Overview

Generally, COVID-19 leave will assist in situations where employees are ill or are experiencing symptoms, are advised or required to quarantine because of potential exposure, and employees diagnosed with COVID-19.  Additionally, employees whose job duties and responsibilities do not allow a work-from-home arrangement may be eligible to use COVID-19 leave for the time periods and reasons specified below.

State COVID-19 Leave

The Montana University System provides a new form of leave, COVID-19, to leave eligible employees effective March 16, 2020.  If eligible, employees may take up to 14 calendar days of paid leave or 30 calendar days if diagnosed with the virus.  Questions or concerns should be discussed with your supervisor in consultation with your HR Business Partner.  A COVID-19 leave request form must be completed and approved by Human Resources.  Forms are available from your HR Business Partner. Montana University System employees are also encouraged to review the Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) toward the bottom of this page.

Federal COVID-19 Leave

Update: The federal COVID and expanded FMLA which has been available since April 1, 2020, is ending on Dec. 31, 2020. The federal legislation (the Families First Coronavirus Response Act) which made these leaves available included the sunset date of Dec. 31. Any approved federal COVID time taken in December should be recorded for the Jan. 11, 2021, paycheck.

The federal government has passed the Families First Coronavirus Response Act effective April 1, 2020 that provides public sector employees with additional leave for certain workers impacted by the outbreak. Again, there are eligibility requirements to use this leave and employees who believe they are eligible should consult with their HR Business Partner. If eligible, employees may be able to take 10 days of paid leave as emergency paid sick leave. Where the employee is unable to work or telework due to the need to care for a minor child if the child’s school or childcare is unavailable due to a public health emergency, the employee  should consult with the HR Business Partner on eligibility for additional leave under the expanded FMLA

The university is required to provide COVID-19 leave to eligible employees, regardless of funding. There is no additional or separate funding provided at this point for employees taking leave. Those employees will be paid wages from the normal source of funding for their position.

Eligibility guidelines for COVID-19 leave

  • An employee who is quarantined because of potential exposure to COVID-19 and is unable to work remotely is eligible for 14 calendar days of State COVID-19 Leave and potentially 10 additional days of Federal Leave. Under these circumstances, the employee does not need provider documentation to take the leave, but the employee may be required to provide a letter from the employee’s health care provider or local health department indicating that the employee has completed the required monitoring, isolation, or quarantine period. The employee may also be required to provide medical documentation releasing the employee to full duty prior to returning to work.
  • An employee who is unable to work remotely is eligible for up to 14 calendar days of State COVID-19 Leave, and potential 10 additional days of Federal Leave, if the employee or a member of the employee’s household is experiencing a compromised immune system. The employee may provide a letter from a healthcare provider indicating the requirement to be away from the workplace to reduce possible exposure to COVID-19 because of the employee’s or household member’s compromised immune system.
  • An employee who misses work to care for an immediate family member who is quarantined as a result of COVID-19 may be eligible for up to 14 calendar days of State COVID-19 Leave, and potentially 10 additional days of Federal Leave; remote work may be an option for the employee if it is available. The employee does not need provider documentation to take the leave, but the employee may be required to provide a letter from the employee’s healthcare provider or local health department indicating that the employee’s immediate family member has completed the required monitoring, isolation, or quarantine period prior to returning to work.
  • An employee who is diagnosed with the COVID-19 virus is eligible for up to a maximum of 30 calendar days of State COVID-19 Leave. This maximum 30-calendar-day period includes any calendar days absent while under quarantine for COVID-19. The employee may be eligible for an additional 10 days of Federal Leave. Remote work may be an option for the employee if it is available. The employee may be required to provide written documentation from the employee’s health care provider or a public health official of the requirement to be absent from work. The employee may also be required to provide a letter from the employee’s healthcare provider or local health department indicating that the employee has completed the required monitoring, isolation, or quarantine period as well as provide medical documentation releasing the employee to full duty prior to returning to work. Alternatively, the employee can use accrued sick leave, annual leave, or compensatory time or be in an unpaid leave status.
  • An employee who is required to stay home due to closure of a school, childcare, or eldercare facility in connection with the monitoring or management of the coronavirus or as a result of a declared public health emergency by the Governor and is not eligible to work remotely or is unable to telework because the employee’s child needs full-time care, is eligible for up to 80 hours of State COVID-19 Leave. This paid leave can be taken intermittently and is available effective March 16, 2020; this leave will not deduct from accrued leave balances. After having used 80 hours of State COVID-19 Leave, up to 10 days of Federal COVID-19 Leave may then be available. Alternatively, the employee may use accrued annual (vacation), compensatory (comp) time, or sick leave. See Q&A No. 14 below for additional information.
  • If a supervisor has determined an employee is not able to perform their duties remotely or work on campus, the employee is eligible for up to 80 hours of State COVID-19 Leave. The employee may be eligible for an additional 10 days of Federal Leave.
  • An employee is working remotely but their remote work assignment hours may not equal a full-time work week. The employee is eligible for up to 80 hours (prorated for FTE) of State COVID-19 Leave. This leave many be taken intermittently. The employee may be eligible for an additional 10 days of Federal Leave.

State COVID-19 Leave is only available for the employee’s actual worked hours as scheduled by the employee’s immediate supervisor. State COVID-19 Leave is not provided during weekend or workdays when the employee is not scheduled to work, and no work has been performed.

During the COVID-19 situation, the 90-day sick leave and 6-month annual leave waiting periods for new-hire employees are waived.

Employee options related to childcare

MSU recognizes that many K-12 school districts and other childcare facilities have altered student schedules for the fall 2020, and this will impact our faculty and staff caring for their children. Employees impacted may be able to work remotely or utilize available leave if eligible under the laws applicable to each type of leave. Not every employee is able to work remotely and not every employee is eligible to use leave. More information is available on the employee options related to childcare page.

Employees and supervisors should consult with Human Resources to determine what options are viable.

 

Last updated Dec. 14, 2020