Carnegie Mellon University

COVID-19 Updates

Information and resources for the CMU community

Scotty with mask and vaccination bandaid
April 06, 2020

Supporting Our Staff Community

Dear Carnegie Mellon Staff and Faculty:

Today, I am writing about several enhancements to our policies in Human Resources that are designed to support university staff during this unprecedented time.

Before I explain these policy changes, I first wish to acknowledge how grateful I am for the many ways the CMU staff community has provided leadership and support to the university during this crisis, including helping in the transition to remote teaching, research and operations, and ensuring the safety of our entire community. As this pandemic continues to upend our daily lives, I recognize many of you are dealing with your own unique challenges and my heart goes out to all those being affected on a personal level by this public health emergency.

To begin, let me reiterate that staff members who can complete 100% of their work remotely should continue to work from home for the health and safety of our entire community and to comply with stay-at-home orders by various governors that have been extended to (at least) April 30. And for those who are reporting to campus to sustain critical operations, thank you for your dedicated service to the Carnegie Mellon community.

For those whose work is not able to be performed remotely or are concerned they do not have enough work that can be performed remotely to fill a full-time schedule, these policies will allow all staff the opportunity to earn their full compensation through May 31, 2020. Accordingly, all of the various policies detailed in this message will be effective through the end of May and will apply to both full-time as well as part-time staff, unless noted otherwise. We will continue to assess this rapidly changing situation as new developments arise. We are also working with leadership at our international locations on policies that are tailored for their staff members.

These temporary changes to policy do not apply to those members of the staff who are represented under a collective bargaining agreement. The university will continue to work directly with bargaining representatives on issues related to the COVID-19 situation.

Alternative Work Marketplace for Remote Assignments

Moving CMU to remote teaching, learning and research has fundamentally changed many of our jobs and the workloads of different parts of the university. In order to make sure all staff members have access to meaningful remote work opportunities and to support parts of CMU that have greater needs than before, we are creating an Alternative Work Marketplace for Remote Assignments for employees whose jobs do not fully lend themselves to remote work. This marketplace will begin with a university-wide survey asking supervisors to identify work that needs to be completed and the skillsets required for the task. In parallel, supervisors will work together with their employees and in conjunction with Human Resources (HR) to identify which individuals on their teams are interested and/or available to support that work. HR will then match employees with appropriate work assignments. For additional information on the program, please visit the HR website. This policy is built on the notion that we are all in this together. It is my hope the marketplace will help all staff to feel empowered and supported in contributing to the mission of the university and the needs of our community at this unique time.

Volunteer Community Service Program and Staff Professional Development

Together with the entire leadership team, I remain committed to the priorities of CMU’s Strategic Plan 2025, which includes a focus on societal impact as well as support for staff professional development. We have a unique opportunity to further realize these commitments at this moment. Especially with the public health and economic impacts of the pandemic, the communities we serve are facing extraordinary need. There are many ways to make a difference and multiple opportunities for virtual volunteering or other service that is mindful of social distancing. Therefore, until the end of May, for staff members who are required to work remotely but are not able to fill a full-time schedule with remote work, the university will recognize up to 10 days of approved community service and volunteering or professional development. These employees should work with their supervisors and in conjunction with HR to identify the arrangements that meet their interests and needs. To learn how to request this time and for an extensive list of available opportunities, visit the HR website.

Additional PTO Options

In addition to the 10 days of additional emergency time off announced last month, CMU is now also allowing all eligible staff members to take up to 10 days beyond their earned PTO, essentially borrowing from future paid time off they will accrue. In other words, under normal circumstances, employees are able to take 5 days beyond their accrued PTO (“unearned” PTO); however, through the end of May we are extending this by an additional 5 days. While this benefit is available to all eligible staff, it has been designed particularly to support our staff who do not have sufficient remote duties to keep them at full-time effort. You can find additional details on this HR webpage.

Optional Reduced Work Schedule

Until the end of May, we recognize there may be some staff who choose to work less or who would prefer not to take advantage of the options above. In those cases, we are also providing the option of a reduced work schedule with reduced pay for up to 2 months. These employees should contact their supervisor to determine the appropriate workload and to discuss their new schedules and any related concerns. For any eligible staff who have specific medical reasons for not being able to work, they still have the benefit of other leave options and should consult with HR as appropriate.

I hope these new opportunities bring peace of mind to you during this difficult time. I encourage you to reach out to your supervisor to determine the best way to take advantage of these policies and programs.

There is no playbook for these extraordinary circumstances, and I wish to thank all those involved in creatively crafting these policies over the last couple of weeks, including Michelle Piekutowski, associate vice president and chief human resources officer, and her team in HR. We have also created these polices with the full endorsement of academic and administrative leaders and I am grateful for their support, as well as for the cooperation of all managers, supervisors and staff.

As I mentioned, this global pandemic has put us in uncharted territory and many of the current and projected impacts of the outbreak are still unfolding. We will continue to monitor these developments and take proactive measures to keep our community safe while also maintaining our commitment to deliver on the mission of the university. We will also keep the lines of communication open as we manage this time of uncertainty.

In closing, thank you all for your continued passion for, and dedication to, Carnegie Mellon, and especially for your hard work and flexibility during the past few weeks. As I have said on multiple occasions, staff are a vital part of this institution who help us to deliver on CMU’s extraordinary potential. I am truly grateful for all of your efforts as we get through these challenges together.

With gratitude,

Farnam Jahanian
Henry L. Hillman Chair