Coronavirus disease 19 FAQs: What City employees should know

Information is changing rapidly. We will update these FAQs as soon as there is new or different information. Please contact your HR generalist with questions or concerns.

The Minnesota Department of Health is leading the statewide response to coronavirus disease 19 (COVID-19). The City is working closely with the Minnesota Department of Health and Hennepin County to stay ready and respond. Read the latest information for City residents. For health questions on COVID-19 call the Minnesota Department of Health hotline at 651-201-3920 or 1-800-657-3903.

Jump to: General information | Employee leave information | Workplace health | Workplace operations

General information

Where can I find more information about Governor Walz’s stay at home order?

For more information about the stay at home order, read the frequently asked questions about #StayHomeMN.

Updated March 27, 2020

How is the City of Minneapolis preparing for the issue?

Preparatory work includes but is not limited to the following items:

  • Update emergency operations, pandemic, workforce and business continuity plans, including work from our IT department on boosting our remote access (VPN) capacity and parsing out what software can be accessed without VPN.
  • Coordinate an active response team with City staff from the Health Department, the Office of Emergency Management and Communications.
  • Provide ongoing assessments of our public health supplies, including personal protective equipment (PPE) for City staff responding to emergency calls for service.
  • Provide daily coordination of information with state and local counterparts and partners within and outside the City organization.
  • Localize Minnesota Department of Health information for Minneapolis internal and external audiences. 
  • Work to address the needs of our businesses, including Citywide policies guiding use of sick time.
  • Provide assistance and tools for vulnerable populations including but not limited to seniors, public housing residents, and those experiencing homelessness.

Updated March 27, 2020

Have the unions that represent City employees been involved?

The Labor Relations team is having regular conference calls with City union leaders to provide updates and answer questions. When a union leader expresses a specific concern, Labor Relations works with the appropriate departments to try to resolve it. Labor Relations will maintain close communication with union leadership to share information and listen to union concerns as they arise. The City’s union partners recognize that we’re all in this together and are collaborating to find the best way forward for all employees.

Updated March 22, 2020

What help is available if I don’t have City health insurance?

MNsure is offering open enrollment for eligible Minnesotans who do not have health insurance coverage because of the COVID-19 crisis. For more information on enrollment, visit the MNsure website.

Updated March 22, 2020

Can I apply for unemployment insurance if my hours have been reduced due to COVID-19?

Yes, if your hours or rate of pay have been reduced because of COVID-19, you may be eligible for unemployment benefits. The Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development (MNDEED) Unemployment Insurance Program will review the application and determine your eligibility for benefits. Go to the MNDEED website for more information.

Updated March 18, 2020

What does it mean to self-isolate?

Self-isolation is for people who are not sick or showing symptoms but there are objective reasons to believe that their presence may be a risk to others. Reasons to self-isolate include known exposure to someone who contracted the virus or traveling from or through a Level 3 country as defined by the CDC or a cruise. Employees who are under self-isolation should not be in the workplace for 14 days or as advised by the CDC or MDH. If applicable, the employee should work remotely. If that is not an option, certain leave options may be available.

Updated March 18, 2020

I have heard about social distancing but I’m not sure what this is and if it applies at work?

Social distancing is maintaining distance between you and others, preferably at least six feet.  This applies to the workplace. You should remind your employees to practice social distancing. If it is feasible, move desks or work stations and schedule meetings in sufficiently large rooms to accomplish this goal. Groups of ten or more people should be avoided. Additionally, employees should cover their sneezes and coughs, wash their hands, and frequently clean all surfaces touched by other employees.

Updated March 18, 2020

What are the impacts to employee programs and events?

The following programs or events for City employees have been cancelled, postponed or adjusted:

  • Wellness events: Biometric screenings and health and wellness classes through April 30 have been postponed until further notice.
  • CSA fair: The community supported agriculture (CSA) fair is cancelled. Contact Leda Schuster if you have questions.
  • Retirement events: Retirement meetings and seminars through April are postponed. More details about rescheduling will be available soon. Contact Carol Madden if you have questions.
  • YMCA reimbursements: The YMCA has adjusted the total visit requirement for March for the corporate wellness program reimbursement. If you had five or more visits within the first 15 days of March, you will receive your reimbursement of $15 on your May dues. The YMCA is working closely with Medica on a solution for the Fit Choices by Medica reimbursement. The YMCA will communicate an update to those enrolled in the program when Medica has a solution. Check the YMCA website for more information.
  • Life Time reimbursements: Life Time is prorating dues for active, club-accessing membership based on the number of days the club is closed. Check the Life Time website for more information. 
  • Metropass: The City is offering an extension on cancellations or suspensions for Metropass in April. You can cancel your Metropass if you don’t plan to use it again. You can suspend your Metropass if you won’t be using for a period of time but plan to reactivate it later. Under normal circumstances, cancellations or suspensions were due March 6 to be effective for April. However, if you submit a ticket on CityLife by April 1, your pass will be suspended for April. The deduction on your March 27 paycheck will then be applied to the first month’s deduction after you reactivate your Metropass. If you use your Metropass during the suspension period, the forwarded deduction will be void.
  • LIMS training: All LIMS trainings have been cancelled through the end of April. This includes the March 31 LIMS ABC Meeting Management training and the April 13 LIMS Level 1 and Level 2 trainings. The Clerk's Office will be in touch about other upcoming training opportunities. In the meantime, you can use the online resources on the Clerk’s Office City Talk page. Contact [email protected] with questions.
  • Learning programs: Learning & Development Solutions is re-purposing many of its classroom learning programs to a virtual format (Skype in almost all cases). If you’re registered for an upcoming learning program, the facilitator will contact you and let you know about this new delivery method and how it works. In the event you don’t have the equipment or proper space to participate in a virtual learning experience, we’ll ask your HR generalist to work with you to find a solution. Contact Dawn Baker with questions
  • Super STAR Awards ceremony: The ceremony to recognize the City’s 2020 Super STAR winners and celebrate and honor employees who won STAR Awards in 2019, typically held in May during Public Service Recognition Week, is postponed until further notice. Contact Chuck Bernardy with questions.
  • My Minneapolis Mini: The employee engagement survey, originally scheduled to open in April, is postponed until further notice. Contact Vince Therrien with questions.

If you have an program or event to add, email Lindsay Bosley.

This list does not include impacts to City services. Read the latest information for City residents for those details.

Updated March 31, 2020

Employee leave information

What types of leaves are currently available to employees who need to miss work due to COVID-19?

The following leave types are available to employees:
  • *Starting April 1 - Leave provided in the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (H.R. 6201) (Emergency Paid Sick Leave Act and the Emergency Family and Medical Leave Expansion Act), and the Mayor’s Emergency Regulation No. 2020-6. For more information, read the frequently asked questions guide on CityTalk (you must be logged on to the City network to view this document).
  • Accrued sick leave for qualifying conditions as provided under an applicable labor agreement, Civil Service Rules, and City of Minneapolis Sick and Safe Time Ordinance;
  • Accrued vacation leave if approved by a supervisor;
  • Accrued compensatory time pursuant to normal compensatory time use policies;
  • Unpaid medical leave under CSC Rule 14.04A or applicable labor agreement;
  • Personal leave as defined under CSC Rule 14.04E (or applicable labor agreement) when the employee has exhausted all accrued leave;
  • Family members’ school or place-of-care closure due to COVID-19 under Minneapolis Sick and Safe Time Ordinance. 
  • Emergency budgetary leave may be taken with department head approval, in one-week increments. The leave is unpaid, but employees maintain their health benefits and continue to accrue sick and vacation leave.

The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) may apply if you are eligible and have a serious health condition. FMLA may be unpaid or run concurrently with sick or vacation leave. COVID-19 may be a serious health condition. Contact your HR generalist for more information.

If you exhaust or are near exhausting your sick leave, contact your HR generalist for more options.

Updated March 25, 2020 

I am concerned about COVID-19 and want to understand how my sick leave can be used?

You may use accrued sick leave for any health-related issue including personal sickness or mental health issues and to deal with certain family issues involving the COVID-19 epidemic including:

  • Taking time off work because public health officials or healthcare providers require or recommend you isolate or quarantine to prevent the spread of disease;
  • Taking time off work because your business unit or a work location temporarily ceases operations in response to a public health or other public official’s recommendation;
  • Taking time off work because you need to provide care for a family member who is not sick but who public health officials or healthcare providers have required or recommended isolate or quarantine; or
  • Taking time off work because you need to provide care for a family member whose school, child care provider, senior care provider, a disabled relative, or work temporarily ceases operations in response to a public health or other public official’s recommendation.

You must contact your supervisor. Supervisors are strongly encouraged to use compassion and good judgment during this stressful time. If you need additional help, you can refer to the Employee Assistance Program. The Employee Assistance Program provides confidential services to help employees or their family members deal with a wide array of issues. With the program, you have access to help such as unlimited calls with a master level counselor available 24/7, and five in-person counseling sessions, per issue, covered at 100%. 

The Employee Assistance Program is offered through Medica and available 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Services are available by phone, online or through in-person appointments. Visit the Employee Assistance Program webpage or call 1-800-626-7944.

Updated March 18, 2020

Workplace health

Should I self-isolate if I or one of my family members recently returned from travel abroad?

If you have traveled from or through a Level 3 COVID-19 affected region as defined by the CDC or been on a cruise, you should self-isolate for 14 days as provided in guidance by the CDC. All other cases of travel either by you or your family members will be reviewed on a case by case basis. Please work with your HR generalist.

Updated March 25, 2020

Should I self-isolate if my child, partner, parent, or other individual I live with has tested positive for COVID-19?

Yes. If you are exposed to a lab-confirmed COVID-19 case, the Minnesota Department of Health will call you as part of their investigation of the case and provide you with recommendations on next steps. The recommendations will be based on the risk level of your exposure:

  • • If you fall into the medium/high risk exposure category, you will be asked to self-isolate for 14 days and monitor your symptoms
  • If you fall into the low/no risk exposure category, you will be asked to monitor your symptoms and practice social distancing, but you will not be asked to isolate.

Updated March 25, 2020

Should I self-isolate if my child, partner, parent, or other individual I live with has possibly been exposed to COVID-19?

It depends. If the person you live with is not sick or showing symptoms, but it is only a possibility of exposure, then you should come to work. If you have been exposed to someone with COVID-19 like symptoms, you should monitor your symptoms and practice social distancing but not self-isolate. Please contact your HR generalist to discuss your specific situation.

Updated March 25, 2020

What happens if I test positive for COVID-19?

If you test positive for COVID-19, the Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) will investigate to identify others who need to self-quarantine. If MDH identifies you may have exposed coworkers and others in the workplace to the virus, they will work with the Minneapolis Health Department and the impacted employees to ensure that everyone has information on the next steps. Please consult with your HR generalist if you or one of your employees tests positive for COVID-19.

Updated March 18, 2020

What if I have a fever but don’t go to the doctor or get tested?

You should not come to work and follow directions provided by the Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). You should stay home for a minimum of seven days. The fever must be gone without using a fever-reducing medicine for the final three days of home rest. If you have any symptoms of the COVID-19 virus or don’t feel well, you should not come to work and use your sick leave.

Updated March 18, 2020

Can my supervisor take my temperature when I come to work?

No. At this time, supervisors should not take the temperature of employees when they come to work. If this direction changes, we will communicate a protocol to follow.

Updated March 17, 2020

Can I be sent home if I become ill?

Yes, if you become ill, your supervisor should work with your department’s HR generalist on the appropriate course of action. You are encouraged to stay home from work if you are sick.

Updated March 17, 2020

Is the test for coronavirus disease 19 covered by the City's insurance plan?

President Trump signed a federal law that states for the duration of the national emergency declaration, cost-sharing is waived for COVID-19 diagnostic testing and office visits, urgent care and ER visits affiliated with the diagnostic testing. To comply, Medica is waiving co-pays, co-insurance and deductibles related to COVID-19 testing. If you or your dependents are members of the City’s health insurance plan this applies to you.

To help limit the spread of coronavirus disease 19, Medica provides coverage for virtual care or telehealth services, often a more convenient way to access health care services from home. When appropriate, you are encouraged to use virtual care benefits.

If you are sick with coronavirus disease 19 or suspect you are infected with the virus that causes coronavirus disease 19, call ahead before visiting your doctor and follow additional guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control to prevent the disease from spreading to people in your home and community.

Updated March 18, 2020

Workplace operations

Can work shifts be changed?

During an emergency, business needs may change very quickly. Supervisors may change shifts and schedules if there is a business need. Please discuss with your HR generalist for guidance.

Updated March 22, 2020 

What should I do if I am concerned about COVID-19 related racial discrimination or bias against me or my co-worker?

The City takes allegations of discrimination seriously and racial discrimination will not be tolerated. Employees should treat each other with respect, especially during this challenging time. Employees are encouraged to report any instances of discrimination including use of racially insensitive comments or racial bias.

All employees are expected to comply with the Anti-Discrimination, Harassment, and Retaliation policy. You can find information about reporting discrimination, harassment and retaliation on CityTalk. Policy violations may result in discipline up to and including discharge. If you have questions, please contact your HR generalist.

Updated March 22, 2020

Can my supervisor use my personal contact information to check on me?

Yes, personal contact information in COMET can be used to reach you in an emergency event or disruption affecting the continuity of operation of a government entity. Supervisors can ask their HR generalist for this information. If you have not provided personal contact information, you may be asked to update your personal contact information in COMET. If you are unable to update COMET, your supervisor should work with your department's HR generalist on the appropriate process to collect this data.

Updated March 20, 2020

An exempt employee is working more than 40 hours a week or 8 hours a day. What happens?

Exempt employees are expected to work whatever hours are necessary to meet the performance expectations outlined by their supervisors. Generally, the workload of an exempt employee requires 40 hours per week. Exempt employees may vary their schedules to accommodate changing work requirements. Exempt employees do not receive extra pay for any hours over 40 in one workweek. Please discuss with your HR generalist to see if these options would apply.

Updated March 18, 2020

Who do I contact if I need additional employees for essential services?

During a declared emergency the chief human resource officer or designee may assign or re-assign employees to department operations that are deemed critical to continuity of government authority, continuity of basic public safety services, and continuity of life safety services such that the critical activities identified in the departmental Continuity of Operations (COOP) plans remain functional. Assignments will be based on employee’s abilities. Employees shall perform those duties as directed during these times without regard to their “permanently” assigned job responsibilities. Please contact your HR generalist if you have additional questions.

Updated March 17, 2020

How do I work remotely?

Depending on your job duties, and on the service needs of your department, your department head may allow you to work from home. During a Continuity of Operations (COOP) response department heads may authorize working remotely as a means of accomplishing business objectives. Authorizations for working remotely shall be issued in a manner that protects the assets of the City and its employees to the maximum possible extent. If your department approves working remotely, use and share the guide for working remotely to determine what equipment and software you'd need.

Updated March, 17, 2020

How do I spot phishing scams related to coronavirus disease 19?

During times of crisis, hackers prey on our fears. There have been several campaigns of phishing emails and malicious websites related to coronavirus disease 19. Common themes include:

  • Click here for a cure.
  • COVID-19 tax refunds.
  • Little measure that saves.
  • Virus mutations or increased transmission rates.
  • Donation solicitation.

IT is responding to these attacks and will block emails and websites as they become aware of them. It is also important to remember the ways to safeguard yourself against cyber threats:

  • Don’t open emails, links, or attachments that you are not expecting or that are suspicious in appearance.
  • Hover over links to see where they truly go.
  • Never provide anyone you don’t know your passwords, financial information or other secure data.
  • Verify someone reporting to represent your bank, employer or other organization by calling that organization back directly.
  • Report phishing emails sent to your City email account by clicking the "Report Phish" button in the ribbon toolbar in Outlook.

If you experience issues or have questions, contact the IT Service Desk through CityLife, at 612-673-2525 or [email protected].

Updated March 17, 2020

What is being done to keep our work spaces clean?

Finance & Property Services is working with building operators to provide a safe and clean work environment following federal cleaning guidelines in all City buildings. This includes working closely with the Municipal Building Commission for City Hall. 

Custodians clean and disinfect commonly touched surfaces daily, including:

  • Restroom door handles and push plates, light switches, flush handles and faucet handles. 
  • Break room tables, counters, refrigerator handles, light switches, door handles and push plates. 
  • Light switches and door handles in common areas. 

You can maximize the effectiveness of these efforts by washing your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, avoiding touching your face, and cleaning and disinfecting surfaces and objects not cleaned by custodians, including:

  • Computer keyboards and mouse.
  • TV remotes.
  • Printer/copier buttons.
  • Desk tops.
  • Desk phones.
  • Chairs (arms, handles and cushions).

If you have questions or a specific cleaning request, contact Finance & Property Services at 612-673-2702 or the Municipal Building Commission for City Hall at 612-596-9512.

Updated March 17, 2020

How can I make sure I get my paycheck?

Payroll is still distributing physical checks but the best way to ensure you get your paycheck on time is to sign up for direct deposit. Direct deposit is a payment option where your funds are electronically transferred to your checking or savings account. With direct deposit you:

  • Receive payment faster. Money is automatically deposited into your bank account on payday.
  • Avoid dealing with physical checks. You do not need to wait for the mail, go to the bank or do a mobile deposit.
  • Can split your check into multiple accounts. You can send money to multiple accounts by a flat amount or a percentage of your check.

There are two options to enroll in direct deposit:

  • Log in to COMET-HR and navigate to the “Direct Deposit” screen by clicking the following path: Main Menu > Self Service > Payroll and Compensation > Direct Deposit.  
    • To add a new account, select the “Add Account” button at the bottom of the screen.
    • To make changes, select the pencil icon located in the “Edit” column, update the information, and press the “Submit” button.
    • To delete an account, press the trashcan icon located in the “Remove” column.
  • Complete the paper form online or through CityTalk. There may be a delay in enrolling in direct deposit when using a paper form.

Contact your payroll team with questions.

Updated March 17, 2020

This situation is stressful; is there someone I can talk to?

The City of Minneapolis employee benefits package includes access to an Employee Assistance Program, which provides confidential services to help you or your family members deal with a wide array of issues. With the program, you have access to help such as unlimited calls with a master level counselor available 24/7, and five in-person counseling sessions covered at 100%.

The Employee Assistance Program is offered through Medica and available 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Services are available by phone, online or through in-person appointments. Visit the Employee Assistance Program webpage or call 1-800-626-7944.

Updated March 17, 2020

I have more questions. Where can I send them?

Email other questions or concerns to [email protected] and put “COVID-19 Employee Question” in the subject line so it will be answered quickly.

Updated March 22, 2020

Last updated Apr 1, 2020

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