Human Resources Coronavirus (COVID-19) FAQ

Updated:

January 25, 2021

This FAQ contains answers to many questions, however, the situation regarding the COVID-19 virus is rapidly changing. These FAQs will be updated as needed.

The FAQ is organized by topic, or you may see the entire list of questions and answers below.


The entire list of questions and answers.

COVID-19 Leave

Previously, the UW System Interim COVID-19 Leave Policy granted employees COVID-19 Leave only until May 1, 2020. Now, an employee may use COVID-19 Leave up to a maximum of 80 hours (prorated for full-time equivalency) through December 31, 2020. Any COVID-19 Leave taken between April 1, 2020, and May 1, 2020, counts toward the 80-hour maximum.

Employees on furlough (position-specific or intermittent furloughs) may not use leave to remain in paid status, including COVID-19 Leave. However, employees may use COVID-19 Leave for any of the reasons permitted in the policy when they return from furlough.

Please also see:

UW System Administrative Policy SYS 1200 Interim 07: Sick Leave During Public Health Emergency

  1. May I use vacation, sick leave, or other type of leave to avoid working?

    Answer: UWM employees may request leave time in accordance with existing leave policies, including the interim policy below:

  2. Is the COVID-19 virus an FMLA qualifying condition and will I be able to use FMLA Leave?

    Answer: FMLA Leave may be available in relation to your illness or the illness of a qualifying family member. The usual medical documentation may be required.

  3. May an employee use sick leave to remain in paid status while providing childcare for a child whose school/daycare is closed due to COVID-19 or to care for a quarantined individual due to COVID-19?

    Yes, UW System has created an interim policy to account for these situations. Please see: SYS 1200 Interim 07: Sick Leave During Public Health Emergency


Work Continuity

  1. Can I be assigned to perform work that is not normally part of my position?

    Answer: Yes, in times of emergency all UWM employees must remain flexible to get the work done and may be asked to do work outside of their normal duties. Employees should anticipate being asked to perform work in place of absent or ill co-workers.

  2. What if my children’s school or daycare provider is closed and I have no one else to take care of my children?

    Answer: It’s important for you to talk to your supervisor as soon as possible about your options, given your duties at UWM. If you will not be working, you may request to use paid leave time, sick leave, or choose to utilize unpaid leave. You can also talk to your supervisor about the possibility of a flexible work schedule.

    Please see the interim UW System policy below regarding leave usage:

  3. Who do I contact if I have employment related questions regarding the COVID-19 virus?

    Answer: You should contact your supervisor or the HR Business Partner/Prep who primarily serves your school/college/division. To see which HRBP/Prep serves your school/college/division, please see: PREP/UBR/Shared Services Directories.

  4. Are student employees able to work?

    Answer: Student employees are an important component of our workforce. Student employees should work with their supervisors on their planned work schedules. Assuming the work is available, student employees are not prohibited or discouraged from working.

    Some student employees will be needed to maintain key student services and campus functions. If students have concerns, they should work with their supervisor. Additional information will be shared if the situation changes.

  5. If our department has invited applicants to campus for interviews, should we cancel?

    Answer: If it is at all possible, job interviews should be held remotely. If that is not possible, interviews may held in person, however all UWM safety protocols must be adhered to, including the visitor self-monitoring for any symptoms of COVID-19.

  6. Are student employees who are now not able to work because of the pandemic able to apply for compensation via unemployment insurance?

    Answer: According to the Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development, student employees who are facing unemployment should apply for unemployment benefits. Students may be eligible based on previous jobs, and if there is a federal or state investment to expand eligibility, they will have had to apply to get help.

    Please understand, this is not an assurance of unemployment benefits and UWM does not have the authority to grant unemployment benefits. Benefits may only be granted by the Department of Workforce Development.


Working Remotely

  1. If I have flu-like symptoms or am confirmed to have the COVID-19 virus, may I work remotely?

    Answer: If the nature of your work allows for remote completion, your healthcare provider indicates working remotely is possible despite your symptoms, and you are approved to do so by your supervisor, you may work remotely.

  2. How do I know if I am permitted to work remotely?

    Answer: If the nature of your work allows for remote completion and your supervisor approves you may work remotely. You are encouraged to express any preferences you have for working remotely to your supervisor.


Quarantine

  1. If I am advised by my physician or public health authorities to self-quarantine and not work, will I be paid, or must I use sick leave?

    Answer: You should contact your supervisor about the advice received and request the time off. Your supervisor may require medical documentation from you in accordance with normal leave policies. However, supervisors are encouraged to be flexible about requiring such documentation. You must use sick leave or other leave time if you are advised to self-quarantine unless your supervisor is able to plan for you to work remotely.

  2. If I have traveled, what precautions must I take before returning to work?

    Answer: If you are exhibiting flu-like symptoms, contact your healthcare provider via telephone.

    You should self-monitor for symptoms of acute respiratory illness or the flu. Should you begin to exhibit any such symptoms, you must avoid coming to work and contact your healthcare provider via phone immediately.

  3. If I am required to self-quarantine may I use sick leave in order to remain in paid status, even if I am not exhibiting acute respiratory illness or flu-like symptoms or am not otherwise ill?

    Answer: Yes, you may use sick leave during a self-quarantine in order to remain in paid status.

  4. If I do not have available leave to remain in paid status during a self-quarantine may I use an unpaid leave?

    Answer: Yes, it is possible for employees to use an unpaid leave during a self-quarantine. Employees are encouraged to contact the Central Human Resources Benefits Office, benefits@uwm.edu, to gain understanding of the consequences of using an unpaid leave.


Health

  1. I am worried about being exposed to the COVID-19 virus at work. Should I still report for work and will I be protected?

    Answer: UWM has implemented several safety protocols to provide for the health and safety of students, faculty and staff. All employees are required to complete the COVID-19 Training and Attestation before working on-site and all buildings have an approved health and safety plan.

  2. Will UWM require “social distancing?”

    Answer: Social distancing is one of the safety protocols UWM has implemented. Virtual meetings should be utilized whenever possible and if your position allows you to work remotely, please discuss this possibility with your supervisor.

  3. What should I do if I am showing symptoms of the virus?

    Answer: Minimizing the spread of the virus is critical. If you are showing symptoms, contact your health care provider and/or local health authorities. You should also contact your supervisor. Use of sick leave, or other paid or unpaid leave will be handled pursuant to existing policies and procedures. If you are an employee required to work on campus and are showing symptoms, your supervisor may direct you to leave work and use available leave until you are cleared to return to work by a health care provider.

  4. I believe that my co-worker may be carrying the virus. What should I do?

    Answer: You should discuss the situation with your supervisor. You should not confront the individual yourself.

  5. I am considered to be at high-risk for serious complications if I contract a virus, what should I do?

    Answer: Employees may use sick leave, or unpaid leave pursuant to policy if there is a risk to their health in coming to work. If your supervisor approves, you may arrange to work remotely.

  6. If I begin to experience acute respiratory illness or flu-like symptoms while at work, what should I do?

    Answer: Alert your supervisor to how you are feeling. Upon departing from work, contact your healthcare provider via telephone for further direction.

  7. What is UWM doing to monitor the COVID-19 virus situation to remain in touch with what’s happening across the globe and to plan for future contingencies?

    Answer: UWM is following all information related to the virus closely, updating safety protocols as needed, and planning for contingencies. UWM has engaged its Crises Management Team, a group staffed by the Chancellor’s Cabinet and other UWM leaders. As necessary, UWM leadership will communicate broadly on this topic.

  8. As an employee, if I am feeling anxious or troubled by the uncertainty that exists, where do I get assistance?

    Answer: Please contact our Employee Assistance Program provider. They are there to help.


Position Specific Furloughs

  1. What is a furlough?

    A furlough is a temporary, unpaid, or mandatory leave of absence during which an employee does not report for work and does not earn a wage. A furlough is not a layoff and employees are anticipated to return to their existing positions at the end of the furlough. UWM intends to utilize two types of furloughs: institution-wide furloughs and position specific furloughs (PSF).

  2. Why are furloughs necessary?

    Furloughs are necessary because the pandemic has created major changes in the manner in which work is performed and, in some cases, reduced or eliminated work for employees. Also, the institution is facing extraordinary impact to enrollment and revenues which are expected to continue into Fiscal Year 2021.

  3. Who will be placed on PSF?

    Employees who have not been designated as essential to work on-site and are unable to work remotely due to the nature of their duties and responsibilities or are not performing mission critical work will be placed on a position specific furlough (PSF).

  4. May graduate assistants (including TA, PA, and RA) be placed on PSF?

    Yes. Each school/college/division should determine whether any graduate assistants meet the criteria for PSF.

  5. May indefinite academic staff be placed on PSF?

    Yes. Each school/college/division should determine whether any indefinite academic staff meet the criteria for PSF.

  6. How does PSF differ from institution-wide furloughs?

    A PSF is designated for specific positions (thus, specific employees); furlough days may run consecutively; furlough days may be imposed on a fulltime or partial basis (percentage of fulltime equivalency); and they may have greater impact upon an employee’s benefits.

  7. Are PSFs set for a specific period of time?

    Yes, PSFs are set for a specific period of time. Employees will be notified of the period they will be on PSF. Under the current UW System policy, PSFs are limited to a period of three months following the month of the employee’s last date in paid status.

  8. When will employees be notified of a PSF?

    Notices informing employees being placed on a PSF will be issued at least seven calendar days before the PSF begins.

  9. Once a PSF begins, can it be modified?

    Yes, should circumstances warrant, employees may be returned to work prior to the scheduled conclusion of the PSF, with at least seven calendar days notice to the employee.

  10. Why use a PSF instead of laying employees off?

    Lay off is a mechanism typically used when the institution has determined there is no longer a need to continue with a position or positions. Furlough is a mechanism used on a temporary basis, with the expectation that the employee will return to duty.

  11. Why isn’t UWM imposing pay cuts on its leadership and high earners as have been announced at other universities?

    Under current UW System policy, UWM may not impose involuntary pay reductions, outside of a furlough program. Thus, to impose greater reductions at this time, UWM would need to provide employees even more time off, and the 16 IF days that the highest wage earners will observe is the top of what can reasonably be managed given workloads and the calendaring difficulties of furlough days. These issues are even more pronounced with nine-month employees and class schedules. UWM is permitting employees to chooses a voluntary pay reduction in lieu of additional furlough days for any days above the scheduled furlough dates. It’s important to understand that those employees who will serve 16 IF days (or the equivalent thereof) will realize a 6.16% pay reduction over the course of an entire year. Different than other higher education institutions, which have announced furlough programs centered on the summer, UWM has been aggressive in applying IF across 9 and 13 months for 9 and 12-month employees, respectively.

  12. Will PSFs impact an employee’s health insurance?

    Based on current UW System policy, for employees placed on furlough, the employer will continue to pay for its share of the health insurance premium. Employees will need to pay for their share. Given their unpaid status and unavailability of a payroll deduction, HR will notify employees how they may pay for their share of the premium.

  13. Will PSFs impact an employee’s leave accrual?

    No, PSFs will not impact an employee’s leave accrual.

  14. Will PSFs impact an employee’s Wisconsin Retirement System (WRS)?

    PSFs may impact an employee’s WRS creditable service, depending upon how long the PSF lasts. Because of the reduction in compensation, an employee’s monetary contribution toward WRS will also be reduced.

  15. Are employees subject to PSFs able to use accrued leave to remain in paid status?

    No, employees may not use leave on while on PSF to remain in paid status.

  16. Are employees subject to PSFs able to collect unemployment compensation?

    UWM does not provide advice or counsel on an employee’s eligibility for unemployment. However, it is anticipated an employee would be eligible for unemployment compensation.

  17. If I have questions specific to my circumstance and would like to discuss this with someone, who should I communicate with?

    If an employee’s questions pertain to their duties and responsibilities or anything to do with their position, they should communicate with their supervisor. If an employee’s questions pertain to their benefits or possible retirement, they should communicate with a UWM Benefits Specialist by emailing benefits@uwm.edu.

  18. May an employee on PSF access/read their UWM email?

    Yes, an employee on PSF may access/read their UWM email for the purposes of remaining informed and/or asking questions. An employee on a full PSF may not complete official University business and an employee on a partial PSF may only complete University business during the hours they are scheduled to work.

  19. Does an individual on a Position Specific Furlough need to serve an Intermittent Furlough?

    Individuals serving a full PSF at the time of an IF are not impacted. Individuals serving a partial PSF at the time of an IF will be on a prorated furlough for the date of the IF, similar to any other part-time employee.

    For example, if an employee is in a position of .5 FTE, on the date of an IF, the employee will not work and will realize a .5 reduction in pay. Similarly, if an employee is on a .5 PSF on the date of an IF, they would not work and would not realize any income on that date.

    As a second example: One employee works four hours, M-F; on Friday June 19, they don’t work at all because it’s an IF day. They get paid that week for 16 hours. A second employee works 8 hours M, T and 4 hours on W; they don’t work on Friday (the IF day) as they were not scheduled. The second employee gets paid for 20 hours that week. It is not appropriate for the second employee to be advantaged because they happen to have a favorable work schedule. Thus, the second employee needs to reduce their hours by four for that week so they are observing the same number of furlough hours that other employees with a less favorable schedule are observing.

    Individuals who were placed on a full or partial PSF but have returned to their normal FTE status will serve any remaining (pro rata) IF scheduled dates.

  20. How do Position Specific Furloughs impact legal holidays for employees?

    For most legal holidays, if an employee is on a full PSF the business day before and the business day after the legal holiday, the holiday is lost. The only exception to this is if the calendar creates a floating holiday (as is the case for July 4, 2020), then the employee will receive the floating holiday. If the employee is on a partial PSF, their holiday pay is not prorated but will be paid based on their full-time equivalency (“FTE”) prior to the furlough.

    Scenario 1: Employee is on a full PSF and is not working, now through August 31. They will not be paid for Memorial Day but will receive the floating holiday of July 4. See Questions 6 and 8 under “Leave Usage During Furlough” at UW System Coronavirus Preparedness Frequently Asked Questions.

    Scenario 2: A normally 80% employee is on a partial PSF and is working 50% now through August 31. They will receive holiday pay based on their 80% appointment FTE for both Memorial Day and the floating holiday for July 4.

    Scenario 3: Employee is not on a PSF and the institution is implementing intermittent furloughs at various dates during the summer. The employee will receive pay for Memorial Day and receive the July 4 floating holiday.

  21. How will the impact to employees, such as the fact that employees are still responsible to pay their portion of premiums/benefits, be communicated to employees?

    Human Resources will notify affected employees of all the important ramifications to them.

  22. May an employee be reassigned to alternative duties instead of placing them on furlough?

    Yes, temporary reassignment of duties is permitted if doing so best meets the operational needs of the unit.

  23. I have employees who are currently on FMLA with arrangements to cover their work by other staff. Does it make sense to ask the FMLA employees if they would like to be considered for longer unpaid leave under PSF? Would they be eligible for PSF on voluntary basis?

    Units/supervisors may not consider FLMA leave or any other protected status in determining furlough assignments. If there are questions about the application of furlough to someone currently on leave, please consult with HR so that the individual circumstances can be considered in light of the policy as well as applicable laws and other policies.

  24. Presumably LTEs are at will so would not be furloughed but rather appts ended if not mission critical?

    For PSF, correct. For intermittent furloughs, LTEs will not be permitted to work on those dates.

  25. May exemptions to furloughs to granted retroactively? For example, after an intermittent furlough day has passed, may an exemption to the furlough be granted? And does this include for the reason of external funding?

    Beginning January 1, 2021, no retroactive furlough exemptions will be granted. This includes exemptions for the reason of external funding. Prior to January 1, 2021, retroactive requests for furlough exemption will be considered. HRBPs/PREPs shall make such requests using the Streamline tool.


Intermittent Furloughs

  1. What is a furlough?

    A furlough is a temporary, unpaid, or mandatory leave of absence during which an employee does not report for work and does not earn a wage. A furlough is not a layoff and employees are anticipated to return to their existing positions at the end of the furlough. UWM intends to utilize two types of furloughs: intermittent furloughs (IF) and position specific furloughs (PSF).

  2. Why are furloughs necessary?

    Furloughs are necessary because the pandemic has created major changes in the manner in which work is performed and, in some cases, reduced or eliminated work for employees. Also, the institution is facing extraordinary impact to enrollment and revenues which are expected to continue into Fiscal Year 2021.

  3. Who will be placed on IF?

    All employees will be place on IF, except for those noted as exempt in the guidelines (e.g. graduate assistants or grant-funded positions), or for whom an exemption is granted due to critical operational needs.

  4. May graduate assistants (including TA, PA, and RA) be placed on IF?

    No, graduate assistants are exempt under UWM’s guidelines.

  5. How does PSF differ from IF?

    A PSF is designated for specific positions (thus, specific employees); furlough days may run consecutively; furlough days may be imposed on a full time or partial basis (percentage of full time equivalency); and they may have greater impact upon an employee’s benefits. IF are not consecutive (System policy limits them to no more than one day in a biweekly pay period) and apply to all employees.

  6. When will IF end?

    This round of IF will end on June 30, 2021. Depending on the circumstances and financial need, another round of IF could be imposed for beyond that time period. That decision will likely be made no later than Spring 2021.

  7. Are IF for a specific number of days?

    Yes, IF are for a specific number of days, depending on whether an employee is 12-month or 9-month, and income level. Individuals may not take fewer days unless a specific exemption is granted. Individuals whose position allows for additional furlough time off may discuss this with their supervisor and seek review by central Human Resources and agreement of the dean/division head.

  8. Why use an IF instead of laying employees off or permanently reducing workforce?

    IF is being used to create temporary savings and avoid, to the extent possible, permanent reductions to the workforce in order to position the institution to return to full operations as soon as possible.

  9. Why isn’t UWM imposing pay cuts on its leadership and high earners as have been announced at other universities?

    Under current UW System policy, UWM may not impose involuntary pay reductions, outside of a furlough program. Thus, to impose greater reductions at this time, UWM would need to provide employees even more time off, and the 16 IF days that the highest wage earners will observe is the top of what can reasonably be managed given workloads and the calendaring difficulties of furlough days. These issues are even more pronounced with nine-month employees and class schedules. UWM is permitting employees to chooses a voluntary pay reduction in lieu of additional furlough days for any days above the scheduled furlough dates. It’s important to understand that those employees who will serve 16 IF days (or the equivalent thereof) will realize a 6.16% pay reduction over the course of an entire year. Different than other higher education institutions, which have announced furlough programs centered on the summer, UWM has been aggressive in applying IF across 9 and 13 months for 9 and 12-month employees, respectively.

  10. Will IF impact an employee’s health insurance?

    No, IF will not impact an employee’s health insurance, regardless of the employee’s full-time equivalency before or after the IF is implemented.

  11. Will IF impact an employee’s leave accrual?

    IF will not impact an employee’s leave accrual.

  12. Will IFs impact an employee’s Wisconsin Retirement System (WRS)?

    Employees will not realize a break in service for purposes of Wisconsin Retirement System, but will have a reduced monetary contribution, potential reduction in creditable service, and effect on highest salary earned if FY 2021 would have otherwise been a high-earning year.

  13. Are employees subject to IF able to use accrued leave to remain in paid status?

    No, employees may not use other accrued leave while on IF to remain in paid status.

  14. Are employees subject to IF able to collect unemployment compensation?

    UWM does not provide advice or counsel on an employee’s eligibility for unemployment. However, it is anticipated an employee would not be eligible for unemployment compensation solely because of the IF.

  15. How are part-time employees indexed to the income gradation for number of IF days served? For example, does a 50% employee with a base salary of $150,000 need to serve 8 or 12 pro rata IF days?

    Employees will be indexed to the income gradation based upon their actual earnings. Thus, in the example provided, the employee’s actual earnings are $75,000 and they would serve 8 (6 for nine-month employees) pro rata IF days. An employee’s full-time equivalency is not a factor in determining if an employee falls below the $15.00/hr exemption.

  16. How are employees on split appointments with different base salaries indexed to the income gradation for number of IF days served?

    Employees will be indexed to the income gradation based upon their actual earnings. For example, if an employee in a 50/50 split appointment with one base salary of $80,000 and the other base salary of $120,000, the employee earns $100,000 and will serve 12 (9 for nine-month employees) IF days.

  17. If an employee is partly funded by a grant, how are they indexed to the income gradation for number of IF days served?

    Employees in positions partially funded by a grant are only subject to IF on the portion of the appointment that is not funded by a grant. For example, an employee with a base salary of$100,000 that is funded .4 by a grant would serve eight IF days (six for nine-month employees) at a pro rata level of .6 FTE per IF day.

  18. How does a faculty member on an academic year sabbatical indexed to the income gradation for number of IF days served?

    Employees will be indexed to the income gradation based upon their actual earnings. For example, a faculty member with a base salary of $100,000 on an AY sabbatical will earn $65,000 and thus will serve six IF days.

  19. Will craftworkers be expected to serve IF?

    Yes, craftworkers are expected to observe IF days.

  20. Are Faculty and Instructional Academic Staff permitted to cancel classes to observe furlough time?

    Faculty and Instructional Academic Staff are not permitted to cancel classes to observe furlough time.

  21. If I have questions specific to my circumstance and would like to discuss this with someone, who should I communicate with?

    If an employee’s questions pertain to their duties and responsibilities or anything to do with their position, they should communicate with their supervisor. If an employee’s questions pertain to their benefits or possible retirement, they should communicate with a UWM Benefits Specialist by emailing benefits@uwm.edu.

  22. Will 9-month employees who work in the summer be subject to IF during the summer?

    No, 9-month employees are subject to IF during the academic year and the number of days they serve is based upon the base salary for the nine-month academic year.

  23. Does an individual on a Position Specific Furlough need to serve an Intermittent Furlough?

    Individuals serving a full PSF at the time of an IF are not impacted. Individuals serving a partial PSF at the time of an IF will be on a prorated furlough for the date of the IF, similar to any other part-time employee.

    For example, if an employee is in a position of .5 FTE, on the date of an IF, the employee will not work and will realize a .5 reduction in pay. Similarly, if an employee is on a .5 PSF on the date of an IF, they would not work and would not realize any income on that date.

    As a second example: One employee works four hours, M-F; on Friday June 19, they don’t work at all because it’s an IF day. They get paid that week for 16 hours. A second employee works 8 hours M, T and 4 hours on W; they don’t work on Friday (the IF day) as they were not scheduled. The second employee gets paid for 20 hours that week. It is not appropriate for the second employee to be advantaged because they happen to have a favorable work schedule. Thus, the second employee needs to reduce their hours by four for that week so they are observing the same number of furlough hours that other employees with a less favorable schedule are observing.

    Individuals who were placed on a full or partial PSF but have returned to their normal FTE status will serve any remaining (pro rata) IF scheduled dates.

  24. Will employees exempted from IF report for work as they normally would?

    Yes, they should. UWM will examine the supervisory structure for employee’s whose positions require in person supervision and will adjust IF days for the supervisors as necessary.

  25. How will compensation for employees be considered regarding the furlough salary tier they fall into, i.e., the number of IF days they will need to observe?

    Compensation for employees in establishing the number of furlough days they will observe is determined by the employee’s base salary for the term of their normal appointment. For example, for a faculty member with a 9-month appointment, their base salary for the 9-month appointment will determine the amount of IF days they will observe. Salary earned via summer ninths, overloads, or temporary base adjustments is not considered.

  26. How do furloughs impact legal holidays for employees?

    IF has no impact upon legal holidays for employees. For most legal holidays, if an employee is on a full PSF before and after the legal holiday, the holiday is lost. The only exception to this is if the holiday creates a floating holiday (as is the case for July 4, 2020), then the employee will receive the floating holiday. If the employee is on a partial PSF, they will receive holiday pay based on their appointment prior to the furlough. Three scenarios to illustrate these circumstances appear below:

    Scenario 1: Employee is on a full PSF now (April, 2020) through August 31, 2020. They will not be paid for Memorial Day (2020) but will receive the floating holiday of July 4, 2020. See Questions 6 and 8 under “Leave Usage During Furlough” at UW System Coronavirus Preparedness Frequently Asked Questions.

    Scenario 2: Employee is on a partial PSF of 50% now (April, 2020) through August 31, 2020. They will be paid for Memorial Day (2020) and will receive the July 4, 2020, floating holiday. Neither day is prorated if the employee is on partial PSF.

    Scenario 3: Employee is not on a PSF and the institution is implementing intermittent furloughs at various dates during the summer. The employee will receive pay for Memorial Day (2020) and receive the July 4, 2020, floating holiday.

  27. Will employees on FMLA leave be exempt from IF?

    No, employees on FMLA leave are subject to IF. However, the personal financial impact will depend on whether they are using accrued leave during their FMLA period. Specifically, if they are using accrued leave during their FMLA leave, they would not be able to use paid leave to cover the IF day and will lose one day of pay. However, if they are already on unpaid leave, they will not lose additional pay on a scheduled IF day. Instead, the IF day will be designated as an unpaid furlough day rather than an unpaid FMLA day. Employees using intermittent FMLA leave should consult with Human Resources for any effect on their FMLA leave.

  28. Are LTEs subject to IF?

    Yes, in that LTEs will not be permitted to work on the prescribed dates.

  29. Has campus calculated the cost-savings associated with IF?

    Yes. The base set of IF will result in about $6 million in savings for the fiscal year. The higher tiers produce an additional $800,000 in savings.

  30. May exemptions to furloughs to granted retroactively? For example, after an intermittent furlough day has passed, may an exemption to the furlough be granted? And does this include for the reason of external funding?

    Beginning January 1, 2021, no retroactive furlough exemptions will be granted. This includes exemptions for the reason of external funding. Prior to January 1, 2021, retroactive requests for furlough exemption will be considered. HRBPs/PREPs shall make such requests using the Streamline tool.


Returning to Campus

  1. Some employees will expect to be informed if a colleague tests positive. How will UWM handle this expectation?

    Answer: UWM protects the privacy rights of its employees and adheres to the law regarding the protection of employee health related information. The law will continue to be observed regarding COVID-19, thus, employees will not be informed as to the test results/medical condition of any other employee.

  2. If an employee’s duties and responsibilities do not allow for remote work and they are unable to report to the workplace, what are the employee’s options to remain in paid status?

    Answer: To remain in paid status, the employee may use sick leave, vacation or personal holiday.

  3. When is an ill employee permitted to return to work?

    Answer: According to the latest guidelines provided by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), an employee who believes they had COVID-19 or knows they had COVID-19 may return to work after:

    • Three days (72 hours) with no fever and
    • Symptoms improved and
    • 10 days since symptoms first appeared

    An employee who tested positive for the virus but has been asymptomatic may return to work after 10 days following the test.

    An employee who has been in close contact with someone who has the virus must stay home for 14 days post exposure.

    Please see the CDC’s website for their definition of “Close Contact.”

  4. May UWM seek termination if on-site work is required but the employee is unable to report for duty, post FMLA/ADA protections?

    Answer: Yes, once the employee has exhausted all leave rights, if the employee is still unable to report, a decision to pursue a termination due to the employee’s inability to work is possible. Any termination must follow the applicable policies/procedures for that employee’s type (i.e., faculty, academic staff, University Staff, etc.)

  5. Employees may have expectations regarding fellow employees who become ill or even perish, (e.g., a faculty member becomes hospitalized). How will UWM handle such employee expectations?

    Answer: Individual employees have a right to privacy and UWM does not discuss the medical condition/health of an employee with others.

    Safety standards UWM has put into place to protect and provide for the safety of students, faculty and staff align with CDC recommendations/standards.

    For employees with concern, they may be tested for the virus if they wish, utilizing Milwaukee’s various testing options. The process being followed by UWM for contact tracing is being handled by another entity, e.g., the Milwaukee Public Health Department for the Kenwood campus.

  6. Is there any specific knowledge UWM recommends all faculty and staff understand about the Coronavirus and COVID-19?

    Answer: ACHA Guidelines indicate Faculty/Staff should have knowledge of:

    • Infection prevention/control measures
    • COVID-19 symptoms
    • How they can get tested if they have symptoms
    • How COVID-19 is transmitted
    • Where they can access creditable resources
  7. How will UWM provide COVID-19 knowledge to faculty/staff?

    Answer: All faculty and staff will be required to certify they have completed the UWM Power Point presentation on COVID-19 being developed by University Safety and Assurances. For those employees without internet access, they will be presented with the Power Point in hard copy on their first day back to work and be required to read the document, in full, on paid time, at the beginning of their shift.

  8. Are there any specific recommendations for employees regarding common breakrooms and items such as utensils, appliances, and supplies?

    Answer: Common utensils, such as silverware and other kitchen products, should be removed.

    Signage for cleaning common appliances should be posted on all appliances. Employees who use an appliance should clean the appliance, according to the signage, after each use. This includes something as simple as opening a refrigerator to retrieve food.

  9. Does UWM have any recommendations regarding unnecessary visitors?

    Answer: Visitors to any office should be limited to those whose work is critical to UWM business, cannot be rescheduled or delayed, and must be conducted in person.

  10. How should UWM handle employees with increased risk factors?

    Answer: According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), certain health conditions may increase an individual’s vulnerability to the COVID-19 infection. Some vulnerable populations include:

    • Persons 65 and older
    • Persons with HIV
    • Persons with moderate-to-severe asthma
    • Persons with cancer
    • Persons with chronic lung disease
    • Persons with diabetes
    • Persons with serious heart conditions
    • Persons with chronic kidney disease being treated with dialysis
    • Persons with severe obesity
    • Persons who are immunocompromised

    Employees who are instructed to return to work on campus and have concerns about doing so as a result of a medical condition that places them in a higher risk group, those who are caring for someone in a higher risk group, or those who are pregnant should consult with their Human Resources Business Partner (HRBP) or Personnel Representative (PREP) who works for their school/college division.

    UWM should enable employees who believe they fall within one of these categories to seek leave under the FMLA process or accommodation via the ADA process, as applicable. Other extenuating circumstances expressed by employees should be evaluated on a case-by-case basis.

    Supervisors may not assume an individual is at increased risk of serious health conditions if exposed to the virus. This includes risk factors identified by the CDC including age and pre-existing health conditions of the employee.

  11. How does UWM provide deep cleaning to an area without revealing the identity of an employee who has tested positive for COVID-19?

    Answer: If an employee has tested positive for COVID-19, Environmental Services will follow current UWM cleaning and disinfection procedures for COVID-19. Depending on the type of space and when an employee was previously on campus, cleaning may be completed by UWM staff or an outside vendor. This may mean displacing a small number of employees for one half day or a full day.

  12. Is it appropriate for an employee to ask another employee if they have tested positive for COVID-19?

    Answer: It is not appropriate for an employee to ask another employee about their health, including if they have tested positive for COVID-19. Employees are not obligated to reveal to colleagues information about their health.

  13. When an employee tests positive or has symptoms and is expected to isolate, may they work remotely?

    Answer: Yes, they may work remotely, if their symptoms allow for the completion of work; their duties and responsibilities allow for remote work; and their supervisor approves of the ability to work remotely.

  14. May an employee refuse to use PPE or follow social distancing requirements as directed by UWM or their supervisor?

    Answer: No. The UWM Code of Conduct states: “Employees are expected to abide by the policies and regulations for health, safety and sanitation.”

    Employees will be expected to comply with the requirements, or they will face potential discipline for insubordination or other Code of Conduct violations.

    If an employee is unable to adhere to PPE or social distancing requirements established by UWM, they must present justification for why this is not possible to the HRBP or PREP for their school/college/division, including supporting medical documentation, if applicable.

    If the inability to comply with requirements is health related, modification of the requirement should be evaluated consistent with UWM’s reasonable accommodation process under the Americans with Disabilities Act.

  15. May an employee insist upon additional PPE or greater social distancing than what UWM requires?

    Answer: Requirements for PPE and social distancing established by UWM are based upon recommendations established by the CDC.

    If an employee requests additional PPE or greater social distancing, they must present justification for the need, including, if applicable, medical documentation, to the HRBP/PREP who works with their school/college/division.

    If the need is health related, the request should be evaluated using UWM’s reasonable accommodation process under the Americans with Disabilities Act.

    Outside of an approved request, if an employee desires greater PPE than UWM requires/provides, it is generally the employee’s responsibility to seek out and pay for additional PPE. Demanding PPE beyond what UWM establishes as required/provided is not grounds for refusing to report to the workplace or complete duties and responsibilities, in part or in full. UWM also has the right to deny an employee’s request to use unnecessary PPE.

  16. How should meetings at UWM be held?

    Answer: Understanding the social distancing requirements, all meetings should be held virtually whenever possible. If a virtual meeting is not possible, the meeting must adhere to social distancing requirements and any limits of individuals allowed to be present in the same room. The social distancing requirements should be clearly displayed in all meeting rooms, and the signage should include the maximum number of people the room is able to accommodate at any given time.

  17. How should colleagues treat an employee returning to work after being ill?

    Answer: UWM is adhering to CDC guidelines for when an employee is able to safely return to work.

    When a formerly ill employee returns to work, they should be welcomed back by their colleagues.

    The UWM Code of Conduct states, “Employees must respect the rights of others to be free of bullying, harassment, intentional physical harm or intimidation in the workplace.”

    The Code of Conduct also states, “Employees are expected to display courteousness and use good judgment in dealing with the public and others in the University community.”

    Any intentional isolation, intimidation, or bullying of a formerly ill employee will not be tolerated.

  18. If an employee notices symptoms in a colleague, should they confront the colleague?

    Answer: No, an employee should alert their supervisor or, if the supervisor is unavailable, the HRBP/PREP for their school/college/division, that they have noticed symptoms in a colleague. This is the preferred course of action across UWM and is the responsibility of an employee who notices symptoms in a colleague.

  19. How should a supervisor confront an employee who refuses to adhere to PPE and/or social distancing requirements established by UWM?

    Answer: The UWM Code of Conduct states: “Employees are expected to abide by the policies and regulations for health, safety and sanitation.”

    Employees will be expected to comply with the requirements, or they will face potential discipline for insubordination or other Code of Conduct violations.

    The supervisor should approach the employee and use statements that begin with words like “I’ve noticed,” “It seems,” “I’ve observed,” and then identify what requirement the employee is not following.

    The supervisor should inform the employee that the requirements help to ensure their safety and the health and safety of colleagues.

    The supervisor should direct the employee to begin following the applicable requirement immediately. If the employee continues to refuse, the supervisor should inform the employee that they may be insubordinate by refusing and a disciplinary process may be necessary.

    If the employee continues to refuse, the supervisor should contact the HRBP/PREP who works with their school/college/division to potentially begin a disciplinary process.

  20. How should a supervisor handle the return to work of a formerly ill employee?

    Answer: UWM is adhering to CDC guidelines for when an employee is able to safely return to work.

    When a formerly ill employee returns to work, the supervisor should model welcoming behavior toward the formerly ill employee.

    If the supervisor discovers colleagues are not treating the formerly ill employee appropriately, potentially offending employees should be reminded of the Code of Conduct points mentioned in the above question “How should colleagues treat an employee returning to work after being ill?”

    If colleagues continue to exhibit inappropriate behavior toward the formerly ill employee, the supervisor should consult with the HRBP/PREP who works with their school/college/division to potentially begin a disciplinary process.

  21. How does the supervisor manage a staggered return of the workforce?

    Answer: Faculty and staff who return will not do so all at once. Deans, directors and supervisors will consider how best to bring back employees to the numbers of on-site staff that will be required to serve the campus in the Fall, depending on the service needs of the function and space configurations and ability to observe social distancing requirements. Depending on those factors, some areas may have larger numbers of on-site staff than others in the Fall; some areas might continue working nearly entirely online for the Fall. The specific timing for an area’s employees’ return to on-site work over the next two months will depend on the readiness of the building and coordination with the EOC’s Building Preparedness and Operations subteam’s work. Employees who will continue to work partially or fully remotely in the Fall should work with their supervisor or Dean to complete a teleworking agreement form, which will be available soon.

    In general, supervisors are expected to be present on-site for employees who are working on-site and/or consult with their own supervisors regarding the frequency with which they need to be present in the workplace.

  22. How does a supervisor handle an employee who reports to the workplace when they are not authorized to do so?

    Answer: Ask the employee why she is present, and unless the supervisor ascertains that there is a need for the employee to be present, she or he must be sent home.

    • To begin, the supervisor should ask, “You have not been approved to be in-person for work today. Why have you come to the worksite?” The supervisor may choose to authorize the individual to be present, but only if the person is not ill, poses no health risk to fellow employees, social distancing requirements established by UWM may be observed, and the work of the employee must be completed on-site. Note: If the employee was formerly ill, CDC return to work requirements must be followed.
    • If the supervisor chooses not to authorize the employee to be present, she or he should state, “UWM has put into place requirements to allow for the health and safety of employees. That includes limiting the number of individuals who may be present at any given time. Your presence may be placing us out of compliance with those requirements. There is not cause for you to be present at work today. Therefore, I am directing you to exit the work location and [if appropriate] complete your work remotely.”
    • If the employee becomes belligerent or continues to refuse to leave, the supervisor should contact UWM Police. The supervisor should provide UWM Police with the employee’s rationale for being on-site and/or refusing to leave, so police may prepare themselves for the interaction and the potential need of any PPE.
  23. How will UWM handle an employee who has concerns about teaching or working on-site?

    Answer: UWM cares about all of our faculty and staff, and their safety, and intends to make decisions with respect to staffing in the most supportive way possible, while also trying to accommodate needs of students to learn effectively. Please see other FAQs regarding required social distancing, face masks, classroom sizes, building modifications, available PPE and cleaning protocol that will be in place for on-site instruction.

    While UWM is striving to offer face-to-face instruction where most needed, it is anticipated that a reduced percentage of instruction will be face-to-face, as limited by classroom size and social distancing requirements. Schools and colleges should work with department and program leaders to help identify courses that may be offered face-to-face. Program leads will have the opportunity to take into account the needs of faculty and staff, as well as students, in making instructional assignments.

    For non-faculty/instructional staff, departments should create a staffing plan for how to best fulfill the department’s responsibilities and operations, through an appropriate mix of on-site and remote work that will vary depending on the needs of the department.

    After plans are better known, any employee who is concerned about working on-site should feel free to discuss that concern with their department chair or supervisor. Also, an employee with a health condition that places the employee or household members at higher risk is welcome to contact Human Resources to discuss the situation further with an HR business partner, who can help the employee complete necessary documentation for an ADA accommodation or FMLA leave, where applicable.

  24. How should a supervisor confront an employee who exhibits symptoms while in the workplace?

    Answer: If an employee begins to exhibit symptoms such as fever, chills, excessive coughing, or difficulty breathing and that are not attributable to another condition, such as asthma, they should be sent home and encouraged to contact their healthcare provider. This should be done respectfully and compassionately, taking into consideration the employee’s feelings. For example, “you mentioned that you have a fever, and you seem to be coughing a lot. I think you should go home and call your doctor.” If the employee resists, the supervisor should say: “As your supervisor, I am insisting that you go home for your own safety and for those around you.” The supervisor should explain the conditions under which the employee may return to work, as described above.

    In speaking with the employee, it is recommended that supervisors begin sentences with words like, “it seems,” “I’ve noticed,” or “it has been reported.” If the employee asks who reported this, the supervisor should state, “That is irrelevant. What’s important right now is your health and the health of those around you.”

    If an employee is experiencing significant difficulty breathing, call 911.

  25. If an employee is ordered to exit the workplace and refuses, what action should the supervisor take?

    Answer: If, after attempts to persuade the employee to leave the workplace, go home and contact their healthcare provider, if the employee continues to resist, the University Police should be contacted. The supervisor should provide the University Policy with the employee’s rationale for being onsite and/or refusing to leave, so police may prepare themselves for the interaction and the potential need of any PPE.

  26. What should the supervisor do if an employee reports the observance of symptoms in a colleague?

    Answer: If an employee approaches a supervisor and identifies a colleague who is exhibiting symptoms, the supervisor should confirm with the reporting employee what they have observed and by whom. The supervisor should approach the employee and follow the same course of conversation as described in the above question “How should a supervisor confront an employee who exhibits symptoms while in the workplace?”

  27. It may be necessary for a supervisor to assign duties and responsibilities that are outside an employee’s typical duties and responsibilities. How should the supervisor handle it if the employee to whom the responsibilities are assigned refuses the “new” duties?

    Answer: Supervisors should anticipate and plan in advance for increased absenteeism during this time.

    • In times of emergency, all UWM employees must remain flexible in order to ensure work is completed. This may include being asked to complete duties outside an employee’s normal duties and responsibilities.
    • If the employee refuses to complete the newly assigned duties, the supervisor should seek understanding by asking why.
    • If the employee indicates it is because their workload will not allow for it, the supervisor should take this into consideration and determine if an adjustment in the employee’s work priorities is necessary.
    • If the employee indicates it is because they lack the expertise to do the work, the supervisor should ascertain what training the employee may need to complete the work.
    • If the employee indicates they are unwilling to complete the work of another, the supervisor should indicate that under these times, employees must remain flexible in order for work to be accomplished.
    • If the employee continues to refuse, the supervisor should remind the employee that it is within the supervisor’s prerogative to manage the content of work an employee is assigned to complete.
    • If the employee continues to refuse, the supervisor should state that the employee may be insubordinate in their refusal and if necessary, a disciplinary process may unfold.
    • If the employee continues to resist, the supervisor should contact the HRBP/PREP who works with their school, college or division and seek assistance.
  28. How should a supervisor respond if an employee refuses to report for work because of a need to provide child/elder care?

    Answer: The supervisor should contact the HRBP/PREP who works with their school/college/division. The HRBP/PREP will contact the central Human Resources Office for guidance as necessary.


COVID-19 Testing

  1. Does the UW System have the legal authority to require employees to undergo COVID-19 antigen testing?

    Answer: Yes, the UW System possesses the legal authority necessary to require COVID-19 antigen testing.

  2. If someone tests positive for COVID-19, what should they do?

    Answer: You must complete the employee COVID-19 case management form at the link below, or provide this information to your supervisor so they can complete the form on your behalf.

    Employee COVID-19 Case Management Form (Streamline)

  3. If someone is required to undergo COVID-19 antigen testing and they test positive, are they obligated to continue testing?

    Answer: Employees who test positive for COVID-19 via a PCR test are exempt from testing for 90 days from the date of the positive test.

  4. Are UWM employees required to undergo COVID-19 antigen testing?

    Answer: UW System is requiring that any UWM employee who comes to any of the UWM campuses once a week or more, for any period of time and for any reason, to be tested for COVID-19. Testing is available at any of the UWM campuses or an employee may be tested at a community test site or through their healthcare provider.

  5. If an employee chooses not to adhere to the System testing requirement, what are the consequences?

    Answer: Employees are required to adhere to the System requirement. Employees who choose not to adhere to the requirement may be subject to discipline up to and including termination.

  6. Is there an opportunity to request exemption from the System requirement?

    Answer: Exemptions to the System requirement will be granted for only the most extenuating circumstances. Below is the link to the Streamline form through which an employee may request exemption.

    COVID-19 Alternate Site Testing and Testing Exception Request Form (Streamline)

  7. Are employees vaccinated for COVID-19 required to adhere to the System requirement?

    Answer: Yes, medical evidence suggests that while individuals vaccinated for Coronavirus generally do not get COVID-19, they are able to transmit the virus to others. As such, vaccinated employees are subject to the testing requirement and if they test positive, must report the test and follow the UWM isolation protocols

  8. As an employee not subject to the System testing requirement (not coming to any UWM campus once a week or more), am I able to utilize the testing program available to UWM employees?

    Answer: Yes, beginning the week of February 8, 2021, any UWM employee may register for testing.


◄ Human Resources Home