COVID-19 UPDATE

Photo by qimono
Photo by qimono

Dear MOSES represented employee,

On Tuesday, Governor Baker declared a "State of Emergency" in Massachusetts due to the extraordinary circumstances of the corona virus. He urged employees feeling sick with fever or flu-like symptoms not to come to work and encouraged high risk employees to talk with their supervisor to pursue alternative work assignments. He suggested employers and other large organizations to follow the state's example to limit or eliminate non-essential travel.

Instead of following the example that they suggested on Tuesday, the Baker administration has fallen behind the private sector. The private sector responded by sending sick and at-risk employees' home with paid leave, allowed large numbers of workers to work from home and relaxed policies for families whose children are home due to school closures.

MOSES has met with the Office of Employee Relations and has strongly recommended the following:

  1. The CDC recommends that employers develop flexible alternatives such as tele-commuting and flexible hours. Many agencies/departments have historically been resistant to such approaches. All agencies need to be mandated to implement telework and/or telecommuting whenever possible. All agencies that need equipment such as VPN should have them made available.

  2. All self-identified employees at high risk (chronically ill/auto-immune) along with all employees defined by the CDC as high risk should be allowed to telework and/or telecommute or be placed on paid administrative leave.

  3. Any whole or partial closing of any work location driven by concerns about the virus should be treated in the same manner that the state treats other kinds of emergencies such as snow or floods. Employees who are sent home or told not to report should receive their normal pay without any charge to leave time.

  4. Employees unable to fill out or submit their timecard will be presumed incapacitated by the illness and paid administrative leave until they can be contacted by their supervisor or manager.

  5. Provide MOSES with the agency and location of employees being quarantined. Affected locations should be closed, and all workers should be allowed to telework and/or telecommute or be placed on paid administrative leave.

  6. The CDC recommends that employers have leave policies that enable employees to take care of family members to a greater extent than normal. We ask that the employer waive the current limit for so-called "sick in family'' for the duration of the emergency.

  7. The CDC recommends that employers not require a healthcare provider note to justify an absence. The employer's current practice is in direct contravention of this recommendation. The employer should immediately discontinue this practice.

  8. The CDC recommends that employers implement aggressive cleaning programs. To date, we have seen little evidence that departments and agencies have implemented this recommendation. These cleaning programs should be implemented immediately and in a visible manner.

  9. Employees, who are the caregivers of children affected by school closings, shall be placed on paid administrative leave.

We will continue to advocate for our membership and ask that you contact your supervisors, managers and commissioners if any of the aforementioned items directly affects you.

Joe Dorant, President

Patrick Russell, Vice-President