Employee Expectations & Compliance Processes
for the use of Face Coverings

Employee Expectations & Compliance Processes for the use of Face Coverings

"Based on the current health conditions and aligned with CDC guidance as well as our commitment to deliver in-person learning at the University of Arizona, we will require face masks be worn in all indoor spaces where it is not possible to adequately and continuously maintain social distance."

President Robert C. Robbins, Aug. 10, 2021


We Wear Because We Care

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), COVID-19 mainly spreads from person to person through respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs, sneezes, or talks. These droplets can be inhaled by or land on and infect people nearby. Although it is essential for anyone who is sick or has been exposed to COVID-19 to isolate at home, we know that people who do not show symptoms of COVID-19 may spread the disease without knowing they are infected.

To limit the spread of COVID-19, the most important public health measures are (i) to maintain physical distancing of 6 feet or more at all times, and (ii) to wear a face covering to provide a barrier that reduces the person-to-person spread of airborne respiratory droplets. Ongoing scientific studies show that consistent wearing of face coverings in public spaces is an effective strategy for slowing COVID-19 infections (see the CDC guidance on face coverings).

We cannot provide excellent teaching, research, service and extension experiences unless all members of the Wildcat community work together to protect each other’s health and safety. Each of us is responsible for knowing and following all applicable University guidelines and policies, including the University Staff Standards of Conduct, Classified Staff Rules of Conduct, and Professional Conduct policies.


Engagement and Compliance Protocol

View the University's most recent face covering expectations here.

While failure to comply will be handled consistent with the University’s Performance Management Guidelines, the below outlines possible responses to common issues that may arise.

In situations where non-compliance is the result of an employee forgetting, losing, or not having a face covering or a misunderstanding about when and where face coverings are required (non-willfull), we ask that supervisors follow this protocol, as far as needed, to ensure compliance:

*** In cases of addressing non-compliance, the supervisor will need to involve their Human Resources Consultant before presenting any written corrective action documents to employees.

  1. Issue a first reminder of expectations, as needed. Politely remind the employee of the need for a properly worn face covering. If necessary and available, the unit supervisor should provide a face covering, or, if face coverings are not readily available, the employee should be instructed to leave and return wearing a face covering. Document your conversation with the employee.

  2. Provide a verbal warning to reinforce expectations, as needed. If the same employee fails to wear a face covering when and where required after receiving a reminder (but agrees to wear it when reminded), the supervisor should instruct the employee to wear their face covering to cover the nose, mouth and chin. Alert the employee to the conduct policies referenced above and remind the employee that violating these policies could lead to further disciplinary action, including termination of employment.

  3. If the employee complies, document the verbal warning in a follow-up email that follows this standard language:

    Subject: Verbal warning on non-compliance with face covering expectations

    Dear ______, Following our conversation earlier today, I am writing to reiterate expectations. As we discussed, the wearing of a face covering is expected in University of Arizona workspaces as outlined on the Face Coverings page.

    You have now been observed multiple times without a face covering on at work, most recently at around Y:YY am/pm in the ZZZZ Building on XX/XX/XXXX. Your behavior is putting others at risk. If you are unwilling to wear the face covering in future, you will have to leave the worksite and may need to report your time as unpaid. If you need time to leave the worksite to retrieve a face covering, you may use vacation time. Continued unwillingness to wear or bring your face covering may result in corrective action up to and including termination.

  4. If the employee refuses to comply, direct the employee to leave the workspace immediately, and work with your unit’s assigned Human Resource consultant on next steps. More information about responding to an employee who willfully refuses to wear a face covering is provided below. 

  5. Issue a written warning. If violations continue, work with your unit’s assigned Human Resources Consultant to issue a written warning with this standard language:

    Dear ______, You are being issued this written reprimand for unsatisfactory behavior. You have failed to consistently wear your face covering as directed. We have discussed this on ___ number of occasions, most recently in an email dated ______.

  6. Pursue further disciplinary action. If the employee continues to violate the expectation, continue to work with the assigned Human Resources Consultant if further disciplinary action is required, up to and including termination.

In the case of an employee who willfully refuses to properly wear a face covering (regardless of whether the employee has received any prior discipline identified above), the supervisor should ask the employee to leave the work area and immediately contact the department’s Human Resources Consultant. The Human Resources Consultant will work with the employee to evaluate the situation and determine whether discipline is appropriate. 

Generally, the University will deal with an employee who willfully refuses to wear a face covering in the same way it deals with employees who willfully refuse to comply with University safety rules or who engage in harmful or dangerous conduct. Unless otherwise prohibited by law, employees refusing to wear a face covering will be asked to leave the worksite. Any time away from work because an employee refuses to wear a face covering will be unpaid and employees who continue to refuse may be subject to discipline, up to and including immediate termination of employment.

Do you need more assistance?

Please contact your HR Organizational Consultant with questions.