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Coronavirus (COVID-19) Q&A

We recognize that there may be times when employees require additional support that our current policies do not contemplate or accommodate. If you confront a particularly difficult circumstance, Human Resources is available to offer employment-related guidance and support.  

Because the situation is rapidly evolving and recommendations from the CDC and the U.S. Department of State change daily, members of the University community are encouraged to monitor the CDC and U.S. Department of State websites for the most up to date information.



Contents

General questions

1. What is the coronavirus?
2. What can we do to protect ourselves from the virus?
3. Should employees be wearing masks to prevent them from getting the virus?
4. What is the difference between “isolation”, “social distancing”, and “quarantine”?
5. What should I do if I have been in contact with someone who returned from a Level 3 location prior to their self-quarantine?
6. What if I think I was exposed to the virus?

Travel-related questions

7.  When should employees avoid traveling?
8. If an employee’s travel is delayed due to the virus, will the University pay for the additional travel costs (e.g., additional hotel, meals?)
9. My family is returning from a Level 3 location. Should I self-quarantine?
10. What precautionary steps should I take when traveling?

Pay-related questions

11. What if I am required to work onsite, and schools or childcares close due to COVID-19?
12. What if I am teleworking, and schools or chilcares close due to COVID-19?
13. What if I am required to work onsite or telework, and am quarantined at the request of the University or by public health authorities due to possible exposure?
14. What if I am required to work onsite or telework, and am exhibiting signs/symptoms or diagnosed with COVID-10, or am caring for an immediate family member with symptoms or diagnosed with COVID-19?
15. How is 'immediate family member' defined for the purposes of HR-700?
16. What if I am required to work onsite, and have a condition which I feel puts me at higher risk for COVID-19?
17. I am an employee who is in my 6-month probationary period. What options are there for time off with pay?
18. Are employees eligible for shift differential if they are using the "up to 15 days of vacation leave before it is accrued" per HR-700?
19. Can Shared Leave be requested for COVID-19?

Other Work-Related Questions

20. What is telework and how is it determined if a position can work remotely?
21. Can a supervisor require an employee to go home if they are not exhibiting signs fo COVID-19?
22. Can an employee telecommute if they are sick, self-isolated, or self-quarantined?
23. Can a department require its employee to get the flu vaccination?
24. Can supervisors take an employee's temperature?
25. Can a doctor’s note be required before an employee returns to work?
26. If an employee is absent related to COVID-19, will department absenteeism rules still apply?
27. Who is eligible for FMLA job-protected leave?


General questions

1. What is the coronavirus?
Coronaviruses are a family of viruses common throughout the world that can cause illness in both animals and people. This is a virus with symptoms similar to an upper respiratory infection. Symptoms may appear 2-14 days after exposure and may include:

  • Fever
  • Cough
  • Shortness of breath

For updated information about the Coronavirus (COVID-19), the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) communicates up-to-date information at https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/index.html.

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2. What can we do to protect ourselves from the virus?
Increased cleaning and sanitizing the environment, including:

  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces, such as phones and computers
  • Wipe down workspaces regularly including door handles, desktops, tables, and anywhere commonly touched by hands

Everyone is advised to follow good prevention practices, including:

  • Washing your hands frequently with soap and water for 20 seconds or using alcohol-based sanitizer with 60%-95% alcohol if soap and water are not available
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands
  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick
  • Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze then throw the tissue in the trash
  • Stay home when you are sick until you are free from symptoms including fever, cough, and respiratory ailments

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3. Should employees be wearing masks to prevent them from getting the virus?
Non-healthcare personnel – the CDC has indicated that no recommendation can be made at this time for mask use in the community (including when they are in public places or are around other household members) by asymptomatic persons, including those at high risk for complications, to prevent exposure. Non-healthcare personnel should not be required to wear surgical masks to protect themselves against the virus.

Healthcare personnel shall follow the guidance provided by the CDC. Additional information for Healthcare Professionals can be found at https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/hcp/index.html

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4. What is the difference between “isolation”, “social distancing”, and “quarantine”?
Isolation means the separation of a person or group of people known or reasonably believed to be infected with a communicable disease and potentially infectious from those who are not infected to prevent the spread of communicable disease. Isolation for public health purposes may be voluntary or compelled by federal, state, or local public health orders. 

Social distancing means remaining out of congregate settings, avoiding local public transportation (e.g., bus, subway, taxi, rideshare), and maintaining distance (approximately 6 feet or 2 meters) from others. If social distancing is recommended, presence in congregate settings or use of local public transportation should only occur with the approval of local or state health authorities. 

Quarantine in general means the separation of a person or group of people reasonably believed to have been exposed to a communicable disease but not yet symptomatic, from others who have not been so exposed, to prevent the possible spread of the communicable disease.

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5. What should I do if I have been in contact with someone who returned from a Level 3 location prior to their self-quarantine?
Contact your healthcare provider to determine if precautions should be taken. Call ahead before you go to a doctor’s office or emergency room. Tell them about your recent contact and your symptoms (if any are present). 

Additional precautions include:

  • Avoid contact with others
  • Do not travel on public transportation
  • Washing your hands frequently with soap and water for 20 seconds or using alcohol-based sanitizer with 60%-95% alcohol if soap and water are not available
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands
  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick
  • Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze then throw the tissue in the trash
  • Stay home when you are sick until you are free from symptoms including fever, cough, and respiratory ailments

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6. What if I think I was exposed to the virus?
If you feel sick and have reason to believe you were exposed to the coronavirus (i.e., you are a resident in a community where person-to-person spread of COVID-19 has been detected; you have been in China or another affected area, or you have been exposed to someone sick with COVID-19), call ahead before visiting your health care provider. Your provider's office will take steps to keep other people from potentially getting infected or exposed. The CDC has issued information regarding symptomsprevention and treatment, as well as a number of other frequently asked questions and answers.

If you are experiencing a non-emergency health condition and would like to call or video-chat with a doctor from the comfort of your own home, virtual visits are available to those covered by a UM System health insurance plan.


Travel-related questions

7. When should employees avoid traveling?
The Center for Disease Control recommends that travelers avoid all nonessential travel to "warning level 3" locations. Information may be found at https://wwwnc.cdc.gov/travel/notices

For information about university-sponsored travel, please visit the 2019 Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) updates UM Website for updated information. 

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8. If an employee’s travel is delayed due to the virus, will the University pay for the additional travel costs (e.g., additional hotel, meals?).
It depends. There are several factors that may contribute to determining if travel costs will be approved per University policy. Examples include if the employee is traveling due to university-related business, or if the employee will be working remotely during the delay, etc.

Please consult with your HR Business Partner/HR Consultant and Finance Officer to assess the situation.

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9. My family is returning from a Level 3 location. Should I self-quarantine?
In some situations, it may be appropriate to stay home from the worksite for a period of time based on reliable information about potential virus exposure.  

Please contact your local health authority to determine if precautions should be taken.

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10. What precautionary steps should I take when traveling?
Given the fluidity of the situation, supervisors and employees are encouraged to discuss in advance, and plan for, the possibility of telework for a period of time after returning from all travels to any area where there is suspected COVID-19.
 
Upon returning home, if COVID-19 has been identified from the location of your travels, contact your healthcare provider to determine what precautions should be taken. Call ahead before you go to a doctor’s office or emergency room. Tell them about your recent contact and your symptoms (if any are present).

Please refer to the CDC guidelines for up-to-date information.


Pay-related questions

11. What if I am required to work on-site, and schools or childcares close due to COVID-19?
Effective April 1, 2020, answer subject to updated HR-700. Please visit HR-700 for details.

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12. What if I am teleworking, and schools or childcares close due to COVID-19?
Effective April 1, 2020, answer subject to updated HR-700. Please visit HR-700 for details.

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13. What if I am required to work onsite or telework, and am quarantined at the request of the University or by public health authorities due to possible exposure?
Supervisors are encouraged to provide telework options to employees including benefit-eligible administrative, service and support employees; academic appointments; non-benefit eligible part-time employees and student employees, whose job duties can be performed remotely without disrupting operations.

Effective March 23 at 12:00 a.m., if telework options are not available the following pay practices apply:

  1. Benefit-eligible administrative, service and support employees and certain non-regular academic employees
    • Administrative Leave (HR-413), up to fifteen (15) days per HR-700
  2. Employees on academic appointments who do not accrue vacation or sick leave:
    • Paid for up to 15 days. Such time will not count against leave that might otherwise be available to the employee under CRR 320.070 (defined as 20 days each year), the paid family and medical leave policy in CRR 340.070.B.2 (see also HR-407), the School of Medicine policy, or any other applicable leave policies.
  3. Non-benefit eligible employees
    • Administrative Leave (HR-413), up to fifteen (15) days per HR-700

Please consult your HR Business Partner/HR Consultant for additional guidance.

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14.  What if I am required to work on-site or telework, and am exhibiting signs/symptoms or diagnosed with COVID-19, or am caring for an immediate family member with symptoms or diagnosed with COVID-19?
Effective April 1, 2020 answer subject to updated HR-700. Please visit HR-700 for details.

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15. How is ‘immediate family member’ defined for the purposes of HR-700?
Immediate Family Member shall be defined per HR-404 Sick:

  • For purposes of this policy, immediate family is defined as spouse, sponsored adult dependent, children, other individuals with whom the employee is standing in loco parentis, parent, individual who stood in loco parentis to an employee when the employee was a child, siblings, and persons for whom the employee is legally responsible.
  • Children are defined as biological, adopted, foster child, stepchild, a legal ward, or a child with whom the employee is standing in loco parentis.

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16. What if I am required to work on site, and have a condition which I feel puts me at higher risk for COVID-19? 
According to the CDC, individuals at higher risk for illness from COVID-19 (e.g. heart disease, diabetes, lung disease) should take extra precautions to keep space away from themselves and others. This may also include individuals who are immunosuppressed. Employees should speak with their healthcare providers.

Please speak with your HR Business Partner/HR Consultant and/or your ADA Coordinator to discuss your situation. If approved, a plan will be developed with your supervisor which may include providing telework options to employees, including non-exempt employees, whose job duties can be performed remotely without disrupting operations.

*University of Missouri Health Care employees or MU School of Medicine employees who are engaged in direct patient care should continue to work with their leadership for guidance and information, and consult Staff Health processes.   

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17. I am an employee who is in my 6-month probationary period. What options are there for time off with pay?
Effective April 1, 2020 answer subject to updated HR-700. Please visit HR-700 for details.

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18. Are employees eligible for shift differential if they are using the “up to 15 days of vacation leave before it is accrued” per HR-700?
Yes. Employees should receive applicable shift differential if the employee is normally scheduled to work an eligible shift.

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19. Can Shared Leave be requested for COVID-19?

 

Shared Leave eligibility includes, but is not limited to, a major illness, injury or medical condition that is life threatening, terminal, or likely to result in a substantial permanent disability as certified in writing by a health provider.

 

It is uncertain whether COVID-19 would apply given each individual situation.

See HR-414 Shared Leave for more details.

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Other Work-Related Questions

20. What is telework and how is it determined if a position can work remotely?
Telework (i.e., telecommuting) is the act of working from home or other remote location, while using the internet, email and telephone to complete your assigned work duties.
In the event a department experiences the need for telework, decisions should be made by the appropriate department/division leader to assess the situation. Common questions to assess include:

  • Can the job duties be performed remotely?
  • Does the employee have the willingness and tools to perform the duties remotely?
  • Is the job essential to be performed remotely for an extended period of time?
  • How will job performance be monitored remotely?
  • How will the communication between the employee, colleagues/co-workers, and supervisor continue during telework?
  • Is the telework due to an accommodation request? If so, please contact HR guidance.

The Department of Information Technology has provided Remote-Work-Resources FAQ’s to assist with telework situations. https://doit.missouri.edu/techknowledge/remote-work-resources-faq/

Please consult your HR Business Partner/HR Consultant for additional guidance and visit https://www.umsystem.edu/ums/hr

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21. Can a supervisor require an employee to go home if they are not exhibiting signs of COVID-19?
Yes. The supervisor may direct an employee to stay away from the worksite (i.e., to quarantine due to possible exposure to the virus), at which time the employee will be expected to perform duties remotely to the extent possible.

If telework is not possible, the employee may be granted leave for a limited amount of time pursuant to HR-700 Enhanced HR Policies for Employees in Response to COVID-19.  See HR-700 for more details.

Please consult your HR Business Partner/HR Consultant to discuss the situation to ensure proper measures are being taken. 

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22. Can an employee telework if they are sick, self-isolated, or self-quarantined?
Supervisors are encouraged to provide telework options to employees, including benefit-eligible administrative, service and support employees; academic appointments; non-benefit eligible part-time employees and student employees, whose job duties can be performed remotely without disrupting operations. 

Please consult your HR Business Partner/HR Consultant for additional guidance. 

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23. Can a department require its employee to get the flu vaccination?
Non-healthcare personnel - No. A department cannot require employees to get vaccinated, as this is a personal decision. However, employees may be encouraged to take every day precautions to stay healthy, such as washing their hands, avoid touching their eyes and mouth, and staying home when sick.

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24. Can supervisors take an employee's temperature?
Non-healthcare and clinical personnel - Supervisors shall remain focused on information provided by appropriate public health authorities and avoid offering medical opinions. 

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25. Can a doctor’s note be required before an employee returns to work?
Yes. A health care provider’s statement may be required for return to work from the employee’s own serious health condition.

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26. If an employee is absent related to COVID-19, will department absenteeism rules still apply?
Employees shall continue to follow department established guidelines for attendance and requesting approval for time off. Departments are encouraged to support employees to stay home if they are sick, thereby minimizing the spread of potential viruses. Paid Time Off benefits are available in accordance with policy.

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27. Who is eligible for FMLA job-protected leave?
Effective April 1, 2020, answer subject to updated HR-700. Please visit HR-700 for details.

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For updates regarding special provisions as they apply to COVID-19, please see HR-700.

For more information and how to apply for FMLA leave, please visit HR-407 Family and Medical Leave.

Created: 3/16/2020
Updated: 3/23/2020; 04/01/2020
 

Reviewed 2020-04-01