COVID-19 Emergency Leave Bank Policy

The purpose of this policy is to provide Amherst College staff with flexibility in navigating severe hardships caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. This policy is intended to comply with all applicable laws, regulations, and guidance, including Internal Revenue Notice 2006-59.

Applicability

This policy applies to exempt and non-exempt regular and casual staff.

Definitions

Emergency Leave Bank – a leave sharing bank that allows staff to contribute leave time and to request use of donated leave time to address severe hardship as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Severe Hardship – a severe hardship can include the following situations, to the extent that they are caused by the COVID-19 pandemic and require the staff member to miss work:

  1. A health condition that prohibits the staff from working;
  2. Childcare responsibilities as a result of limited operation of schools or childcare centers due to the COVID-19 pandemic;
  3. The healthcare needs of a staff’s family member; and
  4. Being required to quarantine (or care for a family member in quarantine) for reasons unrelated to a potential exposure at work
    • Note: The College has a separate policy to address leave time due to the need for quarantine or isolation related to a potential exposure at work.

Contributing to the Leave Bank

Any staff member who has a positive balance of sick and/or vacation leave may elect to contribute leave to the college’s Emergency Leave Bank. Leave may be contributed at any time while this policy remains in effect. Leave may not be contributed for a specific individual; rather, it must be contributed generally to the Emergency Leave Bank.

Staff may donate a maximum of one years’ accrual of either sick or vacation time, as applicable and based on service time. Staff may not donate time that they have not yet accrued, and must keep a combined minimum balance equivalent to two weeks of pay based on their work schedule. Once a staff member has elected to contribute time to the Emergency Leave Bank, they may not recover that time except as set forth in the “Return of Unused Leave” section of this policy.

Procedure to Contribute Leave

To contribute leave, please complete the Emergency Leave Bank Contribution Form.

Eligibility to Receive Leave

To be eligible to receive leave from the Emergency Leave Bank, a staff member must:

  1. Have exhausted all other available leave time options: sick/family medical, sick bank (reserve), vacation, floating holidays, excused time, negative leave balance; and
  2. Need the leave for purposes related to a “severe hardship” to the staff or a family member of the staff that is caused by the COVID-19 pandemic and requires the staff to be absent from work.

Note that a staff member may also be required to pursue other available options (e.g., Short Term Disability; Long Term Disability; or employment accommodations) before being granted Emergency Leave Bank time.

Procedure to Apply for Leave

To request time from the Emergency Leave Bank, please complete the Emergency Leave Bank Request Form.

Staff should inform their supervisors/department chairs of their plans to be absent from work after receiving approval to use Emergency Leave Bank time.

Review of Requests

The Office of Human Resources (OHR) will review each application based on the parameters and eligibility requirements set forth in this policy.  The requests will be reviewed weekly in the order they are received, and will be approved for a maximum of two weeks or up to 80 hours of leave time.  If the request is approved, the OHR will inform the staff in writing of how much Emergency Leave Bank time they will receive, which will be based on the staff’s current work schedule.

The OHR may approve requests for shorter durations than were requested and may require employees to periodically resubmit applications.  A staff member who received approval for Emergency Leave Bank time must wait at least one week before resubmitting their application or submitting a new application.  The OHR retains the discretion to approve or deny applications for any reasonable reason, and to request additional documentation to support an application. The decision of the Office of Human Resources is final and may not be appealed.

Use of Emergency Leave Bank Time

Approved Emergency Leave Bank time may be used only for the purposes for which it was approved. Any balance of time approved but not used will remain part of the Emergency Leave Bank and cannot be cashed-out or otherwise utilized for any other purpose. Staff will receive their regular rate of pay for any days in which they use approved Emergency Leave Bank time, and leave will be granted as used within the period already approved.  In no event may the unused time be used at a later date.

Policy Expiration

This policy will remain in effect until the date of March 31, 2021 or the date on which the federal emergency declaration for Massachusetts is lifted, unless otherwise extended by the College.

Return of Unused Leave

Upon the expiration of this policy, the College will return any leave time remaining in the Emergency Leave Bank to individuals who contributed to the Emergency Leave Bank in an amount proportional to each individual’s contribution. For example: if 10,000 hours are contributed to the Leave Bank and 1,000 hours remain upon the expiration of this policy, an individual who contributed 100 hours to the Leave Bank would receive 10 hours back.