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FAQs: Human Resources

Who will continue to work remotely?

Your supervisor, manager, or unit leader will decide who will work remotely.

If I need an accommodation or have a telework agreement in place, do I have to submit any documentation?

If you are in a high-risk category or living with or caring for someone at risk, you should complete the Reasonable Accommodations, Adjustments, or Modifications Request Form on the HR & Payroll COVID-19 page. 

Medical documentation is not required.

You can submit this form at any time, but the sooner we know about your situation, the sooner we can make a decision.

  • If your entire office is working remotely, you do not have to submit a form. If that remote work status changes, the office should submit the form.
  • Student employees and graduate assistants should complete this form.
  •  Instructional/research faculty are not required to submit telework agreements.
I don’t meet the criteria for an “official” accommodation/ exception, but I’m not comfortable coming to campus. What are my options?

Submit a flexible work agreement to your supervisor for approval.  Requests are evaluated on a case-by-case basis.

I have child care issues. What are my options?

Submit a flexible work agreement to your supervisor for approval.  Requests are evaluated on a case-by-case basis.

If I'm granted an accommodation, how long will it be in effect?

An accommodation is current through the end of fall semester/end of calendar year. We'll post spring guidelines at a later time. Determinations are based on the disability (some disabilities/conditions do not change) and Mason policies. 

What if I’m high risk, but can’t telework?

Complete the Reasonable Accommodations, Adjustments, or Modifications Request form. Your request will be evaluated. There are options that might assist you in returning to work safely. 

I submitted a telework agreement in March; does the end date need to be updated?

If the agreement has an end date that goes beyond the date indicated on the form, a new expiration date should be noted for any individuals who will continue to work remotely. Supervisors/managers should provide HR with a list of all individuals who will continue to telework, including a new expiration date, any change in schedule, etc.

 If you've been asked to return to campus for a day or two a week, you don't need to submit a new telework agreement. Supervisor/managers would include any changes to the schedule originally agreed upon to HR as a part of the department wide list they will provide.

What type of leave should I use?

Human Resources has provided an overview of leave guidelines during this crisis. 

Leave Types Available During COVID-19

Review the COVID-19 Leave Guidance Chart for the type of leave you can use and when you can use it during COVID-19.

Types of leave include:

Public Health Emergency Leave (PHEL)

The Commonwealth of Virginia has granted an exception to the Public Health Emergency Leave (PHEL) policy effective March 26, 2020, to permit up to 160 hours (Pro-rated for <100% benefited part-time employees and non-benefited part-time employees) total of this paid leave. For more information on how to use PHEL, please review the documents below:

Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA)

FFCRA, which took effect on April 1, 2020, and expires on Dec. 31, 2020, provides up to two weeks of Emergency Paid Sick Leave and expanded Family Medical Leave (FML) to faculty, classified and wage employees who have worked at least 30 calendar days prior to their leave request.

For more information about Emergency Paid Sick Leave and Expanded FML, including the eligible circumstances, how to apply, and FAQs, please review the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) Details document.

Can I get some guidance on Public Health Emergency Leave (PHEL)?

Instructional / Research Faculty and Administrative /Professional Faculty and Classified Staff

  • If you can telework, report your time worked in PatriotWeb as usual.
  • If you can telework but not enough to meet your FTE hours, speak with your manager.
  • If you are designated as essential, you are required to work at your normal work location. Report your time worked in PatriotWeb as usual.
  • If you cannot telework, report your normally scheduled hours in PatriotWeb as PHEL up to the maximum number of hours normally worked during a pay period.
  • If you are unable to work because you or an immediate family member is being tested or treated for COVID-19, report your normally scheduled hours in PatriotWeb as PHEL up to the maximum number of hours normally worked during a pay period. You must also apply for VSDP (if eligible) and/or FMLA. Contact the Benefits Team.
  • If you are unable to work due to an illness that is not COVID-19 related, you must apply for VSDP (if eligible) and/or FMLA. Contact the Benefits Team.
  • If you are making alternative child care arrangements because your child’s day care center or school is closed due to COVID-19, you may use PHEL for the hours spent seeking alternative childcare arrangements.  PHEL cannot be used for hours spent caring for your own child.

Adjunct Faculty

  • Continue to work remotely and deliver instruction online.
  • If you are unable to work because you or an immediate family member is being tested or treated for COVID-19, report your normally scheduled hours in PatriotWeb as PHEL up to the maximum number of hours normally worked during a pay period.
  • If you are making alternative childcare arrangements because your child’s day care center or school is closed due to COVID-19, you may use PHEL for the hours spent seeking alternative childcare arrangements.  PHEL cannot be used for hours spent caring for your own child.

Non-Student Wage Employees

  • If you can telework, report your time in PatriotWeb as usual. 
  • If you are designated as essential, you are required to work at your usual work location. Report your time worked in PatriotWeb as usual.
  • If you cannot telework, discuss with your manager the number of hours you should enter for each pay period in PatriotWeb as PHEL.  Please contact Payroll, if you are not sure of your PHEL balance.
  • If you are making alternative child care arrangements because your child’s day care center or school is closed due to COVID-19, you may use PHEL for the hours spent seeking alternative childcare arrangements.  PHEL cannot be used for hours spent caring for your own child.
  • Wage and temporary employees are limited to working 1,450 hours in a 12-month period. The measurement period starts May 1 and ends April 30 of the following year. During the COVID-19 pandemic emergency situation, wage and temporary employees will be allowed to work up to the Commonwealth limit. It is the supervisor’s responsibility to ensure that employees do not exceed this limit. 

Student Employees

Student Wage Employees
  • Non-Federal Work Study Student Employees (paid hourly):
    • If you are can telework with your manager’s approval, report your time worked in PatriotWeb.  
    • If you cannot telework you can use PHEL available up to the maximum number of hours normally scheduled during a pay period. 
    • If you have been given the opportunity to work (or telework) and choose not to work (or telework), you are not eligible for PHEL.
  • Federal Work Study Student Employees
    • If you can work remotely and have your manager’s approval, report your time in PatriotWeb as usual.
    • If you cannot work remotely, you can use PHEL up to the maximum number of hours normally scheduled during a pay period.
    • If you have been given the opportunity to work (or telework) and choose not to work (or telework), you are not eligible for PHEL.
    • Supervisors of students on Federal Work Study should work directly with the Office of Student Financial Aid as there is additional documentation that will need to be filed (contact dkroll@gmu.edu to submit that paperwork.)
Graduate Teaching Assistants (GTA) and Graduate Research Assistants (GRA)

GTAs and GRAs should contact their faculty advisors/supervisors to discuss their work.

  • If you can telework, as determined by your faculty supervisor, you will be paid as usual for the period of your existing commitment as a GTA/
  • If you have been given the opportunity to work (or telework) and choose not to work (or telework), you are not eligible for PHEL.
  • If you cannot telework, you can use PHEL.  Submit the PHEL timesheet to record the number of hours.
Can I Use My 403(b) now?

Under the CARES Act (PDF), Mason 403(b) plan participants financially impacted by COVID-19 can:

  • Take early withdrawals up to $100,000 without the usual 10% early withdrawal penalty and 20% mandatory tax withholding, effective April 1; these distributions are called “CARES Act Distributions”
  • Delay 403(b) loan repayments due between March 27, 2020, and December 31, 2020, for one year
  • Access increased loan amounts

For more detailed information, visit the HR & Payroll website. If you have questions, please email Benefits.

Are HR services still available?

Beginning August 24, the HR & Payroll Customer Service Team will be available in person by appointment on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 9 a.m. to noon.

Schedule an appointment in advance; for now, we will not be open to walk-in traffic. Check the HR website periodically for updates.

The rest of our HR & Payroll team will continue to conduct business virtually.

For onboarding new employees, HR & Payroll will continue to send out guidance via email on how to complete section 2 of the Form I9 remotely. Additionally, we will not be providing in-person New Employee Welcome Center services at this time. Orientation for new hires will remain online through the rest of the calendar year.

If you have general questions, call 703-993-2600 Monday to Friday, 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m, or email Human Resources. You can also visit the HR website.

For information on a specific issue, contact:

Our department has jobs posted. Can we proceed with the interview/hiring process?

A hiring freeze took effect on April 2 for all state-funded classified and wage positions other than those listed in § 4-7.01(e) (public safety and public health).

To ensure that resources are deployed as effectively as possible, we have instituted new hiring processes. 

The Critical Vacancy Review Committee (CVRC) will review most new hires.

  • The committee consists of members of Human Resources and Payroll; Strategic Budget & Planning; Office of the Provost; and the Office of Compliance, Diversity & Ethics. 
  • CVRC review and appropriate senior leader review will be completed within five business days
  • Requests that are subject to the Commonwealth’s hiring freeze will be sent to the Commonwealth Secretary of Education for exception approval. We expect that Commonwealth review will be completed in approximately one business day.
  • Units will be notified by Human Resources and Payroll upon position approval or denial.  

Refer to the Employee Hiring Guide to better understand the process for specific employee categories. For positions requiring submission of a newly created Critical Vacancy Request Form, the workflow has been updated to include the requirement for dean/vice president approval.

  • Instructional Faculty positions are not subject to the Commonwealth’s hiring freeze and are not subject to review by the Critical Vacancy Review Committee (CRVC) yet will be reviewed by the Office of the Provost. Decisions about hiring must be made by determining if a position is essential for instructional and/or research continuity, with a consideration of delaying hiring for all other positions. As part of our efforts to better understand and track additions to our workforce, hiring units must submit a Critical Vacancy Request Form for each position to be filled for tracking purposes only.
  • Research Faculty and Staff, Postdoctoral Fellows and Wage Employee positions supported by sponsored projects or from other non E&G sources (such as GMUF linked funds, Indirect orgs, Pool orgs and funds that are continuously available) are not subject to the Commonwealth’s hiring freeze and are not subject to review by the CRVC. Hiring units must submit a Critical Vacancy Request Form for each position to be filled for tracking purposes only.
  • Administrative/Professional Faculty positions are not subject to the Commonwealth’s hiring freeze but are subject to review by the CRVC. Hiring units must submit a Critical Vacancy Request Form for each position to be filled for review by the CRVC as an internal control measure, in light of the additional financial pressures on the university.
  • Student Wage, Non-Student Wage, and Classified Staff positions supported from E&G sources are subject to the Commonwealth’s hiring freeze and review by the CVRC. Hiring units must submit a Critical Vacancy Request Form to the CRVC, and approved requests will also be sent to the Commonwealth’s Secretary of Education for exception approval.
  • Adjunct FacultySummer FacultyWork Study WageGraduate Teaching Assistants, Graduate Professional Assistants and Graduate Research Assistants positions are not subject to the Commonwealth’s hiring freeze and are not subject to review by the CRVC. Hiring units should follow normal HR hiring procedures, and should not submit Critical Vacancy Request Forms to fill these positions.

A similar review process is being developed for any actions that would result in increased personnel cost including in-band or stipend adjustments, voluntary transfers, and all other adjustments in compensation. We will provide more information about this process shortly. Instructional and Research Faculty will still automatically receive pay increases commensurate with promotion and tenure.

What if we've made an offer to someone?

All offers made on or before April 2 are to be honored.  For offers extended after April 2, the Office of the Provost will review and reaffirm approval of instructional, administrative and research faculty positions. Similarly, the Office of the Senior Vice President will do the same for all non-academic and administrative positions, including professional faculty positions.  

Should we cancel in-person interviews?

Consider alternatives such as delaying the in-person interview if the start date is flexible and candidates are receptive, or conducting follow-up interviews via videoconferencing.

I'm a faculty member anticipating a promotion. Is that still possible?

The hiring freeze would not preclude a faculty member from getting a promotion (i.e. from assistant professor to full professor) or the related pay increase.

What if our department needs to make a purchase?

We are requesting that all university faculty and staff slow spending, defer costs, and eliminate, reduce or delay non-critical expenses for the remainder of FY2020 and into FY2021. The shift in our work and our work environment will also create opportunities to adjust our spending, based on revised needs. Additional guidance is available on the Fiscal Services Site.

The Office of Strategic Budgeting & Planning will soon be providing a template with specific instructions on how to identify and plan for cost savings, budget reductions and deferrals, and critical investments for your FY2021 budget. Department and College/School finance directors should plan to work with their assigned Budget Office analyst if they have any questions about the guidance provided.