Frequently Asked Questions About Work-related COVID-19 Issues​

As the world, our nation and our state continue to respond to the rapidly spreading threat of COVID-19, we continue to face new challenges as a university – challenges we've never had to face before.

Governor Whitmer issued a "Stay Home, Stay Safe" order for the state of Michigan effective March 24, 2020, an aggressive measure designed to combat the spread of the virus, which remains in place today.

During this time, CMU continues to operate to the fullest extent safely possible and a phased approach to bringing employees back to work on campus was announced May 9.

For up-to-date information on the university’s response to coronavirus (COVID-19), please visit the CMU Coronavirus Information Center.

For HR related questions, contact the HR-Employment Services at 989-774-2010 or emplsvcs@cmich.edu (staff) or Faculty Personnel Services at 989-774-3368 (faculty). For student employee related questions, please contact Student Employment Services at 989-774-3881 or stuempl@cmich.edu.

The language used in this document does not create a contract of employment between Central Michigan University and any employee. The university reserves the unilateral right to modify, change, suspend, or cancel all or any part of the policies, procedures, and programs described herein at any time, with or without prior notice. When the university develops new or modifies existing policies, procedures and programs, it will notify members of the university community as soon as practical.

This page will be regularly updated as more information becomes available. Last updated May 14, 2020 at noon.

PREVENTING THE SPREAD OF ILLNESS AT WORK

Governor Gretchen Whitmer issued an executive order instructing people who are present in an enclosed public space to wear a non-medical grade face covering. To comply, the university requires any employee able to medically tolerate a face covering to wear a covering over their nose and mouth when on-campus. Employees are permitted to wear their own workplace appropriate personal face coverings – such as a homemade mask, scarf, bandana, or handkerchief; employees in need of an employer-provided face covering should contact their supervisor and a face covering will be provided. Supervisors shall elevate requests for such face coverings through their supervisory chain to their VP/AVP/dean. Requests for face coverings must be approved by the appropriate VP/AVP/dean and submitted to University Stores.

Face coverings are required to be worn in any indoor area of the university. However, face coverings are NOT required to be worn by employees who are:

  • Alone in their own workplace space, to include, private office, cubicle with tall walls.
  • Outdoors unless working in proximity with others where social distancing cannot be maintained
  • Working remotely in their home.

Resources: Wearing a face covering does not replace the need for social distancing or other efforts to slow the spread of COVID-19. In addition to wearing cloth face coverings, remember to:
  • Avoid contact with those who are sick, stay home if you’re sick, and if you become sick at work, distance yourself from co-workers, contact your supervisor and go home.
  • Frequently clean hands with soap and water or an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol. Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth.
  • Practice good cough and sneeze etiquette.
  • Routinely disinfect high touch points, facilities, work area, personal electronics, and shared equipment and spaces.
Recognize the early symptoms often associated with COVID-19:
  • Fever
  • Cough
  • Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
  • Chills
  • Repeated shaking with chills
  • Muscle pain
  • Headache
  • Sore throat
  • New loss of taste or smell
Employees are required to wear face coverings at the direction of their employer. It is the responsibility of each individual to comply with this requirement, enforced by supervisors for employees and by units providing services to students and guests.
Yes. Facilities Management will place signs on exterior doors to all buildings on campus. In addition, departments are expected to utilize visual cues in the office.
  • Post a similar sign on the door(s) to their office and/or on the counter of a reception desk in a visitor’s line-of-sight.
  • Place signs indicating where queuing begins and the one-way direction of traffic flow in any reception area where queuing is formed.
  • Where signage and markings are insufficient to maintain the six-foot recommended social distancing space, departments are authorized to add a physical barrier (e.g. dedicating a space for visitors to complete paperwork, marking employee only areas, utilizing sneeze guards, etc).
Employees will be encouraged to self-monitor their temperature and any symptoms before coming to work every day. Weekly e-mails will be sent to all CMU employees reminding them of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines.

Employees have a personal responsibility to practice social distancing, wash hands frequently, practice cough/sneeze etiquette, use and dispose of tissues properly, avoid touching their face, and respect their neighbors. Handshaking and other forms of physical contact are discouraged.

Employees who feel ill or have symptoms of COVID-19 are encouraged to stay home; supervisors may direct an employee to go home if they are showing symptoms of COVID-19.
For contagious illnesses, maintaining a reasonable distance from the person is a starting point. Do not shake hands or make other physical contact. Offer the individual a tissue and ask the person to cover their mouth and nose if they should need to cough or sneeze. Use a sanitary wipe after the person has left to wipe those areas of your workstation that the person has touched. There may be situations in which a meeting can be rescheduled to a time when the person is feeling better or the business can be conducted by phone or e-mail. Do not hesitate to offer this suggestion if it is appropriate.
To prevent potential exposure of others, a supervisor may direct an employee to go home if they are showing symptoms of COVID-19: fever, cough, shortness of breath. The decision to send an employee home who is exhibiting these symptoms should be made on a case-by-case basis. Consult with FPS or HR, as appropriate, before sending an employee home (see PAY, TIME OFF & LEAVE, below).

In addition, supervisors need to advise employees of basic preventative measures (practice good hygiene, including frequent hand washing, covering your nose and mouth with your sleeve if you cough or sneeze, and avoiding touching your eyes, nose or mouth with your hands). We recommend posting CDC hand hygiene flyers throughout your work areas.
You may leave work with supervisory approval. Discuss with your supervisor about how you may be able to make up the work in the same workweek, work a different schedule, or work from home (see PAY, TIME OFF & LEAVE, below).

Temporary employees will be unpaid for time not worked due to reasons that do not fall under the Families First Coronavirus Response Act.

HEALTH CARE COVERAGE

(For faculty and staff covered by a CMU-sponsored health plan)
If a medical professional orders a COVID-19 Test for you, it will be covered at no cost under all CMU-sponsored healthcare plans. This means that all copays, deductibles, and out-of-pocket costs are waived only for the focused test used to diagnose COVID-19. If you incur office visits or have other treatment needs, see the next question.
If you require an office visit for testing, or for treatment of a diagnosed case of COVID-19, you will have the same coverage that is currently available for any emergency or non-emergency illness, subject to the normal deductible, copay, and out-of-pocket amounts under CMU-sponsored medical plan you are enrolled. For additional coverage details, visit the CMU Benefits & Wellness webpage.
CMU provides resources to help benefit-eligible faculty and staff employees and eligible dependents cope with these types of life events through its Employee Assistance Program (EAP). Call 800-788-8630 (24 hours a day, 365 days a year). The EAP provides confidential, short-term counseling at no cost to the employee. Additionally, employees enrolled on a CMU-sponsored health plan can schedule time to speak with a counselor in the privacy of their home through the telemedicine option.
Benefit coverage will continue for employees who use approved unpaid time (either partially or fully unpaid). Employee premium cost share will be withheld when pay is available. When there isn't sufficient pay, employee premium cost share will go into arrears and will be withheld on the next available pay(s).

It's important to note that it may take several pays to recoup the benefit premium cost share due. Employees may not receive any pay until their cost share has been repaid. If employment terminates and the employee has not paid their benefit premium cost share, the Benefits & Wellness Office will mail a letter to the employee with instructions on how to repay the outstanding premium cost share.

PAY, TIME OFF & LEAVE

(For Staff and Temporary Employees)
Employees may apply for Emergency Leave if they are unable to work or telework and meet the eligibility criteria under EPSL or EFMLA.
  • Emergency Paid Sick Leave (EPSL): Beginning April 1, 2020, CMU will provide eligible employees with Emergency Paid Sick Leave (EPSL). The EPSL may be used if an employee is unable to work (or telework) for one of six qualifying reasons. Eligible full-time employees may be paid for up to 80 hours of paid sick leave. Eligible part-time employees willl receive EPSL based on the average number of hours they work within a two-week period. Pay is at full or 2/3 rate depending on which of the six qualifying reason an employee is taking EPSL.
  • Emergency Family and Medical Leave (EFMLA): In addition, eligible CMU employees can apply for Emergency Family and Medical Leave (EFMLA) if an employee is unable to work (or telework) because they are caring for their minor child, if the child's school or child care provider is closed or unavailable due to the COVID-19 emergency.

    The first ten days of EFMLA leave are unpaid (but EPSL or regular accrued leave can be used during this period). After that, eligible employees will receive up to 2/3 of their regular pay for up to 10 weeks, for the number of hours that the employee would normally be scheduled to work. EFMLA claims will count toward the regular, annual FMLA limit of twelve work weeks.
A new leave code, "COVID-19 PA", has been added to the time and attendance system, TimeClock Plus. Benefit-eligible employees should use this leave code to track and record their approved paid administrative leave used during Gov. Whitmer's "Stay Home, Stay Safe" order.

To record time, benefit-eligible employees should enter paid administrative leave using the "Request Manager" and applicable Template (see image below). This is the same location other types of leave time (e.g. sick, vacation, FMLA, etc.) are recorded. Hourly employees should record their time in hour increments (1/2 day increments for salaried employees). Supervisors or department designated approvers will be responsible to approve the requested time, prior to the payroll deadline.

Employees may apply for Emergency Leave if they are unable to work or telework and meet the eligibility criteria under EPSL or EFMLA.

  • Emergency Paid Sick Leave (EPSL): Beginning April 1, 2020, CMU will provide eligible employees with Emergency Paid Sick Leave (EPSL).  The EPSL may be used if an employee is unable to work (or telework) for one of six qualifying reasons.  Eligible full-time employees may be paid for up to 80 hours of paid sick leave.  Eligible part-time employees will receive EPSL based on the average number of hours they work within a two-week period. Pay is at full or 2/3 rate depending on which of the six qualifying reason an employee is taking EPSL.
  • Expanded Family and Medical Leave (EFMLA): In addition, eligible CMU employees can apply for Expanded Family and Medical Leave (EFMLA) if an employee is unable to work (or telework) because they are caring for their minor child, if the child's school or child care provider is closed or unavailable due to the COVID-19 emergency. 

 The first ten days of EFMLA leave are unpaid (but EPSL or regular accrued leave can be used during this period).  After that, eligible employees will receive up to 2/3 of their regular pay for up to 10 weeks, for the number of hours that the employee would normally be scheduled to work.  EFMLA claims will count toward the regular, annual FMLA limit of twelve work weeks. 

For additional information on eligibility, key features, pay and other important aspects of EPSL and EFMLA leaves, visit: 

When a benefit-eligible employee has been instructed by a supervisor to self-quarantine, the employee will be sent home.
  1. If the employee is able to work from home during the quarantine, the employee’s regular pay will continue.
  2. If the employee is unable to work from home, the time will be covered by accrued sick leave. 
When a benefit-eligible employee reports a need to be away from work to care for a family member who is showing COVID-19 symptoms:
  1. The employee — with supervisory approval — may work from home. Regular pay will continue.
  2. If unable to work from home, the time will be covered by accrued sick leave.
Temporary employees will be unpaid for time not worked due to reasons that do not fall under the Families First Coronavirus Response Act.
Your supervisor has the authority to cancel any pre-approved vacation request, especially in circumstances where there are serious staff shortages as a result of illness. Your vacation could also be canceled if you have been designated as essential staff (see ABOUT ESSENTIAL EMPLOYEES section for more information).
You may not bring your children to the workplace. If you need to be home to care for others, talk to your supervisor and view the information under “How will I be paid if I have to be away from work due to a COVID-19 related reason?" 

RETURNING TO CAMPUS

We urge all CMU units to take every measure possible to encourage employees who are able to work from home to do so. Supervisors are empowered to determine what functions are essential and who is needed to complete these functions to maintain normal operations. This may mean either working remotely or other flexible work arrangements.

Discuss options with your supervisor. Keep in mind that not all roles are suited for telecommuting due to specific job duties that cannot be performed at home or meet operating requirements of the unit.

Find information on preparing to work remotely here.
Supervisor approval is required to work from home. Supervisors should be flexible in allowing employees to work from home where an employee’s responsibilities can be performed remotely. Some requests to work from home cannot be approved due to the nature of the job. Decisions to approve a request to work from home need to consider whether the employee has the equipment and technology available to fully perform their job away from campus.

The supervisor should complete the Telecommuting Checklist for any employees allowed to work from home.

Note that H-1B employees who are moved to a worksite other than what was originally reported in the H-1B petition or who are permitted to telecommute should contact FPS or HR for guidance on whether amendments to the H-1B petition and LCA are necessary due to the change in work location.
The Phased Return to Campus plan encourages supervisors to bring employees back to campus in a phased approach, allowing the density of employees working on campus to gradually increase over time. Return-to-campus plans must be developed in accordance with the Phasing Back to Campus Plan published by the Emergency Management Steering Committee. That plan can be found here: https://www.cmich.edu/coronavirus/Documents/pdfs/COVID-19-phased-return-plan.pdf.
Out of necessity, the university will need to rely upon the exercise of prudence and good judgement of supervisors who will be responsible for determining what operations should resume on campus, and in what order. The goal is not to return everyone to campus at once, but instead to phase the return in a measured and thoughtful way consistent with operational needs and a rational assessment of the manner in which a particular business unit supports the higher-level functions.
Supervisors are encouraged to allow employees to continue to work remotely until their child caregiver is available. Doing so will support efforts to limit the density of employees on campus as we gradually work toward more robust activity on campus.

If the employee is unable to fulfill their scheduled work hours through remote work, or if the work cannot be performed remotely, with the supervisor’s approval, they may use their accrued leave time or apply for Emergency Paid Sick Leave and/or Expanded Family and Medical Leave, under the federal Families First Coronavirus Response Act. For details, visit the appropriate HR or FPS website.
Employees expressing such concerns should continue to work remotely, as guided by the CDC. This supports our effort to limit the density of employees on campus as we gradually work toward more robust activity on campus.

If the employee is unable to fulfill their scheduled hours through remote work, or if the work cannot be performed remotely, the supervisor should reach out to HR or FPS for further discussion and guidance.
Benefit-eligible employees will have the option to record vacation, personal time, comp time, or banked holiday to fulfill their normal work schedule. During this time and for this purpose only, employees may use vacation in one-hour increments. Employees also have the option to claim unpaid time. In that situation, they might choose to apply for unemployment, eligibility for which is determined by the state of Michigan. Employees who are unpaid for a full pay period are considered on unpaid leave. For benefits continuation, view the information under “What happens to my benefit coverage if I am claiming unpaid time?
You may be directed to work more hours or different hours than normal, especially if you have been designated as an essential employee or the university is short staffed due to an outbreak. Supervisors will attempt to provide advance notice if possible.
In the event of a serious outbreak, we all may be needed to work differently — including more hours — to ensure the university continues to function. Supervisors will make efforts to permit employees to take rest periods and may use their discretion in scheduling additional breaks for employees working additional hours.

STUDENT EMPLOYMENT

As long as students have living arrangements available and the need for their work exists, student employees may continue to work during this time. Before reporting to work, students are encouraged to contact their supervisor.
Supervisors may allow students to work remotely if they have the tools available to complete the work and the nature of the work supports working remotely. The Telecommuting Checklist should be completed for each student that is allowed to work from home. Students working remotely must clock in and out via TimeClock Plus .
Student employees will only be paid for time worked and will not be compensated for time not worked due to the coronavirus situation.
Student employees will not be penalized as long as they notify their supervisors of their plans to not report to work.