July 20: Update from the Building Safety Committee


Dear MSEA-SEIU Executive Branch Members,

The MSEA-SEIU Building Safety Committee representatives have been meeting with the State to discuss how to keep worksites safe as the state reopens some offices.

Some members have shared concerns about returning to work due to health conditions or disabilities that put them at elevated risk should they contract COVID-19. Based on our conversations with State’s representatives on the Building Safety Committee, if you have such concerns and wish to seek accommodations, such as continuing to work remotely, we suggest that you start that process immediately – you do not have to wait until you are told to return to your worksite.

You may initiate that process by contacting your agency’s EEO coordinator for ADA accommodation forms. These forms will need to be filled out by your medical provider. If you have questions about this process, please reach out to your steward or union rep.

It’s important to understand that these accommodations may be available for your own condition, not that of a family or household member. If you have concerns relating to returning to work due to the risk to a family or household member, you may be eligible for leave time, however. Some HR agencies have also indicated that employees who have concerns about a high-risk family or household member should reach out to HR to discuss options. Below you can find links to more information on the forms of leave you may be able to use.

We will continue to do all we can to push management to ensure the safety of all workers during this pandemic. Should you have any COVID-19 related building safety concerns, please continue to share them with the Building Safety Committee through our submission form.

VACATION LEAVE, SICK LEAVE, COMP TIME, PERSONAL TIME OR A LEAVE OF ABSENCE UNDER YOUR UNION CONTRACT
Employees are allowed to use accrued sick leave for any absence relating to COVID-19, including absences relating to a need to self-isolate and/or quarantine for you or a member of your household, childcare needs due to school or childcare closures or actual illness and treatment. You may also use vacation, comp or personal time, though they may require preapproval. Please refer to your union contract listed here for your rights to vacation leave, sick leave, comp time, personal time or a leave of absence.

YOUR RIGHTS UNDER THE NEW FEDERAL COVID-19 SICK-LEAVE LAW
In March, the federal government passed a bill that also provides 80 hours of paid sick leave, in addition to sick leave already provided by employers, to be used for certain COVID-19-related purposes. The federal law also provides up to 12 weeks of partially-paid FML for employees who need to care for a child under 18 years old due to a lack of school or childcare. Check out this fact sheet from SEIU for more information.

YOUR RIGHTS UNDER A STATE LAW ALLOWING LEAVE DURING A PANDEMIC
Under Maine law governing employment leave during an extreme public health emergency, employers are required to grant employees “reasonable and necessary leave from work, with or without pay” if the employee is unable to work for one of the qualifying reasons.

In Solidarity,
Dean Staffieri
President, MSEA-SEIU Local 1989

Updated: July 20, 2020 — 3:26 PM