April 1, 2020
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. More information on the COVID-19 virus can be found at: https://uwm.edu/coronavirus/.
COVID-19 Leave is a special kind of leave to help employees remain in paid status during the current pandemic. COVID-19 Leave became available on March 17, 2020, and will continue to be available through May 1, 2020. COVID-19 Leave is available at the employee’s full-time equivalency rate. To learn more about COVID-19 Leave, please see the UW System Interim COVID-19 Leave Policy at:
- 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 COVID-19 Leave Policy.
- If UWM is shut down because of a COVID-19 virus pandemic, will I be assigned to work remotely? If I am unable to work remotely, how will I remain in paid status? Will I have to use accumulated leave?
Answer: Nearly all UWM employees have now been directed to work remotely. For those unable to work remotely or those unable to work to their full-time equivalency due to the reasons listed below, COVID-19 Leave must be used through May 1. Conditions under which COVID-19 Leave may be used include:
- An inability to work remotely, either to all of the employee’s full-time equivalency or in part.
- Diagnosis of COVID-19 or experiencing symptoms of COVID-19 and seeking a diagnosis.
- Care of an immediate family member who has a diagnosis of COVID-19 or is experiencing symptoms of COVID-19 and is seeking a diagnosis.
- Care of an immediate family member subject to a quarantine or isolation order or who has been advised to self-quarantine.
- Provide child/elder care due to school/care closure.
Employees unable to perform duties for reasons other than those specified above are not eligible to use COVID-19 Leave and should use another form of paid leave to remain in paid status or request an unpaid leave of absence.
- 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. The federal government has created an expanded FMLA opportunity for those required to provide child/elder care due to the COVID-19 pandemic. To learn more, please see the UW System Interim FMLA Expansion Policy at:
- Why are student employees excluded from the UW System COVID-19 Leave Policy?
Answer: There are many unfortunate aspects of this pandemic, many of which are outside our control. The updated UW System Interim COVID-19 Leave Policy does not include student employees. However, they were provided a one-time payment that is covering the period from March 29 – April 11.
- How will the COVID-19 Leave work? How do employees enter it on their timesheet?
Answer: COVID-19 Leave processing guidelines can be found here: COVID-19 Leave Bank Processing Guidelines
- When can I begin utilizing COVID-19 Leave?
Answer: Leave entries should be dated no earlier than the effective date of the policy (3/17/2020).
- If I already used sick leave or vacation to cover an absence due to COVID-19, can I substitute the COVID-19 Leave for the leave I already reported?
Answer: Yes, if that absence is for any reason covered by the UW System COVID-19 Leave policy and occurred on or after after March 17, when System issued its COVID-19 Leave policy. Please reach out to your Supervisor or the Central Payroll office at email@example.com for assistance.
- What will happen to the leave I originally used after it is swapped?
Answer: After your leave has been swapped, the original leave that was used will be restored to that specific leave balance. For example, if you used 8 hours of sick leave on 3/17/20 and you swapped it with 8 hours of COVID-19 Leave, then the 8 hours of sick leave would be added back to your total sick leave balance.
- How do I enter COVID-19 Leave as a biweekly paid employee?
Answer: Leave will be recorded on the timesheet in the same manner as any other eligible leave type. Below is a link to a tip sheet on how to enter leave on a timesheet. Under the Time/Absence code column, the dropdown button will have the COVID-19 Leave labeled as “COVID Emergency Leave.”
- How do I enter COVID-19 Leave as a monthly paid employee?
Answer: Entry for monthly employees will be made via the timesheet created for ACA hours reporting by either the employee or the administrator.
Monthly employees will need to report their COVID usage through the timesheet on a biweekly basis. Below is a link to a tip sheet on how to enter leave on a timesheet. Under the Time/Absence code column, the dropdown button will have the COVID-19 Leave labeled as “COVID Emergency Leave.”
- Is there an exception in the UW System Interim COVID-19 Leave Policy and the Interim FMLA Expansion Policy for “emergency responders” and “healthcare providers”?
Answer: Yes. The policies state, “Employees who are health care providers and emergency responders may be excluded from eligibility for COVID-19 Leave (and expanded FMLA) under this policy as determined by the Chancellor or their designee(s) for campuses or the System President or their designee(s) for the Central Administration, that includes UW System Administration, UW Shared Services, and UW Extended Campus.”
Definitions of healthcare providers and emergency responders are written in each interim policy. This is not intended to mean that these populations will be denied access to COVID leave or expanded FMLA outright. This exception is intended to provide management with the flexibility needed to provide for these critical functions and requests will be handled on a case-by-case basis.
- Who can I contact if I need assistance entering COVID-19 Leave or swapping leave?
If you need assistance entering COVID-19 Leave or if other leave was entered and approved between March 17th and March 27th (When the COVID-19 Leave became available on the time sheet) and the COVID-19 Leave coding should have been appropriately utilized, please contact Payroll at firstname.lastname@example.org to have the formerly approved leave “swapped” for COVID-19 Leave utilization.
- 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.
- What if my children’s school or daycare provider is closed and I have no one else to take care of my children?
Answer: UWM is considering a variety of options for faculty, staff and student employees. 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 (including COVID-19 Leave) or choose to utilize unpaid leave. You can also talk to your supervisor about the possibility of a flexible work schedule.
- 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.
- With the extension of spring break by one week, 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 over the extended break and beyond. Assuming the work area remains open, student employees are not prohibited or discouraged from working at their UWM jobs under our current COVID-19 guidelines.
Because many campus operations will continue, 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.
- Will the deadline be extended for personnel evaluations to be completed, as some supervisors are inundated with the transfer of curriculum to online?
Answer: Yes, the deadline has been extended to May 1, 2020.
- If our department has invited applicants to campus for interviews, should we cancel?
Answer: If your applicant is coming from a U.S. state where the CDC has determined that sustained community transmission is occurring or an international location that requires a 14-day self-quarantine upon arrival, you should conduct the interviews remotely (for example, via Skype or Zoom) or postpone their interview. This is because the Wisconsin Department of Health Services recommends that such incoming travelers self-quarantine for 14 days, which would be impossible in the context of a job interview. However, even if they are not coming from a U.S. state with sustained community transmission or an international location that requires a self-quarantine, in order to limit the potential spread of the virus, it would still be prudent to conduct the interviews remotely or postpone their interview. The CDC issued guidance March 12 about travel within the U.S., which seems to encourage that domestic travelers choose to delay or cancel their plans.
- 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.
- How is UWM able to continue to provide instruction given the “Safer at Home” order issued by Governor Evers?
Answer: According to language in the “Safer at Home” order issued by Governor Evers: The order does not apply to certain essential businesses and operations. This includes higher educational institutions for purposes of facilitating distance learning, performing critical research, or other essential functions.
- 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.
- If part or all of UWM are closed due to the COVID-19 virus, may I work remotely?
Answer: If the nature of your work allows for remote completion and your supervisor approves you may work remotely.
- 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 COVID-19 Leave, 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.
- 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 are required to self-quarantine for 14 days before returning to work if you are returning from any of the following states: California, Illinois, New York, or Washington, or the following countries: Austria, Belgium, China, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Iran, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Monaco, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, San Marino, Slovakia, Slovenia, South Korea, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, United Kingdom, or Vatican City.
If you are returning from any other travel, 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.
- 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. You may also use COVID-19 Leave under this circumstance.
- If I do not have available leave to remain in paid status during a self-quarantine may I use an unpaid leave?
Answer: Yes, employees are able to use an unpaid leave during a self-quarantine. Employees are encouraged to contact the Central Human Resources Benefits Office, email@example.com, to gain understanding of the consequences of using an unpaid leave.
- 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: Please see the March 17, 2020, UWM employee COVID-19 update.
- Will UWM require “social distancing?”
Answer: Virtual meetings should be utilized whenever possible and if your position allows you to work remotely, please discuss this possibility with your supervisor. Also please see the March 17, 2020, UWM employee COVID-19 update.
- 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 COVID-19 Leave, 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.
- 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. Employees and others returning from severely impacted areas (Austria, Belgium, China, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Iran, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Monaco, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, San Marino, Slovakia, Slovenia, South Korea, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, United Kingdom, Vatican City) are required to self-quarantine for 14 days before returning to UWM.
- I am considered to be at high-risk for serious complications if I contract a virus, what should I do?
Answer: Employees may use COVID-19 Leave, 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.
- 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.
- 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 and planning for contingencies. UWM has engaged its Crises Management Team, a group staffed by the Chancellor’s Cabinet and other UWM leaders. An Infectious Disease Preparedness Team has been meeting weekly for some time to monitor the virus and prepare for possible impacts upon UWM. As necessary, UWM leadership will communicate broadly on this topic.
- What does it mean to “self-monitor?”
Answer: You should monitor yourself for a fever by taking your temperature twice a day and be alert for coughing or difficulty breathing. If you develop any of these symptoms, you should self-isolate and contact your healthcare provider by phone immediately.
- 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 FEI. They are there to help.