Message from the President: Time Tracking and Productivity Management during COVID-19 Pandemic

Wednesday, March 25, 2020 :: Office of the President

To:  Faculty & Staff

Subject:  Time Tracking and Productivity Management during Covid-19 Pandemic

We deeply appreciate the work that all of you have done over the last few weeks to help our students cope with the effects of the COVID-19 (coronavirus) pandemic. This pandemic has placed many new requirements on UTRGV’s faculty, staff, student employees, and administrators. One of the new challenges we face as supervisors is the management of our work and of most of our employees in an entirely new remote format.

Over the past two weeks, we have had to reimagine how to offer all our instruction, how to design our workspace for social distancing, how to assign, manage, and support our employees remotely, and how to rethink work assignments for a remote workforce.

While I realize the issues surrounding the coronavirus pandemic are frightening for us, our coworkers, families and our loved ones, we must continue to rally together as a university community on behalf of our students and of each other. None of what we have accomplished thus far could have been possible without the hard work, flexibility, creativity and commitment to the success of our students from each one of you. Thank you doesn’t adequately express my gratitude.

Our Responsibilities as a State Agency

Our responsibilities as a state agency in tracking the effort of non-exempt and exempt staff have not changed, but managing employees remotely requires following different rules. The Office of Human Resources stands ready to assist you with these adjustments. I ask that you be flexible as our employees adjust to this new normal. As required by the Governor’s orders, however, it is imperative that we accurately track not only our coronavirus-related expenses but also how we are managing the time of our employees working remotely. This tracking will be different for non-exempt and exempt employees, but this tracking is crucial for us in seeking federal and state reimbursement for some of the costs of the pandemic to UTRGV.

You can find additional information, including the definition of non-exempt and exempt employees in our State Compensatory Time HOP policy.

Non-Exempt and Student Employees

Many of UTRGV’s staff and student employees are performing their duties remotely for the foreseeable future.  As non-exempt employees, it is essential to continue to manage their time according to FLSA rules. The Office of Human Resources suggests managers use this form to track your non-exempt employees work time and tasks each day. I know this may seem burdensome and unnecessary, but as a state agency it is essential that we maintain these records and remain in compliance with FLSA rules.

Exempt Employees

UTRGV faculty and exempt staff are exempt from overtime rules as set forth by the FLSA.  With Governor Abbott’s COVID-19 Orders, though, we must be mindful of properly accounting for remote working time. As we seek reimbursement for the costs of the pandemic, this may be crucial. As is always the case, leaders are expected to be clear with their employees regarding work assignments and deliverables, although there is no need to track effort hour by hour. Leaders do this in a variety of ways during normal times such as face-to-face meetings, due dates for assignments/projects, etc. To more easily document assignments of your exempt employees in the remote working environment, it is recommended that you adopt a more formal approach to track projects/effort. You can use this form or a variation of the form’s intent in meeting this recommendation.

Assisting Our Student Employees

Another challenge we continue to face is the identification of productive work for our student employees to perform remotely. 

Last week, the Office of Human Resources sent out a guidance memo to supervisors regarding UTRGV’s commitment to uninterrupted work assignments for our student employees.  We have determined that student employees currently appointed to a position on campus, regardless of assignment type or funding source, will not experience any disruption in their pay, and will be assigned meaningful work that can be performed remotely whenever possible. If the student’s position does not lend itself well to working remotely, supervisors are encouraged and authorized to identify opportunities for productive work that can be performed on campus in workspaces designed for appropriate social distancing. 

If you have questions about appropriate alternative assignments to give students for them to perform remotely, please contact the Office of Human Resources for guidance at 956-665-2451. 

If you have any questions about time tracking, please call Human Resources at 956-665-2451.

The entire executive team understands how disruptive this pandemic has been and the challenges it causes you in your work. Please know that you have our complete support as we move forward. When you have questions, please do not hesitate to raise them. If we are creative, flexible, and focused on accomplishing our work, we will get through this and be stronger for it. Again, my deepest thanks for your efforts.

Sincerely,

Guy Bailey
UTRGV President

Source: Message was sent via email from the Office of the President on March 25, 2020.