Coronavirus disease 19: What City employees should know

Information is changing rapidly. This page will be updated as soon as there is new or different information. Please contact your HR business partner (generalist) with questions or concerns.

The City is working closely with the Minnesota Department of Health and Hennepin County to stay ready and respond. Use these helpful links and tools to stay informed:

Frequently asked questions (FAQs)

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

General information

Where can I find information on getting tested for COVID-19? 

Most clinics and hospitals across the state have the ability to collect samples (specimens) for lab testing. See Find Testing Locations for a map of Minnesota's ongoing testing locations.

The Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) works in partnership with communities to provide safe and free on-site COVID-19 testing in areas with outbreaks, increasing cases, or other barriers to access existing test sites. See COVID-19 Community Testing for locations and dates for new community testing sites.

Visit the MDH website for more information on getting testing for COVID-19.

Updated Aug. 19, 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. See a list of testing locations in Minnesota.

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 June 9, 2020

What resources are available to help me navigate this difficult time?

The City offers employees a variety of resources and tips for taking care of yourself during the COVID-19 outbreak. We encourage you to use these resources:

1. Employee Assistance Program: 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.

2. Live and Work Well websiteOptum's Live and Work Well website has articles, self-care tools, caring providers, and other mental health and substance abuse disorder resources. There is a section with COVID-19 related resources. To access the site, click “Browse as a guest with a company access code” and use “Medica” as the access code.

3. My Health Rewards: The sleep guide from My Health Rewards can help you learn how to improve your sleep and build healthy habits. You can also get tips on healthy eating by using the nutrition guide or get healthy recipes and cooking lessons on Monj. There are numerous other ways to practice a healthy lifestyle while earning points through My Health Rewards. Log in to the website for more options.

4. Behavioral health services from Medica: Your mental health is just as important as your physical health. That's why your Medica plan includes coverage for behavioral health services, including mental health and substance abuse care. Call 1-800-848-8327 to talk with Medica behavioral health staff. They can help you get the right care when you need it, 24 hours a day, and your call is confidential. Find more resources for mental wellness.

Updated July 8, 2020

Where can I find more information about Governor Walz’s newest order?

Governor Walz continues to turn the dials to slow the spread of COVID-19 and keep Minnesotans healthy. For more information on the latest guidelines, visit the Stay Safe MN webpage.

Updated Nov. 10, 2020

How are hiring and spending affected?

To effectively navigate the COVID-19 crisis and flatten our financial curve, the City is:
  • Freezing wages: Wages for all appointed, politically appointed and non-represented positions are frozen for the remainder of 2020 and all of 2021. For more information read the frequently asked questions about the wage freeze.
  • Freezing new hires: All hiring is on hold. 
  • Suspending hiring processes: All hiring where a job offer has not yet been extended and accepted is suspended. Any exceptions to this hiring mandate must follow the hiring freeze procedures
  • Delaying start dates: If a job offer has been accepted, the start date should be delayed. If a new employee must start work, onboarding should be completed using remote work tools.
  • Freezing discretionary expenses: Finance has suspended all expenditures on non-essential training/travel and non-essential operating expenses (food, advertising, printing, etc.). They will work with departments individually to determine what expenses from these categories may be essential.
  • Delaying large purchases: Finance is determining which internal service activities (including large purchases of equipment, software and other projects) need to be put on hold. Departments will be included in conversations to determine which activities must proceed and which may be paused.
  • Budgetary leave: Budgetary leave is a voluntary unpaid leave of absence for the purpose of reducing a department’s operating budget. Employees granted budgetary leave will be credited with seniority, vacation, sick leave and other benefits as if they had worked while on leave.
  • Furloughs: Along with other cost-saving measures, employees across all departments will be furloughed between now and the end of the year to minimize reliance on layoffs. Information is still being finalized. Check the furlough FAQs for more information.

Updated Aug. 4, 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 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 in-person health and wellness classes have been postponed until further notice. Some health and wellness classes will be offered virtually. Check CityTalk for updates.
  • YMCA reimbursements: The YMCA 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: 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. Cancellations or suspensions are due the first Friday of the month to be effective for the following month. Submit a ticket on CityLife to cancel or suspend your pass. 
  • LIMS training: The Clerk's Office will be in touch about 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. But you can celebrate the 2019 Super STARs virtually.
  • My Minneapolis Mini: The employee engagement survey, originally scheduled to open in April, will now happen in November. Contact Vince Therrien with questions.
  • Flexible spending account (FSA): You may decrease your health care FSA and dependent care FSA if you have a qualifying reason, such as a reduction in hours or change in employment status. To request a change to your health care and/or dependent care FSA elections, submit a ticket through the CityLife employee hub using the “HRA/VEBA & Flexible Spending Inquiry” ticket with the proper documentation.

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 Nov. 10, 2020

Will the point thresholds or deadlines for the My Health Rewards program be adjusted due to coronavirus?

Currently there are no plans to change the point thresholds or deadlines. There are numerous ways to earn points and most can be done in the comfort of your own home. Earn 3,000 points by Aug. 31 to qualify for a discounted wellness rate on your 2021 health insurance premiums. Visit medica.com/cityofmpls to register or log in.

Updated April 23, 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:
  • 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. 2020-14 (amending Emergency Regulation No. 2020-06). 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 business partner (generalist) for more information.

If you exhaust or are near exhausting your sick leave, contact your HR business partner (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 wear a face mask at work?

Yes, you must wear a cloth face covering in all indoor workspaces, unless you are alone. You must also wear a cloth face covering outdoors when it is not possible to maintain at least six-feet of distance. This is mandated by the Governor's Executive Order 20-81 and Mayor’s Emergency Regulation 2020-12.

You can remove your cloth face covering only when you are alone in an office, a room, a cubicle with walls that are higher than face level when you are at least six-feet away from others, a vehicle, the cab of heavy equipment or machinery, or an enclosed work area. Public safety workers are also allowed to remove their face coverings when engaged in a situation where wearing a face covering would seriously interfere with the performance of their public safety responsibilities. However, you should always carry your cloth face covering with you in case you are no longer alone or suddenly engaged in a person-to-person interaction.

The City will provide cloth face coverings for each employee unless personal protective equipment (PPE) is provided given job requirements. Employees may also opt to wear their own masks. Note, the Centers for Disease Control does not recommend the use of face shields as a substitute for masks. If you choose to wear a face shield you should still also wear a mask.

You can find more details about masks in the workplace in the enterprise Return to Workplace plan.

 

Updated Aug. 20, 2020

What is being done to keep the workplace safe and healthy?

The enterprise Return to Workplace plan provides guidance on keeping our workplaces safe and healthy for all employees. It establishes and explains the necessary protocols, practices and conditions to meet the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) guidelines for COVID-19 and state and federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) standards related to employee exposure to COVID-19. Each department may have additional department-specific policies, procedures and/or plans you should also follow. Read more about the COVID-19 safety measures in the Public Service Building and all City workplaces.

Updated May 22, 2020

What is the plan for employees currently working remotely to return to the workplace?

The enterprise Return to Workplace plan is the first step in a multi-step process that will facilitate a safe and healthy workplace related to COVID-19. Departments will decide when employees should return to the workplace, based on business needs and executive orders from lawmakers. Contact your supervisor to determine when you should begin planning to return to the workplace.

Updated May 22, 2020

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

Currently Police is the only department taking employees’ temperatures prior to work. Additional departments may implement a screening questionnaire or use of temperature taking. Departments that are interested in instituting a screening protocol, including taking employee temperatures, should consult with their HR business partner (generalist).

Updated May 5, 2020

How do I know if I need to be in isolation or quarantine?

You should follow guidance from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to prevent the spread of COVID-19. This includes quarantining if you recently had close contact with a person with COVID-19 and isolating if you have been diagnosed with COVID-19.

Updated May 22, 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 quarantine or isolate. 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 business partner (generalist) if you or one of your employees tests positive for COVID-19.

Updated March 18, 2020

What if I feel sick but don’t go to the doctor or get tested?

If you generally don’t feel well or have a cough, fever, shortness of breath or other symptoms of COVID-19, you should stay home and follow your department’s normal call-in procedure for reporting you are sick.

Updated May 22, 2020

Can I be sent home if I become ill?

Yes, if you become ill during the work period, you should:

1. Notify your direct supervisor using a communication method that reduces face-to-face contact (e.g., email, text, telephone).

2. Make sure you wear a cloth face covering, practice respiratory etiquette and proper physical distancing with other staff.

3. Exit the work facility and go home.

Supervisors should contact custodial staff to ensure the employee’s workstation/work area is properly disinfected.

Updated May 22, 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 business partner (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 business partner (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 business partner (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 business partner (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 business partner (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

Can I accept a thank you gift from the community?

It is amazing to see community members coming together and offering their collective support during these trying times but City employees must abide by the City’s gift ban and Civil Service Rules.

As a gentle reminder, City employees are generally prohibited from soliciting or accepting gifts from an interested person, lobbyist, or principal who has a direct financial interest in a decision that the local official or employee is authorized to make. An interested person is anyone who seeks to do business of any kind with the City, engages in activities regulated by the City, or has a financial interest that may be substantially affected by the City’s action or inaction.

For more information, read this note from the ethics officer or contact [email protected].

Updated April 8, 2020

How do I fill out my timesheet?

Use these guidelines to complete your timesheet for March 29 and later.

Recording your time accurately and on time is important to ensure the Payroll Department can meet its deadlines for payment.

Updated April 8, 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

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 Nov 10, 2020

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