MSU Human Resources >> News >> Coronavirus Updates


Novel CORONAVIRUS Response

MSU continues to closely monitor the outbreak of the novel coronavirus. During this unprecedented public health situation, it is vital that we find the most effective ways to support teaching and learning, while also safeguarding and promoting the safety of students, faculty, and staff. Learn more about MSU's response here. 

The following are frequently asked questions employees and supervisors/managers may have during this time. These will continue to be supplemented and modified.

Work-Related Frequently Asked Questions

Last Modified: July 20, 2020

Use these links to jump to a specific section:

Staffing (All University employees including Faculty, Executive Management, Academic Staff, Support Staff, Graduate Assistants, Temporary & On-Call employees)

Expand All

The University never closed; the University has been in continuous, but limited, operation during the pandemic. Prior to June 5, the orders addressed the need for the people of Michigan “to remain at home or in their place of residence to the maximum extent feasible” due to the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) disease. As of June 5, 2020, the executive orders requiring remote work for all non-necessary employees were rescinded. However, the University has established that employees should continue to work remotely whenever possible until further notice by an employee's supervisor. No one should come to work who is ill.

Continue to check the site remote.msu.edu/working for updates.

Yes. The University will provide face coverings and any other required personal protective equipment for employees returning to campus. As such, units are expected to take the following action:

  1. Place orders through the University Stores catalog in Spartan Marketplace (EBS login required). To avoid duplicate orders, designate one person from your area to place the order. If you placed an order previously through the online survey and did not receive it, please reorder through University Stores. Additional information is available on the University Services website.
  2. Once you receive the face coverings, coordinate with your employees to get the face coverings to them.

University-provided face coverings will be made of cloth. Each employee performing in-person work will be issued one cloth face covering. The University will not be responsible for keeping employees’ face coverings clean; it is the employee’s responsibility to clean their face covering properly. Employees are allowed to use their own face coverings. Employees can view information on how to wear, clean and store face coverings by visiting the Environmental Health and Safety website.

Per President Stanley’s message to the campus community on June 26, 2020, face coverings will be required for everyone (faculty, staff, students, contractors, suppliers, vendors and visitors) while on campus, either indoors or outdoors. Please review the June 26 Statement of Face Coverings for more details.

No, the authority to initiate modified operations under the policy rests solely with the President and/or an authorized designee. This pandemic was unprecedented and that policy was not appropriate in this unique situation.

Yes, staff that were deemed required to sustain or protect life or conduct minimum basic operations have been required to report to work during the pandemic. At this point, no one should be coming to work without supervisory approval. The Reopening Campus Task Force has created a template for returning employees to work.  No one should come to work who is ill.

Yes, employees should be sent home if they are sick.

No, it is important to maintain the privacy and confidentiality of information about illness. Local health authorities and/or the University Physician's Office will be responsible for any investigation to assess potential risk of exposure associated with a suspected case of COVID-19 and will contact those who may have been exposed.

The MSU WorkLife office does provide emergency dependent care support to MSU faculty and academic, staff and students. Please visit the MSU Worklife Office for additional, up-to-date information as circumstances evolve. Availability may be limited, and dependent upon providers being open for business. In addition, again, we encourage flexibility on the part of administrators/supervisors about telecommuting.

Please review the website of the Office of the Senior Vice President for Research and Innovation for up-to-date guidance. This office has developed guidance on the continuation of essential research.

Yes, employees may be required to work outside of their job classification or department as deemed necessary during this time. The college/department for which work is performed is responsible for compensation at the individual’s regular base rate for their original classification/appointment. Support staff represented by unions will be compensated in accordance with the terms of their collective bargaining agreement or existing practices.

Student Employees (excluding Graduate Assistants, Teaching Assistants, Teaching Exempt)

Expand All

Yes, we encourage units to seek out creative opportunities for students to work remotely. In-person classes were canceled, and instead moved online, for Summer 2020.

Compensation and Benefits

Expand All

Please see MSU's Coronavirus response website for the latest communications related to employees, financial/budget impact, university operations and more.

Yes, there are a number of benefit resources available to those enrolled in an MSU health plan and their eligible dependents. This includes virtual visits with your physician, telemedicine, and prescription resources. Visit the Coronavirus: MSU Benefit Resources webpage to learn more.

Yes, employees may apply for FMLA through MSU HR. Eligible employees under FMLA are those who have a serious health condition, or must care for a family member with a serious health condition, which generally is considered an illness, injury, impairment, or physical or mental condition that involves inpatient care or continuing treatment by a health care provider.

If an employee is granted FMLA leave, the FMLA leave runs concurrent with existing paid/unpaid leaves of absence. Health, prescription, and dental benefits will continue with the normal University contribution for the duration of the FMLA leave, even if the employee’s paid accruals have been exhausted. See MSU’s FMLA and PMLA policies.

No. With supervisory approval, the option may be used by employees designated necessary or not necessary and regardless of whether other accrual types have been exhausted.

Yes, supervisory/unit approval is required to use the additional excused unpaid time option and units may refuse.  However, supervisors should be aware that refusing such a request may require the employee to be put on a leave of absence, which will have a negative impact on benefits.  Supervisors are encouraged to allow maximum flexibility unless approving such requests present significant operational problems.
  • Health, dental and basic employer-paid life insurance:  You will continue to have these benefits, and your normal monthly share of benefits costs, if any, will be directly billed to you by MSU.
  • Optional life and accident insurance:  premiums will be placed in arrears and payable with your next paycheck and/or could be direct billed depending on when excused unpaid time begins in the month
  • Flexible Spending Accounts (FSA):  Contributions will be suspended depending on when excused unpaid time begins in the month
  • Retirement and Health Savings Account (HSA) contributions:  No contributions will be made during the unpaid time period.
  • Voluntary Benefits (e.g. vision insurance, legal insurance, etc.):  You will be billed directly by the applicable vendor depending on when excused unpaid time begins in the month.

The PMLA Policy (which applies ONLY to non-union temporary employees) permits non-union temporary employees to take their existing accrual of PMLA time:

  • For closure of the employee's primary workplace by order of a public official due to a public health emergency;
  • For the employee's need to care for a child whose school or place of care has been closed by order of a public official due to a public health emergency;
  • For the employee’s time off if it has been determined by the health authorities having jurisdiction or by a health care provider that the presence of the employee or employee’s family member in the community would jeopardize the health of others because of the eligible employee's or family member's exposure to a communicable disease, whether or not the eligible employee or family member has actually contracted the communicable disease.

If you have a Dependent Care FSA for the 2020 plan year, you have several options for your account due to daycare being closed and/or summer camps being cancelled. If you relate to one of the scenarios below, follow this process for completing the  Offline Change Form (Important Note:  Please do not use Apple Preview to complete this form.):

  1. Complete the Offline Change Form   on the HR website. (Important Note:  Please do not use Apple Preview to complete this form.)
  2. Select "Change in Childcare" as the reason for completing the form.
  3. In the "Event Date" box, enter the date in which you were notified of the change or the date in which the change occurred.
  4. Submit the form to MSU HR within 30 days of the Event Date (see instructions on the form for further submission details).
  • Example 1:  My children are school aged and participate in summer camps. I have elected $1500 to cover expenses for the year. I have contributed $375 to date, but I have incurred $0 to date. I have been notified that these summer camps have been cancelled. I no longer need any amount for Dependent Care FSA.

    Answer 1 : This situation would be considered a qualifying life event (change in childcare). You should complete and submit the  Offline Enrollment/Change Form   on the HR website. Important Note:  Please do not use Apple Preview to complete this form. In this instance, you would input $375 for the Dependent Care FSA amount and select "Decrease Contribution" under the FSA section of the form. This will recalculate the amount you have elected for coverage to $375 from $1500 and stop further contributions.  Unfortunately, the IRS does not permit a refund of pre-tax dollars that are contributed and available to the member.   The amount of $375 that you’ve already contributed will be available to you to use for any qualified daycare expenses incurred for the 2020 FSA plan year (including the grace period). If the federal government decides to change this IRS regulation due to these unprecedented times, we will reach out to inform you of this update.

  • Example 2:  I have a child in daycare and our daycare is currently closed.  I have elected $5000 to cover expenses for the year. I have incurred $3200 to date and I have contributed $1250 to date. I expect that my child will not be returning to daycare since they will start kindergarten in the fall and they are home with me during the summer. I no longer need $5000 to cover expenses for the year, just the $3200 I’ve already incurred. 

    Answer 2: This situation would be considered a qualifying life event (change in childcare). You should complete and submit the  Offline Change Form  on the HR website. Important Note:  Please do not use Apple Preview to complete this form. In this instance, you would put the amount of incurred expenses of $3200 in the Amount field and select "Decrease Contribution" under the FSA section of the form. This will recalculate the amount you have elected for coverage to $3200 from $5000. Deductions will continue but the amount deducted will be lower due to recalculating the new amount needed for the remainder of pay periods in the calendar year.

  • Example 3:  I have a child enrolled in before and after school care. I have elected $1200 to cover expenses for the year. I have incurred $650 to date and I have contributed $500 to date. Due to school being closed, I expect that I will not need before and after care until fall which will reduce my total costs by $250. This means I only need to elect $950 for the year instead of $1200. 

    Answer 3: This situation would be considered a qualifying life event (change in childcare). You should complete and submit the  Offline Change Form  on the HR website and select “Decrease Contribution” as the reason for completing the form. Important Note:  Please do not use Apple Preview to complete this form. In this instance, you would put the amount of expected incurred expenses of $950 in the Amount field and select Enroll/Change under the FSA section of the form. This will recalculate the amount you have elected for coverage to $950 from $1200. Deductions will continue but the amount deducted will be lower due to recalculating the new amount needed for the remainder of pay periods in the calendar year.

If you have a Dependent Care FSA for the 2020 plan year, you have several options for your account due to daycare being closed and/or summer camps being cancelled. If you relate to one of the scenarios below, follow this process for completing the  Offline Change Form:

  1. Complete the Offline Change Form on the HR website. Important Note:  Please do not use Apple Preview to complete this form.
  2. Select "Change in Childcare" as the reason for completing the form.
  3. In the "Event Date" box, enter the date in which you were notified of the change or the date in which the change occurred.
  4. Submit the form to MSU HR within 30 days of the Event Date (see instructions on the form for further submission details).

Example 1:  My children are school aged and participate in summer camps. I have cancelled my dependent care spending account because the summer camp was cancelled.  Now that summer camps are re-opening, I would like to re-enroll in my dependent care spending account.

Answer 1 : This situation would be considered a qualifying life event (change in childcare). You should complete and submit the   Offline Enrollment/Change Form on the HR website. Important Note:  Please do not use Apple Preview to complete this form. In this instance, In this instance, you would put the expected amount of incurred expenses of $500 in the Amount field and select “Enroll" under the FSA section of the form. The new election amount would allow for expenses for qualified daycare expenses incurred for the remainder of the 2020 FSA plan year (including the grace period) for reimbursement.  For example, if you re-enroll effective 07/01/2020 for $500, you would be eligible to be reimbursed for qualified daycare expenses incurred between 07/01/2020 – 03/15/2021.

Example 2:  I have a child in daycare and our daycare was closed and has since re-opened.  I originally elected $5000 to cover expenses for the year but reduced that amount to $3200 when my daycare closed. Now that my daycare has been re-opened, I expect that I will incur $4500 this year.  

Answer 2: This situation would be considered a qualifying life event (change in childcare). You should complete and submit the  Offline Change Form  on the HR website. Important Note:  Please do not use Apple Preview to complete this form. In this instance, you would put the expected amount of incurred expenses of $4500 in the Amount field and select "Increase Contribution" under the FSA section of the form. This will recalculate the amount you have elected for coverage to $3200 from $4500. Deductions will continue but the amount will increase due to recalculating the new amount needed for the remainder of pay periods in the calendar year.

The Department of Labor (DOL) has issued Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) to help employee benefit plan participants, beneficiaries and employers impacted by the COVID-19 outbreak understand their rights and responsibilities. Learn more here.

Families First Coronavirus Response Act

Expand All

Employees may apply for EFMLA or EPSL if they are unable to work or telework and meet the eligibility criteria under EPSL or EFMLA.

  • EFMLA: Emergency Family and Medical Leave Act (EFMLA) expands the FMLA temporarily (until Dec. 31, 2020) to provide 12 weeks of leave to care for of a minor child due to closing of school or daycare or unavailability of daycare because of COVID-19. The first two weeks of EFMLA leave are unpaid (but may be paid by the EPSL), while weeks 3-12 are paid with certain caps. All pay is at a rate of 2/3 an employee’s regular rate of pay.
  • EPSL: Creates the Emergency Paid Sick Leave Act (EPSL) which provides for up to 80 hours of paid sick leave, with caps, to take care of oneself or another individual due to quarantine, COVID-19 or similar symptoms or to take care of a minor child due to closing of school or daycare because of COVID-19. Pay is at full or 2/3 rate, depending on which of the six qualifying reasons an employee is taking EPSL.

Additional information on eligibility, key features, pay, and other important aspects of both the  EFMLA and EPSL leave programs is available here.

HR Processes

Expand All
Employees are expected to report their absences and to identify the reason for the absence.
Yes, supervisors may ask employees the reason for their absence. A supervisor may ask an employee if they are experiencing fever and respiratory symptoms, but the supervisor must maintain all information about employee illnesses as a confidential medical record.
The University does not provide a sick leave balance for faculty and academic staff. The general expectation for situations which may require faculty and academic staff to take time off for illness is that unit administrators extend professional courtesy and flexibility for employees under these circumstances and expect that arrangements are made for the work to be done. If, however, the time off interferes with the employee being able to fulfill their responsibilities, then the unit administrator and employee must have a conversation to discuss and evaluate the situation and other alternatives.

No, at this time, all central deadlines for hiring processes remain unchanged. 

Yes, on-site interactions should be minimized. The use of video conferencing technology (i.e. Zoom) to conduct interviews is strongly encouraged. To ensure consistency in the interview process and avoid the perception of one candidate having an unfair advantage, ideally all interviews should be conducted in the same manner (e.g. all virtual).

No, in-person group orientations for support staff have been canceled until further notice. HR staff is reaching out to support staff new hires and covering orientation content with them individually.

On Mar. 20, 2020, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) announced that it will exercise discretion to defer the physical presence requirements associated with the Form I-9. Employers with employees taking physical proximity precautions due to COVID-19 will not be required to review the employee’s identity and employment authorization documents in the employee’s physical presence. MSU verifiers still must inspect the Section 2 documents remotely (e.g., over video link, fax or email, etc.) and obtain, inspect, and retain copies of the documents within three business days for purposes of completing Section 2.

Units can find steps to complete these temporary provisions here.

For questions regarding the completion of I-9s using the temporary provision authorized by U.S. Department of Homeland Security, please email HR.I9Admin@hr.msu.edu.

Faculty & Academic Staff Hiring Modifications (including Executive Management)

Expand All

For purposes of faculty and academic staff positions, relevant vice presidents are defined as the vice president for which your unit reports.

Most academic units, except the human health colleges, report to the Acting Provost and Executive Vice President for Academic Affairs (T. Jeitschko). The Colleges of Human Medicine, Nursing, and Osteopathic Medicine report to the Executive Vice President for Health Sciences (N. Beauchamp). Some academic support units report to the Interim Senior Vice President for Research and Innovation (D. Gage).

Given the numerous scenarios of where the unit may be in the hiring process, a chart has been developed and is available here. The chart outlines the different stages of the hiring process as well as the anticipated start date, and indicates whether approval is needed from the relevant vice president.

In general:

  • Any open position that has not yet been posted on the HR website or submitted in EBS workflow as of Mar. 27, 2020 requires approval from the relevant vice president before proceeding.
  • Any open position for which there is an anticipated start date prior to fall 2020, and for which an offer has not yet been accepted, requires approval from the relevant vice president before proceeding.

In those cases where vice president approval is needed, the form “Hiring Approval Form for Posting and Hiring at MSU” must be completed* and appropriate signatures must be obtained before the unit can proceed further with the hiring process. (Use Internet Explorer to view the form, and download and save to complete.) Dean approval is also required for academic colleges. In those cases where the Dean may be communicating directly via email with the Provost, the Hiring Approval Form must still be completed and attached for approval.

As a reminder, for purposes of faculty and academic staff positions, relevant vice presidents are defined as the vice president for which your unit reports.

Most academic units, except the human health colleges, report to the Acting Provost and Executive Vice President for Academic Affairs (T. Jeitschko, effective 7/1; T. Woodruff, effective 8/1). In this instance, please send the completed form with the dean signature to Sarah Blanck, blancks@msu.edu.

The completed form with the appropriate signatures must be attached to the academic position request, the academic position exception request form or hiring form as noted in the hiring chart.

*The human health colleges should use the form developed and provided by the Executive Vice President for Health Sciences.

All offers of employment which were made and accepted prior to Mar. 27, 2020 will be honored. However, we recommend that units assess whether it is necessary to delay the employment start date due to the statewide suspension of in-person operations as well as consideration of the impact to the onboarding process. The University wants its new employees to be equipped with the necessary knowledge and tools to be successful in their role and appropriate onboarding may be significantly disrupted during this time. We strongly encourage frequent communication with the new hire of updates regarding MSU’s operational status.

No. Approval is not necessary for contract renewals or recurring reappointments. However, it is still advisable to consult with senior leadership in your unit to assess the necessity of proceeding with a position.

No, approval is not necessary for AY summer school appointments. However, it is still advisable to consult with senior leadership.

No, approval is not necessary for unpaid positions such as no pay, clinical or adjunct appointments.

No, Provost approval is not required for academic units hiring graduate assistants in faculty appointments for summer 2020. 

As a reminder, units should use the GA Summer appointment process exemption in EBS to hire spring 2020 graduate assistants into summer 2020 faculty appointments. If the graduate student was not employed as a graduate assistant in spring 2020 the unit should request an exception to the hiring process noting the hire is a graduate assistant for the summer 2020 faculty appointment.

Yes. The completed form with the appropriate signatures must be attached to relevant HR form (i.e., hire, rehire, change position, additional assignment) when the form is submitted into workflow.

Yes. The number of vacancies within a pool posting needs to be stated in the approval form.

For positions that require face-to-face interaction, it may be appropriate to consider delaying the employment start date to after Apr. 14 providing that the statewide suspension of in-person operations is lifted. The University wants its new employees to be equipped with the necessary knowledge and tools to be successful in their role and appropriate onboarding may be significantly disrupted during this time. We strongly encourage frequent communication with the new hire of updates regarding MSU’s operational status.

If the start date needs to change, then the hiring form and required documents already in process will be returned to the unit to modify to accommodate the change in start date.

The same guidance applies regardless of funding source. All new positions will require review and approval by the relevant vice president.

Support Staff Hiring Modifications (including Temporary, On-Call, Student and Graduate Assistant Employees)

Expand All

Yes approval is required. Any open position where an offer has not been made to or accepted by a candidate as of Mar. 27, 2020 requires approval from the relevant vice president before proceeding.

No, all offers of employment which were made and accepted prior to Mar. 27, 2020 will be honored. However, we recommend that units assess whether it is necessary to delay the employment start date due to the statewide suspension of in-person operations as well as consideration of the impact to the onboarding process. The University wants its new employees to be equipped with the necessary knowledge and tools to be successful in their role and appropriate onboarding may be significantly disrupted during this time. We strongly encourage frequent communication with the new hire of updates regarding MSU’s operational status.

Yes, approval is required for all support staff positions regardless of start date.

Units are asked to keep their head count for these positions consistent at this time. Hiring new graduate assistants to replace departing ones is acceptable, but units should not increase headcount over current levels without seeking permission from the unit’s appropriate vice president or provost. Approval in these circumstances requires completion of the Hiring Approval Form. In addition, hiring for any of these positions that are grant funded will be monitored by the Office of the Senior Vice President for Research and Innovation (OVPRI). OVPRI will provide guidance on that process. HR will not monitor these processes , nor will it monitor headcount.
No, approval is not required for these positions. Units may institute additional unit specific guidelines for these groups.

In those cases where vice president approval is needed, the form “Hiring Approval Form for Posting and Hiring at MSU” must be completed* and the appropriate signature must be obtained before the unit can proceed further with the hiring process. (Use Internet Explorer to view the form, and download and save to complete.) The completed form with the appropriate signature must be attached to the Support Staff Position Request as noted in the hiring chart here. If the posting has already been posted or is in EBS workflow please email the approval form to AVPHR.TMAmail@campusad.msu.edu.

*The human health colleges should use the form developed and provided by the Executive Vice President for Health Sciences.

No, reclassifications do not require vice president approval. However, we recommend that units assess whether it is necessary to reclass a position due to the statewide suspension of in-person operations.

Professional Development - Remote Opportunities

Expand All
Challenging times like this call for creativity. Are there materials that require reading and review that can be done remotely? As a professional development assignment, is there a job-related book that can be read or an online course that can be taken? It is hard to imagine that there is any job at MSU for which there is not some personal professional development work that could be done remotely and could increase one’s capacity or improve one’s performance when we return to more normal times. 

All benefits eligible employees have access to free online learning in elevateU. This tool can assist and support employees with boosting skills in a wide variety of areas. Consider goals set for the year, skills needed for upcoming projects or taking a deeper dive into Excel or Access. Topics cover a broad range and include productivity tools (desktop), leadership development, project management, IT professional skills, emotional intelligence, wellness, and more. elevateU also has thousands of e-books and audio books available that can be searched by title or author.

Yes, those with a professional certification may be able to get CE credits by taking courses through elevateU. From the home page, click on Certification Resources in the left sidebar, then Certification Information. If you don’t see your certification, contact the credentialing board for your certification to ask about using elevateU resources for CE credits. This is an opportunity to get CE credits without spending any money or traveling.

Once the team is up and running remotely and a routine is established, supervisors might consider assigning a common experience to work on as a group. Teams can watch a video together and discuss key points. Each team member could choose a topic to explore and then “teach back” to the rest of the team.

Leading by example can ease the anxiousness employees can experience. You have the power to creating space to facilitate the connectedness you may be missing. Other ideas include creating a virtual book club using the same book with a weekly discussion segment. We’d recommend selecting resources that will align with team or unit goals, or other common interest like “improve communication”.

Yes, individual employees should feel encouraged to pursue professional development. Consider areas that align with performance goals or new skills needed for upcoming projects or initiatives. Certificates of completion are available for those who complete a course and pass the exam at 75% or better. Taking a class, reading up on areas of professional expertise isn’t just “busy work”. We know that creativity and innovation are sparked by learning something new.

Log into EBS > My Career & Training > elevateU or directly at  https://elevateu.skillport.com. We’ve updated the landing page and a good place to start exploring is by clicking the MSU Highlighted Programs tab on the left sidebar. 

Unemployment Information

Expand All

It is important to understand that the State of Michigan determines who is, and who is not eligible for unemployment. In general, you may be eligible for unemployment if you have experienced a loss of employment or a reduction in hours due to COVID-19.

You may be. The Michigan Unemployment Insurance Agency makes these determinations – not MSU. Please check with them.

You may be. The Michigan Unemployment Insurance Agency makes these determination – not MSU. Please check with them.
  1. Michigan State Employer Account Number: 0800416-000.
  2. Michigan State Federal Employer Identification Number : 38-6005984
  3. Please see the Fact Sheet provided by the State of Michigan for additional personal information that may be needed.

The State of Michigan Unemployment Insurance Agency has implemented a number of changes in response to COVID-19 and federal and state laws. More information can be found at www.michigan.gov/uia.

The State of Michigan has provided the following guidelines concerning the days on which people should submit applications for unemployment to the State of Michigan Unemployment Insurance Agency:

  • Online Filing Schedule – www.michigan.gov/uia
    • Last names beginning with letters A-L are asked to file claims on Mondays, Wednesday, Fridays.
    • Last names beginning with letters M-Z are asked to file claims on Sundays, Tuesdays, or Thursdays.
    • Saturdays will be available for anyone to accommodate those who could not file during their allotted window.
  • Call Center Filing Schedule - 866-500-0017:
    • Last names beginning with letters A-L are asked to call on Mondays and Wednesdays between  8:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.
    • Last names beginning with letters M-Z are asked to call on Tuesdays and Thursdays between  8:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.
    • Fridays (8:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.) will be available for anyone to accommodate those who could not file during their allotted window.
©