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HR-702 COVID-19 Policies Q&A

Please note: This Q&A is corresponds to HR-702 COVID-19 Policies, which was suspended on May 16, 2022. Please see HR Policy Manual Enhanced Policies (HR-700) index for additional policies and information.


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 Center for Disease Control and Prevention (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.


General Questions

  1. What are COVID-19 variants (e.g., the Delta-Variant)?
    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 but is not limited to:Viruses constantly change through mutation, and new variants of a virus are expected to occur. Multiple variants of the virus that causes COVID-19 have been documented in the United States and globally during this pandemic. The CDC monitors the variants detected in the United States, such as the Alpha-variant (the first detected in the US in December 2020), the Beta-variant, the Gamma-variant, and the Delta-variant.
    • Fever
    • Cough
    • Shortness of breath

    Refer to the CDC for up-to-date list of symptoms.

  2. What can we do to protect ourselves from the virus?
    There are several measures employees can take to protect themselves from the virus including:
    • Get a COVID-19 vaccine
    • Wear a mask that covers your nose and mouth to help protect yourself and others
    • Stay 6 feet apart from others who don’t live with you
    • Avoid crowds and poorly ventilated indoor spaces
    • Stay home when you are sick until you are free from symptoms including fever, cough, and respiratory ailments
    • Clean and sanitize 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
    • 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 o 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
  3. 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.

  4. What if I think I was exposed to the Coronavirus and am experiencing symptoms? If you have reason to believe you were in close contact to someone who has been diagnosed with coronavirus, and are experiencing symptoms that cannot be explained by existing conditions (e.g. allergies), please contact your health care provider and follow any advice given. A close contact is defined as being within 6 feet for at least 15 minutes or more over a 24-hour period (see CDC for detailed definition). If you would like to call or video-chat with a doctor, virtual visits are available to those covered by a UM System health insurance plan.

    Employees shall continue to notify their supervisor and campus health (if applicable).


Face Masks and Vaccination Questions

  1. May employees be required to wear personal protective equipment (e.g., medical-grade mask, gloves, or gowns)?
    Employees in a medical setting may be required to wear personal protective equipment (“PPE”) during a pandemic. All other employees may be required to wear face coverings on campus. Employees should refer to their campus guidelines for further details. Employees who are directed to wear PPE or other face coverings, and who need disability-related accommodations should contact their human resources office.
     
  2. May employees be directed to submit to a medical screening to determine whether they have a fever or other symptoms of COVID-19?
    Yes. During a pandemic, employees may be screened for symptoms of COVID-19, including measuring employees’ body temperature and asking whether they are experiencing symptoms of COVID-19. In addition, specific tools may be implemented to aid with screening for symptoms in order to help prevent the spread of the virus.

    The University is not requiring medical screenings for all employees directed to return to work on site, but units may implement additional precautionary measures, including medical screenings, with approval of the President, Chancellor, or their designees. Units implementing medical screenings for employees working on site should contact their Human Resources Partner for assistance with screening protocols to protect employee confidentiality and safety.

  3. What should I do if another employee is not following the current face covering policy?
    If you have concerns, please contact your supervisor or Human Resources. Please remember, employees who are directed to wear Personal Protective Equipment or other face coverings, and who need accommodations should contact Human Resources or the ADA office.
     
  4. Why should I get the COVID-19 vaccine?
    Vaccines are widely recognized as an important tool in keeping the public safe from infectious diseases. COVID-19 vaccines are very effective in preventing you from becoming severely ill if you do contract COVID-19 and reduce contracting and spreading the risk of disease. It may help protect others you come in contact with, including friends and family. Vaccination is key to ending the COVID-19 pandemic.
     
  5. Can a supervisor ask about an employee’s vaccination status?
    While it is permissible for the University to inquire about employees’ vaccination status, there are special considerations under law for how such information is gathered and maintained, and individual supervisors are not to undertake those inquiries on their own. Supervisors should consult with human resources before asking employees if they have been vaccinated.
     
  6. Do I have to disclose my vaccination status?
    The university may require an employee or student to provide proof of vaccination in specific situations where the University is requiring employees and students to obtain their COVID-19 vaccination. Please consult your Human Resources Partner or unit leader if you are unsure if your position and/or department is requiring vaccinations.

    If applicable, employees shall continue to follow expectations for providing proof of COVID-19 vaccination documentation.
     

  7. Will I be informed of the vaccination status of the people who share my workspace?
    Generally, no. Vaccination status is confidential information. However, if employees are required to be vaccinated, information may be shared with supervisors to manage non-compliance.

    Employees may voluntarily share their vaccination status.

  8. Must I still wear a mask and practice physical distancing while at work after I am fully vaccinated?
    Face coverings may be required in certain locations and situations, regardless of vaccination status. Please review your university’s face mask guidance. To mitigate the spread of COVID-19, the use of face masks is strongly encouraged in all settings.
     
  9. If I am exposed to COVID-19 after I have been fully vaccinated, should I quarantine?
    This will depend on the CDC guidelines in place at the time, as CDC guidance can change based on new information and circumstances. Please review the CDC website or contact your Human Resources Partner for questions.

    Individuals who believe they have been exposed to COVID-19 must notify their supervisor and follow campus notification protocols.

  10. Can I use work time to get my vaccination?
    As much as possible, the University would like to prevent schedules from acting as a barrier to employees seeking vaccinations. If you are scheduled to receive a vaccination during hours you are scheduled to work, please notify your supervisor promptly to arrange for scheduling flexibility.
     
  11. Can I use sick leave if I do not feel well enough to work after receiving the vaccine?
    Yes. You may use your accrued sick leave to receive pay during the absence. Please coordinate with your supervisor as you would normally when feeling ill.

Benefits and Compensation questions

  1. How are employees compensated if they are sent home or are unable to work due to school/daycare closures, close contact isolations, quarantine, etc.?
    Supervisors should evaluate the situation and may approve telework options for employees, including non-exempt employees, when appropriate under the University’s telework arrangements policy HR-522.

    If telework is not approved, the following pay options are available:

    1. Benefit-eligible Administrative, Service & Support employees and certain non-regular academic employees may use the following paid time off:
      • Sick leave, HR-404 Sick Leave
      • Vacation leave, HR-402 Vacation
      • Personal days, HR-403 Personal Days
    2. 2-month faculty may use any of their unused four weeks (20 days per year) of annual leave, CRR 320.070 Academic Appointments.
    3. Non-benefit eligible employees may be approved for leave without pay.

    Please consult your HR Partner for additional guidance.

  2. If my department temporarily closes due to COVID-19, how will employees be paid?
    Supervisors should evaluate the situation and may approve telework options for employees, including non-exempt employees, when appropriate under the University’s telework arrangements policy HR-522. If telework options are not approved, departments are encouraged to find alternative work available in other locations, such as healthcare operations, admissions, athletics or other retail operations.

    If telework is not approved and alternative work is not available, the following pay options are available:

    1. Benefit-eligible Administrative, Service & Support employees and certain non-regular academic employees may use the following paid time off:
      • Sick leave, HR-404 Sick Leave
      • Vacation leave, HR-402 Vacation
      • Personal days, HR-403 Personal Days
    2. 12-month faculty may use any of their unused four weeks (20 days per year) of annual leave, CRR 320.070 Academic Appointments.
    3. Non-benefit eligible employees may be approved for leave without pay.

      Please consult your HR Partner for additional guidance.

  3. If an employee is directed by a healthcare provider to self-quarantine as a precautionary measure (e.g. to avoid potential exposure to COVID-19 prior to a surgery or birth of a child), what leave is available?
    To the extent feasible, employees may work remotely. If available, employees may use available accrued leave (e.g., sick leave, vacation, personal), and unused compensatory time. Unpaid excused leave may be available when approved by your supervisor.

    In certain circumstances, FMLA and/or ADA accommodations may be applicable. Please consult with human resources.
     

  4. 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.

  5. Who is eligible for FMLA job-protected leave?
    The FMLA entitles eligible employees to take up to 12 weeks of unpaid, job-protected leave in a designated 12-month leave year for specified family and medical reasons which may include COVID-19 where complications arise that create a “serious health condition” as defined by the FMLA.

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

  6. What resources does UnitedHealth Care (UHC) provide for COVID-19?
    UHC provides a number of resources including: an online symptom checker, access to Telehealth and Virtual Visits, emotional support resources and more. For additional details employees enrolled in the university sponsored health plans can visit myuhc.com/covid and login to their account. You can also visit the CDC Coronavirus page.
     
  7. Will my University medical insurance or prescription benefit cover the COVID-19 vaccine?
    Yes. Members will have a $0 cost (no copay, coinsurance, or deductible) including when two doses are required for FDA authorized COVID-19 vaccines. This $0 cost will apply to the University self-funded plans at both in-network and out-of-network providers through the national public health emergency period, and network pharmacies.
     
  8. Will I have an out-of-pocket expense if I receive testing for COVID-19?
    Out-of-pocket expenses include copays, coinsurance and deductibles. Effective 02/04/2020 the University waived out-of-pocket expenses COVID-19 testing and certain related services provided at approved locations in accordance with the CDC guidelines. These costs will be waived effective until the Department of Health and Human Services ends the Public Health Emergency Declaration, unless otherwise determined by the University of Missouri.

Workplace questions

  1. 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 be flexible and support employees to stay home if they are sick, thereby minimizing the spread of potential viruses.
     
  2. May supervisors send employees home whether or not they exhibit symptoms of COVID-19?
    Supervisors should first review the current CDC guidelines. If applicable, they may direct an employee to stay away from the worksite (i.e. to quarantine due to possible exposure to the virus or exhibiting symptoms of the virus), at which time the employee will be expected to perform duties remotely to the extent possible.

    Employees who are sent home or instructed to not come to work because of these reasons may use accrued leave or be approved for leave without pay.

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

  3. How much information may supervisors request from employees who report feeling ill at work or who call in sick? Supervisors may ask employees if they are experiencing symptoms of COVID-19, including cough, shortness of breath or difficulty breathing, fever, chills, muscle pain and new loss of taste or smell not explained by other medical conditions (see CDC for a list of all symptoms). Information about employees’ symptoms must be treated as confidential.
     
  4. 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.

    Each university will determine any requirement related to a release. A doctor’s or public health official’s release may be required before an employee is allowed to return to work on site. Such release will be determined with the approval of the president, chancellor, or their designees. Units considering requiring doctor’s notes should contact their Human Resources Partner for guidance on how to maintain confidentiality when a doctor’s release is received.

    Units should also consider whether, as a practical matter, doctors and other health care professionals in the community may be too busy to provide fitness for duty documentation.

  5. Co-workers are expressing concerns about working in close proximity to others. How shall we address the concerns?
    Addressing workplace concerns during a virus-related outbreak are complex and ever-changing. Supervisors may help employees reduce unwarranted fears by focusing on facts provided by the CDC and remain consistent with the guidelines provided by the University. Employees should be supported and provided a safe and inclusive environment.

    Obtain information about the source of their concerns to consider alternative working arrangements, if feasible. Consult with human resources to determine if accommodations are appropriate based on reliable information.

  6. May a supervisor ask employees to disclose whether they have a medical condition that the CDC says could make them vulnerable to COVID-19?
    No. Employees who may be at higher risk for severe illness from COVID-19 should notify their supervisor and their university’s human resources office to request a reasonable accommodation.
     
  7. What if an employee discloses that they are at increased risk for COVID-19?
    Employees directed to return to work on site, who may be at higher risk for severe illness from COVID-19, should notify their supervisor and their university’s human resources office to request a reasonable accommodation.

    Supervisors should direct employees who disclose that they may be at higher risk for severe illness from COVID-19 to their university’s human resources office, who may ask employees to describe the type of assistance they think may be needed (e.g. telework or additional precautionary measures). Any requests for religious or disability-related accommodations will be handled in accordance with the normal process for requesting accommodations.

  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)?
    If the travel is for personal reasons, the University will not pay for additional costs associated with delayed travel. 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 or personal business, or if the employee will be working remotely during the delay, etc. Please consult with your HR Partner/ and Finance Officer to assess the situation.
     
  9. If I am not comfortable traveling, can I cancel my sponsored travel?
    Given the fluidity of the situation, supervisors and employees are encouraged to discuss canceling travel plans. It may be reasonable under the current situation for plans to be cancelled even if non-refundable expenses are incurred on behalf of the university. Please consult with your department leader and Finance Officer to assess the situation.
     
  10. Are supervisors responsible for contact tracing when an employee reports they have been diagnosed with COVID-19?
    No. Supervisors are not responsible for contact tracing. Public health officials responsible for contact tracing.
     
  11. What can a supervisor communicate to their unit when they have been informed that someone within their department has been diagnosed with COVID-19?
    Supervisors should follow campus guidelines regarding notification of potential exposure to COVID-19. The identity of the employee should be kept confidential, but information may be shared with employees who have a need to know, including employees needed to assist with cleaning or assisting with work arrangements.

Created: 08/24/2021
Updated: 09/21/2021; 01/07/2022

Reviewed 2022-05-18