SUNY Poly Essential and Non-Essential Employee Guidance Related to COVID-19

SUNY Poly Essential and Non-Essential Employee Guidance Related to COVID-19

Wednesday, March 18, 2020 - 16:54
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March 18, 2020

Dear SUNY Poly State and RF Employees,

As our institution continues to enact its plans and adapt to the latest guidance addressing the impact of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19), we wanted to provide clarifying updates for non-essential employees. Please find this information below. We appreciate your patience as we navigate new considerations each day and aim to keep you up-to-date.

Nonessential Employees

Per order of New York State Governor Andrew M. Cuomo, all non-essential state employees are now directed to work from home, effective Tuesday, March 17. Therefore, all nonessential SUNY Poly and RF employees are directed to prepare a work plan to submit to their supervisors by close of business Wednesday, March 18, detailing their work hours and availability by phone, email and other messaging, for how they will continue their work from home. A weekly report of work or some other reasonable documentation of work product as determined by the supervisor is to be provided as well. Non-essential employees may be deemed essential at any time by management, and with campus operations still open, non-essential personnel may be essential to provide for continuity of coverage to critical student and operational areas. 

To assist with working remotely, please fill out this telecommuting form ASAP and please send it to your supervisor. Please also see the following link to an Implementation Bulletin. Any approved temporary request is subject to revision, suspension, or revocation based on future guidance by SUNY or the Governor’s Office of Employee Relations (GOER).  

For non-essential employees working from an alternative location, the following considerations apply:

  1. The temporary alternate work location is COVID-19-related (e.g., child care due to school/daycare closing, elder care support, additional underlying health risks of the employee or member of their immediate household, etc.). 
  2. Employees must charge appropriate accruals for situations unrelated to the COVID-19 outbreak such as illness or vacation.
  3. The supervisor’s confidence that the person’s alternate work location is adequately conducive to completion of full core duties.
  4. Work duties will be performed during the employee’s normal work day.
  5. The employee will be available for work-related discussion online or by phone during all working hours.
  6. In person meetings at the alternate work location are prohibited.  
  7. Phone and web meetings are permissible.
  8. If there is an issue at the alternate work site that prohibits an employee from working, the employee may be directed to work at the official work location (campus).
  9. If an employee needs training to work remotely, the employee will notify the supervisor and identify the training needs.
  10. Employees will safeguard passwords.

Supervisors must communicate that the following responsibilities apply: 

  1. A specific work schedule, including work days and hours, will be agreed upon in advance and notated on the form. Records of work activities will be maintained. There must be a work product to show that the employee was indeed working and supervisors are responsible for ensuring an adequate work product.
  2. Employees must have direct communication with the immediate supervisor daily or as directed by the supervisor giving an update on work accomplished. 
  3. Employees who are unable to work due to illness will charge sick leave and will report their absence to their supervisor. Normal departmental procedures apply. 
  4. Employees who wish to be relieved of responsibility for work on a particular day or days will use vacation and/or personal leave (if applicable). Normal departmental procedures apply. 
  5. If necessary for performing their assigned tasks, employees may reasonably be expected to provide their own equipment, as well as internet and phone service.
  6. Internet and other costs associated with working remotely will not be reimbursed.
  7. Employees will be responsible for the safety and security of all SUNY Poly property.
  8. Supervisors will be responsible for ensuring that all tasks, job responsibilities, and processes are completed in a timely manner, and that all deadlines are met.
  9. SUNY Poly employees will be responsible for maintaining proprietary and confidential information (ideally using VPN for data transmittal) and for abiding by SUNY, government, and federal policies and guidelines, including those of our accrediting agencies.

Essential Employees

Essential employees are to discuss with their supervisor their individual status and the need to report to work on–site. The supervisor, per the essential employee policy, will determine what level of staffing is needed in any department or operational unit. Supervisors should make efforts to reduce the essential workforce to an as needed basis dependent on operational needs. For any employee who is essential and working from home, the same above guidelines apply. Remember, management determines who is essential as needs dictate. Any approved temporary request is subject to revision, suspension, or revocation based on future guidance by SUNY or GOER.  

Student Employees

For our Graduate Assistants and Research Project Assistants, check with your advisor regarding working remotely with the same considerations as noted above for employees. Student Assistants working on campus will be on a case-by-case basis; please consult with your supervisor if you have essential functions. In the meantime, students are strongly advised to return home, except in special cases. 

Appeal Process

Per the Implementation Bulletin, an employee who disagrees with being asked to telecommute or who has had their telecommuting application denied, may appeal in writing within 24 hours of the action to the Vice President of Human Resources. The appeal shall state the reasons for the disagreement with management’s determination. A written decision on the appeal will be provided within seven (7) days, unless special circumstances arise, which require additional time. Denials of applications related to telecommuting are not grievable.

Personal Travel

Any employee traveling for personal reasons is also asked to notify your supervisor and before travel and/or returning to work. Out of an abundance of caution and for the safety and wellbeing of our faculty, staff and students, we will assess personal travel on a case by case basis. Employees should notate in the subject line Personal Travel.

Updating Contact Information and Direct Deposit

Employees should also consider updating their contact information, especially their mailing address, and signing up to receive their paychecks via direct deposit in SUNY self-service. This may be helpful for those employees working from an alternate location. Also, effective immediately, all live checks will be mailed by the Office of the State Comptroller to the mailing address on file. Directions to establish direct deposit are located here:

Should you have any questions, please contact the University’s Office of Human Resources Management at We ask that you continue to monitor SUNY Poly’s COVID-19 webpage, as well as your SUNY Poly email for regular updates. Thank you for your attention to these matters. 

We know that this is a challenging time for all of us, but we appreciate your patience and flexibility so that we can continue to do our part to keep our community healthy. 


Rhonda Haines
Vice President of Human Resources
SUNY Polytechnic Institute