HR A-Z
developed by HR communications

Influenza Preparation & FAQs

Because we expect the severity of the H1N1 strain of flu to be similar to that of seasonal flu, we also expect the university will continue with all regularly scheduled activities. However, if staff members become ill with the flu, we encourage them to stay home until they are fever free for 24 hours, without the use of fever-lowering medication. An exception: Faculty, staff and students who have face-to-face contact with patients at U-M hospitals, health centers or clinics, or who enter patient rooms in any of these locations, should remain away from work for 7 days after symptoms begin, or until they are fever free for 24 hours, without the use of fever-lowering medication, whichever period is longer. For more guidance for faculty, staff and students who interact with patients, see this U-M Health System page: http://www.med.umich.edu/u/flu/#what.

We expect it will be "business as usual" on campus this fall and all current human resources policies regarding sick time or paid time off remain in effect.  If you or any of your co-workers become sick with a flu-like illness, the best thing to do is to call in sick as you normally would and use sick time or paid time off to stay home until you get better.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention defines flu-like illness this way: A fever of 100.4 F (38.0 C) or greater, plus a cough or sore throat and possibly other symptoms like runny nose, body aches, headaches, chills, fatigue, vomiting or diarrhea. 

It is important to note that while more staff members may become ill, this flu is no more virulent and no more contagious than the typical flu we see every winter in Michigan.

Flu Prevention Tips:

  • Wash your hands regularly and thoroughly
  • Avoid touching your nose and eyes directly
  • Use tissues and dispose of them properly
  • Cover your mouth and nose when you cough or sneeze with a tissue or your sleeve - not your hand.

Workplace Attendance and Time Off

Should I stay home if I’m sick or running a fever?
It’s important to take care of yourself, recover and protect others from unnecessary exposure to the flu. If you have a fever of 100.4 F or greater, plus a cough or sore throat and possibly other symptoms like chills, body aches or vomiting, you should notify your supervisor that you are ill and stay home and use sick time or PTO time. For most employees, this means staying home the fever is gone for at least 24 hours.

What if I am sick but have no sick time available?
You can request vacation time if sick time is unavailable. Talk with your supervisor about the situation as soon as possible. It’s important that you recover and minimize contact with your colleagues until you are no longer contagious.

Can I be required to come to work?
Staff can be directed to come in to work on their normal work days. If you cannot come in due to illness, you should request time off and stay home until you recover.

Can I be sent home if I am sick at work?
Yes, employees can be sent home when they are sick. Pay for this time would be handled by sick, vacation, PTO or unpaid leave policies.

If an employee is required to stay home due to illness, is s/he eligible for pay?
An employee may be eligible for pay under sick, vacation or PTO leave policies. If no accrued sick, vacation or PTO time is available, s/he may request approval from the supervisor for unpaid excused leave time.

Can staff be required to work overtime?
Yes. The University encourages supervisors to seek volunteers first, when possible. For unionized staff, specific labor agreement provisions guide the assignment of overtime.

Can staff be assigned to perform work normally performed by other employees?
Yes, staff may be assigned alternate work, and most labor agreements include provisions to allow such work reassignment.

Will special consideration be made for people who are caretakers of children or the elderly?
Supervisors may take such demands into consideration, and may require proof or documentation that the employee is required to be present and be the care-giver. The supervisor and the employee are encouraged to reach some agreement regarding hours of work or a reduction in time if possible.

What happens if a child care facility closes temporarily?
Faculty and staff with children are encouraged to advance plan alternative child care arrangements. If an employee’s child is healthy but child care is unavailable, s/he should seek supervisor approval for excused time off (vacation or PTO) as usual.

Is a staff member required to complete time reports?
Yes, if possible. When staff are present or can access self-service time reporting, timekeeping should be completed in accordance with department policies.  If employees are not available, time reporting may be delayed or may have to be amended.  If an employee’s time needs adjustment, the supervisor should contact the Payroll Timekeeping unit/guidelines to initiate adjustment processes.

Can staff work alternative work schedules?
Managers generally have the right to establish and modify work schedules.  Alternate work schedules can often meet the interests of both the unit and the employee.  In setting up alternate work schedules, special attention should be paid to overtime obligations, handling holiday, sick, vacation and other paid time off.  The relevant SPG’s or labor agreements should be reviewed.

Can staff change their work schedule?
An employee can request a schedule change.  Unit management establishes schedules and approves schedule changes.  For staff represented by a union, there are specific processes for requesting changes in work schedule spelled out in the labor agreements.

A co-worker or employee who I supervise has become ill with flu-like symptoms. What should I do?
Monitor yourself for symptoms and continue to be careful about cleaning your hands and not touching your face -- and remind other co-workers or member of your team to do so. Keep in mind that the flu is circulating widely in our area, and that people are contagious for a day or more before they develop symptoms, so if you develop symptoms you will probably not be able to pinpoint the person who you caught it from.

A fellow employee is ill with flu-like illness. Does the environment where the ill employee worked need to be cleaned?
The flu virus may survive for a few hours on hard surfaces and only a few minutes on soft surfaces. Therefore, routine environmental cleaning is adequate. Employees who share work stations during the course of one shift may want to clean the most-often touched work surfaces when they come on duty. Examples of high touch surfaces might be the telephone or computer keyboard. Clean these surfaces by wiping them down with a household disinfectant according to directions on the product label.

Benefits

Will I continue receiving benefits during an emergency pandemic situation?
Yes, your benefits will continue as long as your appointment makes you eligible to receive them. Your benefits will not be affected if you are unable to complete time reports while ill with the flu.

How will I receive medical services?
Continue to use your medical plan and prescription drug plan as usual.

What if I am out on disability or need to go out on disability?
If you are already out on disability, your benefits will continue as long as they are approved by the Plan. If you need to file a new disability claim, contact Work Connections. For more, visit http://www.askhr.umich.edu/entry/260/

Counseling & Support Services

Where can I get information on counseling and support services for faculty and staff?
Confidential services are available from the Faculty & Staff Assistance Program (FASAP) and the U-M Health System Employee Assistance Program (EAP).

For more information, including news and resources, visit
<www.vpcomm.umich.edu/pa/key/flu-H1N1.html>.