Temporary Accommodations and Flexible Work Arrangement Request Process  

As employees return to campus, it is anticipated there will be an increase in requests for accommodations and flexible work arrangements due to COVID-19. The following process will be used to expedite responses to requests from employees who are at increased risk for severe illness from COVID-19 per the CDC guidance, those who may have household members who are high-risk, and those with family care issues due to COVID-19. This process applies to all MSU employees – faculty and staff – except those who are teaching in the fall. Those teaching in the fall will follow the Faculty COVID-19 Related Teaching Adjustment Request Procedure.

This process will remain in effect on a temporary basis during the pandemic. As a philosophy, MSU units will be as flexible as possible with work arrangements during this time. This temporary process does not replace the University’s disability accommodation process found here: Disability and Reasonable Accommodation Policy.

Temporary Accommodations/Flexible Work Arrangements

Employees who are asked to return to in-person work but are unable because they are considered high risk according to the CDC guidance should speak with their supervisor [1] to determine whether remote work or another work arrangement is possible. 

Employees who are asked to return to in-person work but are unable because they have household members who are high-risk or have family care issues due to COVID-19 should similarly speak with their supervisor to determine whether remote work or another flexible work arrangement may be granted. 

Supervisors will not request or gather personal health information from the employee as a part of this process.

Factors to Consider in Making Temporary Accommodation and Flexible Work Arrangement Decisions

Supervisors, in consultation with HR, where appropriate, are encouraged to use the following factors supplied by the Work Life Office when making temporary accommodation and flexible work arrangement determinations. These factors are:

  1. Focus on the job/task, not the individual person or reason for the request
  2. What is the nature of the task/job? What are the key responsibilities of the job?
    1. What outputs or indicators of success must be evident?
    2. What shows accountability on those indicators? (How do you know the job is done successfully, or well enough?)
  3. What is the impact [of flexibility] on the work/unit, if any?
    1. Nature of the impact? Positive? Neutral?
    2. Probability of impact?
    3. Severity of impact?
    4. Scope of impact?
  4. If the impact of being flexible is neutral or positive, why not be flexible?
  5. Consideration of multiple means to the same end (not a change in the end goal)
  6. Is there only one way to do this job?
  7. What is the evidence/reason for the need to do this job in a particular way/time frame/schedule?

For guidance in analyzing these factors, supervisors and unit HR representatives can consult the Decision-Making Guide for Return to Work on Campus. Note, Michigan Executive Orders, through at least July 2020, requires that all work that can occur from home must be performed at home (also per the Michigan Safe Start Plan, Phase 4).  Even in Phase 5, the Michigan Safe Start Plan states that “businesses should strongly consider special accommodations for personnel who are members of an at-risk population.”

If, after analyzing the factors a supervisor determines that remote work or another work arrangement may be granted, the supervisor should notify the employee of the temporary accommodation or flexible work arrangement, and its end-date, in writing. End-dates may coincide with the Governor’s orders, semester completion, or be issued for 30-60-90-day periods, etc. End-dates may be extended by supervisors, if possible, if COVID-19 presents a continuing threat to an employee, a member of the employee’s household, or if family care issues continue due to COVID-19. 

The MSU Disability & Reasonable Accommodation Policy

For those who cannot be accommodated through the process above, the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) requires reasonable accommodations for individuals with physical or mental disabilities. One who believes that they have a qualifying disability should follow the Disability and Reasonable Accommodation Policy and contact the Resource Center for Persons with Disabilities. RCPD makes an assessment about whether the employee has a disability under the ADA and, if warranted, refers to the Accommodation Specialist in Human Resources to determine any required accommodation that the University must make. 

Family Care Concerns

Those with family care issues should contact their supervisor as soon as possible. If mutually agreeable strategies cannot be found, the supervisor should refer the employee to applicable leave policies and/or contact Human Resources.


[1] Supervisor refers to chairs, directors, deans and all other types of supervisors at the University.