FAQs: COVID-19 Paid Time Off

Updated 10/29/20

This page contains frequently asked questions about available time off programs for COVID-19-related scenarios. Read Paid Time Off Information During COVID-19 Pandemic for complete information. 

Using Paid Time Off Programs

Q: For what purpose can employees use the university’s COVID paid time off and the Emergency Paid Sick Leave?
A: Paid time off benefits under these programs support pandemic-related absences such as quarantine, isolation or family care needs related to COVID-19 exposure, illness or other related scenarios, such as child care due to public health closure of daycares or on days when schools are offering only virtual instruction. Temporary lack of work related to a public health order or university operational guidance may also be a permitted use. Read about these programs
Q: Who is eligible for paid time off under these programs?
A: These programs apply to faculty and staff on all campuses and in Michigan Medicine. Part-time employees, including student employees, will be eligible for a prorated amount.
Employees hired after June 7, 2020 are not eligible for COVID-19 PTO.  Employees who accepted a voluntary furlough are no longer able to access COVID-PTO.
Q: How much COVID paid time off and EPSLA time off are part-time staff (including student employees) eligible to receive?
A: The two time off programs each offer paid time of up to 80 hours for a full time employee. Part-time employees receive a prorated amount of time based on their appointment effort. Temporary employees receive a proportional amount based on their typical work schedule. Units are responsible for determining the appropriate number of hours of COVID-19 paid time off for their temporary staff. Part-time and temporary employees are encouraged to contact their supervisor to confirm eligibility and the amount of EPSLA and COVID-19 paid time off.
Q: How do I request use of paid time off?
A: Employees should follow their normal process of reporting absence and requesting time off. Faculty who are requesting time off and are unsure of their academic unit's process for requesting sick leave time should consult with their department chair or associate dean to determine how to request and report the time off.
Q: How do I report this time on my timesheet?
A: There are different timekeeping approaches for the different banks of time:
EPSLA: Employees can report the EPSLA time using the “PEL” code on their timesheets.  Those that don’t report time in a central time-keeping system will have to track use of the time locally.
COVID PTO: Employees can report the time using the “RPN” code followed by the “PAN” code for tracking. Those that don’t report time in a central time-keeping system will have to track use of the time locally. See a sample timesheet:
A sample timesheet showing use of the RPN and PAN codes
Note: Administrators approving time will see more hours reported than usual because of the two codes being used. The employee will not be overpaid because only RPN is used for payment.
EFMLA:  Employees can report the EFMLA time using the “PFL” code on their timesheets followed by the “FML” code for tracking.  Those that don’t report time in a central time-keeping system will have to track use of the time locally. See a sample timesheet:
sample timesheet showing PFL for Pandemic Family Leave and FML for FMLA Tracking
Q: I have been assigned to work onsite and am anxious about returning. What should I do?
A: Many employees may feel concerned about a physical return to work after several months of remote employment or absence from the workplace. The university has taken a rigorous approach to ensuring a safe return to campus, informed by the latest safety measures put in place by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the state of Michigan and the guidance of U-M experts from public health, education, medicine and others across our campus community. Staff who are returning to on-site work must follow the safety protocols outlined in their unit-specific COVID-19 work plan. 
Units are encouraged to explore the potential for modifications to work sites or schedules to support a comfortable return to work. Employees who remain concerned about a return to on-site work may request vacation, PTO, unpaid time off or unpaid personal leave of absence once vacation or PTO is exhausted. 

Child and Family Care

Q: Are employees able to take paid time off under this temporary emergency paid time off policy because their children’s schools are only offering virtual instruction?
A: Yes. When possible, departments are encouraged to allow employees to work remotely and be flexible with arrangements.
If remote work is not possible, employees may use the temporary emergency paid time off banks (up to 80 hours for full-time employees) or existing time off policies.
Additionally, employees may be eligible for Expanded FMLA (E-FMLA) which calls for employees to use 80 hours of paid time before becoming eligible for up to 10 additional weeks of paid time off at two-thirds the rate of pay.
Q: My child’s school is open, but I’m concerned about safety because of COVID-19. Can I use E-FMLA instead?
A: If the school is open for in-person instruction, you may not use E-FMLA as an alternative. You can, however, request vacation, paid time off, unpaid time off or an unpaid personal leave. If the school schedule alternates between virtual and in-person instruction, you may use E-FMLA on the days with virtual instruction. You might also consider asking for a reduction in your appointment effort if necessary. 
Q: Can grandparents use COVID-19 PTO or E-FMLA to care for grandchildren while the parent(s) work and school or daycares are closed or operating virtually?
A: Employees can only use COVID-19 PTO or E-FMLA if the grandparent has responsibility for the care of the grandchildren. Read the definition of a family member under the FMLA.

Time Off for Illness

Q: Can employees use the new emergency paid time off programs to care for a family member who has contracted COVID-19 or is being quarantined?
A: Yes. Once the EPSLA and COVID PTO balances are exhausted, sick time and paid time off (PTO) can be used to care for sick family members. Employees should follow guidelines from local public health departments to protect their safety.
Q: Are employees required to use sick time or paid time off if they are directed to stay home?
A: When possible, departments are encouraged to allow employees to work remotely if they are directed to stay home from work by a healthcare provider or government health agency, or university operational guidance.
For employees who are unable to work remotely, Emergency Paid Sick Leave and COVID paid time off may be used first before other forms of paid or unpaid time off (e.g. vacation, paid time off or excused time without pay). Employees who are too sick to work may also use Emergency Paid Sick Leave and COVID-19 PTO before other sick time or paid time off.
For additional information on sick time benefits, reference the staff handbook or applicable collective bargaining agreement.
As of June 17, employees who are idle due to a lack of work can no longer charge that effort to a federal award. Visit the Office of Research and Sponsored Projects website for more information.
Q: What time off options are available for an employee who is a caregiver for a low immune or high risk family member?
A: If the employee wishes to work remotely to minimize risk to their family, departments are encouraged to give strong consideration to such requests. Employees may also use Emergency Paid Sick Leave and COVID-19 PTO to provide caregiving responsibilities for an ill family member related to COVID-19. However, if the family member is not ill, then requesting use of vacation, PTO, unpaid time off or an unpaid personal leave of absence would be available options if remote work is not possible. 
Q: If an employee has a documented health condition (e.g., low immunity or higher risk for complications, etc.) may they request to stay home from work?
A: Employees with a documented health condition may reasonably be accommodated through remote work. If remote work is not possible, employees and managers should engage further in the interactive process to find a reasonable accommodation which may include the new temporary emergency paid time off, followed by paid sick time, paid time off (PTO) or unpaid leave. Additional questions should be directed to the appropriate human resources office.