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

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

Last updated Monday, April 6 at 9:30 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

Federal Emergency Paid Sick Leave

Starting April 1, the Federal Emergency Paid Sick Leave Act (EPSLA) provides a new bank of up to 80 hours of paid time off for COVID-19-related absences. Part-time and temporary employees, including student employees, will be eligible for a prorated amount. EPSLA time can be used for COVID-19 absences, including personal illness, direction to quarantine, care for a quarantined family member, or to provide child care due to school or day care closure.  

EPSLA time should be used before other paid time off for qualifying absences. Once EPSLA is exhausted, employees should use one of the university’s existing paid time off banks as appropriate such as COVID-19 PTO, regular PTO or sick pay as needed.

Employees should report EPSLA using a new “PEL” code.

U-M COVID-19 Paid Time Off (created on March 13)

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 continues to provide 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, such as a temporary lack of work.  

To use this paid time off bank, Michigan Medicine faculty and staff must complete this form.

U-M COVID-19 Paid Time Off Supplement (through April 30, 2020)

Employees who exhaust their EPSLA bank of time and continue to require absence from work due to COVID-19 illness or quarantine directive —including care of a quarantined family member, or temporary lack of work— should transition to either extended sick time pay or U-M COVID-19 PTO as appropriate through April 30, 2020. Temporary employees without scheduled work are not eligible for any supplemental use of COVID-19 time in April. 

After April 30, employees should follow typical absence from work protocols, including vacation, PTO or sick time pay as needed.

Employees who exhaust EPSLA and continue to require absence from work due to child care needs resulting from a COVID-19 related school or day care closure should transition to Expanded Family Medical Leave Act (EFMLA). 

Expanded Family Medical Leave Act (EFMLA)

The federal legislation also calls for an expanded paid time off benefit for employees who need to provide child care and cannot work remotely due to school closures and child care closures related to the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Employees may use 80 hours (or a proportional amount for part-time and temporary staff) of paid time before accessing up to 10 additional weeks of paid time off at two-thirds the rate of pay. Employees can use the new EPSLA time off hours to cover the first two weeks of absence, followed by Expanded FMLA, at which point the new timekeeping code “PFL” should be used

For the month of April, U-M will provide full pay to employees in this scenario. 

The remaining weeks are subject to 2/3 pay after the April implementation period. 

There is a 30-day service requirement and the benefit is not available to those on layoff or furlough. Total FMLA time available will be coordinated with other FMLA related absences.

Michigan Medicine employees must send the completed EFMLA request form to your department administrator and also fax to the Human Resources Solution Center at 734-936-9526.

Michigan Medicine Additional 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. A PDF version is also available. 

Eligibility

Q1: For what purpose can employees use the university’s COVID paid time off and the Emergency Paid Sick Leave?

A1: 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. Temporary lack of work related to a public health order may also be a permitted use.

View a PDF chart showing time off policies for April 1-30.

View a PDF chart showing time off policies for March 13-31.

Q2: Who is eligible for paid time off under these programs?

A2: These programs apply to faculty and staff on all campuses and at Michigan Medicine. 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. 

Q3: What if I was already off for quarantine, and now, I’m being called back to work?

A3: 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. 

Q4: What is the special 120-hour time-off work bank and who is eligible to use it?

A4: The additional 120 hours, special-use PTO bank is for 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.

Paid time off usage

Q5: Can I use COVID-19 PTO programs if I can work remotely (telecommute)? 

A5: 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.

Q6: Can I use COVID-19 PTO programs for a vacation day?

A6: 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.

Q7: Can the COVID-19 PTO be used for quarantine time when I return from a personal trip to a country with travel health notice by the CDC? (effective March 20, 2020)

A7: No, effective March 20, 2020, the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services provided guidelines that state 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. If you participate in personal travel to a destination that is a Level 3 travel advisory and choose to quarantine upon return, you will need to use PTO, vacation or excused no pay. If you are able, and in a position to work remotely, you can work remotely during this quarantine time. Please follow the telecommuting policy and keep in contact with your manager/supervisor on your productivity ability.

Q8: 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?

A8: Employees with a documented health condition would need to provide supporting documentation to the HR Solutions Center which would need to include 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: EPLSA, 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.

Q9: Can employees use the COVID-19 PTO to care for a family member who has contracted COVID-19 or is being quarantined?

A9: Yes. Once the EPSLA and COVID PTO balances are 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.

Q10: 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?

A10: 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 Emergency Paid Sick Leave and 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.

Q11: How do I request use of COVID-19 PTO?

A11: You must obtain your managers approval prior to submitting the  COVID-19 PTO  form. You should follow the normal process of reporting absence and requesting time off with your manager.

Q12: Do I have to use all of the Emergency Paid Sick Leave and COVID-19 PTO at once?

A12: No, employees can use the paid time off programs intermittently during this current pandemic.

Q13: What if I use up all 80 hours of both Emergency Paid Sick Leave (EPSLA) and COVID PTO (prorated based on FTE) and still need to be out to care for a family member, myself, etc.?

A13: If any regular faculty or staff members exhaust both EPSLA and COVID PTO banks of time by April 30, additional hours will be added to employees’ COVID-19 bank to cover the remainder of time in April needed for COVID-related care. After that, employees may return to use of approved vacation, sick and PTO according to regular guidelines. Temporary employees who are scheduled to work are also eligible for this additional use of COVID PTO through April 30.

Q14: 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?

A14: 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, Emergency Paid Sick Leave and 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 Emergency Paid Sick Leave and 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.

Q15: 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?

A15: 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.

Q16: Can I pay a Work-Study student if they are no longer able to work, due to the COVID-19 crisis?

A16: Yes, a special provision of the Work-Study Program, which the University has approved, now permits units to pay Work-Study to students who are no longer able to work as a result of the COVID-19 crisis. If a student has moved home or cannot work due to COVID-19 closure of their university worksite, a work study student should be paid using the code “REG” along with the tracking code “PAN“.  A student who moved home and declined an offer to work remotely is not eligible for paid time off. Note: Use of the REG time code ensures that the expense will continue to be shared by Federal and unit funds.

If a student is unable to work due to illness, isolation or quarantine due to COVID-19, or family care needs resulting from COVID-19, a Work Study student should be paid using the “PEL” code when drawing from the “EPSLA” time and “RPN“, along with the tracking code PAN when drawing from the COVID-19 PTO.  

Note: Use of the RPN time code means that 100% of the expense will be charged to the unit.  Student temporary employees should receive a prorated amount of the 80-hour banks of time based on their typical work schedule. 

Contact the Office of Financial Aid Student Employment or payroll@umich.edu with questions.

Q17: Can work-study students continue working?

A17: Yes, at this time, students (with or without Work Study) may continue working. Remote work is allowable and encouraged.

Family care/child care/school closure

Q18: Are employees able to take paid time off using the COVID-19 PTO programs because their children’s daycare or schools are closed?

A18: Yes, for employees who are not able to work remotely. Care must be for dependent children who are in your custody. Keep in mind that schools may be closed longer than two weeks.

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.

Additionally, employees may be eligible for Expanded FMLA (EFMLA) which calls for employees to use 80 hours of paid time before becoming eligible for up to 10 additional weeks of paid time off at two-thirds the rate of pay. For the month of April, U-M will provide full pay to employees in this scenario. The remaining weeks are subject to 2/3 pay after the April implementation period. Michigan Medicine employees must submit the EFMLA request form to the Human Resources Solution Center for this extended FMLA benefit.

Q19: Can I bring my kids to work during this time?

A19: 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. 

Q20: 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?

A20: Yes, for employees who are not able to work remotely. Care must be for dependent children who are in your custody. Keep in mind that schools may be closed longer than two weeks.

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: For those that need child care, what options are available?

A21: If you are a parent who provides direct patient care during the COVID-19 pandemic, or essential support that helps to facilitate care, there are priority child care options for you. 

Redeployment

Q22: What is the difference between “reassignment” and “redeployment”?

A22: Reassignment is a change within someone’s own department/unit with similar skill set. It could also mean a change in work location and hours. Redeployment is working outside of your department in a similar or different role that may vary from your normal work.  

Q23: My supervisor has told me not to come in due to closure or lack of work, can I use the COVID-19 PTO?

A23: This bank can be used for lack of work or closure if you are unable to be redeployed into another department that needs help. As of April 1, 2020, Michigan Medicine has reached an “all hands on deck” mandatory redeployment state. All employees who are able to be redeployed will be added to the redeployment list and called upon when needed. If your manager has not already submitted your name for redeployment, complete this form. Those working in UMMG and Nursing, please use the internal process established for your area.

This bank cannot be used if your current department needs to reassign you to another area within your department.

Q24: How can I sign up to be redeployed?

A24: If there is a lack of work or closure in your department/unit, and you have not been reassigned to another area by your supervisor, staff are to complete this form to sign up for redeployment. Those working in UMMG and Nursing, please use the internal process established for your area. Consult your manager for more information.

Q25: If I am on the redeployment list, and I get called, but I refuse to accept the placement will I be disciplined for refusing work?

A25: As of April 1, 2020, redeployment is considered mandatory for all employees and refusal to work will follow the standard disciplinary process. Bargained for employees please refer to your collective bargaining agreement for additional information. 

Q26: Can I choose what area(s) and job(s) I am willing to do?

A26: Redeployment is being assigned based on need and skill set. You may be called upon to do work unfamiliar to you, and if this occurs, we are prepared to provide “just in time training” for employees to perform the need tasks. 

General HR questions

Q27: When we reference “isolation” or “quarantine” what do we mean?

A27: 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.

Q28: How do we support employees who are anxious about being in the workplace during the COVID-19 outbreak?

A28: 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 from the COVID-19 Well-Being Response Team: 734-763-5409. Support is confidential and compassionate. Employees may visit the Michigan Medicine Office of Counseling and Workplace Resilience website for more resources. 

Departments are encouraged to support remote work when possible.  Employees who are unable to work remotely, and are anxious about remaining in the workplace, may take vacation, paid time off (PTO) or excused time without pay for up to 14 consecutive calendar days. In the event of an absence lasting longer than 14 consecutive calendar days, the employee may be placed on an appropriate unpaid leave. 

Q29: 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?

A29: Workforce members caring for patients who are being tested for COVID-19 or who have confirmed COVID-19 should not:

  • Be pregnant
  • Be breastfeeding
  • 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
    • 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 with respiratory illness who are not being tested for COVID-19.

Q30: 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?

A30: 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.

Q31: What if I have a new employee starting during the next few weeks, are they attending New Employee Orientation (NEO)?

A31: 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.

Time reporting

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

Q32: How do I report this time on my timesheet?

A32: There are different timekeeping approaches for the different banks of time:

EPSLA: Employees can report the EPSLA time using a new “PEL” code on their timesheets.  Those that don’t report time in a central time-keeping system will have to track use of the time locally.

COVID PTO: Employees can report the time 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.

EFMLA:  Employees can report the EFMLA time using a new “PFL” code on their timesheets followed by the “FML” 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:

Q33: How do I report my time if I am working remotely due to COVID-19?

A33: 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.

Q34: How do I report using the 120 hours of special paid time-off on my timesheet?

A34: 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). 

Q35: If I’m a temporary employee, how do I know how much time I qualify for?

A35: 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. 

For the U-M COVID-19 PTO Supplemental, use the same FTE calculated for the COVID-19 PTO and apply on a weekly basis through April 30, 2020.

For the Federal Emergency Paid Sick Leave (EPSLA), use the 6-month period 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.

Q36: What happens when all the available paid COVID-19 related hours an employee is eligible for runs out and they are still off work due to COVID 19 Pandemic?

A36: For the month of April, once employees have exhausted the EPSLA and COVID-19 PTO banks, they qualify for the COVID-19 PTO Supplemental. After April 30, 2020, they will need to use regular PTO and leave options available. More direction will be communicated by the end of April. If using their own paid time off, continue reporting the PAN (Pandemic) Tracking code with those various type of paid time off.

Q37: Will I accrue PTO while using the Federal Emergency Paid Sick Leave (EPSLA) and/or Expanded Family Medical Leave (EFMLA)?

A37: No, employees using the EPSLA and EFMLA time off options will not accrue PTO/ vacation time.

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