From: Staff Return to the Workplace Committee
Date: Friday, July 9, 2021
Please see below for the latest updates to our frequently asked questions. Is there a question missing from here that you would like answered? E-mail RTW@law.berkeley.edu with any questions or suggestions.
What is the timeline for returning to work and submitting our schedules?
July 30 is the deadline for turning in department staffing plans to Law HR (Khatera Ahrary). Though the majority of the University of California has designated an earlier return date, the default return to work date for Law School staff members will be August 16th because that is when we are requiring students to be in the building. Staff may choose to return to the workplace earlier, but departments should view the summer as a transitional time to prepare for the shift. Telecommuting agreements will be required for staff members who will not be working on campus five days per week, although the format is still pending for represented employees
What’s going to happen at the end of fall semester?
The fall is the chance for us to try out the 3/2 schedule, and we will be evaluating the successes and challenges encountered after the semester is over. The Return to Workplace Committee will be conducting an intermediate evaluation of this work structure in October.
I’m confused about extraordinary circumstances, and how they are different from accommodations. Does it have to be an extraordinary circumstance to implement a flexible schedule?
The presumptive baseline is scheduling three days per week on-campus, with the opportunity of two days’ workplace flexibility. This is not intended to limit managers’ historic discretion with flexible scheduling. Likewise, it should be treated separately from the campus processes for medical accommodations. Extraordinary circumstances apply only to requests for changes to the baseline 3/2 schedule for reasons other than campus-mediated accommodations.
The flexibility options mentioned relate to different ways to think about work scheduling within the 3/2 schedule policy. Some examples that may be helpful:
- As has always been the case, there are times when staff arrange to work from home to maximize effectiveness on specific projects or seasonal commitments as long as it is possible to do so without affecting the level of service provided to students. Some examples may be admissions application review season, or other precise projects. These would be eligible for extraordinary circumstances approval.
- If a staff member’s role is essential to the in-person functioning of the law school, that would be an extraordinary circumstance requiring greater in-building presence. Possible examples of such roles may be building maintenance or departments that require more on-campus staffing in their space.
- If space constraints prevent full departmental on-campus work, that would be an extraordinary circumstance. An example is a center with more staff than available space providing rotating/hoteling workstations.
When can we hold events again?
The Law School is taking a phased approach to resuming events with 200 or fewer attendees. Per campus policy, events with more than 200 attendees must remain online until further notice.
- Now: Events open only to staff, students, and faculty are permitted.
- August 16 – September 6: During this time, student organizations and journals can reserve rooms and meet. Also, academic-related events and meetings can occur. For example, meetings of the Academic Skills Program, SLPS, and competitions will be allowed. Outside speakers will not be permitted during this time (though those working directly with students, such as SLPS advisors and competitions coaches will be allowed to do so in the building.)
- September 7 – October 3: The building will open to everyone during regular business hours. In addition to the meetings described above, student-facing events will be allowed. For example, centers may do programs for students. Outside speakers are permitted for this purpose. But conferences or meetings where Berkeley law students or faculty are not the primary audience will not yet be permitted within the Law School.
- October 4 – end of the semester: We plan to resume regular events, consistent with public health directives as well as the availability of space and staffing.
Our room reservation system is not yet open for the Fall semester. We expect it to be open for conditional reservations towards the end of July.
Please be aware that the public health and safety rules related to food service, space use, or who is permitted to be on campus or in the building can change quickly. The Law School does not control these rules and must comply with campus requirements. Campus advises that if you are planning an event that involves high financial risk — such as contracting for food service, hotel rooms, purchasing plane tickets — that you wait to schedule events until there is more clarity about regulatory requirements and new social norms related to the next phase of our response to the pandemic.
When will Cafe Zeb reopen?
Cafe Zeb is planning to reopen on August 16th.
How is Parking and Transportation handling the return to the workplace?
The campus Parking & Transportation office has announced the following updates to their policies:
Parking & Transportation has transitioned most employee and student parking permits to a virtual format associated with vehicle license plates, which are paperless and stickerless. You can purchase a variety of parking permits (daily, monthly, and annual permits) through your My P&T Online parking account or use the PayByPhone mobile app to purchase hourly parking and daily parking (at employee and student rates).
Parking & Transportation also offers to eligible employees payroll deduction programs for parking and transit benefits, allowing you to save money on your commuting expenses through pre-tax payroll deductions. Parking deductions can be used to purchase annual and daily permits, PayByPhone and BART parking, and more. Transit deductions can be used to purchase Clipper Card fares to ride AC Transit, BART, and most Bay Area transit agencies, in addition to Amtrak and other transit providers. (Monthly transit orders of $30.00 or more receive a $10.00 monthly incentive subsidy.)
Studies have shown that masks and ventilation on transit vehicles and at stations have slowed transmission of the virus. Additionally, the Bay Area transit agencies (such as AC Transit, BART, MUNI and many more) have developed health and safety measures to protect riders through thorough cleaning and sanitizing at high touch points, improved ventilation using high quality filters, and real-time passenger information to see how crowded vehicles are. Read more about what local transit agencies are doing to protect riders throughout the entire Bay Area as the state continues to reopen.
From: Staff Return to the Workplace Committee
Date: Thursday, June 24, 2021
We have made an effort to answer frequently asked questions below. If you have any questions or concerns that are not addressed here, please contact RTW@law.berkeley.edu. If you’d like to see a breakdown of the staff survey results, please click here: Results from Staff Survey for Returning to the Workplace.
How is the Law School defining “equity” in the return-to-workplace process?
The Return to Workplace Committee has used the following definition: “Equity in the workplace requires equal access to opportunities, and equal support to perform job functions.” This will not necessarily entail identical workplace flexibility for every staff member, or even every member of a single unit, but it does require that a similar baseline be referenced in making workplace flexibility decisions.
I am a represented employee – which of these policies relate to me?
The University of California is still in negotiations with union representatives, and supervisors are not able to enter into formal flexible work agreements with represented staff members until those negotiations are resolved. We recommend that you stay in touch with your union representative for updates, and we will update this page as additional guidance becomes available.
How is the Law School taking into account the disproportionate impact of the pandemic on BIPOC staff members?
Managers are being encouraged to take a people-centric approach in developing unit schedules, with particular reference to guidance from the University Office of Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Belonging.
What is an “extraordinary circumstance” meriting a different work structure than the baseline recommendation of three days on-campus per week?
Berkeley Law is an institution dedicated to delivering excellent in-person education, which at the present time requires that the majority of staff roles be performed on-campus at least three days per week. We understand, though, that a minority of staff roles at the Law School will require a greater or lesser presence in the building to perform their job functions effectively. These are the roles covered by ‘extraordinary circumstances.’ So if a staff member and their supervisor agree that their productivity or effectiveness is enhanced by remote work, that would be an extraordinary circumstance requiring greater workplace flexibility. Likewise, if a staff member’s role is essential to the in-person functioning of the law school, that would be an extraordinary circumstance requiring greater in-building presence than the baseline recommendation. Managers should submit requests to accommodate extraordinary circumstances along with their return-to-workplace plan.
Extraordinary circumstances meriting greater workplace flexibility should not be conflated with medical accommodations or other pre-existing University accommodation processes.
What if I require medical accommodations, whether for myself or a member of my household?
Staff members who have been instructed to return to work on-site and have concerns about doing so due to a medical condition that places them in a higher risk group, those who are pregnant, or those who wish to seek ADA Reasonable Accommodations related to Returning to the Workplace should first consult with their supervisor. Other resources for the reasonable accommodation process include People & Culture for staff and faculty/staff disability management.
If a staff member is experiencing anxiety that interferes with their ability to perform their job on the schedule approved by their manager, they are encouraged to explore whether medical accommodations would be appropriate.
The Employee Assistance Program can also be a good resource: https://uhs.berkeley.edu/bewellatwork/employee-assistance
Are there flexible work arrangements that are possible aside from just two days a week working remotely?
Yes; we understand that taking full days of workplace flexibility may not be the most helpful accommodation for every staff member. Staff members should discuss particular needs with their managers and are encouraged to come up with creative solutions where they can be accommodated with operational needs, which can be submitted as a part of the unit’s return-to-workplace plan.
What if my childcare (or other dependent care) cannot begin before my designated return-to-workplace date?
Managers are encouraged to work with staff members to provide necessary flexibility. This should be treated using the guidelines outlined above.
Will there be accommodations for staff members who have moved away from the Law School and have an expensive and/or unduly time-consuming commute?
Managers may take into consideration (where possible given the operational needs of the Law School) commute issues when determining start and end times. Greater flexibility can and should be handled as an extraordinary circumstance as outlined above.
Does the building have adequate ventilation and safety measures in place?
Building safety is governed by Cal/OSHA guidelines, and is implemented by the central campus.
Can I bring in my own PPE equipment such as HEPA filter/air purifiers?
The Law School has purchased limited PPE items for use by staff throughout the building. Please reach out to email@example.com with any particular requests before purchasing things for yourself or your unit.
Will masks be required in the Law Building?
We are requiring masks in the Law Building at this time.
What if I do not wish to be vaccinated?
The University of California Office of the President is moving forward with a policy that will require COVID-19 vaccinations for students, faculty, and staff absent approved accommodations for medical circumstances or sincere religious belief. If the proposed policy is adopted as drafted, faculty, academic appointees and staff who choose not to be immunized and who do not receive an approved medical exemption or religious belief exception may be limited in accessing UC facilities. More information is available here.
How will I know whether people in the Law Building are vaccinated?
You will not know, and no one is allowed to ask another person. There are privacy issues at play and we all must be mindful of that. However, the University of California Office of the President is moving forward with a policy that will require COVID-19 vaccinations for students, faculty, and staff absent approved accommodations for medical circumstances or religious belief. If you are vaccinated and do not have a particular health concern, then current public health guidelines do not require restrictions on contact with unvaccinated individuals.
Will the Law Building be open to the public?
The Law Building and the rest of campus will open up to the public on September 7.