The University of Wisconsin released an update regarding employee caregiver resources Oct. 12, addressing concerns of UW employees who are caretakers of people vulnerable to COVID-19, including unvaccinated children and elderly or immunocompromised people.
The statement reiterated the Remote Work Policy — which states remote work arrangements and accommodations will be considered on a case-by-case basis — and suggested employees who do not have disabilities or medical conditions contact the school’s human resources department.
UW’s statement acknowledged it doesn’t accommodate every situation because some remote work is unfeasible.
Director of Communications for the Vice Chancellor’s Office of Finance and Administration Alex Peirce said the statement only provided clarification of existing policies and options already available to employees.
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“Any future changes would go through a policy revision process with participation from stakeholders prior to implementation,” Peirce said. “In some cases, the options can be complex, and understanding the differences between them can be challenging”.
Peirce said UW is working with human resources professionals and supervisors across campus on responses to accommodations requests.
According to the statement, employees with concerns unrelated to their own disability or medical condition or where ADA is not applicable may contact the human resources department to discuss questions and concerns. Other options include job share/split, alternative workweeks, variable hours and reassignment.
Though the pandemic popularized the issue of accommodations, Peirce said most available options to employees with family caregiving challenges existed before the pandemic.
“No hard data currently exist on how many requests are approved, denied or addressed by looking at alternative options,” Peirce said.
In August, the University Committee Provost John Karl Scholz said out of 31 instructors who requested to teach online, about half were denied, according to the Wisconsin State Journal.
In the statement, UW asks employees to be supportive of each other in these very difficult times and said every employee concern will be individually evaluated by supervisors based on duties, work environment and workplace needs.