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

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

Last updated Friday, June 5 at 9 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.

For most COVID-related scenarios, the 80-hour EPSLA bank (or prorated amount for part-time employees) is available through December 31, 2020. 

For employees who are unable to work remotely, EPSLA is only available as long as the State of Michigan’s “Stay Safe, Stay Home” executive order is in place (currently ending June 8, 2020).

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)

The COVID PTO supplement expired April 30, 2020.

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. For the month of April, U-M will provide full pay to employees in this scenario.  E-FMLA may be used intermittently with approval from the department.

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

Employees can use the 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.

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.

Expanded FMLA is available until December 30, 2020.

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.  

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 permitted use

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

A2: The programs outlined above 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 patient care or working in a patient care area within 14 days of becoming symptomatic. 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 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: 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: 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

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 employees may use approved vacation, sick and PTO according to regular guidelines. They should also consider requesting a voluntary furlough.

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

A16: Employees using EPSLA time off will accrue PTO/vacation time while off work. Employees using the EFMLA time off will not accrue PTO/ vacation time.

Q17: Can I pay a Work-Study student if they are no longer able to work, due to the COVID-19 crisis?

A17: 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.

Q18: Can work-study students continue working?

A18: Yes, at this time, students (with or without work study) may continue working. Remote work is allowable and encouraged.

Q19: Will Michigan Medicine allow employees to roll unused COVID-19 PTO time to roll into their permanent PTO bank after this crisis is over?

A19: It is fortunate that some staff have not needed to use their COVID-19 PTO hours. 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. Temporary lack of work related to a public health order may also be a permitted use. Any hours not used for COVID-19 related and approved events will not be rolled into your regular PTO Bank.

Family care/child care/school closure

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.

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.

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 EPSLA and COVID-19 PTO banks 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.

Expanded FMLA is for a COVID related school/day care closure.  Once schools and day care’s open –E-FMLA will no longer apply and the employee would be expected to return to work.

If there are two parents working at U-M, only one parent at a time can use EFMLA benefits at a time. Per the Department of Labor, EFMLA leave is not available if both parents or another individual is present to care for the child. The employee must be caring for the child and there must be no other suitable person (e.g., another parent, guardian or usual child care provider) available.  If another caregiver is available to care for the child, the employee is not entitled to leave.

Q23: For those that need child care, what options are available?

A23: 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. 

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 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. 

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 currently no evidence that pregnant women who become ill with COVID-19 have more complications when compared to similar patients who are not pregnant. However, pregnant women with additional risk factors are at increased risk for complications. Currently, it is felt unlikely that COVID-19 can cross the placenta and infect the fetus, but data are limited. Out of an abundance of caution, IPE and OHS are recommending that pregnant healthcare personnel avoid caring for patients who are being test for COVID-19 or have confirmed COVID-19.

There is no evidence that COVID-19 can be transmitted through breast milk. However, breastfeeding involves prolonged close contact, which can facilitate transmission of COVID-19.

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 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 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.

Q30: Can HR help essential workers with getting an appointment with the Secretary of State while their offices are closed to the public due to COVID-19?

A30: Michigan Medicine essential employees who are not eligible to complete specific Secretary of State (SOS) transactions online at Michigan.gov/SOS can request an emergency appointment at an SOS office with help from their employer.  If you need an emergency appointment, go to the HR Solutions Center Case Management System to complete the “Essential Healthcare Driver’s License” form under General HR Support. Fill out all necessary fields and information related to why you need an emergency appointment with the SOS office. HR will reach out on your behalf, and you will be contacted directly by the SOS office with approval or denial, and further instructions.

Time reporting

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

Q31: How do I report this time on my timesheet?

A31: 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:

Q32: How do I report my time if I am working remotely due to COVID-19?

A32: 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.

Q33: How do I report using the 120 hours of special paid time-off on my timesheet?

A33: 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). 

Q34: If I’m a temporary employee, how do I know how much time I qualify for?

A34: 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 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.

Q35: How do I report time when I’m redeployed?

A35: Time should be reported using a “REG” code (or equivalent time-reporting code as applicable). An additional line should be added to report an equal number of hours for the Redeployment Tracking code “RDP”. If these hours should be charged to a special short code be sure to add the short code on the REG row in the Combo Code field on the timesheet. 

Michigan Medicine Economic Recovery Plan

The questions within this section are HR-specific as it relates to the Michigan Medicine Economic Recovery Plan. The full list of FAQs regarding the plan are available here.

Q36: Will my department be able to fill its open positions?

A36: All hiring is frozen with the exception of designated patient care staff and faculty in roles considered critical. Any outstanding offers extended to staff or faculty will be honored. We will also use redeployment to fill vacant positions where possible.

Q37: Will Michigan Medicine employees be eligible for the University’s voluntary temporary furlough program and voluntary temporary reduction in hours?

A37: Yes. In each case, employees would be able to return to their regular positions and hours at the end of the approved period (including any mutually agreed upon extensions). Staff with regular, non-temporary appointments in Ann Arbor, Dearborn, Flint and Michigan Medicine are eligible.

Temporary furloughs and temporarily reduced hours are voluntary, and requests must be made between April 27, 2020 and May 15, 2020. Approved voluntary furloughs and reduced hours can start upon unit approval but no later than May 30, 2020.

Q38: What are the requirements and benefits of the temporary furlough program?

A38: Furloughs are temporary layoffs/leaves that do not lead to termination. Staff members are still U-M employees while on furlough and they return to their position on a pre-arranged date. Furloughs can be offered by a unit to employees or furloughs can be requested by individual employees. In both cases, participation is voluntary, and the unit must approve it. Units determine whether to approve requests and areas performing critical operations can opt out of the program.

During the temporary furlough period, the staff member:

  • does no work for the unit and receives no pay;
  • remains a university employee;
  • is eligible to file for unemployment compensation;
  • does receive continued university benefits; 
  • does continue to receive the university contribution toward their benefit plans (health, dental, long-term disability, life), and the university also will pay the monthly employee contribution for health insurance; and
  • retains accrued vacation and sick time (additional time will not accrue).

Q39: What are the requirements and benefits of a temporary reduction in hours?

A39: Staff or units may request a temporary reduction in hours (reduced effort). Staff with effort that remains at or above 50 percent retain benefits and university contributions and return to their previous level of effort on a pre-arranged date. Staff members must receive unit approval for temporary reduction of hours.

During the temporary period of reduced hours, the staff member:

  • reduces weekly work hours (effort) by 15 to 45 percent (as agreed upon);
  • continues benefits (with appointments remaining at or above 50% effort) at the same premium rates paid before reducing hours;
  • accrues vacation (or PTO) at reduced effort;
  • receives other paid-time-off benefits prorated to the reduced effort (holidays, funeral days, etc.)
  • returns to their regular effort after 60 to 120 calendar days (on the return date approved by the unit)

Additional terms:

  • Unemployment: A claim for state unemployment compensation will not be contested by the university unless the employee was offered and declined redeployment to another position. Eligibility for and the amount of unemployment benefits are determined by the state of Michigan. (The current maximum state weekly benefit is $362 and may include an additional weekly supplement of $600 or enhanced benefits from the Federal CARES Act through July 25, 2020.)
  • Benefits: Upon return from furlough, the accrued employee contribution portions of the dental, life, LTD, legal and vision premiums for the period of absence would be deducted from pay. The employee portion of the health care premium is waived for the period of absence and will not need to be paid upon return. There will be no university contributions to the retirement savings plan during the period of furlough.
  • Job security: The unit will hold a position for the employee to return to at the end of the approved period, including any extensions. If business circumstances change to such an extent to indicate a Reduction-in-Force is warranted, the relevant policy/contract language would apply.
  • Paid Time Off: The employee’s regular available paid time off balances will be maintained. Emergency COVID-PTO banks will no longer be available to those who take a furlough. The federal Emergency Paid Sick Leave Act (EPSLA) paid time off bank will remain available until program expiration on December 31, 2020.
  • Early recall: If university operations require early recall from voluntary furlough or reduction in hours, a minimum of one-week notice will be provided.

Q40: Will merit be issued?

A40: There will be no merit or base salary increases in the upcoming budget for the fiscal year, with the exception of those related to faculty and staff promotions that have already been approved and adjustments prescribed by existing collective bargaining agreements.

Temporary furlough and temporary reduction in hours

Q41: How does an employee initiate a furlough request and where should the request be routed?

A41: Employees can complete the temporary furlough request form and send it to their manager/supervisor for consideration. The department will determine who is approved and provide the necessary approval letter and documentation to begin the furlough. It is the manager’s, or their designee’s, responsibility to submit the appropriate documentation on behalf of the employee to the HR Solution Center.

Q42: What is the expected timeframe for the temporary furlough?

A42: Temporary furloughs must begin between May 1 – May 30, with either a 60 or 120-calendar day duration. The minimum is 60 calendar days, however employees may be called back to work at any time, with a one-week notice.

Q43: Is there a minimum service date to be eligible for temporary furlough?

A43: There is no minimum service requirement for participating in the temporary furlough. 

Q44: Can I file for underemployment if my hours are reduced?

A44: A claim for state unemployment compensation will not be contested by the university unless the employee was offered and declined redeployment to another position. Eligibility for and amount of unemployment benefits are determined by the state of Michigan. 

Q45: What happens to my COVID PTO and EPSLA time off benefits if I opt in to a temporary furlough?

A45: The employee’s regular available paid time off balances will be maintained. COVID-PTO banks will no longer be available to those who take a furlough. The federal Emergency Paid Sick Leave Act (EPSLA) paid time off bank will remain available until program expiration on December 31, 2020.

Q46: Are staff on an H1-B or any other type of Visa, eligible for furlough?

A46: No.

Q47: Can a staff member on EFMLA request to switch to a temporary furlough instead?

A47: Yes, the furlough request must be made and approved during the April 27 – May 15 timeframe, and begin between May 1 and May 30.

Q48: Can a staff member take a furlough, then go on EFMLA upon return, if the schools and daycare centers are still closed?

A48: Yes, as long as the schools and daycare centers are still closed due to COVID concerns someone may utilize the expanded Federal benefit upon return from furlough or reduction in hours.

Q49: If an employee decides to reduce their effort to 50%, can they “supplement” their income with vacation time?

A49: No. While employee benefits continue through the selected furlough time period and all existing accrued vacation and sick time is retained, a furlough is a non-paid time-bound leave that may not be taken concurrently with paid time off.

Q50: If an employee participates in the temporary furlough, can their PTO or vacation time be used intermittently during the furlough timeframe?

A50: No. See response above.

Q51: Will I continue to accrue PTO/vacation hours while on furlough?

A51: During voluntary furlough, individuals will not accrue additional vacation or PTO hours.

Q52: Can an employee who is currently eligible to retire take the temporary furlough and then retirement?

A52: Yes, however, a person cannot retire from a furlough unless they were already eligible to retire before the furlough began. This is because the points needed to retire have to be met while you are being paid. 

Q53: Are staff that are on temporary furlough able to cancel furlough and go into maternity and parental leave if they give birth prior to returning?

A53: There are a few scenarios to consider:

  • Maternity Leave: upon scheduled return to work date if within 6 weeks of birth; leave balance will be reduced by amount of time between birth and scheduled return to work date.
  • Parental Leave:
    • Birth mother: Upon scheduled return to work date if within 12 weeks of birth; leave balance will be reduced by amount of time between birth and scheduled return to work date.
    • Birth father: Upon scheduled return to work date if within 6 weeks of event; leave balance will be reduced by amount of time between event and scheduled return to work date.

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