April 24, 2020
Campus Status: Limited Operations
WMU will continue in Limited Operations Status for at least as long as the governor's "stay home, stay safe" executive order is in effect. WMU is committed to following the orders and guidance of our government and public health officials, who are making decisions to save lives and protect human health and safety during the COVID-19 outbreak. You can expect any change in our status will align specific WMU functions with specific government or public health guidance, instead of sweeping changes for the entire campus or for entire University divisions.
Below is a review of Limited Operations provisions and terms, followed by frequently asked questions regarding the COVID-19 Allowance and its most recent expansion to 160 hours provided on April 9, 2020.
As we extend response measures required by COVID-19, we continue to classify work assignments in two categories:
Essential work —duties or tasks that are critical to be completed during the stated duration of the response to COVID-19, based on local, regional, national and international circumstances. Unless exempted by a President’s Cabinet member and consistent with governmental and public health guidance, essential work must be completed remotely when possible, as determined by the supervisor or manager. For those assigned essential work, the COVID-19 Allowance remains available to you through December 31, 2020.
Supervisors and managers considering whether work is essential, should determine whether or not there is a pressing need to complete the work at this time. If the work can be delayed or it cannot be successfully completed remotely, it should be considered Conditional Essential.
Conditional Essential—a duty or task not essential for the period of Limited Operations. Work for employees operating in units that have been mandated to close by either the state of Michigan or other federal guidance will be considered Conditional Essential. An employee in this classification is subject to immediate recall.
Employees may cover hours without work assignments with COVID-19 Allowance, Annual Leave, or Sick Leave at their discretion.
In the event all sources of leave are exhausted, employees will change to an Unpaid Status. In this status, the individual remains an employee of WMU. The employee may also be eligible for federal benefits created by the Families First Coronavirus Response Act—FFCRA—which became effective April 1, 2020, and extends through December 31, 2020. For each pay period, a mix of payment for hours worked, COVID-19 Allowance, sick and/or annual leave within a pay period are permitted.
Staff Compensation System—SCS—employees
Essential work assignments will be determined and communicated by the managers and supervisors. Unless exempted by a President’s Cabinet member and consistent with governmental and public health guidance, Essential work must be completed remotely when possible, as determined by the supervisor or manager. Managers and supervisors are responsible for communicating any change in this status. Managers and supervisors will also communicate any changes or variations in previous responsibilities that vary during this time period. Managers and supervisors have the right to assign duties as needed.
For staff without Essential work, managers and supervisors will be responsible for communicating any change in that status, including recalls to Essential work.
The COVID-19 Allowance remains in place for full-time, benefits-eligible, non-bargaining employees through December 31, 2020. While the stay home order is in effect, the allowance may be used for temporary lack of work assignments; quarantine, isolation, or family care needs related to COVID-19 exposure; illness or other related scenarios. Childcare challenges brought about by the closure of K-12 schools will also qualify. Supervisor/manager approval is needed to use this allowance. When the stay home order is lifted, the COVID-19 Allowance will no longer be available to cover hours for temporary lack of work assignments.
Posted April 9, 2020:
FAQs regarding COVID-19 leave allowance expansion for benefits-eligible, non-bargaining staff
When will these new COVID-19 Leave Allowance paid hours become available?
These hours will become available in April. Due to payroll processing schedules, staff paid on a semi-monthly basis will see the hours added on April 9, and they will be available for use beginning with April 1. Staff on the biweekly payroll will have the 32 hours provided April 9 and these hours can be used from April 6 forward.
When can I use these additional paid leave hours?
While Michigan’s Stay at Home, Stay Safe executive order remains active, the COVID-19 allowance can be used in the case of:
• temporary lack of work assignments;
• quarantine, isolation or family care needs related to COVID-19 exposure, illness or other related scenarios; and
• childcare challenges brought about by the closure of K-12 schools or day care.
Supervisor/manager approval is needed to use this allowance. COVID-19 hours should continue to be used prior to using sick or annual leave hours.
Do these additional paid leave hours expire?
After Michigan’s Stay at Home, Stay Safe executive order expires, unused COVID-19 allowance hours will remain available through December 31, 2020, or as required by adopted legislation in the future, for COVID-19-related events and related childcare needs due to K-12 school or day care closures.
In what order can I use my leave? Do I need to use one before the other?
You may use COVID-19 allowance, annual leave or sick leave—or any combination of the three—at your discretion (This is an updated instruction).
What happens when I’ve used all my 160 hours of COVID-19 allowance, as well as my paid and sick leave?
After all of WMU’s benefits have been exhausted, an employee may be eligible for new federal benefits created by the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) which became effective April 1, 2020, and extends through December 31, 2020.
For example, FFCRA includes the Expanded Family and Medical Leave Act (EFMLA) for eligible employees. This leave is available for up to 10 weeks after using the COVID-19 allowance hours. An employee must apply for EFMLA. Towards the end of April, Human Resources will provide detailed information regarding eligibility requirements, the application process and the payment to be received by the employee. Pay is calculated at two-thirds of the employee’s regular pay rate with a maximum of $200 per day for an aggregate total payment of $12,000.
Who is eligible for EFMLA?
After expending your entire COVID-19 allowance, you may be eligible for EFMLA for qualifying childcare needs due to COVID-19-related K-12 school or day care closures. You will need to apply for this leave by contacting Human Resources.
If I am not eligible for EFMLA, what should I do?
If you are not eligible for EFMLA and have used all your leave, you may remain an employee of WMU but without pay. In that case, you will be eligible to apply for unemployment benefits, including the enhanced federal unemployment benefit.
If I have used all my leave but have no work assignments and have filed for unemployment, am I still considered employed by WMU?
We recognize that these are difficult and trying times and understand your concern. Simply exhausting WMU paid leave benefits does not change your employee status.
This is a rapidly evolving situation, and we do not know what lies ahead. Our leadership team is working to understand the financial implications this unexpected and extended crisis may have on our institution. As more information becomes available, we will share it with the community.
What happens if I have unused COVID-19 leave and the Michigan executive order to stay home has expired?
In this situation, COVID-19 hours may be used in the case of quarantine, isolation or family care needs related to COVID-19 exposure, illness or other related scenarios, and childcare challenges brought about by the closure of K-12 schools or day care through December 31, 2020, or as required by adopted legislation in the future.
Please note, however, that upon the expiration of the governor’s executive order to stay at home, the COVID-19 allowance will no longer be available for a temporary lack of work assignment. Facts and circumstances will need to be considered at the time the executive order ends.
Compliance with federal legislation requires that WMU, in the absence of a governmental stay-at-home order, will need to ask employees to provide information about personal circumstances that qualify them for the COVID-19 allowance or EFMLA. If this becomes necessary, further guidance will be provided by Human Resources at that time.
Where can I get more information?
Please reach out to the Human Resources Service Center at (269) 387-3620. They are prepared to answer your questions.