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Coronavirus FAQs

Northwestern employees can find answers to specific work-related coronavirus/COVID-19 questions. More general information can be found on the Coronavirus/COVID-19 Updates site.

Furlough-related questions can be found on the Staff Furlough FAQ page. (Please note, this page requires a NetID login)

Working Remotely

1. Are there in-person HR services available on campus?

To protect the health and safety of our staff and the Northwestern community, all in-person HR services will be temporarily located at the 1800 Sherman building in the main lobby and Suite 1-100 on the Evanston campus. This location is better equipped to accommodate the volume of HR customers while adhering to the federal, municipal and local guidelines as well as COVID-19 best practices. This temporary location will service both Evanston and Chicago campuses. Chicago operations will be evaluated on an ongoing basis.

HR Services and Hours
Temporary location:  1800 Sherman, main lobby and Suite 1-100, Evanston Campus
Effective dates:           Tuesday, September 8  - until further notice
Office hours:                 8:30 a.m. – 5 p.m. | Monday through Friday

In-person HR services include, but are not limited to:

  • Completing I-9 employment eligibility and document verification
  • Assisting with foreign national processing and documentation for new students and employees
  • Processing and distribution of paychecks
  • Intake and processing of payroll, benefits, and recruiting documents
  • In-person assistance for employee and student walk-ins (e.g. assisting with direct deposit, benefits enrollment, training registration)
  • Assistance for external applicants with job application questions or on-site job interviews
  • Receipt and distribution of mail for payroll and benefits (e.g. enrollment forms, garnishment orders, returned checks)

2. Now that the University has restricted campus access to essential staff only and directed everyone who can work remotely to do so, how do we track time for non-exempt employees?

Non-exempt employees and their managers should follow these guidelines for the duration of this period of remote work:

  • Duration: Typically, flexible work arrangements are not indefinite. Managers will remain in regular communication with all their direct reports to inform them when they are expected to resume regular on-campus activity. Employees who are deemed “essential” will be notified in writing, as described in the Remote Work and Travel Update for Faculty and Staff.
  • Time tracking: The employee must track all time worked. No untracked work should be performed.
  • Meal/rest periods: Whether engaged in remote work or on campus as an “essential employee,” the employee is expected to take standard meal and rest breaks.
  • Overtime: The employee may not work overtime (more than 8 hours in a day or more than 40 hours in a week) without express, written approval from the manager. 
  • Disciplinary action: Any unauthorized overtime work may result in disciplinary action.
  • Log in/Log out: Non-exempt employees working remotely are expected to log into their computers/NU network at the beginning of their work day and log out at the end of their work day. 

Note that the guidelines above assume that the employee is able to work. If the employee is unable to work due to illness, they should use Incidental Sick Time or Extended Sick Time as appropriate, until they have recovered. 

Upon returning to work following an absence due to a personal illness, they may be required to provide a return-to-work clearance from their healthcare provider to the Human Resources Benefits team. If there are any questions regarding the return to work process, employees may contact or 847-491-7513.

3. My employee is outside the United States during this stay-at-home period and scheduled to start or to continue working. Can they do so?

Consistent with existing University policy, employees residing outside of the United States are not permitted to start working for the University, absent prior approval from central Human Resources. If an employee on your team already resides in and works from a location outside of the United States, you must contact central Human Resources to review the arrangement. If an employee on your team is currently abroad, but they typically reside and work in the United States (and are authorized to do so), they may continue working while abroad on a temporary basis.

Added May 1, 2020


1. What resources are available for employee well-being?

Staff and faculty can contact the Employee Assistance Program to schedule free, confidential 24/7 telephonic and video counseling with a licensed counselor for themselves or for their household family members.

The Faculty Wellness Program is also available for Faculty including international locations. Download a printable Faculty Wellness brochure.

Nutrition consultations will be hosted online via BlueJeans for the month of April and Chicago weekly drop-in meditation will be hosted online via Zoom, tentatively scheduled to begin on 3/24.

The YourLife mailing list will provide weekly up-to-date communications about resources and online programs.

The Well-Being team works in collaboration with the HR Business Partner team to provide individual and team consultations and training regarding flexible arrangements, including telecommuting. Both managers and employees may schedule a flex consultation or request resources on best practices by emailing

The NU Cares emergency fund supports benefits-eligible staff and faculty experiencing a severe, temporary, and unforeseen financial hardship. Applications are strictly confidential and are reviewed by a committee of staff and faculty. The fund is administered by the Well-being team within the Office of Human Resources. Assistance granted is not a loan and is not required to be repaid.

The Well-being team continues to offer individual, tailored well-being consultations telephonically or via video chat. Email to schedule an appointment.

Remote Learning & Performance for Managers and Staff

1. What resources does the University provide for learning remotely?

The Office of Human Resources has introduced a new remote learning solution: Learn From Where You Are. Learn From Where You Are is here to provide you access to on-demand and live virtual learning, and offer you ways to grow professionally, build your skills, and stay engaged and connected.

2. How will the Performance Excellence process be impacted?

All schools and units are expected to complete Performance Excellence reviews and ratings in 2021. Goals and priorities may have shifted recently and performance reviews should take these shifts into account. Supervisors and staff engaged in remote work are advised to define performance according to successful outcomes rather than “time in seat.” 

In all times, it is a manager's responsibility to provide a candid performance rating and let staff members know where they stand. Ideally, performance ratings promote honest conversations between staff and supervisors that lead to strong planning for the year ahead.

Staff Hiring

1. I need to backfill and hire a current approved, budgeted position. Should I continue to schedule and conduct in person interviews?

In-person interviews should be moved to video conference or phone, whenever possible. Your Talent Acquisition partner can provide guidance and best practice for conducting interviews of these kind.

2. We have a new staff hire that will begin employment in the next few days; how should we proceed?

Depending on the needs of the department, the hiring manager will decide if the employee will begin employment as scheduled, or make arrangements for the new hire to work remotely. In some limited circumstances, a delayed start date may be agreed with the new hire. Contact Talent Acquisition if you need to consider this option.