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 for at least three weeks, an aggressive measure designed to combat the spread of the virus.

During this time, CMU will continue to operate to the fullest extent safely possible and remote classes will continue through the end of the semester.

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

Answers to additional frequently asked questions are available on CMU’s Coronavirus: What you need to know page.

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 March 26, 2020 at noon.

PREVENTING THE SPREAD OF ILLNESS AT WORK

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 do not receive pay for time not worked or any paid-time-off benefits.

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.

PAY, TIME OFF & LEAVE

(For Staff and Temporary Employees)
To prevent loss of income during the Stay Home, Stay Safe executive order, which is effective 3/24/20 – 4/13/20, the university has temporarily approved the use of paid administrative leave. During this timeframe, benefit-eligible employees, whose supervisors have reduced their work hours or who have been told by their supervisor there is no work to perform, may record paid administrative leave to fulfill their normal work schedule.
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.

Where an employee has been instructed by a supervisor or a medical professional 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. If there is insufficient sick leave to cover the full duration of the quarantine period, paid administrative leave will be used to cover the balance of the quarantine period.
Where an employee reports a need to be away from work to care for a family member who is showing COVID-19 symptoms or where the family member has been directed by a medical professional to self-quarantine:
  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. If there is insufficient sick leave to cover the full duration of the quarantine period, paid administrative leave will be used to cover the balance of the quarantine period.
Where an employee requests to be away from work out of concern for exposure to COVID-19 in the workplace or out of concern for their own existing health condition that could make the employee more susceptible to COVID-19 exposure, the employee — with supervisory approval — may work from home. Regular pay will continue. If unable to work from home, the time will be covered by accrued vacation.

Temporary employees do not receive pay for time not worked.
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).
If you are affected by a building or unit closure or cancellation of classes, you may be assigned an alternative work assignment or location, if possible. If no alternative work assignment or location is available, the affected staff employees are to cover the time away from work with accrued time off benefits or — if time off benefits are exhausted — be absent without pay.

If an alternative work assignment or location (see TELECOMMUTING & ALTERNATIVE WORK SCHEDULES, below) is available and you choose not to accept it, you will have to cover the time away from work with accrued vacation or be absent-without-pay.

Temporary employees do not receive pay for time not worked or any paid-time-off benefits.
You may not bring your children to the workplace. If you need to be home to care for others, talk to your supervisor about using your accrued time off.

If your accrued time off is exhausted, you may use unpaid absence or make alternative work arrangements. Employees should make arrangements with their supervisor in advance of taking time off.

Temporary employees do not receive pay for time not worked.

ABOUT ESSENTIAL EMPLOYEES

An essential employee is an employee in a position designated by management as required and necessary to maintain immediate and necessary campus or university functions during an adverse event.

Designation of “essential” employee: CMU realizes and appreciates that employees are working hard both on campus and remotely to maintain continuity of operations in this challenging environment. All employees are extremely important and valuable to these endeavors.

Pursuant to the executive order, the university determines and designates as “essential” any employee whose physical presence at their place of work is necessary to the continuity of university operations.

Employees whose presence on campus is not essential to the continuity of university operations should not report to their on-site work locations. Wherever possible, employees will be directed to work from home.

Leadership from each unit or college will determine that area’s minimum necessary operations and who, from among all positions in any employee group in their unit, must report to the worksite in order to continue these essential functions. Employees thus identified will be informed of this verbally and in writing. Senior officer offices remain open with a minimal level of staffing to maintain operations. Other unit offices can be closed and must post telephone and email contact information or directions to a senior officer office.

Social distancing measures: Pursuant to the executive order, employers must restrict the number of workers present to the minimum necessary to perform critical infrastructure functions, keep workers and patrons on premises at least six feet apart, increase standards of facility cleaning and disinfection to limit exposure to COVID-19, and adopt policies preventing workers from entering the premises if they display respiratory symptoms or have had contact with a person who is known or suspected to have COVID-19.

Written notice of essential employee designation: The governor’s executive order requires employees who need to report to work on campus to be provided a written copy of this designation by March 31. A template document will be provided to supervisors by Friday, March 27.
If the employee was aware they had been designated as an essential employee and the expectations of this designation, talk with them to find out why they didn’t come to work as required. If they have a reasonable explanation, remind them of their responsibilities as an essential employee. If their explanation is not reasonable given the situation, corrective action may be an option. Contact FPS or HR as appropriate for specific guidance.

TELECOMMUTING & ALTERNATIVE WORK SCHEDULES

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.
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.