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Human Resources Office


Read quarterly newsletters from our Human Resources (HR) Director, Ella Fields Bunch.

State Health Plan Covid-19 Update

  • Waiving costs associated with all treatment related to a positive Covid-19 case including deductibles, copayments, and coinsurance until June 1, 2020
  • MinuteClinic Requirement for Tobacco Attestation waived for new employees
  • Covering the cost associated with the testing of Covid-19 regardless of site of service
  • The Third-Party Administrator, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina, is expanding and promoting access to virtual visit with Primary Care Providers, where this service is available; Co-pay for Tele-health or “virtual visits” with PCP (Primary Provider) office visits will apply (ex. well checks, behavioral health services, physical therapy); Co-pays will not apply to “virtual visits” or in-office visits for Covid-19 screenings
  • The Plan is waiving the early medication refill limits on 30-day prescription for maintenance medications only; If you’re trying to refill a non-maintenance medication early, it will be denied; Contact CVS or your pharmacy for verification of your maintenance medication

Friendly Reminder about State of Emergency Leave

If you are using State of Emergency Leave, please make sure you have submitted a separate leave form for March and April. Please note that Payroll has created new time sheets for those claiming State of Emergency Leave. Your application for this leave should be attached to the appropriate time sheet prior to submission to Payroll. For more information on State of Emergency Leave, reference the Emergency Response folder in the COA Human Resources drive.

Virtual HR Office Hours

To continue supporting our employees, the Human Resources Office will offer virtual office hours. Employees are welcome to drop in and ask questions. Days and time will be announced soon for this feature.

2020 Staff Awards

Nominations for the 2020 Staff Awards are now closed. Thanks to those who took the time to submit one.

Updating Personel Contact Information

Employees should make sure their personnel contact information, including emergency phone numbers, are kept current. This can be done through My Service. Login with your COA username and password. Navigate to User Profile under your name to confirm your address, email and phone number. Once complete click on Emergency Information and update if necessary.

Self Care in a Crisis

Stress Management: Coping During Covid-19

Upcoming Workshops

Date Time
Tuesday, April 14 2 – 3:30 p.m.
Thursday, April 16 5:30 – 7 p.m.
Saturday, April 18 1 – 2:30 p.m.
Monday, April 20 2 – 3:30 p.m.

More information to follow.

Embracing the New Normal

Covid-19 has added many stresses and responsibilities to our work and family lives. You may find yourself experiencing a range of emotional reactions right now, which is normal and to be expected. The Human Resources Office has posted resources to help you cope with the stress and anxiety brought on by Covid-19.

As the Coronavirus pandemic sweeps the globe, it’s hard to know where to turn or what to think. Please review some of the resources shared by the Human Resources Office over the past two weeks, including TED Connects.

This is a free, live, daily conversation series featuring experts whose ideas can help us reflect and work through this uncertain time with a sense of responsibility, compassion and wisdom.

We hope you took a few minutes to listen to the podcast emailed to you last week. Three weeks ago, Dr. Brown started the “Unlocking Us” podcast that has quickly shot to the top of the charts. An author, lecturer, researcher and podcast host, Dr. Brown advocates limited screen time and being realistic as many states impose social-distancing restrictions.

Temporary Remote Work Leans Toward Flexibility and Trust as Opposed to Measuring and Monitoring

We are undergoing one of the biggest changes in history of how people work. We have employees who have never worked from home who are now doing it full time. Supervisors also have never managed people from home. Under the circumstances, the policy on Temporary Teleworking (2-39) shouldn’t be thought of as managing productivity but more a set of guidelines and norms for people managing and working in a brand-new way. Think “outcomes,” not workflows and processes. The idea is that employees are expected to accomplish their goals, but how they do it and when they do it is flexible.

Performance evaluation of temporary teleworkers should focus on work output and completion of objectives rather than on time-based performance. An appropriate level of communication between employees and their supervisors is key during this time.

If your position is non-exempt, please get approval before you work off the clock while at home. The Fair Labor Standard Act is still applicable even when teleworking.

Telework can be used as a reasonable accommodation for qualified individuals with medical conditions or other disabilities. Please contact the Human Resources Office to discuss accommodations further.

To provide structure and accountability, all teleworkers must have a signed and approved agreement along with a documentation of duties to be performed on file in the Human Resources Office via DocuSign.

Staying Connected and Supporting Your Team

Trying to stay connected when you can’t meet in person? Try these ideas out!

  • Trivia contests and games like “Can You Hear Me Now”
  • Celebrate birthdays
  • Post pictures of your pets
  • Virtual team-building exercises
  • Remote Lunch and Learn
  • Create a “virtual water cooler” and schedule a host a virtual “bake-off” or cookie swap — share your favorite recipe; read these stories for inspiration
  • Start a book or coffee club: anyone up for a morning chat, or a game of “what does your coffee color say about you?”
  • Host a “Virtual Happy Hour.” Here’s how: round up your favorite afternoon snack, tea, coffee or treat and send out the invite for others to join in.

Need more ideas?

37 Fun Virtual Team Building Activities

9 Team Building Games for Teleworkers

Unique Team Building Games Guaranteed to Motivate

Supervisors are being asked to recognize that employees are attending to their workloads, physical and mental health, family needs (for family members near or far) and other new considerations and adjustments that come from Federal, State, and local regulations and restrictions.

Please show your team members:

  • Patience
  • Compassion
  • Understanding
  • Flexibility

Have regular meetings and video conferences. Start each meeting with a check-in, having each member take a couple of minutes to discuss what they are doing, what’s going well and what’s challenging.

We trust that all employees are doing their very best given these exceptional circumstances and we look forward to the day our college community can reunite again.

Business as Usual

Recruiting, Hiring and Onboarding Continues During the Covid-19 Response

We are actively recruiting applicants for existing vacancies. The Human Resources Office is committed to creating a safe, healthy recruiting experience for candidates and hiring managers.


  • Conduct all candidates interviews via video conference or telephone, if possible (zoom, webEx, etc.)
  • Limit in-person interviews to final interviews
  • Ensure in-person interview locations allow for appropriate social distancing
  • Advise the candidate not to attend the interview if they feel ill
  • Use small interview panels (no more than three people)

Extend Offers and Start Dates

  • Continue making recommendations for hires and Human Resources will make offers to the extent feasible
  • Establish start dates in consultation with the Human Resources Director
  • Advise candidates that start dates may shift in response to Covid-related closures or restrictions
  • If a candidate is unable to complete any of the pre-employment process (background check, reference checks, new hire paperwork) that may affect the start date, hiring managers will be notified by the Human Resources Office
  • Human Resources will facilitate all pre-employment processes remotely, including orientation
  • New hires will be notified in advance of any special instructions
  • Employees hired remotely will need to present their I-9 documents in person by appointment only
  • New hires will be invited to the New Employee Welcome Orientation scheduled for July
  • Supervisors should access the Onboarding information on the Google drive

Why Human Resources is So Important: A Snapshot

In many organizations, the HR department is a behind-the-scenes champion…kind of like Batman. Their work is essential to keep things running smoothly, but it isn’t always noticeable, and it’s almost never glamorous. Because of this, some leaders don’t fully understand how crucial HR is to their organization’s success.

Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) to Be Revised Again

Since its inception in 1993, the last revision was on Feb. 5, 2012.

It’s important, and the law, to allow employees necessary time off when a family or medical need arises. Of all federal employment laws, the FMLA is one of the most popular and beneficial to employees. Most employees are aware of the basic requirements of the law, but they may not realize what protections are covered for employees. It’s not a separate pot of leave available for your use, it’s job protection. It’s a federal law and we must play by the rules. With the upcoming changes, the compliance with the law will also increase. The law kicks in when an employee has an illness, injury or impairment (physical/mental) condition that involves inpatient care (defined as an overnight stay in a hospital, hospice or residential medical care facility). Any overnight admission to such facility is an automatic trigger for FMLA eligibility or continuing treatment by a healthcare provider.

Did you know… When a husband and wife both work for the same company and each wishes to take leave for the birth of a child, adoption or placement of a child for foster care, or to care for a parent (but not parent-in-law) with a serious health condition, the husband and wife may take only a combined total of 12 weeks of leave.

Other important factors to know and treatment as defined by:

  • Continuing treatment by a healthcare provider that results in an incapacity (inability to work, attend school or participate in other daily activities) of more than three consecutive calendar days with either two or more in-person visits to the healthcare provider within 30 days of the date of incapacity or one in-person visit to the healthcare provider with a regimen of continuing treatment, such as prescription medication, physical therapy, etc. Examples include pneumonia, surgery or broken/fractured bones.
  • Incapacity for pregnancy or prenatal care (any such incapacity is FMLA-protected regardless of the period of incapacity). For example, a pregnant employee may be unable to report to work due to severe morning sickness.
  • Permanent or long-term conditions such as Alzheimer’s, severe stroke or terminal disease.
  • Conditions requiring multiple treatments and recovery from treatments such as cancer, severe arthritis and kidney disease.
  • Treatment for substance abuse by a healthcare provider or by a provider of healthcare services.

FMLA regulations don’t cover such things as cosmetic treatments, common colds, flu, ear aches, upset stomach, minor ulcers, headaches (other than migraine), routine dental or orthodontia problems, and periodontal disease.

Exempt vs. Non-Exempt: U.S. Department of Labor Makes New Changes, Effective Jan. 1, 2020

For non-exempt employees, the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) sets minimum wage rates and overtime requirements. Employers are required to pay employees an overtime rate of one and a half times their regular rate for all hours worked in a workweek in excess of 40, unless the employee is otherwise exempt from the FLSA’s overtime requirements.

Compensatory time, referred to as comp time, is paid time off given to a non-exempt employee instead of overtime pay. Employees who anticipate the need for overtime to complete work assignments must notify their supervisor in advance and obtain approval prior to working hours that extend beyond their normal work schedule. Employees who fail to obtain approval prior to working hours that extend beyond their normal workweek will be subject to disciplinary action. The FLSA states that work that is “off-the-clock” is the same as overtime not compensated by an employer at a standard hourly wage.

Federal law defines employment to include permit to work, or “suffer” as result of the activity.

Examples of off-the-clock work:

  • Working while eating your lunch during the (30 minute unpaid) lunch break.
  • Taking work home and working from home including checking and responding to email.
  • Returning work-related phone calls at home or after the assigned work hours have ended.

On the Road Again

HR is engaging and empowering staff through the monthly HR Roadshows. Bringing the HR Office and expertise to you on all four campuses will help employees get HR questions answered and keep you on top of important information about your employment with COA.

Take this opportunity to ask questions and meet one-on-one with the HR Director for a HR check-up. This check-up includes learning how to update your personal information, reviewing retirement, updating beneficiary information, reviewing your insurance options, longevity, sick and annual leave policies, performance reviews, FMLA, and general HR questions. Check your email for dates and times of when the roadshow will be coming to your campus.

Make 2020 the Year of Balance!

Did you know that the U.S. is rated #30 out of 38 countries for work-life balance?

According to a study by the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development, 11.4 percent of Americans work over fifty hours a week, while only spending 11.4 hours on personal time. The long hours also don’t always contribute to more workflow, as 60 percent of participants reported low morale and 36 percent reported poor productivity. These consequences also increased the risk of burnout and health problems. Work, life balance leads to a happier, inclusive and more productive workplace.

Annual Leave
Years of Service Monthly Accrual Times 12-Month, Full-Time Rate
Less than five years 9.33 hours 112 hours
Five years but less than 10 11.33 hours 136 hours
10 but less than 15 years 13.33 hours 160 hours
15 but less than 20 years 15.33 hours 184 hours
20 years or more 17.33 hours 208 hours

Lower Stress Levels, Lower Health Costs and Absenteeism — Financial Literacy Workshops

HR Professionals have frequently reported that personal financial challenges have a large or some impact on overall employee performance. People are less productive at work when they’re worried about their financial health. The HR Office will be partnering with Finance to create opportunities to improve financial literacy among employees (the institution’s assets) at every level of the college. We want employees to understand the value of 401K, health and disability plans. Look for more information in the near future about Financial Literacy Workshops.

U.S. Department of Labor: Overtime Update

Is retirement in your immediate future?

One month of creditable service is allowed for each 20 days of unused sick leave accrued within the provisions of the retirement law. One more month of credit is allowed for any part of 20 days left over, provided the remaining portion is at least one hour. For Teachers’ and State Employees’ Retirement System members, vacation leave in excess of 240 hours (30 days) may be transferred to your sick leave balance in accordance with state law.

Earned sick leave for general employees can be used to complete:

  • 30 years of service at any age
  • 25 years of service after age 60
  • 20 years of service after age 50
  • Five years of service after age 60 (Local Governmental Employees’ Retirement System only)

Institution Leave Request Form to Be Implemented Soon

To assist COA with scheduling, operational requirements and compliance, a leave request form will be implemented this fiscal year. All leave must be documented. Before requesting paid leave, employees must confirm that the leave to be requested is available by checking the leave balances on their most current pay voucher through the employee self-service system. The supervisor will independently verify and approve or disapprove the leave.

Employment Contracts for the 2019 – 2020 Fiscal Year

Employment Contracts are scheduled to be sent to employees through DocuSign the week of Feb. 10, 2020. All questions should be directed to the HR Director.

Upcoming Scheduled HR Events

COA – Elizabeth City COA – Dare COA – Currituck COA – Edenton-Chowan
Jan. 27: Pierce Insurance
Jan. 29 and 30: Retirement Education Counselor
Jan. 28: Retirement Education Counselor Jan. 27: Retirement Education Counselor
Jan. 31: HR Roadshow
Jan. 27: Retirement Education Counselor
Feb. 7: New Employee Orientation
Feb. 18: Total Retirement Conference
Feb. 19: HR Roadshow Feb. 27: HR Roadshow Feb. 12: HR Roadshow
March 31: SHP Retirement Conference

Questions? Contact us at 252-335-0821 ext. 2354.

Joining Together to Fight Flu on Oct. 8

Flu shot clinics were conducted for all full-time employees. Walgreens administered flu, pneumonia and shingles vaccines. More than 70 employees participated. If you missed the opportunity to participate, it’s not too late to get your flu shot! The flu vaccine is recommended for all individuals, ages six months or older, who don’t have contraindications, as the best way to protect against influenza and potentially serious complications. Schedule an appointment with your Primary Care Provider (PCP) or check with your local pharmacy.

Choosing and Changing Your Beneficiaries

If something happens to you, the payout of each of your North Carolina Total Retirement Plans (including the North Carolina pension plan and all supplemental plans) is governed by the beneficiary designation on file with each different plan provider. In most cases, payouts aren’t made based on the relationship of the beneficiary to the deceased member at the time of death. It’s important that each employee review their beneficiaries regularly because payouts are made based on the beneficiary designation on file with each different plan. Please sign into Orbit and visit the Designating Beneficiary web page for information about how to update your beneficiaries for the North Carolina pension plans, supplemental retirement plans, NC Flex plans and other retiree offerings.

2020 Open Enrollment Decision Guide Arrived in Your Home Mail

Your North Carolina State Health Plan Open Enrollment is scheduled for November 2 through 19, 2019.

Hayley Warren, Human Resources Assistant, is the primary contact for questions about Open Enrollment. This is the time to look at your current coverage and decide which health plan option best meets your needs for 2020. The choices you make during Open Enrollment are for benefits from Jan. 1, 2020 through Dec. 31, 2020. Once you choose your benefit plan, you may not elect to switch plans until the next Open Enrollment period. Please feel free to visit your Benefit Booklet available on the State Health Plan website. It’s extremely important to check your email and get signed up for a time.

Take Time to Unwind…

Excerpts from the Society of Human Resource Management

With National Stress Awareness Month upon us, remember to take the time to combat your stress. Everyone has the ability to choose their response to stressors. Here are some tips to help:

  • Recognize when you don’t have control, and let it go
  • Don’t get anxious about situations that you cannot change
  • Take control of your own reactions, and focus on what makes you feel calm and in control; This may take some practice, but it pays off in peace of mind
  • Develop a vision for healthy living, wellness and personal-professional growth
  • Set realistic goals to help you realize your vision.

Be sure to make time for fun and relaxation so you’ll be better able to handle life’s stressors. Carve some time out of the day — even 10 to 15 minutes — to take care of you. Also, remember that exercise is an excellent stress reliever. Less stressed employees make up a more productive organization. Everyone is different, and so are the ways they like to relax and unwind. While you can’t avoid stress, you can minimize it by changing how you choose to respond to it. Stop by your HR Office and pick up a card for a free complimentary one-week membership at the Y!


  • Take a walk
  • Read a book
  • Go for a run
  • Have a cup of tea
  • Play a sport
  • Spend time with a friend or loved one
  • Meditate
  • Do Yoga

Start Planning for Your Next Big Adventure!

If you’re among the thousands planning to retire in the next one to three years, please make sure you’re reviewing your annual statement from the Retirement System, which is distributed in the spring each year. This statement provides you information on your creditable service on file. Review it and make sure it’s correct. If you feel it’s not correct, please contact the System at 877-627-3287 to request a review of your account. Our HR Office will be hosting a Retirement Planning conference in early spring. Also, familiarize yourself with the formula for calculating your retirement benefit and your benefit payment options by downloading a copy of your retirement benefit handbook.

Hiring Part-Time Adjuncts

Prior to building the class schedule, please check with the HR Technician to ensure the candidate hasn’t been terminated from Datatel. If the candidate hasn’t been employed with the college for six or more months they’ll be terminated from the system. The HR Technician can assist you with getting the candidate rehired prior to their new start date. Contact the HR Office if you have questions about this.

Did You Know…

Employees of institutions in the community college system who’re assigned to permanent full-time or permanent part-time positions shall receive longevity pay if the employee meets the requirements of total qualifying service. Longevity pay amounts are computed by multiplying the employee’s annual base or contract salary rate as of the eligibility date by the appropriate percentage, rounded to the nearest dollar, in accordance with the following table:

Years of Total State Service Longevity Pay Rate
10 but less than 15 years 1.50%
15 but less than 20 years 2.25%
20 but less than 25 years 3.25%
25 or more years 4.50%