UPDATE FROM OCA

Hi All,
 
I just wanted to follow up on a form that I understand has been circulated to employees (not sure if it’s all courts or just some) about readiness to return to in-person operations.  As we discussed with the unions at our May 7th meeting, in the initial phase of resuming in-person operations, we are trying to be considerate to avoid scheduling people to return (in person) that have child care, medical or similar issues that might otherwise require that they take a leave.  In order to do that, Nancy and I advised the AJs and Chief Clerks that they should begin checking in with staff about their status/ability to return so that staffing plans could be developed for the initial phase which took these various issues into consideration.  It seems this guidance made its way into a document that was sent out by some courts to employees eliciting a response as to their ability to return.  This was not intended to be something that was actually sent to employees so, I apologize for not providing notice that something like this was being sent in the first place. 
 
However, information is being sought by court managers as to employees’ ability to return in order to do what we can to avoid making people report that have childcare, medical or similar issues - though no employee is required or should feel compelled to disclose information (either through this “form” or in discussions w/their supervisor) that is medical or otherwise sensitive in nature.  Chief Clerks and the like need to know who among their staff can report without issue and who may not so employees need only indicate that they can or they can’t and if they can’t, information that is medical/sensitive etc., will be exchanged with the HR Admin (not the direct supervisor) just as it would (or should!) in the normal course of business -- for example, if an employee needs to take FMLA leave, they don’t discus the specifics of the medical condition for which they need such leave with their supervisor, rather, it’s exchanged w/the HR Admin.  There may be documentation required to substantiate medical issues (e.g. those indicating they are at elevated risk due to medical or are immunocompromised) just as would be required if the employee were requesting a leave due to that issue but at this time, the intent is not for people to be placed on leaves but rather to work around whatever issues we are able to by either arranging for employees to work (or continue to work) from home or where that it is not possible/practicable, to omit them from the staffing plan for the first phase.
 
I understand that some employees were caught off guard by the request for this information, but I just want to reiterate that this is not ill-intentioned.  Indeed, it’s to the benefit of the employee because if we do not know that they have an issue - whether childcare, medical etc. - then we have to assume that they are ready and able to return, which is likely to result in them being worked into the staffing plan for the initial phase. 
 
The various courts/facilities are in the process of being prepared w/various safeguards including (where applicable) plexiglass barriers, floor and other markings to denote 6 feet of space, signage reminding of the requirement that masks be worn, reconfiguring of various common/public areas to ensure the appropriate distance.  As discussed with the unions at our meeting on May 7th, the unions will each be invited for a walk-through of the respective courts/facilities.   Local management is arranging for these so questions about scheduling the walk-throughs should be directed to the Chief Clerk.
 
Please let me know if you have any questions or concerns -- be well!
 
Regards,
Carolyn Grimaldi, Esq.
Director of Human Resources
Office of Court Administration