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Frequently Asked Questions

Expanded Telework

The Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) reflect American University’s current policies and resources regarding the expanded telework environment.

On April 17, President Burwell announced the extension of the expanded telework operating status until further notice. The timetable will be evaluated based on the evolving COVID-19 situation and updates will be provided as needed. The FAQs were originally posted on Monday, March 16. Updates and additions are noted on individual questions.

Hiring Freeze Guidance

Stipends

Continuity Partners

Performance Management / Rewards

Benefits

General Questions


Hiring Freeze Guidance

What actions are covered under the Hiring Freeze?

Updated May 29, 2020

For staff, HR will not post vacancies, process hire, promotion or reclassification actions or approve stipend payments except in extremely limited cases with the approval by the cabinet member responsible for the unit in consultation with HR.

Faculty hiring and stipends are subject to the freeze.

How do I request an exception to the Hiring Freeze?

Added May 8, 2020

To submit an exception to the staff hiring freeze, the HR Representative for your unit must complete the Hiring Freeze Exception Request Form. It will automatically be routed to your department head, cabinet member and HR. Please allow two weeks for a decision.

Are title changes, promotions and reclassifications affected by the hiring freeze even if the change does not include an adjustment to compensation?

Added May 8, 2020

Yes. Promotions, reclassifications and title changes, with or without compensation changes, are part of the hiring freeze. During freezes like the one AU has initiated, there is often a desire to provide title changes and/or promotions to staff that, after the freeze, can drive salary and other equity issues. This can also lead to a lack of standards across the university and perceptions of unfairness among others when they learn their colleagues received title or promotions when those changes are otherwise subject to the freeze. Units seeking to promote staff or reclassify positions, with or without pay implications, should complete the Hiring Freeze Exception Request Form and document the reason for the request.

Do internal job postings require approval during the hiring freeze?

Added May 8, 2020

All new job postings are subject to the hiring freeze, including internal postings. Temporary opportunities that can be filled by a Continuity Partner do not need approval.

Do I need Cabinet approval to hire a staff member whose position is externally funded?

Added May 8, 2020

Only positions that are fully externally funded will be allowed to move forward; partially funded positions will not. If your position is fully-funded externally, work with your departmental HR Representative to complete a Hiring Freeze Exception Request form and indicate the source of funding on the request.

Are Ready Hire staff impacted by the hiring freeze?

Added May 8, 2020

Yes. Ready Hires are included in the hiring freeze. If you have a Ready Hire already in place and would like to extend their assignment, a Hiring Freeze Exception Request Form must be submitted, which will automatically be routed to the cabinet member responsible for your unit for review and approval.

Will an email from the cabinet member be sufficient approval for HR to process the hiring freeze exception?

Added May 8, 2020

No. All exception requests must be submitted via the Hiring Freeze Exception Request form on the myAU portal.

Are there cases when cabinet-level approval is not required?

Added May 8, 2020

No. Cabinet-level approval is required for all exceptions. HR has launched the Hiring Freeze Exception Request Form on the myAU portal to support easier administration of the exception request process. When your HR Representative completes a Hiring Freeze Exception Request Form, it will automatically be routed to your department head, cabinet member and HR. Please allow two weeks for a decision. Decisions will be communicated through the site. A similar tool for faculty actions subjected to the

Can a frozen position be reconsidered and posted later?

Added May 8, 2020

If conditions in your unit change that necessitate the need to revisit a frozen position or action, please use the Hiring Freeze Exception Request Form  and indicate the reason for the reconsideration.

When positions are allowed to be filled with staff eligible for remote work, will units receive all IT tools necessary (laptop and system accesses) to work from home?

Added May 8, 2020

To qualify for an exception to the hiring freeze, sufficient resources must be available to onboard a new employee. Departments will be responsible for ensuring that a computer and system access are arranged. Similarly, if a department takes on a Continuity Partner it will be necessary to determine if the Partner has the tools necessary, and if not, if they can be obtained.

Can a department reassign people within their own department to cover duties of a vacancy? Do departments have to go through the hiring freeze exception process to do that?

Added May 8, 2020

Departments are encouraged to utilize their internal talent who have capacity to fill gaps and ensure staff are fully deployed. Temporarily tasking internal staff to cover duties does not have to go through the hiring freeze exception process.

How will e-actions be processed during the freeze?

Added May 8, 2020

E-actions should be submitted after you receive an approval through the Hiring Freeze Exception Request approval process. To assist with e-action processing, please reference the date of the approval in the comments section of the e-action.

Stipends

What is the approval process for new stipend requests for staff taking on additional duties?

Added May 8, 2020

Stipends for additional duties will mostly not be approved during the hiring freeze. During the hiring freeze, it will be important for departments to seek approval for a stipend prior to assigning work to the staff member and to avoid questions later in the process when payment is sought. We understand this is a change from existing practices and appreciate your support to think ahead and plan for the situations in advance.

How should a department handle the request for a stipend payment for work that has been completed but the stipend was not paid prior to April 17th? 

Added May 8, 2020

Stipend payment requests for work that has already been completed should proceed through the Hiring Freeze Exception Request Form. Please provide backup information that will inform the cabinet member of the circumstances. However, stipends for additional duties will mostly not be approved during the hiring freeze.

Continuity Partners

What is the Continuity Partners initiative?

Added May 4, 2020

Each of us has a key role to play in supporting the university during this critical period as it navigates the COVID-19 expanded telework environment. HR has launched the campus-wide initiative, Continuity Partners, to match units in need of extra support with staff who may be able to offer temporary help. In many cases, units have reassigned staff internally and this practice will continue. Other units who do not have internal staff to reassign but need assistance may identify their position for a Continuity Partner.

How can I request a Continuity Partner for my department?

Added May 4, 2020

If your unit needs temporary help, whether some hours devoted to a project, part-time help for a short period, or full-time help for a time, please complete the Temporary Staffing Request Form. The HR Team will contact you once we receive your form.

Do I use Continuity Partners for temporary assignments for students?

Added May 4, 2020

For students who are currently employed, we will use a similar process, though not the same. Please contact theworkline@american.edu.

Where do I find Continuity Partner opportunities?

Added May 4, 2020

If you are a staff member who is interested in a temporary assignment as a Continuity Partner, check with your supervisor to ensure that taking on a temporary assignment will not interfere with your upcoming work. HR will also contact staff who have been identified by their departments as potential Continuity Partners. Opportunities are posted in the AsuccessfulU internal career portal. Type "temporary" in the keyword field and click "search jobs." All jobs that are indicated as "Temporary-Continuity Partners" reflect current opportunities.

How do I express interest in a Continuity Partner opportunity that I’ve located on the internal career site?

Added May 4, 2020

To express your interest in an opportunity, “apply” for the position. You will be prompted to create a talent profile in AsuccessfulU. You do not need to upload a resume to create a profile. A member of the HR team will contact you regarding next steps.

Performance Management / Rewards

Will there be a merit award this year?

Added May 4, 2020

The annual merit program will be limited to full-time employees making $40,000 per year or less. To receive the 2.5% increase, staff must remain employed at the university through August 22, 2020 for bi-weekly paid staff and September 1, 2020 for monthly paid staff and maintain satisfactory performance as demonstrated in the performance management year-end review this summer. As in prior years, increases for staff who hold positions reliant on external funds may be limited due the availability of funds.

Why is it called merit?

Added May 4, 2020

Even though this is a flat 2.5% increase for those eligible, staff must still meet performance expectations in order to receive the increase, and therefore is still a merit increase.

Why did you select $40,000 as the cut off for the merit increase?

Added May 4, 2020

Among other considerations including budget impact, this is a pay level we have used before for other purposes such as eligibility for the additional university subsidy for health insurance.

Benefits

Will the university allow us to roll over annual leave (vacation) in excess of the limit after June 30, considering we were not able to take leave in the last quarter of the fiscal year?

Added May 4, 2020

We do not have plans to extend the leave carryover deadline beyond those provided in our current policies. This is due to accounting rules and additional liability associated with annual leave carryover. Staff will be able to carry over 15 days of vacation leave on June 30 and are encouraged to take vacation days while on extended telework to decompress and recharge and avoid losing leave.  

Are employees able to increase or decrease their health care and/or dependent care flexible spending accounts (FSA)?

Added May 4, 2020

Faculty and staff may make changes to their flexible spending accounts (FSAs) that are consistent with the reason for the request (e.g., an FSA participant can stop or reduce their dependent care FSA amount if their childcare needs have been reduced).

How do I reduce my retirement deduction?  

Added May 4, 2020

Fidelity provides plan administrative services for the AU 403b Retirement Plan. Go to the Fidelity Net Benefits website and click on the Update button at the bottom of the page. You will need your login credentials to access the site to make changes, such as increasing/decreasing your retirement deduction.

My contract was not renewed. Am I eligible for unemployment?

Added May 4, 2020

You may be eligible for unemployment benefits. Please visit the DC.gov website for more information.

General Questions

Why has American University transitioned to an expanded telework environment?

The university is committed to protecting the health and well-being of our students, faculty, and staff. A key purpose of moving to an expanded telework environment is to enhance social distancing and reduce the potential for transmission or spread of COVID-19, both to and from our community, while continuing to operate and provide necessary services on campus with limitations. 

Who is teleworking?

This article was updated on March 31, 2020

Each department has designated staff into three categories:

  • Category 1: Employees who fall into the higher risk categories identified by the CDC were encouraged to self-identify themselves to HR Employee Relations at employeerelations@american.edu and were able to begin teleworking on Thursday, March 12th.  
  • Category 2: Staff whose presence is required on campus on a full-time or intermittent basis with some teleworking possible.
  • Category 3: All other staff fall into this category and begin teleworking on March 16th until further notice. This includes full-time and part-time staff, and student workers who may be able to perform their work functions from a remote office. Employees in this category are expected to telework until further notice.

Staff may be shifted among categories during the expanded telework period, and will be notified by their managers if shifts are necessary.

Who is eligible for temporary, alternative teleworking opportunities?

Temporary, alternative work opportunities will be available for staff and students who are not required to be physically present on campus but whose work cannot be completed remotely. These opportunities are only available for current staff and students who are unable to work in their normal capacity due to their primary duties not aligning with the expanded telework period. These opportunities will be posted on the AU Portal’s AsuccessfulU Career tab for staff and on the AU Student Career Page for students.

Note: Some staff may need to successfully complete a background check if they will be working in a temporary position where it is required, and they have not completed one to date.    

How can I learn my designation?

Supervisors are expected to communicate each employee’s designation to them. If you have not heard about your designation, please contact your departmental HR Representative or your supervisor to learn of your designation. Each individual who will be teleworking must complete a temporary telework agreement, and please complete it and submit it to your HR Representative.

Can I begin to telework without an approved temporary telework agreement?

Individuals who have been designated for telework (category 3) should begin to telework on Monday, March 16 rather than report to their office on campus. As the HR Representative for your unit process the telework agreements, there may be some delay in processing the telework at the beginning of the week of March 16. If you have been designated for telework (category 3) and have not filled out a temporary telework agreement, please complete it and submit it to your HR Representative.

Will HR provide guidance on work expectations during the extended telework period?

Yes, please discuss the Guidelines for Expanded Telework with your supervisor.  In order to ensure the continuity of university services, it is critical that AU staff and supervisors implement these best practices  during the expanded telework period. Employees who are teleworking are expected to be fully engaged with their duties while working remotely.

How do I record time on my time sheet or leave report if I am teleworking from home?

You are still working, just from an alternate location. Follow the same policies as if you were working in the office. This includes notifying your supervisor if you are ill or wish to request time off.

Will AU pay for my phone, internet, or other bills if I telework?

The university will not pay for your personal phone, internet or other bills associated with teleworking. If you currently do not have the resources necessary to work from home, discuss with your manager alternate tasks and projects that do not include acquiring new technology or equipment to perform your work.

Are there any options to community members who do not have internet access?

If you do not have internet access but are designated for telework, please work with your manager to determine what your options may be. We suggest that you contact your area internet provider to see if they are offering any discounts on internet services to help during this crisis. As an example, certain vendors, (Comcast and others), may be providing support to individuals in their services areas who currently do not have access to internet services. 

Will we be permitted to return to campus to retrieve needed materials, if necessary?

Yes, you may return to campus on a limited basis for the purposes of retrieving materials you may find you need to do your job from the remote location. Remember to bring your AU ID card with you in case you need to swipe into your building and try to limit your trips to campus and time in your building as much as possible, if you are coming to retrieve needed materials.

How will compensation be handled for those staff who are required to work on campus during this period?

Staff will continue to receive their regular hourly salary or monthly salary during this period of expanded telework. Staff paid on an hourly basis will be eligible for overtime for all hours worked over 40 each week.

How do we ensure continuity of operations during the expanded teleworking period?

Please refer to the Expanded Telework Guide for ways to ensure a most productive period for your unit. Supervisors are encouraged to familiarize themselves with their unit’s continuity plan, the teleworking policies, university's communications and the expanded telework FAQs.

How will new hires certify their I-9’s?

Added March 27

I-9 certification has changed temporarily based upon new guidance from the Department of Homeland Security. Effective March 30, 2020 employees/new hires must first contact Chris Rasnick in Employee Relations at crasnick@american.edu to determine how their I-9 will be verified.

  • New hires with a position that require an on-campus presence (e.g., campus police, maintenance technicians) will schedule an in-person appointment to verify the I-9 in person within 3 business days of their start date.
  • New hires with positions that allow for remote work will schedule a videoconference call to verify their I-9 remotely within 3 business days of their start date. Those employees will also be required to submit copies/pictures of their documents by email. When the university resumes a regular on-campus presence, those employees will be required to bring their documents for physical inspection within 3 days.

Please do not to come to the Office of Human Resources if you do not have a scheduled appointment.

Where do I get a temporary telework agreement?

The temporary telework agreement is available as on online form. After the agreement is completed, please route it back to your HR Representative for approval.

I don't have an AU laptop. Am I still expected to telework?

AU’s expectation is that all full-time and part-time staff that are designated for full or partial telework for the expanded telework period will continue to work remotely. Staff should talk with their supervisors about obtaining a laptop from their department. In the alternative, staff may use their personal computer to access university systems and files. Reference OIT's system requirements and policies regarding personal computer use. If neither option is viable, your supervisor may identify assignments on which you can work without technology. You may be asked to assist with other functions. 

Can I use my personal computer to access university systems and files?

Using an AU-issued computer is the best option for teleworking, but you may use your personal computer to connect to the AU network. Your computer needs to meet the system requirements and you must agree to abide by both American University's Computer Use and Copyright Policy, and Information Technology Security Policy.

For more information, reference OIT’s knowledgebase article regarding Requirements for Connecting to AU's Network.

What leave benefits are available to me should I or a family member become ill?

Staff are provided with accrued sick leave to cover absences for their own illness or to care for an ill family member. Full-time staff also have access to a sick leave donation pool in situations in which they do not have enough accrued sick leave to cover their absence. The pool will be available for documented flu or COVID-19 diagnoses.

Full-time staff who have considerable hours built up and would like to help others who may have fewer accumulated sick hours may donate leave to the pool; complete the Leave Share form to donate.

Family Medical Leave provides job protection in cases of continuous or intermittent leave for oneself or to care for a family member.

Short-term disability covers extended periods of leave due to one’s own illness (2 weeks to 6 months in duration). Long-term disability provides salary continuation during periods of disability that extend beyond 6 months.

Part-time staff and student workers are eligible to accrue sick leave benefits for up to 7 days per calendar year if they are enrolled as full-time students and work 25 hours per week or more. 

How do I donate to the leave donation pool?

Added March 20, 2020

Full-time staff and Librarians may donate annual (vacation) and/or sick leave to employees in need (minimum donation is seven hours). The maximum amount that an employee may donate in a calendar year is limited to 70 hours.

To donate annual and/or sick leave, complete the leave donation form, include the amount of annual and/or sick leave you will donate, and email your form to hrpayrollhelp@american.edu. Human Resources will confirm receipt of your request and the amount of annual leave that will be donated.

Check your available annual and sick leave balances on your time sheet or leave report, located on the myAU portal. You may access the Leave Share Policy on the university's policies website.

Am I required to provide HR with a doctor’s note in order to use sick leave benefits?

We will generally not require a doctor’s note from an employee who uses sick leave at this time. You will need to provide a doctor’s note to Employee Relations if you are requesting donated sick leave.

Can I still use my remitted tuition for courses now that they have moved online?

Tuition remission will continue to cover the courses that have been approved for tuition remission benefits.

How is HR handling verification of employment and processing unemployment insurance claim requests during the extended telework period?

Added May 4, 2020

Please refer requests for employment verification and unemployment compensation claims to hrpayrollhelp@american.edu.

How do I learn of the Federal Work Study balance of a student employee on my team?

Added May 4, 2020

HR has worked with OIT to establish email reporting of FWS balances to students, supervisors, and HR Reps. You may also contact Adam Taylor at any time to request a current balance.

Contact HR

Please contact us with your questions and comments.

Contact HR

Report COVID-19 Diagnosis

Faculty or Staff

If you or a family member have been diagnosed with COVID-19, or you are required to work on-site but are experiencing cold or flu symptoms, notify Employee Relations.

Email Employee Relations