Resources for Telecommuting and FAQs

Law School Human Resources has prepared telecommuting guidance and FAQs that employees should refer to during this period of remote working and teaching. If you have a question or concern that has not been addressed, please contact Law School Human Resources at hr@law.columbia.edu.

Last revised: March 27, 2020

Many work resources are accessible from either your Columbia-issued or personal laptop or tablet. LionMail is accessible from any device by visiting LionMail and logging in with your UNI and password. Once logged in, additional LionMail resources (e.g. Drive, Calendar, Docs) are accessible from the Google Apps menu in the top right of your screen. 

When working remotely, you may need to start a VPN session to access certain restricted applications. For detailed instructions, consult instructions provided by the Law School Helpdesk.

Holding Meetings

Location doesn’t matter when you have reliable online tools to help you connect and collaborate with colleagues. The Columbia Law School community has access to the Zoom platform, allowing users to hold tele- and video conferences. All Law School employees will have access to a Zoom Pro account. Please feel free to reach out to the IT Helpdesk with any questions related to Zoom. The Zoom Help Center is also an excellent resource for one-minute video introductions and how-to tools.

In addition, CUIT provides access to a range of Google Apps that may help you and your team work remotely. Applications like GChat and Drive are helpful for communicating and collaborating on documents. To learn how to set up GChat and access Drive, consult CUIT and Google’s support documentation.  Columbia faculty and staff have access to Linkedin Learning (formerly Lynda.com), which has a training session on how to fully utilize Google Hangouts and GChat.

Call Forwarding

In the event employees are advised to work remotely, it is recommended that employees forward their office phones.

For employees using NetPhone, CUIT has a user guide with instructions for call forwarding. Look for the “Forwarding All Calls” drop-down option under the “Receiving Calls” header and then click “Features” which will load a page where you can make several changes.

For employees with a ROLM phone, CUIT provides instructions for forwarding calls. Instructions can be found on the ROLM phone tutorial, under the “FORWD” tab.

If you are unsure if you have a NetPhone or ROLM phone, ask your systems administrator or consult Law School Helpdesk by emailing helpdesk@law.columbia.edu.

Managing Employees

Please find below some resources that may help managers and employees work together effectively in a fully remote business operation: 

If you are working remotely, especially on a personal device, be aware of data security issues. Some data (e.g. payroll information, student records) requires additional precautions when accessed on personal devices. Consult with your supervisor on handling sensitive information, and consult CUIT's Office of the Chief Information Security Officer for more information on best practices, data protection, and more.

For questions related specifically to remote working technologies, email helpdesk@law.columbia.edu and someone from our IT Helpdesk team will reach out to provide assistance. For questions related to Human Resources matters, please reach out to our Human Resources department.

faq

Transitioning to Remote Work

Yes, the University and Law School has moved to a remote business operations model with only limited essential staff on campus. 

As of March 22 at 8:00 p.m., Law School buildings, including the Law Library, will be closed to faculty, students, and non-essential staff—even with a CUID. Routine use of offices and workstations will be prohibited.

As of March 22, all non-essential employees have been instructed to work remotely. Routine use of offices and workstations will be prohibited.

As of March 22, only limited essential staff responsible for the ongoing operation of physical and IT infrastructure will be permitted to work on campus. Those reporting to campus should take care to observe appropriate precautions and social distancing measures

 

Those members of our community who are not able to perform their job responsibilities remotely should speak with their department head, who will then consult with CLS Human Resources.

During an emergency, essential personnel provide services that relate directly to the health, safety, and welfare of the Law School in order to ensure continuity of key operations. As in the case of closure due to inclement weather, the Law School has identified specific departments and individuals that are considered essential to maintain these operations. Essential departments at the Law School are: Building Services, Human Resources, Information Technology, Law Library, and the Columbia Law Emergency Response Team (CLERT).  

As of March 22, only limited essential personnel who have been identified to support critical physical and IT infrastructure will be asked to report to campus.

Employee Support

Employees can use NYC Sick Time if they cannot perform their job responsibilities. New York City Earned Safe and Sick Time Act allows for 40 hours per fiscal year to be used for illness or preventative care of one’s self or one’s family members. 

The University is also offering 10 days of paid emergency absence time to full-time and regular part-time employees if they are unable to perform their assigned tasks because of school closures, lack of available child care, or other external challenges related to COVID-19. Employees should submit requests to their department heads, which can be requested in half-day or full-day increments. Department heads should reach out to CLS Human Resources for approval.

 

In addition to the above options, employees can utilize the in-home back-up care network through the Bright Horizons Back-Up Care Advantage Program. As of March 21, 2020 through April 30, 2020, if in-home care is not available through the back-up care program, employees will be offered the option to secure care from within their own personal network (a neighbor, friend, or babysitter) and receive a reimbursement. Please keep in mind, employees are not allowed to use Bright Horizons Back-up Care for 14 days following the last potential exposure if any member of their household has (or has been in close contact with anyone who has) a suspected or confirmed case of COVID-19, or has recently traveled to a high-risk country. Visit these pages for more information on the policy and the latest guidance

The University and the Law School understand that this is a time of heightened stress emotionally, financially, and mentally for our community and your loved ones. We encourage you to reach out to your peers to both give and seek support in this unprecedented time. We have also assembled a list of resources that we hope you utilize.

If you are enrolled in the Transit/Parking Reimbursement Program (T/PRP), you can make changes—reduce or suspend contributions—to your account at any time through CUBES.

Changes made on or before the 20th day of a month will be effective the first day of the following month (March 20 change effective April 1). Changes made on or after the 21st day of a month will be effective the first day of the second following month (March 21 change effective May 1).

If you have a Dependent Care Flexible Spending Account (FSA) and your child care needs have changed due to COVID-19 closures, including working remotely, you can reduce or suspend your Dependent Care FSA through CUBES. This change of situation will be considered a qualifying life status event.

If you have a Healthcare Flexible Spending Account (FSA), per IRS regulations, you cannot change your contributions to the plan mid-year without a qualifying life status event. Working remotely due to COVID-19 is not a qualifying event. FSAs are valid for the January 1 to December 31 plan year.

Supporting Remote Instruction and Work

The IT Helpdesk will be accessible for phone and email consultations during this period  Given the high level of demand, however, IT will not be able to provide on-demand, real-time support for faculty for the entire duration of a class session.

Columbia Law School IT Helpdesk
helpdesk@law.columbia.edu
(212) 854-1370

 

If an employee is working remotely, especially on a personal device, be aware of data security issues. Some data (e.g. payroll information, student records) requires additional precautions when accessed on personal devices. Consult with your department head on handling sensitive data. You may also consult with CUIT's Office of the Chief Information Security Officer for more information on best practices, data protection, and more.

No. Employees are expected to use their home desktop, laptop or tablet when working remotely. If any employee is not equipped to work from home, they should speak with their department head regarding alternative work schedules. Department heads can also consult with Law IT regarding loaner equipment, if available.

We are currently in the process of evaluating the technology needs and resources to accommodate remote work for all non-essential employees. If non-essential support staff are unable to work remotely, the University will continue to honor its commitment to compensating union employees.

Recruitment & Hiring

The University has instructed all schools to cease administrative hiring effective immediately. The Law School will honor any offers that have been formally extended and accepted as of March 16. Please contact CLS HR if you have additional questions.

For new hires beginning the week of March 16, supervisors are asked to reach out to those individuals immediately to advise them of the latest guidelines for University Operations, and to confirm with them if, where, and when they should report to work. Additionally, supervisors should assess the new hire’s ability to work remotely, and notify Columbia Law School IT if any equipment is needed. Supervisors should also direct new hires to the Law School’s Resources for Telecommuting and FAQs web page.

As things continue to change from day to day during this period, the new hire should be directed to Columbia Law School's Office of Human Resources to confirm office hours for those departments which require an in-person visit as part of their onboarding process (e.g., I-9 and CUID offices), and to answer any benefits related questions.

If both parties agree to delay a new hire’s start date, please advise Columbia Law School HR, and they will follow up with the individual to issue a revised offer letter.

Time Reporting

  • Support staff employees who are currently working from home should complete the timesheets in the normal fashion, as should essential staff working on campus.

  • Non-essential support staff employees who are not equipped to work remotely should reflect their normal work schedule on their timesheets.  In addition, please add a comment to each entry stating COVID-19 Pay Continuity.

  • Student casuals who are working remotely should continue to enter their hours into TLAM and submit for supervisor approval.

  • For those students who are not able to work remotely, the University has made a commitment to pay them their regularly scheduled hours through May 15.

    • CLS Human Resources will be reaching out to those students and their supervisors directly.