COVID-19 Paid Time Off (PTO) Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

March 17, 2020  //  FOUND IN: Updates & Resources

Last updated Thursday, February 4 at 10:45 a.m.

These FAQs will continue to be updated as needed. Please check back frequently for more information. Please work with your supervisor or Human Resources representative if you have further questions.

Note: Workforce members who are concerned they have symptoms or have been exposed to COVID-19 should contact Occupational Health for guidance.

The FAQs are broken down by category. Click on the category name to jump to that section:

Paid time off (PTO) options during COVID-19 (coronavirus) pandemic

U-M COVID-19 Paid Time Off 
Available: March 13 – 31; May 1 – currently no expiration date.

COVID-19 Paid Time Off (COVID-19 PTO) is a one-time bank of up to 80 hours, created on March 13. Part-time and temporary employees, including student employees, are eligible for a prorated amount. 

COVID-19 PTO provides paid time off for absence from work due to quarantine, isolation or family care needs related to COVID-19 exposure, illness or other related scenarios.  As of June 17, employees who are idle due to a lack of work cannot use this time off bank.

COVID-19 PTO can be used until the original pro-rated bank of time (up to 80 hours) is depleted or until the University deems it is no longer needed.

Employees hired after June 7, 2020 are not eligible.

Employees who took a voluntary furlough are no longer eligible for this benefit.

Time reporting codes are “RPN/ PAN”.

Michigan Medicine 120-Hour Bank

An additional 120 hours, special-use PTO bank is available for full-time employees who need to isolate as a result of contracting COVID-19 while providing direct care for confirmed COVID-19 patients. This special bank of time is prorated for part time and temporary employees.

Employees are also eligible for the COVID-19 PTO bank of 80 paid-time off hours. Please consult with your supervisor or human resources representative if you have questions about eligibility.

Help determining which paid time off to use

Use this table to help determine which paid time off bank to use and for which COVID-19-related scenario.  

Eligibility

Q1: Will the two federal paid time off programs (EPSLA and EFMLA) be extended with the new COVID stimulus bill?
A1: The Federal Emergency Sick Leave (EPSLA) and Expanded FMLA programs ended on December 31, 2020. The use of these paid time off banks ended on this date, regardless of any remaining time left in either bank. While we continue to monitor activity at the federal level, Expanded FMLA and Emergency Paid Sick Leave have not been extended at this time. We continue to encourage flexibility with remote work and arrangements to support child care and virtual learning. 

Q2: For what purpose can employees use the university’s COVID-19 paid time off ?
A2: Paid time off benefits under these programs support pandemic-related absences such as quarantine, isolation or family care needs related to COVID-19 exposure, illness or other related scenarios, including child care due to public health closure of schools and daycare. As of June 17, employees who are idle due to a lack of work can no longer charge that effort to a federal award.

Q3: Who is eligible for the U-M COVID-19 paid time?
A3: U-M COVID-19 PTO is available to faculty and staff on all campuses and at Michigan Medicine who were hired on or before June 7, 2020. Part-time and temporary employees, including student employees, will be eligible for a prorated amount.

If you have a documented health condition and/or documentation from a health provider or health agency that requires you to quarantine or isolate during this time, you need to follow the standard process of filing the necessary leave of absence paperwork with the HR Solutions Center Leave Management Team. 

Q4: What if I was already off for quarantine, and now, I’m being called back to work?
A4: As of Sunday, March 22, 2020, the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services has now stated that there is sustained transmission of COVID-19 in the community. Therefore, health care workers are at risk of exposure in both the community and the workplace. Health care workers who have been placed off work following travel or an exposure at work or in the community may return to work at this time if asymptomatic, but should monitor for symptoms. You will be paid using the COVID-19 PTO bank for the days you were off of work, and the remaining balance will be available if time off due to new symptoms occurs.

If you have a documented health condition and/or documentation from a health provider or health agency that requires you to quarantine or isolate during this time, you need to follow the standard process of opening a case with the HR Solutions Center Leave Management Team. 

Q5: If I took a furlough in the summer, and EFMLA ends on December 31, will I be able to use the COVID-19 PTO for child care?
A5: Employees who participated in the voluntary furloughs earlier this year are not eligible to use the COVID-19 PTO time off bank.

Q6: Are new hires able to use COVID-19 PTO 80 hour and/or 120-hour banks?
A6: Employees who were hired on or before June 7 are eligible to use the COVID-19 PTO (80 hour) time off bank.

Paid time off usage

Q7: Can I use COVID-19 PTO programs if I can work remotely (telecommute)? 
A7: Paid time off benefits under these programs support pandemic-related absences such as quarantine, isolation or have family care needs related to COVID-19 illness.  If you are working remotely, and contract COVID-19, you are eligible for the 80 hours of PTO.

Q8: Can I use COVID-19 PTO programs for a vacation day?
A8: No. The COVID-19 PTO is specifically designed to support employees who experience COVID-19 illness or other related scenario as identified above.  You can either work remotely or request to use your current PTO or vacation time. Managers/supervisors still have discretion to approve or deny PTO or vacation requests.

Q9: Can the COVID-19 PTO be used for quarantine time when I return from a personal trip? 
A9: No, COVID-19 PTO is not available if you participate in personal travel and must quarantine prior to or upon return.

If you are traveling internationally, you must follow CDC requirements when coming back into the United States. As of January 26, 2021, the CDC requires all air passengers coming to the United States, including U.S. citizens, to have a negative COVID-19 test result or documentation of recovery from COVID-19 before they board a flight to the United States.

Also, you should get tested 3-5 days after travel AND stay home and self-quarantine for 7 days after travel. Even if you test negative, it is recommended that you stay home and quarantine for the full 7 days. If you do not get tested, it’s safest to stay home and self-quarantine for 10 full days after travel. Workforce members should contact Occupational Health Services (OHS) following their return from international travel and provide their COVID-19 test results. OHS does not provide testing for personal travel.

It is recommended that you build this quarantine time into your time off schedule using PTO, Vacation or excused no pay. If you are able, and in a position to work remotely, you can do so during this quarantine time. Please follow the telecommuting policy and keep in contact with your manager/supervisor on your productivity ability. Otherwise, if the quarantine period is needed, the required time away from work will be considered unscheduled time off.

See the CDC’s Frequently Asked Questions for more information.

Q10: If an employee has a documented health condition (e.g., low immunity or higher risk for complications, etc.) may they request to stay home from work?
A10: Employees with documented health conditions (e.g., low immunity or higher risk for complications from COVID-19, etc.), may request accommodations to work from home or on alternative assignments if possible.

Employees with a documented health condition need to provide supporting documentation to the HR Solutions Center, including the reason why the employee is unable to perform the essential functions of their role and what, if any, accommodations are recommended. If remote work is a requested accommodation, managers should try to make that possible.  If it isn’t, time off could be: COVID-19 PTO, followed by paid sick time, paid time off (PTO) or unpaid leave. Additional questions should be directed to the HR Solutions Center: https://hr.medicine.umich.edu/hr-services/solutions-center

Health conditions that may increase the risk of complications due to COVID-19 include:

  • Chronic lung disease or moderate to severe asthma
  • Serious heart conditions
  • Compromised immune system (due to primary or acquired immunodeficiency, solid organ or bone marrow transplant, use of biologic therapeutic agents, malignancy with active or recent chemotherapy, systemic immunosuppressive therapy including corticosteroids equivalent to 20 mg/day of prednisone for ?2 weeks)
  • Severe obesity (body mass index of 40 or higher)
  • Diabetes
  • Chronic kidney disease
  • Liver disease

Q11: Can employees use the COVID-19 PTO to care for a family member who has contracted COVID-19 or is being quarantined?
A11: Yes. Once the COVID-19 PTO balance is exhausted, sick time and paid time off (PTO) can be used to care for sick family members. Employees should follow guidelines from local public health departments to protect their safety.

Q12: What time off options are available for an employee who is a caregiver for a low immune or high risk family member for COVID-19?
A12: If the employee wishes to work remotely to minimize risk to their family, departments are encouraged to give strong consideration to such requests. Employees may also use COVID paid time off to provide caregiving responsibilities for an ill family member related to COVID-19. However, if the family member is not ill, then use of vacation or PTO would be available options if remote work is not possible.

Q13: How do I request use of COVID-19 PTO?
A13: You must obtain your managers approval prior to using COVID-19 PTO. You should follow the normal process of reporting absence and requesting time off with your manager.

Q14: Do I have to use all of the COVID-19 PTO at once?
A14: No, employees can use the paid time off program intermittently during this current pandemic.

Q15: What if I use up all 80 hours of COVID-19 PTO (prorated based on FTE) and still need to be out to care for a family member, myself, etc.?
A15: If any regular faculty or staff members exhaust your COVID-19 PTO bank employees may use approved vacation, sick and PTO according to regular guidelines.

Q16: Are employees required to use paid time off (PTO) or sick time if they are directed to stay home due to COVID-19 related health or child care issues?
A16: When possible, departments are encouraged to allow employees to work remotely if they are directed to stay home from work by a healthcare provider or government health agency, or university operational guidance.

For employees who are unable to work remotely, COVID-19 PTO may be used first before other forms of paid or unpaid time off (e.g. vacation, paid time off or excused time without pay). Employees who are too sick to work may also use U-M COVID-19 PTO before other sick time or paid time off, or to bridge to extended sick time.

For additional information on sick time benefits, reference the staff handbook or applicable collective bargaining agreement.

Q17: Can the COVID-19 PTO be used to bridge to extended sick leave, or, do I have to exhaust one week of paid time off (PTO) in addition to the one-time bank?
A17: Yes, the COVID-19 PTO can be used to bridge to extended sick leave and you do not have to use regular paid time off to extend if your illness is related to COVID-19.

Q18: Will Michigan Medicine allow employees to roll unused COVID-19 PTO time to roll into their permanent PTO bank after this crisis is over?
A18:  Any hours not used for COVID-19 related and approved events will not be rolled into your regular PTO Bank. These hours are specifically for COVID-19 related events, including pandemic-related absences such as quarantine, isolation or family care needs related to COVID-19 exposure, illness or other related scenarios, including child care due to public health closure of schools and daycare. As of June 17, employees who are idle due to a lack of work can no longer charge that effort to a federal award.

Family care/child care/school closure

Q19: If EFMLA is not extended beyond the December 31 expiration date,  will I be able to use the COVID-19 PTO or any other options for child care?
A19: While we continue to monitor activity at the federal level, Expanded FMLA and Emergency Paid Sick Leave have not been extended at this time. We continue to encourage flexibility with remote work and arrangements to support child care and virtual learning.  If an employee is eligible for COVID-19 PTO, and has not yet exhausted the time off bank, they may still use it in 2021. This time off bank will be available until the university deems it no longer necessary.

Also, the university is engaging with care.com to soon offer child care resources to U-M faculty and staff, including our Michigan Medicine team. More details will be coming soon on how to participate in the program.

Q20: Are employees able to take paid time off using the COVID-19 PTO programs because their children’s daycare or schools are closed?A20: Yes, for employees who are not able to work remotely. Care must be for dependent children who are in your custody and closure must be due to a COVID-19 related reason.

When possible, departments are encouraged to allow employees to work remotely and be flexible with arrangements. If the department is unable to provide flexibility or if the child/ren require care that prevents the parent from working, the bank may be considered.

Q21: Can I bring my kids to work during this time?
A21: No, due to infection prevention guidelines and restricted visitor guidelines, children are not allowed to be brought into work with their parents, guardian, grandparents, etc. This includes all locations at Michigan Medicine. 

Q22: If both parent and/or guardians work at U-M, are we both eligible to take time-off at the same time to care for our kids?
A22: Maybe. For employees who are not able to work remotely, the COVID-19 PTO bank are available for child care needs related to the COVID-19 pandemic. Care must be for dependent children who are in your custody. Judicious use of these banks is encouraged.

When possible, departments are encouraged to allow employees to work remotely and be flexible with arrangements.  If the department is unable to provide flexibility or if the child/ren require care that prevents the parent from working, the bank may be considered.

Q23: For those that need child care, what options are available?
A23: If you need child care, start by contacting your typical child care provider. If they are not available or cannot meet your current needs, here are a few programs to look into:

  • U-M Family Helpers: About 100 U-M students (including medical and nursing students) have joined the family helpers program to help first responders and essential staff. Sign in to Family Helpers and look for student profiles flagged “AVAILABLE TO HELP DURING CORONAVIRUS EMERGENCY.” This resource is for Michigan Medicine employees.  
  • Help Me Grown – Michigan: A state-wide network of child care providers is available through this program. Fill out this form and the Child Care Network will contact you directly.
  • U-M Kid Kare at Home: This is is a service for U-M faculty, staff and students when regular child care is unavailable, and it remains open during the COVID-19 pandemic. In order to use the service, employees must register online

General HR questions

Q24: When we reference “isolation” or “quarantine” what do we mean?
A24: According to the CDC, the definitions are:

  • Isolation separates sick people with a contagious disease from people who are not sick.
  • Quarantine separates and restricts the movement of people who were exposed to a contagious disease to see if they become sick.

Q25: How do we support employees who are anxious about being in the workplace during the COVID-19 outbreak?
A25: We recognize that the current events are stressful. If you are struggling or just want to talk with someone, immediate support and information is available through several resources within Michigan Medicine and the University of Michigan. Support is confidential and compassionate.

  • COVID-19 Well-Being Response Team: (734) 763-5409.
  • Guide to Well-bring During the COVID-19 Pandemic
  • Michigan Medicine Office of Counseling and Workplace Resilience 
  • Michigan Medicine Wellness Office 
  • Crisis Text Line® – Text “UMICH” to 741741, to connect to a trained crisis volunteer. Text responders are there 24/7 for support and to help you sort through your feelings by asking questions, empathizing, and actively listening. You need not be in crisis to use this service for support and there is no charge for this service. 

Q26: Should I care for patients who are being tested for COVID-19 or who have confirmed COVID-19 if I am pregnant or have an underlying medical condition?
A26: The CDC has not provided specific guidance on work restrictions for healthcare personnel during the COVID-19 pandemic. Therefore, IPE and OHS have developed recommendations based on previous experience with novel pathogens.

There is evidence that pregnant women who become ill with COVID-19 have a higher risk of hospitalization and need for intensive care unit admission and mechanical ventilation when compared to similar patients who are not pregnant. https://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/volumes/69/wr/mm6925a1.htm  

Based on risk assessment by IPE and OHS, workforce members caring for patients who are being tested for COVID-19 or who have confirmed COVID-19 should not:

  • Be pregnant
  • Be immunocompromised
    • Persons with primary or acquired immunodeficiency
    • Persons on anti-rejection therapy following solid organ transplant or bone marrow transplant
    • Persons on biologic therapeutic agents such as tumor necrosis factor inhibitors o Persons with malignancy and ongoing or recent chemotherapy
    • Persons receiving systemic immunosuppressive therapy, including corticosteroids equivalent to 20 mg/day of prednisone for ?2 weeks
  • Be 70 years of age or older
  • Be unable to wear an N95 mask or powered air-purifying respirator (PAPR) if indicated
  • Be unable to don and doff personal protective equipment safely

Workforce members with the above conditions may continue to provide care for patients who are not being tested for COVID-19 or have confirmed COVID-19.

Workforce members with a documented health condition other than those listed above can request accommodations. They would need to provide supporting documentation to the HR Solutions Center (https://hr.medicine.umich.edu/hr-services/solutions-center), which would need to include the reason why the workforce member is unable to perform the essential functions of their role and what, if any, accommodations are recommended.

Other health conditions that may increase the risk of complications due to COVID-19 include:

  • Chronic lung disease or moderate to severe asthma
  • Serious heart conditions
  • Severe obesity (body mass index of 40 or higher)
  • Diabetes
  • Chronic kidney disease
  • Liver disease

Q27: Will Michigan Medicine provide a stipend for employees who do not have Internet at home, but would like to be able to work remotely/telecommute?
A27: No, Michigan Medicine will not provide a stipend. Reliable access to the Internet is a requirement and a responsibility of the employee for being able to work remotely. See the telecommute policy for information about what is expected.

Q28: What if I have a new employee starting during the next few weeks, are they attending New Employee Orientation (NEO)?
A28: New Employee Orientation has moved to an on-demand format for the foreseeable future. Information will be shared with the hiring manager about how your new employee will access all of the NEO material needed for onboarding.

Q29: Will U-M life insurance pay out for death due to COVID19?
A29: Yes, the University of Michigan life insurance plans will cover claims resulting from the pandemic.

Time reporting

Timekeepers can find more information about time reporting on the Michigan Medicine Human Resources website .

Q30: How do I report COVID-19 PTO time on my timesheet?
A30: Employees can report COVID-19 PTO using a new “RPN” code followed by the “PAN” code for tracking. Those that don’t report time in a central time-keeping system will have to track use of the time locally. See a sample timesheet:

Note: Administrators approving time will see more hours reported than usual because of the two codes being used. The employee will not be overpaid because only RPN is used for payment.

Q31: How do I report my time if I am working remotely due to COVID-19?
A31: Both bi-weekly and monthly paid staff who are working remotely should continue to use REG (regular time worked) when reporting time. Do not report the PAN tracking code.

The PAN tracking code should ONLY be reported when using the COVID-19 PTO, along with using RPN for the 80-hour bank or 120-hour special use banks. See below for further instructions.

Q32: How do I report using the 120 hours of special paid time-off on my timesheet?
A32: Those who qualify for the special 120 hours of paid time-off should report time the same as you would with the COVID-19 PTO bank. See instructions above. Departments may want to enlist the help of administrative support to help track the bank of hours as there will not be a systematic way to track this for each employee.  (i.e., ensuring that a staff member does not exceed the allotment of hours). 

Q33: If I’m a temporary employee, how do I know how much time I qualify for?
A33: First, work with your department timekeeper to determine how many hours you are eligible for.

For the U-M COVID-19 PTO, use the average hours worked each week for the 8 weeks preceding the first use of these hours to determine an FTE; then multiply that by 80 to determine how many hours they are eligible for. 

Michigan Medicine Economic Recovery Plan

FAQs regarding the Michigan Medicine Economic Recovery Plan are available here.

RELATED STORIES