Team ND Member FAQs Regarding COVID-19

Note: This page contains answers to frequently asked questions for state team members and was prepared by ND Human Resource Management Services (HRMS). Due to the evolving nature of COVID-19, this document may be updated periodically. If you have additional questions, please ask your supervisor, your agency HR Department, or HRMS at hrms@nd.gov.

Section A: General Information about COVID-19 for Team Members

What is COVID-19?
Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) is a respiratory illness that can spread from person to person. The virus that causes COVID-19 is a novel coronavirus that was first identified during an investigation into an outbreak in Wuhan, China.

What are the symptoms for COVID-19?
COVID-19 reported illnesses have ranged from mild symptoms to severe illness and death for confirmed cases.

Call your healthcare provider if you think you have been exposed to COVID-19 and develop a fever and symptoms, such as cough or difficulty breathing.

The following symptoms may appear 2-14 days after exposure.*

  • Fever
  • Cough
  • Shortness of breath

If you develop emergency warning signs for COVID-19, get medical attention immediately. Emergency warning signs* include:

  • Difficulty breathing
  • Persistent pain or pressure in the chest
  • New confusion
  • Inability to wake or stay awake
  • Bluish lips or face

*This list is not all inclusive. Please consult your healthcare provider for any other symptoms that are severe or concerning.

Visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) symptoms webpage and the North Dakota Department of Health’s (ND DoH) COVID-19 webpage for more information.

Who is most at risk of having complications from COVID-19?
Older adults and people who have severe underlying medical conditions are the most at risk for developing more serious complications from COVID-19. Given the vulnerable populations within the State’s care, careful adherence to guidelines issued by ND DoH, supervisors, and HRMS is essential. Team members with flu-like symptoms need to stay home.

What can I do to limit my risk and help prevent influenza and viruses like COVID-19?covid tips
Tips for preventing COVID-19 are the same as tips for preventing other viruses and the flu:

  • Wash your hands frequently
  • Avoid close contact and shaking hands
  • Cover your mouth and nose with a cloth face cover when you cannot keep about 6 feet between yourself and others
  • Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue or use the inside of your elbow  
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces
  • Avoid people who are sick
  • Stay home when you’re sick

What should I do if I’m experiencing flu-like symptoms?
Team members who are sick must stay home. According to the CDC, team members who have flu-like symptoms or symptoms of acute respiratory illness are recommended to stay home and not come to work until they are free of fever, signs of a fever, and any other symptoms for at least 72 hours without the use of fever-reducing or other symptom-altering medicines (e.g. cough suppressants), the symptoms have improved, and it has been 10 days since the symptoms first appeared. Team members should follow their agency’s sick leave notification procedures, including notifying their supervisor and staying home if they are sick.

If you think you have been exposed to COVID-19 and develop a fever and/or symptoms of a respiratory illness, call your healthcare provider BEFORE going to the clinic or emergency room.

Are the procedures different if I am a healthcare provider (or if I work in a healthcare setting)?
Team members who regularly work in healthcare settings, including healthcare providers, support staff and security staff, must remain home until they are symptom-free for 24 hours. The CDC has provided additional guidance for healthcare providers who provide direct care to patients with confirmed or suspected COVID-19.

What should I do if I recently traveled internationally?
Team members returning from international travel, regardless if the team member is exhibiting symptoms, will be required to complete the following questionnaire upon arrival in North Dakota: ND DoH's questionnaire. Click on the link and select the appropriate option based on travel destination.

Team members will be required to remain away from the workplace for 14 days upon their return. Team members will work with their manager to determine appropriate teleworking arrangements and/or discuss paid leave options.

What should I do if I recently traveled outside of North Dakota?
Team members are allowed to travel freely within the United States. It is encouraged that team members take precautions to prevent transmission of COVID-19, including thorough hand-washing, wearing masks, avoiding non-essential travel and practicing physical distancing.

What if I have COVID-19 or have a family member with it?
Team members who are sick with COVID-19 or suspect they are infected with the virus that causes COVID-19 should follow the steps identified by the CDC to help prevent the disease from spreading to people in your home and community. Team members may not return to work until they are fever free for 72 hours and all other symptoms have passed. Team members should contact their healthcare provider, the ND Department of Health, or your local health department for more information.

The CDC recommends team members who are well but who have a sick family member at home with COVID-19 should notify their supervisor and refer to CDC guidance on caring for someone who is sick

Use of available paid leave or unpaid leave will be handled pursuant to the Families First Coronavirus Response Act, existing policies, and state administrative code.

What if I have been directly exposed to the COVID-19 virus but do not have symptoms?
Team members who have been directly exposed to the virus through actions such as caring for an ill family member should remain at home for a period of at least 14 days to ensure they do not carry the virus into the workplace. Team members should first work with their agency to work remotely from home. Team members may also use available leave. Team members should also contact their healthcare provider or local health department. 

What if I have been exposed to an individual who has been quarantined?
Individuals who have been quarantined are not ill; they have had contact with an infected person and must remain at home until it is clear whether they become ill or not. Thus, exposure to a quarantined person may not mean any exposure to the virus.

Where can I learn more information?
For the most credible and timely information and updates related to COVID-19 visit the NDDoH website at www.health.nd.gov/coronavirus, follow the NDDoH on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, and visit the CDC website at www.cdc.gov/coronavirus.

Section B: Reporting to Work, Teleworking and Use of Annual or Sick Leave

General Guidance: Team members are expected to report to work or telework as assigned unless directed otherwise by their agencies or other appropriate authority.

How long will most state team members continue to telework?
Effective June 1, 2020, as directed by state agency leaders, state team members who have been teleworking since March 20, 2020, could continue to telework or return to work at state facilities subject to the ND Smart Restart state facility protocols. The New Workplace is changing the way Team ND works. Telework is the preferred work option for Team ND.

I am worried about being exposed to the coronavirus at work. Should I still report to work, and will I be protected?
Team members should continue to report to work or telework (as approved by their supervisor and agency) unless directed otherwise. As state team members, we have obligations to maintain services to the extent possible during an emergency. We will be making every effort to reduce exposure in our workplaces.

Will I know if someone at work has COVID-19?
If an team member is confirmed to have COVID-19, the ND DoH will inform fellow team members if they were a close contact of the individual who tested positive for COVID-19. The agency will maintain confidentiality as required by the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Team members exposed to a co-worker with confirmed COVID-19 should refer to CDC guidance on how to protect yourself.

What are my options if I’d like to continue to telework, but my supervisor and/or agency want me to come back to the office?
Team members should have a discussion with their supervisor and speak with their HR representative to discuss the options available to them based on their specific situation.

What are my options if I’d like to go back to the office, but my supervisor and/or agency want me to continue to telework?
Team members should have a discussion with their supervisor and speak with their HR representative to discuss the options available to them based on their specific situation.

Will the state provide a stipend for team members teleworking since they are using personal resources to perform the work (i.e. Internet, electricity, etc.)?
No, as per the New Workplace Telework Policy, the team member will establish an appropriate work environment within his or her home for work purposes. The agency will not be responsible for costs associated with the setup of the team member’s home office, such as remodeling, furniture or lighting, nor for repairs or modifications to the home office space. This also includes internet, phone, electricity costs, etc.

Personal costs of teleworking (internet, phone, electricity, etc.) are off-set by expenses the team member would incur when traveling to the office location on a daily basis.

How would onboarding of new staff work to establish agency culture?
A wide variety of professional development and training opportunities are available to all of Team ND.  HRMS has developed two webinars to help team members adjust to a culture of remote working. Classes are available on-demand through PeopleSoft. For more information, visit Training and Development for Teleworking. You may also reach out to training@nd.gov for further assistance.

Does the team member have to insure state equipment/property through their homeowner’s insurance to telework?
No, the state will extend insurance coverage of state equipment and property off state premises as part of a telework arrangement.

With the ability to allow citizen-facing team members to return to the office, will buildings be required to be unlocked or can the “by appointment only” policy remain in place at an agency’s discretion?
This will be determined by the agency. Please speak with your agency director for further information.

Will there be additional compensation for essential workers who needed to come to work while everyone else was able to work from home?
Additional compensation will not be provided for essential workers. All Team ND members are expected to continue to work during this time, regardless of if they are on-site at a facility or teleworking from home.

How do we handle external customers/citizens who want to meet in person to answer their questions or concerns while we are teleworking?
If a team member needs to meet with a customer/citizen, he or she should arrange for the external customers/citizens to meet them at their agency by appointment. Team members should not meet with external customers or citizens in their home under any circumstance.

Will we be able to take home and use our chairs and VariDesks (stand-up desks) to maintain an ergonomic workstation at home?
Team members should speak with their supervisor regarding moving their chairs and desks to their home location.

Am I subject to disciplinary action if I refuse to come to work at a state facility?
Team members are encouraged to telework from home if possible, with approval from their supervisor and agency. If that is not possible, team members who fail to come to work in a pandemic will be treated just as if they failed to come to work at any other time and may be subject to disciplinary action.

Can I use sick leave and annual leave during this time?
There have been a number of questions on the use of sick leave during the rapidly changing COVID-19 situation. As has always been the case, team members who are experiencing symptoms of illness can and should remain at home and are entitled to utilize available leave. 

In addition, team members who have been recommended to self-quarantine based upon a positive or presumptive exposure to someone infected with the coronavirus or who have traveled to high-risk areas resulting in official recommendations to self-quarantine should be allowed to use available leave benefits for the quarantine period regardless of where the exposure occurred or the reason for the travel.

Who is included in the definition of “immediate family” in relation to caring for a family member at home who may be ill from COVID-19?
“Immediate family" means parents, spouse, child or sibling.

If my job requires me to work with the public, should I continue to come to work?
Yes, unless you are able to telework as approved by your agency or you are directed not to come to work. The State will make efforts to provide the appropriate protective measures to team members assigned to work in a situation that would put them at greater risk of exposure than the typical interactions encountered in conducting usual life activities. These measures include increased hygiene measures, personal protective equipment, physical distancing measures or physical barriers.

If I am exposed to the COVID-19 virus on the job and become ill, am I eligible for workers’ compensation benefits?
No. Diseases to which the general public outside of employment are exposed are specifically excluded from workers’ compensation coverage in North Dakota. COVID-19 fits into this exclusion. Even though it may be contended an team member contracted COVID-19 while working, the team member is not eligible for workers’ compensation benefits for this type of illness. 

Governor Doug Burgum has issued Executive Order 2020-12 and Executive Order 2020-12.1 for extending workers’ compensation coverage for COVID-19 for frontline health care workers, first responders, and funeral service personnel. For more information please see WSI’s Coronavirus (COVID-19) Frequently Asked Questions for Employees.

What if I am assigned to perform work that isn't normally part of my position, either in my own agency or somewhere else? Can I refuse the assignment?
In times of emergency, we all need to remain flexible to get the work done. It is likely that team members may be asked to do work outside their normal duties. As the effects of a pandemic are realized in North Dakota, state team members should anticipate that they may be required to assist in performing work for absent or ill co-workers or ensure that the State is able to provide essential services.

Can I refuse an assignment that would put me at greater risk of being exposed to the COVID-19 virus?
No, team members must work as assigned. Speak with your supervisor and agency about possible teleworking options. If teleworking is not an option, team members must work as assigned. As the effects of a pandemic are realized in North Dakota, team members should anticipate that they may be required to assist in performing work for absent or ill co-workers to ensure that the State is able to provide essential services. The State will make an effort to provide the appropriate protective measures to team members assigned to work in a situation that would put them at greater risk of exposure than the typical interactions encountered in conducting usual life activities. These measures include increased hygiene measures, personal protective equipment, physical distancing measures or physical barriers.

What is physical distancing? Will the State implement physical distancing in the workplace?covid distancing
Physical distancing measures are measures intended to reduce the spread of a pandemic respiratory virus by reducing direct contact between individuals. Physical distancing measures may include minimization of face-to-face meetings, staggered work hours and days, temporary teleworking arrangements, spacing of work areas, physical barriers between individuals or other similar practices. Agencies may begin implementing Physical distancing measures in their respective agencies/buildings at their discretion.

Can my employer send me home if I have been exposed to the COVID-19 virus but choose to work?
Team members will not normally be sent home unless exhibiting significant flu-like symptoms. Team members who are sent home will be required to telework or use available leave balances. Team members who have been exposed to COVID-19 should remain at home until the 14 days for self-monitoring have passed and the team member is symptom free.

What if I believe a co-worker has the COVID-19 virus or has been exposed to it?
Team member concerns should be discussed with their supervisor or your HR representative. Despite these concerns, team members will be expected to report to work or telework as directed.

What if I am in a group considered to be at "high risk" (i.e., I have a chronic health condition which makes me more susceptible to the COVID-19 virus) and for which authorities are recommending staying at home?
Team members who are high-risk should speak with their supervisor or your HR representative .

Is pandemic influenza or COVID-19 an FMLA qualifying condition and will I be able to use FMLA leave?
While influenza is generally not covered by FMLA, complications arising from influenza or COVID-19 may qualify for FMLA leave in relation to the team member's own illness or the illness of a qualifying family member. The usual medical documentation may be required.

What if my children's school or day care provider is closed and I have no one else to take care of the kids?
If the team member is unable to work their scheduled hours while teleworking and caring for children due to school/daycare closures, team members should visit with their supervisor or your HR representative regarding available leave options.  

Do team members have to be screened before entering a state facility?
Team members who work in state facilities will benefit from participating in an enhanced COVID-19 screening process. To help protect citizens and team members during the COVID-19 pandemic, team members entering these facilities will have their temperature scanned and will be asked the screening questions. Anyone entering those facilities, team members and the public, will go through the same screening process. All state team members should do a self-assessment by reviewing the screening questions each time they plan to work on-site at a state facility.  If you answer yes to any of these questions, please contact your supervisor prior to coming to work.

If I must take unpaid leave, will I lose my health insurance coverage?
State team members would only lose their employer provided health insurance if they were on unpaid leave for an entire month. 

Should I wear a mask to work?
It is recommended that you wear a non-medical cloth face covering as you travel into and out of your workplace in accordance with CDC guidance. Although wearing a cloth face covering does not replace physical distancing, it is helpful to limit the spread of the virus.