As 2020 is quickly moving toward its end, I suspect many of us share the hope 2021 will be brighter, especially with the promise of a preventive COVID-19 vaccine on the horizon. While the light may well be at the end of the tunnel, in the interim we must continue to wear our masks and follow our safety protocols while managing the very real challenges the pandemic still presents today.
Earlier in the spring, the campus put into place a temporary COVID-19 leave allowance for benefits-eligible, non-bargaining staff. This program, which will end as scheduled on Dec. 31, 2020, provided the option for additional leave for employees for various COVID-19-related reasons. Fortunately, most eligible employees did not have to avail themselves of this leave, but for those who did, it provided extra security. While the original temporary program is ending, we recognize the pandemic continues to be a disruptive force, and for some, there may remain ongoing needs for extra support.
Consequently, beginning Jan. 11, 2021, the University will offer the opportunity to access up to 40 hours of paid leave for COVID-19-related issues. These hours will be available through April 30, 2021, and will be offered at the employee's regular pay rate. This program will be available to non-bargaining staff as well as members of AFSCME, POA and MSEA.
Employees will be able to access these hours through Human Resources via an application process. As a result, the 2021 emergency leave will not appear as banked hours in an individual employee's self-service portal. Look for more information from Human Resources in the coming weeks regarding this application process.
Employees in the groups listed above will be able to use these hours for the following needs:
- Complying with a government quarantine or isolation order due to COVID-19.
- Completing health care provider-recommended self-quarantine due to COVID-19.
- Managing COVID-19 symptoms while seeking a medical diagnosis.
- Caring for someone who is subject to a government quarantine or isolation order or has been advised by a health care provider to quarantine or self-isolate.
- Caring for a dependent whose K-12 school or childcare location is closed due to COVID-19.
While the future is uncertain, we see signs additional legislation may be in the works at the federal or state level to assist those who face COVID-19-related challenges. In addition, we will continue to monitor COVID-19 impacts on our employees. As we move through the early months of 2021, we will assess ongoing needs and determine if additional steps are needed based on these combined factors.
We appreciate your continuing work on behalf of Western Michigan University throughout this challenging year. If you have questions regarding the 2021 emergency leave hours, please reach out to the Human Resources Service Center, contact your HR representative or call (269) 387-3620.