Dear WCA staff,
As the novel coronavirus or COVID-19 pandemic continues to evolve, it is important for us to communicate with you regarding workplace and broader community health and safety. There is a commitment to keeping you informed and answering your questions in coming days.
The most effective means of helping to slow the spread of COVID-19 is social distancing, which is why large gatherings have been canceled and many schools have been closed. Altered work arrangements can also assist in limiting the spread of the virus.
Below is a summary of helpful information as we continue our work in coming weeks. It is the focus of the Authority to ensure continuity of operations for our activity and to work with our partner agencies to prioritize employee health, wellness and collaborative decision-making and communication.
As we all know by now, reducing person-to-person transmission of germs is important to reduce the spread of COVID-19. The California Department of Public Health has guidance and updated information regarding recommended actions to keep each of us and our communities safe. It can be found here.
Governor Newsom has also provided direction for Californians who fall into categories most vulnerable to COVID-19 to self-isolate to the extent possible. This includes older adults (over 65 years old), individuals living with compromised immune systems, and individuals with serious medical conditions such as heart disease, diabetes, and lung disease.
Upcoming Hearings, Meetings and Gatherings
We need to change the way we work in the face of coronavirus while maintaining our critical functions. Our staff should continue to assess all upcoming internal and external meetings and implement new guidance from the Governor’s recent Executive Order to conduct essential proceedings using technology and other means to minimize gatherings. Meetings and gatherings should be modified if possible to enable business to continue or postponed if modifying a meeting is not possible. Fully cancelling convenings should be the last resort, but acceptable if needed. Please let me know what decisions are being considered.
Maximizing Telework Opportunities
Effective immediately, we will maximize employee telework opportunities. This includes asking employees, to the extent practicable, to consider working from home through the end of March if that is an option for your job.
We realize not everyone will be able to work from home and that some jobs require a physical presence in the office or in the field. This is where a collaborative, problem-solving discussion is critically important. I will work with you on telework options that may be available.
In order to telecommute, employees must have an approved Telecommute Agreement in place. Our authority can now implement handbook procedures based on allowing employees to telework with existing available IT resources.
In order to participate in a telework program, employees must perform tasks that can be completed in a suitable remote location, such as a home office. Teleworkers will continue to have performance expectations, defined telephone and email contact procedures, and core hours when the employee is expected to work. This arrangement also includes specific, measurable and attainable assignments.
Finally, teleworkers must adhere to the same applicable laws, rules, regulations, policies and procedures as non-teleworking employees, and also abide by information security policies.
If you are interested in teleworking, please communicate with me or Deborah Enos to submit your request. These options will be considered as quickly as possible under consultation with Deborah or I regarding any special circumstances.
The use of leave credits is temporarily expanded such that any type of leave credits may be used for COVID-19-related time off. This includes vacation, annual leave, sick leave, holiday credit, personal holidays and personal development days. Please follow the established procedures within the organization to request approval to use leave credits.
Flexible Work Schedule
Employees also have the option to flex their work hours upon approval. All flextime rules and procedures continue to apply, even if the flextime arrangement is temporary.
We will plan to share updates with you as it is helpful and look forward to answering questions you may have. Please relay questions to myself or Deborah and we will work to answer them as quickly as possible.
Finally, in challenging times, it is especially important that we all support each other and be the best colleagues that we can be toward one another. The circumstances we are facing, both with the virus and its economic impacts, may get worse before they get better but it is worth remembering that our state and society have made it through tough times before and we will make it through this challenge together as well.
Thank you for all the work you do.
Executive Officer l Watershed Conservation Authority
Joint Powers of Rivers and Mountains Conservancy and LA Flood Control District
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