To cover gaps created by the lapse of federally mandated paid leaves and to protect the campus community against spread, UA has voluntarily established a new paid leave effective January 1, 2021, for all employees. Direct questions to the HR Service Center at (205) 348-7732 or hrsvctr@ua.edu.


1. Does UA offer any COVID leave benefits for employees in the new year?

Yes, UA President Dr. Stuart Bell authorized a new 2021 COVID Leave program specific to UA employees effective Jan. 1, 2021, to replace the federally mandated paid leave benefits that expired Dec. 31.

Following several weeks of low COVID infection numbers, campus vaccinations, and updated guidance from the CDC, those UA-provided COVID Leave benefits will end May 15. Anyone with COVID Leave approved and scheduled on or before May 15 and extending beyond the 16th can continue the approved leave through May 31. No COVID Leave may be used beyond May 31. New requests for COVID Leave will not be considered after May 15.


2. Did Congress extend the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA)?

No, the FFCRA expired Dec.31, and federally mandated paid leave benefits, including Emergency Paid Sick Leave (EPSL) and Expanded Family Medical Leave (EFML), were not extended into 2021. Congress passed the American Rescue Plan Act on March 10, 2021 which extended the FFCRA’s emergency paid sick leave provisions through September 30, 2021, however, the Act only applies to employers with fewer than 500 employees, and therefore is not applicable to UA.

Following several weeks of low COVID infection numbers, campus vaccinations, and updated guidance from the CDC, those UA-provided COVID Leave benefits will end May 15. Anyone with COVID Leave approved and scheduled on or before May 15 and extending beyond the 16th can continue the approved leave through May 31. No COVID Leave may be used beyond May 31. New requests for COVID Leave will not be considered after May 15.


3. How was the 2021 COVID Leave program created?  

President Bell authorized the special campus-funded COVID Leave program to replace the federal benefits that expired Dec. 31, 2020. The University-provided 2021 COVID Leave was a special temporary program to help UA faculty and staff affected by COVID-related illness and complications. It replaced a previous federally funded program that allowed employees up to 80 hours of paid leave for certain qualifying reasons related to COVID-19.


4. Will any remaining balance of Emergency Paid Sick Leave (EPSL) or Expanded Family Medical Leave (EFML) hours rollover into 2021?

No. All EPSL and EFML paid leave hours expired Dec. 31, and employees will not receive any payment for unused hours. EPSL and EFML leave banks are no longer available. Regular accrued leave balances are not impacted and will continue to be administered per Employee Handbook and Faculty Handbook procedures.


5. Will UA provide paid leave benefits for employees now that the FFCRA expired?

Yes, UA has voluntarily established a new 2021 COVID Leave effective Jan. 1, 2021. New requests for COVID Leave will not be considered after May 15.


6. Who is eligible to receive 2021 COVID Leave?

All faculty, staff and student workers (full-time, part-time, temporary, contingent on-call) who are unable to work or telework due to a qualifying reason related to COVID-19. Employees will be immediately eligible to receive 2021 COVID Leave no matter their date of hire or service time. There are no exclusions for first responders or healthcare providers.


7. I was scheduled to be out on approved COVID leave beyond May 16. How does this affect me?   

Anyone with COVID Leave approved and scheduled before May 15 and extending beyond May 16 can continue the approved leave through May 31. No COVID Leave may be used beyond May 31. New requests for COVID Leave will not be considered after May 15.


8. What are the qualifying reasons for leave related to COVID-19?

  1. Employee is diagnosed COVID-19 positive and is subject to a quarantine or isolation order,
  2. Employee is experiencing symptoms of COVID-19 and seeking a medical diagnosis and/or COVID-19 testing for confirmation,
  3. Employee is a close contact with an infected individual within their own household and is subject to a quarantine order,
  4. Employee is a close contact with an infected individual outside their household (including worksite exposure) and is subject to a quarantine order,
  5. Employee received a COVID-19 vaccination within the last two weeks (14-day period) and is experiencing side effects from the COVID-19 vaccine,
  6. Employee has been instructed by a COVID-19 Support Program case manager to isolate or quarantine for any other reason not referenced above,
  7. Employee is caring for a child(ren) under 18 years old whose physical school building or place of care has been closed, or the childcare provider of child(ren) is unavailable, due to COVID–19 precautions.

9. What is the definition of “close contact” for Reasons #3 and #4 listed above?

Per CDC guidelines, close contact is defined as someone who was within 6 feet of an infected person for at least 15 minutes starting from 2 days before illness onset (or, for asymptomatic clients, 2 days prior to positive specimen collection) until the time the patient is isolated.


10. Does “quarantine or isolation order related to COVID-19” have a defined meaning?

Yes. Quarantine or isolation orders include a broad range of governmental orders, including orders that advise some or all citizens to shelter in place, stay at home, quarantine, or otherwise restrict their own mobility.


11. For Reason #5 listed above, when does the 14-day period begin for experiencing potential side effects from a COVID-19 vaccine?

The 14-day period covers the two weeks immediately following the date of vaccine administration (e.g., an employee who receives a vaccine dose on Feb. 1, 2021, will qualify for 2021 COVID Leave if they experience any side effects between Feb. 1 and Feb. 14).


12. Are employees required to contact the COVID-19 Hotline before requesting 2021 COVID Leave?

It depends on why the employee is requesting paid leave. An employee and/or the employee’s supervisor should call the COVID-19 Hotline (205-348-CV19) as soon as possible if the employee has been diagnosed with COVID-19, is experiencing symptoms of COVID-19, and/or has been in close contact with an infected individual. The employee will be assigned a case manager. Employees should not contact the COVID-19 Hotline for childcare-related leave issues. New requests for COVID Leave will not be considered after May 15.


13. How many total hours of 2021 COVID Leave do employees get?

2021 COVID Leave provides eligible employees with up to 80 hours of paid leave (e.g., approx. 10 workdays) for any of the seven qualifying reasons listed above. Hours will be prorated for part-time employees with an FTE < 1.00. For example, an employee classified as 0.75 FTE would receive 60 hours of 2021 COVID Leave. In rare or unique circumstances, such as a quarantine protocol being longer than 80 hours, an employee might receive more than 80 hours of 2021 COVID Leave. Provision of additional hours is at the sole discretion of Human Resources and will be decided after a thorough review of case management details. New requests for COVID Leave will not be considered after May 15.


14. What paid leave benefits does 2021 COVID Leave provide?

The rate at which UA will pay 2021 COVID Leave hours is paid at two-thirds of the employee’s regular rate of pay. There are no daily caps and no aggregate maximums. For example, an employee who is normally paid $100 per day will be paid $66.70 per day if approved to receive 2021 COVID Leave due to a qualifying reason related to COVID-19.


15. Can an employee supplement the remaining one-third of the employee’s regular rate of pay with other accrued leave?

Yes. An employee may elect to supplement the remaining one-third pay with accrued sick leave, annual leave and/or compensatory time, if available. This means the employee will receive partial paid leave (e.g., $66.70 per day for 2021 COVID Leave plus $33.30 in equivalent accrued leave time to receive 100% pay or $100 per day). If an employee elects to supplement with accrued leave time, the one-third calculation will be administered by UA Payroll. Employees should only report 2021 COVID Leave hours used. Anyone with COVID Leave approved and scheduled on or before May 15 and extending beyond the 16th can continue the approved leave through May 31.


16. Do employees have to use any other accrued leave time before they can use 2021 COVID Leave?

No. Employees are not required to use other available paid leave first before using 2021 COVID Leave hours.


17. Can 2021 COVID Leave be taken on a Continuous or Intermittent basis?

It depends on why the employee is taking paid leave. Eligible employees may report 2021 COVID Leave in the following increments for usage depending on purpose:

  • For any leave reason related to an employee’s illness or exposure – employee may only request continuous leave to be reported in full-day increments. Intermittent leave is not permitted to minimize potential spread of the COVID-19 virus.
  • For leave reason #7 related to childcare needs – employee may request continuous leave in full-day increments OR request intermittent leave to be reported in no less than 1-hour increments.

18. Are employees required to communicate with the employer to continue to receive 2021 COVID Leave?

Yes. After the first workday (or portion thereof) that an employee receives 2021 COVID Leave, UA may require the employee to follow reasonable notice procedures to continue receiving such paid leave. The leave ends with the first scheduled shift immediately following the termination of the need for leave for any of the reasons set forth above.


19. When does 2021 COVID Leave end?

The leave ends with the first scheduled shift immediately following the termination of the need for leave for any of the reasons set forth above. If an employee does not exhaust all 80 hours, then they must reapply for 2021 COVID Leave each time they experience another qualifying event related to COVID-19.

Following several weeks of low COVID infection numbers, campus vaccinations, and updated guidance from the CDC, those UA-provided COVID Leave benefits will end May 15. Anyone with COVID Leave approved and scheduled on or before May 15 and extending beyond the 16th can continue the approved leave through May 31. No COVID Leave may be used beyond May 31. New requests for COVID Leave will not be considered after May 15.


20. How can an employee apply for 2021 COVID Leave?

Employees who request 2021 COVID Leave should submit the 2021 COVID Leave Request Form. The employee’s myBama username and password may be required to access the request form.


21. How long will it take to be approved for 2021 COVID Leave?

Benefits specialists in the Benefits Office will determine eligibility and respond to all requests via email in approximately five business days. If approved, an employee’s leave request will be retroactive back to the requested start date on the form.


22. Does UA have specific documentation requirements for employees to request 2021 COVID Leave?

No. To create a more predictable and consistent leave benefit after the FFCRA regulation expired on Dec. 31, 2020, an employee is only required to complete the 2021 COVID Leave Request Form. The request form contains detailed, required questions related to the reason for leave. Human Resources may request additional supporting documentation from an employee on a case-by-case basis, if necessary.


23. Are new leave codes and earnings codes available in the Banner and eTime systems?

Yes, Payroll is currently working with WorkForce Solutions to setup a new leave code (2021 COVID Leave) and leave bank (CV21) in Banner and eTime. Questions about coding timesheets should be directed to Sharon Hale, Senior HR Business Partner, at shale@ua.edu. Once all new codes and banks are setup, non-exempt, biweekly paid employees will report hours used under the new 2021 COVID Leave codes in eTime, and exempt, monthly paid employees will report hours on the monthly leave report in Banner. The UA-eTime Timekeeper and Approver Guide is also available to reference on recording leave in eTime.


24. Will an employee be eligible to use 2021 COVID Leave if the employee declined a COVID-19 vaccine?

Yes. Vaccination is not required for employment at this time. Information on available vaccines to aid in the decision making process can be found on the FDA’s website, CDC’s website and ADPH’s website. If an employee is offered access to a vaccine and declines it, but later experiences one of the qualifying reasons for leave listed above then the employee may request 2021 COVID Leave at that time.


25. If an employee is sent home by their department or the COVID Support Program due to being identified through contact tracing as a potential exposure how is the employee paid? 

The employee should apply for the 2021 COVID Leave and a department code the timesheet accordingly.  If an employee has exhausted their 2021 COVID Leave accrued leave time should be used to cover the absence or the time taken as unpaid. Anyone with COVID Leave approved and scheduled on or before May 15 and extending beyond the 16th can continue the approved leave through May 31.