Subject: COVID-19 Updates and FAQ for Employees
Date: April 3, 2020

Colleagues,

As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to radically disrupt our work and personal lives, we are acutely aware that the uncertainty surrounding both the current reality and an equally unknown future adds additional layers of stress for you to manage. Working remotely and without the physical support that regular and familiar personal interactions provides can prove especially challenging for many of us.

In light of this, we want to provide you with an update containing relevant information as well as words of gratitude and encouragement in this difficult time. We are deeply grateful for the commitment of the entire campus community to serve students well and for your collective creativity and flexibility to address the resulting myriad of complexities affecting every facet of campus life and work. We value your work and presence within the Calvin community, and we want you to know that as we continue to evaluate information and make decisions, we do so with utmost concern for each of you.

As you know, things continue to change daily and as noted by President Le Roy in his President’s Coffee yesterday, we are working hard to evaluate recent legislation and its impact on us. We would like to share with you what we know today, both to increase your knowledge and to provide some answers to anticipated questions.

Federal Legislation

Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA)

Signed into law on March 18, 2020, the FFCRA went into effect on April 2, 2020, and essentially mandates that all public employers and any private employer with less than 500 employees provide emergency paid sick leave and paid public health emergency leave under specifically defined circumstances. The details are as follows:

  • Emergency Sick Leave – 80 hours of paid sick time available when a) there is a federal, state, or local COVID-19 quarantine or isolation order; b) an employee has been advised to self-quarantine; c) the employee is experiencing COVID-19 symptoms and is seeking a medical diagnosis; d) the employee is caring for another individual that is sick or under quarantine from COVID-19; and e) when the employee is caring for their dependent due to school and/or daycare closure (pay is at two-thirds of normal pay).
  • Public Health Emergency Leave – paid leave available to an employee that is unable to work due to a) the need to care for a son or daughter when the school or daycare is closed due to a public health emergency and b) self-care events.
  • Tax credits from the federal government will be available to offset employer costs to pay for these paid leaves.

Please note that this legislation does NOT apply to Calvin as it is a private employer with more than 500 employees. However, given our specific work culture and the encouragement of our government leaders, we are working to administer in spirit some aspects of this legislation when it is financially feasible to do so. How Calvin will be revising our leave plans is addressed in the FAQ section of this email.

Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act (CARES Act)

The $2 trillion stimulus package is the largest economic stimulus measure in modern history. The bill is a combination of tax provisions and other stimulus measures, including emergency business lending. The measure promises to provide help for struggling American families and businesses, as well as health care workers on the front lines of the coronavirus outbreak. Some of the key provisions include:

  • Loans for small businesses and state and local governments
  • Grants and aid provided to several business sectors
  • Tax deductions for certain business sectors
  • Rebate checks on a new tax credit to most singles (up to $1,200) and married couples ($2,400) plus $500 to parents for each child
  • Unemployed individuals will get an extra $600 per week for up to four months on top of state unemployment benefits (the current benefit maximum in MI is $362 per week).
  • New options for employer plan sponsors to consider (e.g. medical plans, FSAs & HSAs, retirement plans).

The CARES Act does apply to Calvin and we are working to understand any grants and aid that may be available. We will continue to update our employee FAQs regarding any additional impact on our benefits as we learn more in the coming days. Feel free to contact us at humanresources@calvin.edu with questions.

FAQs

I Am Healthy

Am I required to come to work during the COVID-19 outbreak?

At this time, the campus is only open for work that is considered to be in support of the critical infrastructure and to protect lives as defined by Governor Whitmer’s order on March 23, 2020. This does not mean that work needs will not evolve or change. No employee should come to campus without the explicit direction from a supervisor at this time. Supervisors have identified the critical support work that needs to be accomplished and may ask you to work if you are healthy and able to work.

If I can do my job remotely, should I plan to work only remotely?

Yes. Employees should first discuss working from home with their supervisor. Decisions to work from home as a proactive measure will be left to department heads, keeping in mind that university operations are still running.

If I can work, but my job is not considered critical to infrastructure support and I cannot do it remotely, what are my leave options?

We can put you on a temporary administrative leave. Calvin intends you to have at least 80 hours of paid leave to use to replace lost income in this situation. If you have 80+ hours of PTO currently in your bank, you may use this bank to replace your income. If you have less than 80 hours of PTO currently in your bank, Calvin will grant you PTO so that your balance is at least 80 hours (e.g. 10 hours of PTO will be granted if you currently have 70 hours of PTO in your bank). Once your PTO bank has been depleted, you may also be eligible for state unemployment benefits plus the $600 per week federal unemployment bonus via the CARES Act (note that unemployment eligibility and benefit amounts are determined by the state of MI). Note that your Calvin benefits will continue due to being on a leave of absence.

If I have a condition that puts me more at risk for COVID-19, should I stay home? Will I be paid if I do?

This is a personal decision, and you may go on a temporary administrative leave. The university is committed to being as accommodating as possible for employees who are concerned about COVID-19 exposure. Calvin intends you to have at least 80 hours of paid leave to use to replace lost income in this situation. If you have 80+ hours of PTO currently in your bank, you may use this bank to replace your income. If you have less than 80 hours of PTO currently in your bank, Calvin will grant you PTO so that your balance is at least 80 hours (e.g. 10 hours of PTO will be granted if you currently have 70 hours of PTO in your bank). Once your PTO bank has been depleted, you may also be eligible for state unemployment benefits plus the $600 per week federal unemployment bonus via the CARES Act (note that unemployment eligibility and benefit amounts are determined by the state of MI). Note that your Calvin benefits will continue due to being on a leave of absence.

What if I get called into work to address an emergency situation?

In this case, you would have permission as a critical infrastructure worker to do work on campus as long as you are healthy and have not been exposed to someone with COVID-19 or who is presumed to be positive with the virus. You will be paid for the hours/days that you work at your regular rate. If you are already collecting unemployment, any pay from Calvin that you receive will need to be reported as income to the unemployment agency and will likely lower your unemployment benefit amount for any weeks in which you are partially or fully working.

I am Sick/Presumed Positive

I’m sick or presumed to have COVID-19. How will I be paid?

You will be placed on a paid sick leave. We have a “reduced campus activity” paid leave option of up to 80 hours (on an FTE pro-rata basis) for those who cannot continue to work due to illness or assumed illness. Thereafter, Calvin will pay sick leave at 100% of the normal employee rate for up to an additional four weeks, as needed. Individuals sick for longer than 6 weeks will move into the normal self-insured short-term disability benefit. Note that your Calvin benefits will continue due to being on a leave of absence.

If I decide to take unpaid time off will that impact my FTE?

No, not in the case of managing the COVID-19 outbreak.

I Need to Care for a Dependent who is Sick/Immune-Compromised/Exposed

I am caring for a sick family member – how will I be paid?

You will be placed on a paid family leave. Calvin pays 50% of your regular pay for up to six weeks. You may cover the other 50% of missing regular pay with any remaining PTO you have in your bank. After six weeks, you may continue to use any remaining PTO to replace missing pay. Thereafter, you may also be eligible for state unemployment benefits plus the $600 per week federal unemployment bonus via the CARES Act (note that unemployment eligibility and benefit amounts are determined by the state of MI). Note that your Calvin benefits will continue due to being on a leave of absence.

I have Childcare Issues

I do not have childcare and need to stay home with dependents. What options do I have to continue working?

Options available to staff will be highly dependent upon the work of impacted employees. Please work with your supervisor to consider flexible work arrangements, which can include working remotely or with alternate work schedules (i.e. shifting to evening/weekend hours). Plans for staff will vary by the nature of work and the business needs of the university.

What options do I have to be off work to care for them?

You may apply for the paid family leave program. Calvin pays 50% of your regular pay for up to six weeks. You may cover the other 50% of missing regular pay with any remaining PTO you have in your bank. After six weeks, you may continue to use any remaining PTO to replace missing pay. Thereafter, you may also be eligible for state unemployment benefits plus the $600 per week federal unemployment bonus via the CARES Act (note that unemployment eligibility and benefit amounts are determined by the state of MI). Note that your Calvin benefits will continue due to being on a leave of absence. Applications for temporary unpaid administrative leaves (this will not impact FTE or benefits eligibility) are also available. Requests will be approved on a case-by-case basis.

Notification

Who should I notify if I’m sick, caring for someone who is sick, or have been exposed to someone with COVID-19?

Health Services is serving as a surveillance team for Calvin University, partnering with the local health authorities to help identify and mitigate the risk of COVID-19. As such, it’s important for them to know about quarantine/isolation concerns for essential on-campus workers, remote employees who are currently housing students in their home, or remote workers who became sick within two weeks of the last time they came to campus (for any reason). Please use this form to communicate with Health Services. Upon receiving your information, the expert Health Services team will provide you with general advice about isolation and quarantine measures and will advocate for you and offer suggestions for how to communicate with your primary care provider.

If you are an employee who has been off campus for more than 14 days and you have a sick family member in your home or you are sick with COVID-19-like symptoms, please notify your supervisor. Supervisors must notify HR whenever an employee is out sick or in quarantine, even if PTO is not being used, because HR needs to be aware of any employee not permitted back to the campus due to the public health risk to this campus. The supervisor and employee will determine if the employee can continue working.

Questions and Resources

It’s okay to be struggling as we all try to navigate many new issues in our personal and work lives. It’s okay to do things in new and different ways than you have before. You are not alone. Together, we will continue to work as a team to take on these new challenges and will remain a support to one another.

Who do I contact with any questions?

You may talk directly with your supervisor about any questions you have, especially about your work role, hours, and continuing work. Contact humanresources@calvin.edu with any questions about leave options, benefits, and potential access to community resources.

What are some community resources that are available?

Here is a brief list of resources in our local community:

Whether you are paying attention to the growing infection rate of the virus, or the legislation and orders coming from Washington, D.C. and state governors, we all seem to be trying to manage an overwhelming amount of information as we seek to gather and understand. The same is true for Calvin and its leadership team. We are constantly monitoring available information, consulting with experts, collaborating with colleagues within higher education, and working collaboratively across campus to provide you with helpful information.

We will continue to provide updates as we receive new information. Please continue sending your good questions our way – we are eager to assist you as we navigate this unprecedented time together.

Be safe, keep others safe,

Andy George, director of human resources