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Employee Information

Please note the following information is subject to change as state and federal requirements, local public health official guidance and best practices evolve. 

Last updated on March 28, 2022

Frequently asked questions for employees

Disclosure of information

  • Who will have access to any health-related information I disclose, and how will the University protect it?

    Only those with a “need to know,” e.g., health care providers, supervisors and close contacts, will have access to your COVID-19-related health information. Individuals outside of Sindecuse with a "need to know" will only know whether you are positive for COVID-19. They will not have access to other medical records or information. 

    HIPAA and other confidentiality rules are relaxed during instances of public health emergencies, which is what we are experiencing with the current pandemic. 

  • Is the University allowed to ask me if I have COVID-19 or any related conditions?

    The University may ask you if you have COVID-19 or COVID-19-related symptoms. 

    The University may not ask you if you have underlying conditions that would increase your risk if you are exposed to COVID-19. If you do have underlying conditions that place you at a higher risk for COVID-19 and you want to change any of your working conditions, you and your supervisor must contact the Office of Institutional Equity to discuss whether your situation is appropriate for a reasonable accommodation. 

  • May the University tell my coworkers that I have tested positive for COVID-19?

    The University may disclose the existence of a positive COVID-19 result to prevent a serious or imminent threat or to prevent the spread of disease. 

    For employee cases, the University will issue warnings to buildings indicating there has been a positive test result. The identity of the individual with the positive test result will be released “on a need-to-know basis,” as determined by safety needs as necessary to prevent the spread of the disease. 

Accommodations

Reporting

Testing

Frequently asked questions for supervisors and managers

Accommodations

Disclosure of information

  • Does sharing information about a positive test case violate HIPAA and confidentiality laws?

    No, not during a Public Health Emergency. So long as those who receive the information have a “need to know” and keep that information confidential, covered entities (Sindecuse Health Center, Unified Clinics, Kalamazoo Autism Center and Athletics) may share COVID-19-related information when necessary. 

    The Michigan Occupational Safety and Health Administration (MIOSHA) requires that WMU notify the public health department and those who may have come in contact with someone with a known case of COVID-19. Guidance from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services explains that the state of emergency and public health concerns outweigh personal privacy concerns as long as the state of emergency continues. At WMU, only Sindecuse Health Center will make those notifications. Co-workers and supervisors should not do so unless they have consent of the employee whose information is being shared.

    You should not ask questions about family members, but you may ask if the employee has been exposed to “anyone” with COVID-19 or related symptoms. 

    If you know your employee or someone who was in close contact with your employee has tested positive for COVID-19, you must notify your employee to make an appointment with Sindecuse Health Center. Contact either the Department of Environmental Health and Safety or Sindecuse for further resources. 

  • May I inform other employees if a co-worker tests positive for COVID-19?

    No. Sindecuse will ensure that the University meets its disclosure requirements in a way that protects the privacy of those individuals involved. If you hear that an employee tested positive at a site other than Sindecuse, please inform Sindecuse. 

  • May I ask someone who does not have symptoms if they have a medical condition that makes them high risk?

    No. An employee may voluntarily disclose a medical condition. In such a circumstance, the employer may use the information to evaluate whether a reasonable accommodation is necessary. Contact the Office of Institutional Equity for further information. 

Disciplinary action

  • Michigan legislation prohibits retaliation against anyone for not reporting to work if they “display the principal symptoms of COVID-19.” May I require employees to report to work?

    This legislation applies only to individuals “at particular risk of infecting others.” It protects those who test positive for COVID-19, display one or more of the principal symptoms or come in close contact with an individual who fits into either of those categories.  

    Employees must report to work as usual, unless prohibited to do so based on the following scenarios:

    1. Employees who have either tested positive or have been exposed to COVID-19 may not return to work until they meet the requirements of state law (MCL 419.405):

    2. Employees may be subject to discipline if they display one or more of the principal COVID-19 symptoms; have been exposed to someone who tests positive for COVID-19 or are exposed to someone who has one or more of the principal symptoms; or if they do not get tested within three days from receiving an employer’s request to be tested. Those who are displaying symptoms should get tested as soon as possible. MCL 419.403(2).