COVID-19 Pay Practice FAQs

General Pay Practices


Employees who are on fiscal year (12 month) appointments will continue to be paid based on the terms of their offer letter. The fiscal year ends June 30, but if the terms of employment (such as an offer letter) specified an earlier end date, the earlier end date will apply. 


The university has temporarily authorized payout of forfeited vacation for certain types of employees, related to the COVID-19 emergency.  Eligible employees (defined below) who have earned the maximum allowed vacation accruals and who have not been able to take vacation due to the emergency situation, who otherwise would forfeit new vacation accruals, may be paid for the vacation hours that otherwise would have been forfeited.  This temporary process is in place for accruals earned in March 2020 through July 2020.  March vacation hours will be paid on the employee’s May 1 paycheck; April vacation hours will be paid on June 1; May vacation hours will be paid on July 1; June hours will be paid on August 1; and July hours will be paid on September 1.

Senior HR Leaders, Deans and Vice Presidents will review the list of eligible employees in their college/organization.  Final approval of eligibility lists rests with the Critical Incident Management Team.

Eligible employees include the following:

· Employees providing patient care as well as those supporting clinical operations and maintenance      of the health care delivery infrastructure

· Employees providing critical services to campus in other related areas such as health and safety,        virtual education, research continuity, and critical operations

· Employees mandated by their supervisor to provide critical services

Critical/Noncritical Functions and Reassignments


Yes. The university may temporarily reassign employees to another position or role based on operational and business need. If this occurs, the university will provide a written notice detailing the terms of the temporary assignment such as location, supervisor, nature of role, etc.  


Please work with your supervisor and HR rep to let them know you are interested and available for temporary reassignment to support critical areas of need. You may also register for temporary reassignment directly through Employee Self-Service. Until a reassignment is found, you must be available during your regular work hours so that you can be contacted with instructions about reassignment. If temporarily reassigned to an area of critical need, you will be paid at your current rate of pay for any hours worked.  Effective May 18, if reassignment is not available you will utilize paid vacation leave (if available) or compensatory time (if available), or unpaid leave.


If it has been determined with your supervisor that you have capacity to temporarily support critical functions, then you may sign up for reassignment through Employee Self-Service. We encourage you to work with your supervisor or HR rep to let them know you are interested and available.


Individuals in this situation were kept in paid status through the end of the spring 2020 semester. Effective May 18, if meaningful work is not available as determined by your supervisor, you will utilize paid vacation leave (if available) or compensatory time (if available), or unpaid leave.


A temporary reassignment will be communicated to you through your supervisor or HR rep.


While awaiting reassignment, please ensure that you regularly check your university email to remain current on university communications and to be informed of reassignment.  Effective May 18, if meaningful work is not available as determined by your supervisor and reassignment is not available, you will utilize paid vacation leave (if available) or compensatory time (if available), or unpaid leave.


Yes, if they are available to work and their regular department does not have work for them to perform remotely.


Please consult with your Senior HR Leader.  Senior HR Leaders have been asked to identify employees who are available for the temporary reassignment pool.  In addition, a Senior HR Leader may request from University HR a list of employees who have self-registered for temporary reassignment via the form in Self-Service.


University leadership has identified the following areas of critical work that must be performed on campus:

Patient care

Public safety

Research (see guidance from Vice President for Research Scholtz)

Critical operational support

Colleges/divisions also will designate essential work that must continue to support ongoing operations but will be performed remotely. Employees should discuss their particular responsibilities with their supervisor to determine what work they will perform remotely.     


The university is committed to your health and safety and as such, is following recommendations of the Centers for Disease Control and the Iowa Department of Public Health.  

Generally, employees are expected to report for work and perform their duties as assigned. The circumstances under which an employee may refuse to work are very limited. If you are concerned that your working conditions may be unsafe or unhealthy, please notify your supervisor or human resources representative. 

Supervisors are encouraged to have a conversation with employees to discuss any concerns they have and follow guidance from public health authorities to maintain a safe working environment. In addition, telework options must be explored for employees whose work does not need to be performed on campus. Supervisors must contact Employee and Labor Relations and their Senior HR Leader prior to issuing any form of corrective/disciplinary action related to the circumstances discussed above.


Yes, employees may be required to work additional or overtime hours for critical work. If it becomes necessary to mandate overtime, the university will work to provide as much notice as practicable under the circumstances.

Leave Policies


Bi-weekly employees, including students, Merit, and P&S staff, who continue to work should submit their work hours as usual to be paid for those hours. Those who are unable to work or are working reduced hours due to the COVID-19 emergency may be paid for up to 80 hours of work during the rest of the spring semester.

Employing departments should determine the number of hours to be paid based on the average number of hours they had worked in the past, or based on the number of hours they were expected to work in the future. Payments for these additional hours will be made as special compensation payments. Requests for payments should be submitted to your senior HR leader for your college/org.


No. Bi-weekly employees are able to participate in the temporary workforce pool, but that is not a requirement to receive pay for the 80 hours referenced above. Many bi-weekly employees, especially students, have left campus following the decision to move to virtual instruction and therefore are not available for on-campus work.


Additional guidance interpreting the Federal Act (FFCRA) is expected to be issued by the federal government on or before April 1. This will provide health care entities further guidance regarding leave provisions for health care workers. UI Health Care must maintain the workforce necessary to deliver screening, testing, and the appropriate level of patient care and clinical operations for all Iowans during the COVID-19 pandemic. Accordingly it is necessary to allow healthcare more time to review and develop applicable guidelines.


Employees may use sick leave/family caregiving leave for the care or necessary attention of immediate family members, including to provide care for minor dependents due to the closure of schools or childcare centers due to COVID-19. Requests for leave should be directed to Faculty and Staff Disability Services to evaluate and respond to the request.

The State of Iowa has temporarily removed the 40-hour annual cap on family caregiving leave for the purposes of caring for immediate family members impacted by COVID-19. The university will grant family caregiving leave except where such leave interferes with the staffing needs of the department.

Additionally, the university will abide by the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) and the Emergency Family and Medical Leave Expansion Act (eFMLA) as well as any applicable state laws. The eFMLA provides up to 12 weeks of job-protected leave (including paid and unpaid) to eligible employees who are unable to work due to the need to care for a minor child because a K-12 school or child care facility is closed due to a public health emergency.


Beginning April 1, 2020, there are five new time codes available to record sick leave related to COVID-19. Employees using these time codes should work with their HR representative and Faculty and Staff Disability Services (main campus) or Leave and Disability Administration (health care) related to their absence, and those offices will provide guidance about the appropriate time codes to use given your individual circumstances.

08 – COVID-19 sick leave for employee illness/quarantine

09 – COVID-19 sick leave for family member illness/quarantine/school closure

67 – COVID-19 Emergency Family and Medical Leave to care for minor child due to school/childcare closure

68 – COVID-19 FMLA sick leave for employee illness/quarantine

69 – COVID-19 FMLA sick leave for family member illness/quarantine/school closure

For sick leave taken March 18-31 due to COVID-19, please use regular sick leave or vacation leave codes. The university will retroactively apply the new sick leave types to those absences as long as Faculty and Staff Disability Services (main campus) or Leave and Disability Administration (health care) is aware that those absences were COVID-related. If you missed work due to COVID-19 from March18-31 but have not consulted with one of those offices, please contact your HR representative so that sick leave may be applied appropriately.


No, unless the employee is the legal guardian or has an “in loco parentis” relationship with the child, meaning that they have day-to-day responsibility to care for or financially support the child.


You will utilize paid vacation leave (if available) or compensatory time (if available). Otherwise you will utilize unpaid leave. Please contact your local human resources representative if you have questions about your time record.


No.  EFMLA is part of the FMLA. You may take a total of 12 workweeks of leave during a 12-month period under the FMLA, including the EFMLA. If an employee takes some, but not all 12, workweeks of their expanded family and medical leave by December 31, 2020, they may take the remaining portion of FMLA leave for a serious medical condition, as long as the total time taken does not exceed 12 workweeks in the 12-month period. Please note that EFMLA leave is available only until December 31, 2020.

All requests for leave should be referred to Faculty and Staff Disability Services (main campus employees) for coordination.

Certain UI Health Care employees are not eligible for EMFLA due to the exemption for health care providers.


No. The qualifying need for EFMLA is met when the school or childcare facility is closed or the childcare provider is unavailable due to COVID-19. An employee who makes the personal decision to remove their child from childcare should discuss options with their supervisor.  Supervisors are encouraged to provide flexibility with work schedules as much as possible without hindering critical business operations.


Yes, EFMLA may be used part-time while an employee continues to work remotely part-time.  Employees should discuss options with their supervisor.


EFMLA is available for employees who need to care for a minor child due to school/childcare closures/unavailability caused by COVID-19.  Requesting employees will indicate that they have a minor child whose school/childcare facility is closed.  No further documentation typically will be required.


No. Family Caregiving Leave may be used for the care of an ill spouse, child, or parent as usual.  In addition, it may now be used for COVID-19 needs including a family member’s COVID-19 diagnosis/quarantine, or caring for a minor child during a school/childcare closure/unavailability caused by COVID-19.  The removal of the cap applies to all of these uses.


Departments may pay bi-weekly employees for up to 80 hours that they were unable to work due to COVID-19 for the remainder of the spring 2020 semester, beginning with the payroll cycle that began on March 22.  The inability to work may be due to the work not being available because of COVID-19, or because the employee experiences symptoms of COVID-19 or is directed to quarantine, or because the employee needs to care for a minor child due to a school/childcare closure/unavailability, or in the case of student employees, the student may be unable to work because they moved away from Iowa City after classes were transitioned to online delivery.

To determine the hours to be paid, departments may use the average hours worked during an 8-week period as an estimate of future hours, or if the employee’s schedule was already determined the department may use scheduled hours to determine the hours to pay up to 80 hours. A Self Service report is available to Senior HR Leaders that provides average hours worked per employee for the time period January 26-March 21.

The 80-hour maximum applies to each employee, even if they hold multiple positions.  If a bi-weekly employee is offered ongoing work but they decline the work, the department should consult with their Senior HR Leader about how to address those hours.  The reasons for the refusal of the hours should be considered.  The primary purpose is to keep employees whole as much as possible.

Payments will be made by special compensation. Senior HR Leaders will submit requests for payment to University Workforce Operations using the Self Service report, and those payments will be processed following the regular bi-weekly pay schedule.


The State of Iowa and the university will consider any leave related to COVID-19 as protected leave. Employees still need to follow the appropriate call-in procedures and work with management to ensure appropriate staffing levels.

Iowa Code provides for the use of sick leave for contagious diseases if the employee's confinement is required, if the employee is rendered unable to perform assigned duties, or if the performance of assigned duties would jeopardize the employee's health or recovery. The federal Emergency Paid Sick Leave Act provides 80 hours (pro-rated for part-time employees) of paid sick leave for employees unable to work due to COVID-19 illness, required quarantine, the need to care for a family member who has been diagnosed or required to quarantine, or the need to provide care to minor children when schools or childcare facilities are closed.

In addition, the university will provide up to 80 additional hours (pro-rated for part-time employees) of sick leave to cover absences directly related to COVID-19 as authorized by the Iowa Board of Regents State of Emergency Declaration provisions, prior to an employee using existing sick leave accruals. The employee may also request unpaid leave if needed pursuant to regular university policy.


Yes. If a bi-weekly employee continues to work, they should continue to submit actual work hours on their time record for payment as usual.  If they are working fewer hours than they normally would have worked, the department should submit a request for special compensation for the difference in hours, up to the maximum 80 hours.


No. The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) protects eligible employees who are incapacitated by a serious health condition or who are needed to care for covered family members who are incapacitated by a serious health condition as defined by the FMLA, and if certified by a Health Care Provider. Other leave options may be available including vacation accruals or leave without pay, if the employee receives approval from their supervisor to take time off of work.


If the employee declines a reassignment, they will utilize paid vacation leave accruals (if available) or compensatory time (if available).  When those paid leaves are exhausted, the employee will be placed in unpaid leave status.  They will remain in the temporary reassignment pool and may be offered another assignment if an appropriate assignment becomes available. 

If the employee declines a reassignment based on a health-related need, Faculty and Staff Disability Services will work with the employee to evaluate the need and determine whether the reassignment is appropriate.


Yes, the Iowa Board of Regents has authorized the university to modify the existing Catastrophic Leave policy for absences directly related to COVID-19. 

Eligibility criteria remain the same: Any faculty or staff member who accrues vacation may donate vacation hours to an eligible employee (eligible employees include a regular employee with appointments of 50 percent or greater; and who accrue either vacation or sick leave benefits).

Donations may be used for COVID-19 related absences including: the employee’s own COVID-19 related illness or required quarantine, the need to care for a family member with a COVID-19 related illness or required to quarantine, or the need to provide care to a minor child when schools or childcare facilities are closed.

To apply for Catastrophic leave due to a COVID-19 related absence please visit the UI Benefits Catastrophic website.



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Contact Information

Administrative Services

Campus Address
121-10 USB
Mailing Address

121 University Services Building, Suite 10
Iowa City, IA 52242-1911
United States