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COVID-19 Information: Public Health and Emergency Leave

Public Health and Emergency Leave (PHEL) is a benefit activated by the Commonwealth of Virginia for state employees as a result of the impact of COVID-19 and when remote work options are not available. This benefit is available to Virginia Tech full- and part-time faculty and staff, and many wage employees who are impacted by the virus. See below for more information. For information on the Families First Coronavirus Relief Act (FFCRA), visit this page.


The following employees are eligible for PHEL:

  • Full- and part-time staff
  • Full- and part-time faculty
  • Adjunct faculty through the duration of the current appointment
  • 1,500 hour wage employees  
  • In a limited capacity, student wage employees, excluding:
    • Student employees who are not in proximity to their primary work location and not available to work
    • Student employees in federal work-study (FWS) positions. FWS positions are covered by a separate provision.
  • Wage employees should have maintained consistent employment status leading up to the period for accessing the benefit.

Reasons for use

PHEL may be used for the following reasons:

  • In the event an employee becomes sick with COVID-19 or must self-quarantine.
  • If an employee must take care of a family member who becomes sick with COVID-19. 
  • If an employee has chronic health conditions or is aged 65 or older and there are no alternative flexible work options, such as telework, to maintain social distancing.

PHEL Hours

  • Up to 80 hours of leave will be granted based on employee classification and average hours worked. Employees will be able to retroactively enter the leave as of Mar. 12.
  • PHEL is a one-time grant of leave time for employees impacted by COVID-19. This leave bank will not replenish.
  • Once an employee uses all PHEL leave, additional hours of absence must be covered using existing leave or other COVID-19 options.
  • PHEL will expire when the current emergency ends or upon an employee's separation from Virginia Tech or other state entity. 
  • PHEL will not be paid out upon separation or in any other situation and cannot be used to extend a separation termination date. 
  • PHEL will not be included in overtime or comp time accruals. 


Employees will need to provide documentation to their supervisor to confirm a COVID-19 diagnosis, potential exposure, or for the reasons outlined above. Documentation can include a note from a healthcare provider or public health agency or documents showing recent travel to heavily impacted areas as outlined by the CDC. The employee’s department should maintain this documentation per University Policy No. 2000: Management of University Records. Employees should work with their supervisor to confirm eligibility for PHEL. 

Recording PHEL hours:

Full and part-time benefited faculty and staff employees will record PHEL as follows:

  • Time should be recorded using the PHEL code in the Leave and Time Worked Reporting system.
  • The amount of leave available will be reflected in the leave system for each faculty and staff employee. If an employee works part-time, the leave will be prorated.
  • Department managers and supervisors should review and maintain documentation for each situation per records retention requirements. See Documenation section above for more information.
  • It is imperative that all faculty and staff subject to leave reporting complete and submit their leave reports each pay period.

Adjunct faculty, regular wage and student wage employees (non-Federal Work Study):

  • Employees should contact their managers or supervisors or the HR Leave Team to determine eligibility and initiate the leave.
  • Departments will request and maintain appropriate documentation supporting eligibility.  
  • Hours of available leave will be based on the average number of hours worked in recent pay periods.
  • The department leave representative or other designee should maintain PHEL hours for employees in a spreadsheet and submit to the HR Leave Team. Spreadsheets should include the employee’s last name, VT ID number,  the date for which PHEL should be applied, and the number of PHEL hours for each impacted day.
    • Information for wage employees should be submitted to the Leave Team at the end of the wage pay period on the 1st and 16th of every month.
    • Information for adjunct faculty should be submitted to the Leave Team on the closeout date for the salaried payroll.
    • Hours will be entered for payment by the Leave Team. No entries should be made by the employee or the department for PHEL for wage employees in TimeClock Plus or Banner. 
    • Departments liaisons will be responsible for review during the reconciliation process.