 weeks for childbirth and adoption. The FMLA also seeks to accommodate the legitimate interests of the employer.


As of July 1, 2021, University Administrative Leave (UAC) will not be provided for COVID-19 related issues. Employees will have to use annual or sick leave for quarantine/isolation when necessary. 

If no sick or annual leave is available, the employee will be placed on Leave without Pay status.


  • Exposure is defined as close contact with, or living with, a person who is diagnosed with COVID-19.
  • Close contact is defined as being within 6 feet of a COVID-19 positive individual for more than 15 minutes in a 24-hour period, regardless of whether facemasks were worn. In all cases, test results or documentation from a health care provider, is required. 
  • The virus is normally detectable 3-4 days after exposure. Test results from UHS are typically available 24-48 hours from the time of the test.
  • If you are unsure of whether you have been exposed, please fill out the COVID-19 Form.
Essential Employees

What is an essential employee?

An essential employee is an employee in a position in which they are required to work during an adverse event in order to meet immediate and necessary campus or university functions.

How do I know if I have been identified as an essential employee?

Department heads have been instructed to determine essential staff who would be required to work in this type of emergency and to have an internal notification system in place. Ask your supervisor if you have been identified as an essential employee. Essential employees should retain a copy of the essential employee letter on their person in case they are stopped by law enforcement on their way to or from campus.

How will I be paid if I have been identified as an essential employee and am I required to work when the campus is closed during an emergency?

Essential employees are required to work during an emergency and are paid their regular pay. If a non-exempt essential employee works more than 40 hours, overtime will apply.

I have been identified as an essential employee. Can I telecommute?

Depending on the nature of the work, essential employees may have the ability to telecommute. Check with your supervisor for more direction on telecommuting.

Can my supervisor schedule me to work hours or shifts that I normally do not work?

Yes, you may be asked to work more hours or different hours than normal, especially if you have been designated as an essential employee or the university is short staffed due to an outbreak. Supervisors will attempt to provide advance notice if possible.

How do I designate a new essential employee?

Each Dean or Vice Chancellor is responsible for designating employees as essential and will generate a letter under their signature. Human Resources has provided the template to all colleges and units.


Employees who are able to telecommute will work remotely, as deemed appropriate by their supervisor. If telecommuting is not available, employees will need to return to their worksite. Telecommuting arrangements are at the discretion of the vice chancellor, dean, director or department head. The following page contains resources for telecommuting:

In August 2020, Human Resources hosted a COVID-19 Telecommuting Procedure Overview Webinar with Faculty and Staff. This webinar addressed specific questions and concerns related to telecommuting.

The recorded webinar can be viewed at the following link: COVID-19 Telecommuting Webinar.

Policy Manager: in the search box, type "COVID-19 Telecommuting Procedure" to view the Telecommuting Procedure.

COVID-19 Telecommuting Webinar pre-submitted questions

Hiring and Onboarding

What should I do if I planned to conduct an interview now that the campus is closed to visitors?

Hiring managers should use discretion when conducting on-campus interviews. Applying CDC guidelines (i.e., masks, social distancing, etc.) is critical to keep employees and guests safe. Keep in mind that travelers from international destinations in CDC-designated Level 3 or 4 countries are subject to the 14-day, off-campus self-quarantine upon arrival. The CDC designation for any country could change at any time. For safety measures and best practices, virtual interviews are recommended.

What is the process for hiring during this ramp-up phase?

Positions are approved and posted through the normal process. No additional screening through the Office of Finance is required.

Will positions be posted for applicants to review?

Human Resources is contacting all hiring officials to determine the status of currently posted jobs. If jobs are deemed as non-essential, those postings will be canceled or postponed.

Who determines if a position is essential, posted, and filled?

Our campus is moving to mission critical hiring only effective immediately. Hires in process are suspended and referred to this process for authorization to proceed. Any new hire faculty or staff needs to be submitted to the Office of Finance with clear-cut reasoning why this hire is mission critical. The proposals will be considered by a review panel. Only mission critical hires will be authorized to proceed. Effective March 12, 2021 a staff hiring freeze is in place. Therefore, until further notice, requests to hire staff will be considered only for positions deemed mission-critical {i.e., those that must be filled to ensure university safety, compliance, and core mission). All such requests now require justification and additional approval by either the dean or vice chancellor. Prior to submitting a request, hiring managers are asked to confirm with leadership the criticality of filling /extending the position and obtain written pre-approval for the transaction.

Has the I-9 Process changed?

In light of the unique national emergency, DHS is allowing employers to inspect Form I-9, Section 2 documents remotely (e.g., over video link, fax, or email) and to inspect and retain copies (rather than originals) of those documents until normal business operations resume. We will also accept notarized documents.

How will New Employee Orientation be handled during this time period?

In light of COVID-19 and the desire to limit in-person meetings, Human Resources will continue to host New Employee Orientation (NEO), but are moving it to an online Zoom meeting session.

Student and Temporary Employment

As a student employee, how will I be paid?

Federal Work Study students. These students do not need to return to their positions. The Department of Education has authorized that Federal Work Study students may continue to be paid for the remainder of the semester. This will be based on the number of hours the student was scheduled to work each week. For example, if a student’s schedule was Monday, Wednesday and Friday from 2-4 p.m., they will continue to log six hours and be paid at their regular rate of pay. Contact your supervisor so they can work with you on logging in the hours you’ve already worked to ensure you are paid.

General Campus Student Employees (Non-UT and UT Students). Employees who are non-essential to the functioning of UTHSC will continue to be paid, but they do not need to report to their positions for the rest of the semester. This will be based on the number of hours the student was scheduled to work each week. For example, if a student’s schedule was Monday, Wednesday and Friday from 2-4 p.m., they will continue to log six hours and be paid at their regular rate of pay. Contact your supervisor for information.

Temporary Employees. Temporary employees will work remotely as deemed appropriate by their supervisor. Those temporary employees who are unable to work will be paid for hours scheduled to work. A Human Resources employee will contact you to arrange your time entry into ORACLE, supervisors will continue to approve in ORACLE and payment should be processed as normal.



May 26, 2022