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FAQs for Employee Workplace Re-Entry

Employee Resources 750

  1. I am feeling anxious about returning to the workplace, what can I do?
    • Many employees feel a level of discomfort in returning to the workplace after working remotely or being out of the workplace for a period of time, and because COVID-19 is still a very real concern in our community.  Information can help alleviate some of the stress of returning to work. Every County department has undergone an in-depth review of the services and functions they supply to the public and internally, and implemented safety measures to reduce the risk of exposure and spread of COVID-19 in the workplace.
    • You also have 24/7 access to confidential counseling services, as well as on-line articles and resources, to help you navigate stress and anxiety that this pandemic has brought to all of our lives. You can access counseling services by calling 866-484-4961, and additional information and resources by logging onto the County’s EAP website: https://www.achievesolutions.net/achievesolutions/en/sonoma/Home.do
  2. How do I know what measures my Department has taken to maintain a safe work environment? 
    • The County provided each Department with Risk Mitigation Guidelines. Prior to re-opening, each department has undergone an extensive review of their worksites and developed site specific controls and protocols to create a safe working environment. This includes limiting the number of staff allowed in work and common areas, face covering requirements, daily cleaning of frequent touch areas, and more.  In addition to these steps, and In accordance with the current Public Health Order Amended Social Distancing Protocols, all employees will receive training on how to prevent the spread of COVID-19, and when to seek medical attention.  This information will be available on the County’s Learning Management System (LMS) and your Department will provide you with information on the trainings needed for your work location. 
  3. Do I have to wear a mask while at work?
    • Face coverings are required, in accordance with the current Public Health Order. 
    • Face covering” means a covering made of cloth, fabric, or other soft or permeable material, without holes, that covers only the nose and mouth and surrounding areas of the lower face (scarf, bandana, neck gaiter, mask, etc.)  Some workers will be required to wear a specific type of mask. The type of mask required is determined by your department based on the type of work being performed.  For information on mask/face coverings requirements for your position, check with your supervisor or Department Human Resources staff.
    • For government workers, the Public Health Order mandates wearing of face coverings at work for all employees (health related workers have separate, specific requirements), contractors, and volunteers when they are:
      • interacting in person with any member of the public;
      • working in any space visited by members of the public, such as by way of example and without limitation reception areas, grocery store or pharmacy aisles, service counters, public restrooms, cashier and checkout areas, waiting rooms, service areas, and other spaces used to interact with the public, regardless of whether anyone from the public is present at the time;
      • working in any space where food is prepared or packaged for sale or distribution to others;
      • working in or walking through common areas such as hallways, stairways, elevators, and parking facilities;
      • in any room or enclosed area when other people (except for members of the person’s own household or living unit) are present, or unable to maintain a six-foot distance from another person who is not a member of the individual’s own household or living unit at all times.
    • A face covering is not required when a person is in a personal office (except for open cubical) when others outside of that person’s household are not present as long as the public does not regularly visit the room. Employees are required to wear a Face Covering when coworkers are nearby, when being visited by a client/customer, while in common areas, and anywhere members of the public or other coworkers are regularly present.
  4. My Department has told me to return to the workplace. I was provided temporary telework before, so why can’t I continue to telework?
    • While working from home was necessary at the outset of the pandemic, precautions are now in place that allow for a portion of the workforce to return to the workplace, and for a fuller scope of County services to the public to resume. Departments have reviewed their operational and service level needs, instituted safety precautions, and made determinations about appropriate on-site staffing to support Department operations. 
  5. What is the SoCo COVID-19 Check phone app and why should I use it? 
    • SoCo COVID-19 Check is an app that helps Sonoma county employees and employers prevent and mitigate the spread of the novel Coronavirus.  Each day, before starting work, employees complete a 30-second self-assessment for COVID-19 related symptoms and potential exposure to the virus. The employer portion of the app asks employers to verify that employees do not have temperatures over 100.0 Fahrenheit and are wearing appropriate face coverings in accordance with the Health Orders of the County’s Public Health Officer. Daily screening improves our ability to keep the community safe by reducing contact when symptoms are present. The app also includes a news feed that provides the latest information about COVID-19 from the County Department of Health Services, the State of California and the Centers for Disease Control. This includes info-graphics and up-to-date statistics for COVID-19 in Sonoma County. The app is also designed to be as streamlined and quick as possible. With only a few simple survey questions to answer, it should take no longer than 30 seconds each day to complete. Convenience is important to us because we know it is important to you.
  6. What data is stored by the SoCo COVID-19 Check app and who has access to it?
    • The SoCo COVID-19 Check app has no privacy risk to its users.  The app does not ask for your name, address, or any other personally identifiable information. For example, the question regarding age demographics only has three options: 0-17, 18-64, and 65 and older. Only anonymous, aggregate data is collected, which can assist the Sonoma County Public Health Officer analyze community and population-level data regarding how employees and employers in various sectors are implementing mitigation measures to protect the health and well-being of everyone in the County. Further, none of the collected data will be shared for commercial use, and all data collected will be automatically deleted after 45 days. 
  7. Do I have to use the SoCo COVID-19 Check app in order to enter my County work site?
    • No, you can complete the pre-screening requirement without using the app.  The SoCo COVID-19 Check mobile app was developed by the Sonoma County Department of Health Services and allows employees to self-screen for COVID-19 prior to reporting to work.  Employees have the choice of using the app, or answering the same questions upon arrival to work as part of the required screening process for workplace entry. If you use the app, you simply show your completed screening “badge” on your phone to the screener instead of answering questions at the door.
  8. I did not pass the on-site screening or I am experiencing symptoms and my Department sent me home. What do I do now?
    • You should follow up with your healthcare provider to determine if you need to be tested for COVID-19, and remain home until you are symptom free without medication.The Department will provide you with written information about next steps and your leave. (If you do not receive the written information, contact your Human Resources staff and they will get it to you.)
    • If your symptoms are not COVID related, ask your doctor to clear you to return to work. When you arrive back at work, let the screener know you have been cleared.
  9. I cannot return to work because I have childcare issues due to loss of adequate daycare, school closure or care provider services because of the COVID-19 pandemic. What do I do?
  10. How do I know if I have a “high risk” medical condition that puts me at greater risk if I contract COVID-19?
  11. I have an underlying medical condition that puts me at “high risk for severe illness” (per CDC guidelines) and need to stay out of the workplace.  What happens now?
    • Have your physician complete the “high risk medical certification” (located here: xxxx) and provide to your department Human Resources staff or your supervisor.  The department will interact with you to review possible temporary telework options. If telework is not available, then the department may grant a leave of absence as a temporary accommodation.  [Employees who are “high risk” due to age (age 65+) do not need to provide a medical note.]
  12. I am age 65 or older, and therefore “high risk for severe illness” and need to stay out of the workplace.  What happens now?
    • Talk to your department Human Resources staff or your supervisor.  The department will interact with you to review possible temporary telework options. If telework is not available, then the department may grant a leave of absence as a temporary accommodation. 
  13. I am “high risk for severe illness” due to an underlying medical condition (per CDC guidelines), or because I am age 65 or older, and telework is not available.  If I am placed on a temporary leave of absence, what pay and benefits are available to me during my leave of absence?
    • Work with your department human resources staff to determine next steps and to determine your eligibility and use for any of the following benefits:
      • Emergency Paid Sick Leave: Employees who are high-risk may be eligible to receive up to 80 hours of emergency paid sick leave (EPSL) from the County. To access EPSL, complete the FFCRA Leave Request Form and submit it to your payroll clerk. The application is located on the Employee Resources website: http://sonomacounty.ca.gov/HR/Employee-Resources/Covid-19/Covid-19/#leave
      • Use of Leave Accruals:  You can apply your accrued leaves (sick, vacation, comp, floating holiday) as outlined in your MOU or the Salary Resolution and your payroll clerk or department human resources staff can assist you with any questions you may have regarding use of accrued leave.  
      • Continuation of County Healthcare Premium 
        • As long as you continue to pay your share of the coverage
          • The County will continue to make its contribution towards your healthcare premium while you remain in paid status for 50% or more of the pay period.
        • When leave without pay (LWOP) exceeds 50% in a pay period, contributions from the County can continue for up to 13 pay periods. If there are insufficient funds in your check to cover your premium, or you are not receiving a paycheck, you will need to contact Auditor Controller Payroll office to arrange for payment of your premium. ( ActtcPayrollDivision@sonoma-county.org)
  14. I have a family member at home who is at “high risk for severe illness” (per CDC guidelines) and I need to stay out of the workplace to prevent possible exposure. What happens now?
    • Have your family member’s physician complete the “high risk medical certification” (located here: xxxx) and provide to your department Human Resources staff or your supervisor.  The department will interact with you to review possible temporary telework options. If telework is not available, you can request a temporary leave of absence from your Department Head.  You may also be eligible to receive up to 80 hours of Emergency Paid Sick Leave (EPSL) from the County.  To access EPSL, complete the FFCRA Leave Request Form and submit it to your payroll clerk. The application is located on the Employee Resources website: http://sonomacounty.ca.gov/HR/Employee-Resources/Covid-19/Covid-19/#leave
    • If your family member is ill and unable to care for themselves due their medical condition, you may be eligible for leave under the Family and Medical Leave Act and the California Family Rights Act (FMLA/CFRA). Contact your department human resources staff for additional information and eligibility requirements.
  15.  I am age 65+ or have a “high risk” medical condition and I would like to return to working on site. What can my Dpartment do to bring me back into the office?
    • Your health and safety are our primary concerns. In accordance with the Governor’s directives, the County encourages/strongly urges employees who are age 65+ or “high risk” to isolate at home for their own safety.  However, the County does not mandate that you stay out of the workplace. If you want to return to working on-site, discuss your situation with your supervisor, including steps the Department has taken to mitigate worker exposure risks.  If you decide to return to the workplace, you will need to follow all safety protocols, acknowledge that you understand the risks, and declare in writing (by email is fine) that it is your decision to return to the work place.