COVID-19 sick leave continues, flexibility offered to immunocompromised

Employees will have up to two extra weeks of sick leave to use over the next year for absences related to COVID-19, and faculty and staff who have specific conditions that lower immunity levels may have an option to work remotely during the fall semester, under two new programs university human resources (UHR) announced late last week.  

Separate sick time for COVID-19

As they did during a nine-month period in 2020 and again from Jan. 1 until June 30, ISU employees will have access to 80 hours of paid sick leave for COVID-19 absences, a temporary bank of time available throughout the fiscal year ending June 30, 2022, vice president for UHR Kristi Darr announced in an Aug. 20 message to faculty and staff. The sick leave bank will be prorated for part-time employees. Students, temporary and seasonal employees will have up to 20 hours. 

The state Board of Regents approved the additional bank of sick leave, which is available as an absence option in Workday as "BOR COVID-19 Sick Time Off Plan." The time off can be used by employees diagnosed with COVID-19 or quarantining due to exposure, as directed by a health care provider. Employees also can access COVID-19 leave if they are caring for an immediate family member with COVID-19 or a child whose school or child care provider has closed due to COVID-19.

Documentation may be required to support using the COVID-19 time off plan. 

Options for immunocompromised

Faculty and staff who have a compromised immune system due to a specific set of medical conditions may be allowed to modify their job responsibilities to work remotely, under an option approved by the state Board of Regents, Darr said in the memo. This includes instructors, who would be allowed to change their course modality from in-person to online. The option also may be available to faculty and staff who live with an immunocompromised person.

Qualifying as immunocompromised under this provision in place for the fall 2021 semester will require meeting the same standards as those the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention established for being currently eligible for a third booster shot of the Pfizer or Moderna COVID-19 vaccines: 

  • Receiving active cancer treatment for tumors or cancers of the blood
  • Received an organ transplant and are taking medicine to suppress the immune system
  • Received a stem cell transplant within the last two years or are taking medicine to suppress the immune system
  • Moderate or severe primary immunodeficiency (such as DiGeorge syndrome or Wiskott-Aldrich syndrome)
  • Advanced or untreated HIV infection
  • Active treatment with high-dose corticosteroids or other drugs that may suppress immune response

Individuals who seek a workplace modification due to concerns about reduced immune response will need to provide medical documentation to UHR and receive approval from the appropriate senior leader in their college or division.

Immunocompromised faculty and staff also may be eligible for accommodations under the Americans with Disabilities Act, paid time off from the COVID-19 sick leave plan and usual time off accruals, or leave through the Family Medical Leave Act. Contact UHR with any questions by email at