Human Resources answers your frequently asked questions and addresses new policies and guidelines implemented in response to COVID-19.
Here are the commonly asked HR questions in relation to COVID-19.
Revised as of 6/5
REVISED STAFF PTO/VACATION POLICY:
At the start of the COVID-19 pandemic and as our patient volume increased, we implemented a modified PTO policy to ensure that we had adequate staff in place to care for our patients. Given that we now have a lower volume of COVID-19 patients in our health system, we are resuming our standard PTO policy on June 5, 2020.
PTO requires the pre-approval of a manager or supervisor but no longer requires re-approval or re-review 48 hours before the first day of scheduled PTO. Please note, now that we are resuming our standard PTO policy we will not reimburse staff for any personal travel that is cancelled after June 5th.
We encourage staff to reach out to their supervisors and managers now to schedule and enjoy some time away from work.
Also, please note, as a reflection of the past restrictions on PTO, we are making the following changes regarding “carry-over” PTO days:
For non-union employees: Staff will be allowed to “carry-over” up to 10 days (deposited into the PTO overdraft account) which may be used through December 2021, after which time the maximum number of “carry-over” days will be reduced to the standard maximum number of 5.
For union employees: Union employees who, by contract, forfeit vacation time on their 2020 anniversary date (between March 1st-June 30th, 2020) will have until August 31, 2020 to exhaust their prior anniversary year’s vacation time. Union employees who, by contract, forfeit vacation time at the end of a calendar year will have until the end of December 2020 to exhaust their time or the contractual benefit, whichever is better.
Revised as of 7/20/20
REVISED TRAVEL POLICY:
Because of the increase in COVID-19 hot spots across the country and related requirements from New York State, we have adjusted the Mount Sinai Health System travel policy to best ensure the safety of our staff and patients. Please read the new policy carefully, as it contains significant new quarantine requirements for staff returning from hot spots or international destinations.
Work-related international and domestic travel is permissible only for essential purposes (e.g., annual conferences are unlikely to be essential). In these very limited and specific circumstances, the Department Chair or supervisor must approve.
If travel is approved to a location that has a state or federally required quarantine upon return, that travel must also be approved by Vicki R. LoPachin, MD, Mount Sinai Health System Chief Medical Officer, who will work with an appropriate committee of hospital and school leadership to review the request based on safety and need.
If travel is international or to a restricted location on the New York State travel advisory list, staff are expected to quarantine upon return and self-monitor for COVID-19 symptoms for 14 days. While there are some rare exceptions for essential workers, all staff should expect to quarantine.
Staff whose job allows them to work remotely, and who have the approval of their supervisor, will be able to do so during their quarantine.
Those who cannot work remotely will be allotted time off and will not have to use PTO or other leave time for quarantine.
All personal international and domestic travel outside New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and Connecticut requires notification of a manager/supervisor.
In the short term, managers/supervisors are expected to track and keep a record of all staff who are traveling internationally or to a restricted location on the New York State travel advisory list. A Mount Sinai travel registry is being established to collect this information in the future.
If travel is international or to a restricted location on the New York State travel advisory list, staff are expected to quarantine upon return and self-monitor for COVID-19 symptoms for 14 days.
PTO or other leave time will be charged for these days; if leave time is unavailable, the leave will be unpaid.
Staff whose job allows them to work remotely will be able to do so during their quarantine and will not be charged for PTO or other leave time.
While there are some rare exceptions for essential workers, all staff should expect to quarantine.
Exceptions will be approved by Dr. LoPachin, who will work with an appropriate committee of hospital and school leadership to review the request based on safety and need.
Staff who are granted an exception will need to test negative for SARS-CoV-2 by nasal swab (PCR) before returning to work.
In general, staff should make themselves aware of all possible delays or issues before taking any trip and plan accordingly. To help, a resource document can be found here.
Individuals returning to New York are expected to comply with all state travel guidelines, including completing the traveler health form if they are returning from a hot spot or international destination.
For U.S. visa holders who plan to travel internationally, please check with your immigration specialist in International Personnel for updates on any international travel restrictions prior to departing the United States, to ensure that your re-entry to the United States will not be hindered.
If you have any questions, please see below or speak with your supervisor or manager.
TRAVEL POLICY FAQs
Was a travel advisory issued for NYS?
Yes. Effective 12:01am on Thursday, June 25, 2020, Governor Cuomo issued Executive Order 205 that requires individuals to quarantine for 14 days after traveling for 24 hours or longer within designated states that have significant rates of transmission of COVID-19. Guidance was also issued by the New York State Department of Health.
When do I need to quarantine?
All staff are required to quarantine for 14 days at home upon return from a trip to a “hot spot” (as defined by New York State) or from an international trip. For updated information, check the New York State COVID-19 Travel Advisory webpage. This is applicable for work and personal travel.
What should I do before I travel?
Research state and country-specific entry and exit requirements, such as mandatory 14-day quarantine upon arrival, COVID-19 testing requirements, and health screenings at airports and other transit points. You also need to be prepared to quarantine on return if you travel to a “hot spot.”
What if I am currently on a trip and the state I am visiting is declared a “hot spot”?
You will need to assume a quarantine upon your return. Some staff may be able to work from home while they quarantine; others may need to take additional time off.
Staff who are currently on a trip to a hot spot or international location as of Saturday, July 18—or those who are traveling in a location that is declared a hot spot while they are there—will not be charged to their leave balance for their 14-day quarantine period upon their return.
What if I stop in a restricted state for a short period of time?
The requirements of the travel advisory do not apply to any individual passing through designated states for a limited duration (i.e., less than 24 hours) during the course of travel. Examples include stopping at rest stops for vehicles, buses, and/or trains, and layovers for air, bus, or train travel.
Am I eligible for paid leave for the duration of the quarantine?
No. If you voluntarily chose to travel for personal reasons to a restricted state or internationally, you will have to quarantine for 14 days using your PTO or other leave time.
Does my manager or supervisor need to approve my personal travel?
No approval is required for personal travel. However, staff are required to let their managers or supervisors know before they travel.
Do I still need a negative test to report back to work after my quarantine?
No, if you have completed the 14-day quarantine upon return, you do not need a negative test. As always, staff should monitor symptoms on an ongoing basis. Staff who are granted an exception to the quarantine will need to receive a negative nasal swab (PCR) test result before returning to work.
Are there exemptions for essential workers?
Yes, there are some exemptions for essential employees but they are only for unusual situations. Therefore, all employees should expect to quarantine per the updated policy. Exceptions will be approved by Vicki R. LoPachin, MD, Mount Sinai Health System Chief Medical Officer, who will work with an appropriate committee of hospital and school leadership to review the request based on safety and need. Staff who are granted an exception will need to test negative for SARS-CoV-2 by nasal swab (PCR) before returning to work.
We have created a safe environment for our healthcare workers to care for patients with COVID-19. Caring for patients with COVID-19 is safe with recommended PPE and appropriate donning and doffing.
Any employee who has concerns that they may be at higher risk for complications from COVID-19 (e.g. pregnancy, immunosuppression) should discuss the availability of a temporary modified assignment with their manager.
If managers have questions on the appropriate modifications for high-risk staff, they should contact EHS at one of the following numbers:
We are privileged to offer our front line providers housing accommodations in blocks up to 25 nights at various hotels throughout Manhattan.
Hospital Employee GNYHA/OEM Hotel Program Form (for employees who are COVID-Positive or a Patient Under Investigation)
BMCF and Airbnb Open Homes for First Responders
For the month of April, Bone Marrow & Cancer Foundation and Airbnb Open Homes are partnering to help provide free short-term accommodations of up to two weeks for Mount Sinai employees responding to the COVID-19 crisis. Employees can apply via the BMCF First Responder Form and must be confirmed by a hospital administrator. More details can be found on Bone Marrow & Cancer Foundation's website.
Free Housing Accommodations for Mount Sinai Employees - Blueground Apartments
Fully furnished apartments have been donated to Mount Sinai by Blueground, a Corporate Housing provider. These apartments are available for staff use with a minimum stay of 30 days starting from April 15, 2020. Access to this free accommodation is for 2-months ending approximately June 14, 2020.
To access one of the apartments, staff should contact Mara Goeckner, Account Executive via email at email@example.com or mobile phone at 917-259-1224 and provide their name, e-mail address, phone number and a copy of their work identification card. Mara will respond with instructions on how to access the apartment and the rules of occupancy.
The locations indicated on the list of fully furnished apartments are nearby Mount Sinai Beth Israel, Mount Sinai Morningside, and Mount Sinai West.
As of March 23, it is now acceptable for any staff or faculty member who will be wearing scrubs during their time at work to wear appropriate casual clothes to and from work. We aim to relax the dress code guidelines as a means of acknowledging the long hours and difficult work situations of our employees. Clothing considered inappropriate for work should not be worn by staff during any time at work.
NEW Summer Language Program for Teens
Register your teenage child now for this free 10-session beginner Japanese language program that starts June 1. Children in high school, ages 15 and older, will enjoy learning Japanese through the popular and fun cartoon format of anime – attendance at each session is encouraged, but no experience is needed. Offered to Mount Sinai Health System frontline workers by the Japan Society Language Center, this program take place via Zoom on 10 Mondays from 4 to 5:30 pm, starting June 1. Learn more and register now.
If you have questions about this or other resources and services for your children, please reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org.
This digital hub will give you the opportunity to (1) offer child care services to those in need; (2) access child care services if you need help caring for your child(ren) and (3) learn about community-based child care/enrichment opportunities that may be available to you. Employees can log onto Sinai Central, Log in > Click on Employee Self Service > Sinai KIDS.
Imagine Early Learning Center
This daycare center is opening its doors for children ages 3 months to 5 years old. If you are interested in being considered for a spot, please complete the enrollment packet. The commitment will be for one week at a time. They will be accepting on an as-needed basis and priority is based on health system needs. For questions please contact Caryn Tiger or Shema Patel.
NYC Department of Education has opened Regional Enrichment Centers
Open to children whose parents or guardians are in essential fields, including health care and emergency services. Children who are enrolled can attend anytime during open hours 7:30 am to 6 pm, Monday-Friday. You can enroll your children by clicking here.
Calm through Tutoring for Your Children
To help Mount Sinai parents, in partnership with the Mount Sinai Parenting Center, the Child Behavioral Health and Science Center, and a team of trained Goldman Sachs volunteer tutors, Mount Sinai Calm is offering the following services to your school children ages 5 to 17 for one hour per week via Zoom:
Please email email@example.com to learn more.