MSU Human Resources >> News >> Coronavirus Updates

Novel CORONAVIRUS Response

Important Notice: On June 8, 2021, new details were shared regarding the Return to On-Site Work. Considering this information, the below FAQs are under review and will be updated in the coming weeks to ensure that accurate and consistent information is available.

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: June 8, 2021

Use these links to jump to a specific section:

NEW – Health Screening Requirements

Expand All

There is now an additional question on the daily health screening form – “Have you been fully vaccinated”? The options for response are: “yes,” “no” and “decline to answer.” All those who answer “no” or “decline to answer” will be considered unvaccinated and therefore not exempted from the rules to wear a face covering and physically distance (six feet away from others) at work. As has been the case throughout the pandemic, you will continue to receive responses to health screening questions of your employees. You must continue to keep this information confidential.

You will be required to ensure that your employees who have responded to the health screening form with “no” or “decline to answer” wear a face covering while in the workplace and physically distance. 

The University is not requiring vaccination documentation at this point for each employee or student. However, the University reserves the right to require such documentation in certain cases. If, as a supervisor, you are concerned about whether someone has falsified their vaccination status, please contact Human Resources (HR) or Academic Human Resources (AHR) to assist you in addressing the issue. You should not proceed without involving HR or AHR first, because vaccination documentation is considered confidential medical information under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).

Yes, supervisors will need to continue to enforce University policy – as they have been doing in cases where employees have refused to wear face coverings per the Compact directives up until this point. Discipline may be appropriate in cases where employees who answer “no” or “decline to answer” refuse to wear a face covering and/or physically distance. Consult with Human Resources/Academic Human Resources with specific questions. 

All employees in healthcare settings where patients are present must continue to wear face coverings regardless of vaccination status.

Yes. MSU is required to follow MIOSHA regulations. These regulations provide that fully vaccinated employees do not have to wear face coverings or physically distance in the workplace, but unvaccinated employees do.

That is an employee’s choice and should be permitted, except when doing so represents a safety risk or otherwise interferes with the safe and efficient performance of the employee’s duties. 

As a supervisor, you need to ensure that medical information remains confidential. Please make clear to employees that they do not need to disclose any medical information before, during or after responding to the health screening form . There is no reason to discuss medical information with employees. Nor is there need to discuss vaccination status with an employee other than to ensure unvaccinated employees wearing face coverings and socially distancing. If an employee voluntarily discloses any medical information to you, you must keep that information confidential. 

As long as that employee is wearing a face covering and physical distancing, in accordance with the Compact Directives, employees should be able to work together regardless of their vaccinated status. Supervisors should carefully monitor for any inappropriate behavior by employees (i.e., ostracizing or other adverse treatment of employees) based on whether they are wearing a face covering. There are a number of reasons one may not be vaccinated and assumptions should not be made. In addition, vaccinated employees may choose to wear face coverings. Thus, it will not be clear who cannot be, chooses not to be, or is vaccinated based on whether an individual is wearing a face covering. 

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.

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

Expand All

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, Michigan State University determines the allocation and assignment of work, including setting the hours of work, establishing work schedules and determining where work is best conducted. A Workplace Decisions Guidance resource has been created to assist units with assessing what work needs to be done and where, using an equitable process.

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.

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, students can work remotely with supervisor approval. On-site work should still be limited to essential work that cannot be performed effectively remotely. 

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.

Due to the COVID-19 situation, if you have a flexible spending account (FSA) for the 2020 and/or 2021 plan years, please note the important updates and options available to you here.

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.

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.

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).

On-site support staff orientations have been permanently replaced by new employee welcome sessions that are now offered to all new faculty, academic and support staff (excluding graduate assistants and temporary and on-call employees). These sessions are held online and new employees receive direct invitations via email.

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

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 Provost and Executive VP 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).

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 Provost and Executive VP for Academic Affairs (T. Woodruff). In this instance, please send the completed form with the dean signature to Sarah Blanck,

The completed form with the appropriate signatures must be attached to the academic position request.

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

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 2021. 

As a reminder, units should use the GA Summer appointment process exemption in EBS to hire spring 2021 graduate assistants into summer 2021 faculty appointments. If the graduate student was not employed as a graduate assistant in spring 2021 the unit should request an exception to the hiring process noting the hire is a graduate assistant for the summer 2021 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.

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.

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

*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

Live, online courses are available on a variety of topics on the Personal Development Courses page

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 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