COVID-19 Pandemic Donation Program - Shared Sick/Illness Time Pool

Overview

Wayne State University established a temporary COVID-19 donated shared sick/illness pool in April 2020, to address potential unpaid sick/illness time associated with the pandemic. The COVID-19 donated sick time pool provides the opportunity for WSU employees to help fellow WSU employees who have exhausted their available federally provided paid sick leave or their own available sick time as a result of an illness related to COVID-19. The pooled sick time donations are made available through voluntary donations from current faculty and staff.

COVID-19 was declared a worldwide pandemic and the Governor of Michigan issued a state emergency to slow down the spread of the virus. The intent of the pool is to provide sick time to an employee that has exhausted all available sick time options. The employee must have a verifiable (will remain confidential) need which will be reviewed and approved by Wayne State's Leave Administrator or Director of Benefits. 

Tax implications

Sick leave donations will be considered a taxable event to the recipient. The IRS recognizes two types of leave-sharing programs where employees can donate their unused paid leave without incurring negative tax consequences – programs for medical emergencies and natural disasters. Under these programs, employees are not taxed on the leave that they donate to be used by their fellow employees, rather the donated sick time is taxable to the employee who receives the sick time. 

A recipient of donated sick time must include the earnings in gross income and it is taxable wages.

Faculty and staff donating their sick time may not claim tax deductions nor charitable contributions for any sick time donated under this program. A donor must:

  • Submit written electronic authorization via Academica
  • Have current sick time available in their bank
  • Maintain a balance of 14 days (112 hours) hours in their own sick bank
  • Not exceed the eligible donation per fiscal year
  • Acknowledge that donations are irrevocable and not tax-deductible as a charitable contribution

Recipient eligibility 

A recipient must:

  • Submit a request to receive donated sick time via Academica
  • Be eligible to accrue sick time 
  • Have exhausted or have less than 80 hours of the following paid sick time:
    • Personal accrued sick/illness time
    • Emergency Paid Sick Leave (PSL)
    • Michigan Paid Leave Time (PMLA)
  • Has not exceeded the requested donated hour limits per fiscal period 
  • Agree that the donated sick time is gross income and is subject to taxation

Approval for shared sick time is not guaranteed. An employee may not use donated sick leave until all other paid sick time has been exhausted. If an employee meets the eligibility requirements (submission of a request for time off via FMLA Source) and the donation of sick time is approved (all FFCRA leave time and own personal sick time has been exhausted), the employee is eligible to receive donated sick time. Human Resources will add the donated sick leave time to the employee's paid time on an as-needed basis for the applicable pay period. Retroactive requests for donated sick time will not be processed. The employee may receive no more than a maximum of 112 hours per fiscal period. The maximum allowed for part-time employees will be prorated based on the employee's FTE. 

Employees are not eligible if they are:

  • On a leave of absence without pay for reasons unrelated to COVID-19
  • On a layoff or in a no-pay status
  • Eligible to receive workers compensation wage loss benefits

Qualifying reasons for recipient eligibility 

The following reasons will qualify an employee to be an eligible recipient of donated shared sick time:

  1. The employee has been advised by a health care provider to self-quarantine related to COVID-19
  2. The employee is experiencing COVID-19 symptoms and is seeking a medical diagnosis
  3. The employee is caring for a family member experiencing COVID-19 symptoms and is seeking a medical diagnosis 

A request for time off to care for a dependent due to the closing of a school or child care provider is not an eligible qualifying reason for this program. See the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) for details on other paid leave options.

Online process

Steps to process donated shared sick/illness requests (includes donations and requests for time):

  • Login to Academica
  • Select Employee Self-Service
  • Select Donated Share Sick/Illness Program 

Please note:

  • All required documentation should be submitted prior to the request for time from the pool
  • All requests for access to the donated sick/illness pool time is subject to approval by the following:
    • Leave Administrator
    • Director of Benefits & Wellness
    • Payroll

Donating to the illness time pool

WSU employees with adequate time in their sick/illness bank may donate sick/illness hours (8-hour minimum and 250-hour maximum per fiscal period) to the donated shared sick/illness pool at any time during the year. Please note that time (hours/days) is being donated, not the dollars represented by the time. Only accrued sick time may be donated (donations cannot be made in advance of accrual). The minimum donation an employee may submit is eight hours and the maximum is 40 hours. The hours donated will be available for request once an employee has exhausted both the approved absence granted by the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) and has exhausted or has less than 80 hours of available sick time due to a COVID-19 related illness occurrence.

Benefits & Wellness will review the employee's submission in Academica and will approve the authorization to transfer donated sick time from the donator to the shared donated sick time pool.

Reminder: No donation can be made in excess of available annual leave for the donating employee, and all employees are required to maintain a minimum amount of 14 days (112 hours) of sick/illness time in their bank. This is an opportunity for employees to share excess annual leave they might otherwise lose due to sick/illness bank maximums.

Sick Leave Pool Recap 

COVID-19 Sick Time Pool Withdrawals

  • The request to receive donated sick time is submitted via self-service Academica
  • Employees must consult with the HR Consultant or the Leave Administrator prior to submitting the request to receive sick time from the pool (this request must be submitted in a timely manner to avoid unpaid time)
  • No request for donated sick time will be applied on a retroactive basis (minimum two-week advance notice is required)
  • All requirements must be met and documentation should be submitted to FMLA Source before the Leave Administrator will complete a decision regarding the granting of requested donated sick hours

COVID-19 Sick Time Pool Donations

  • Donate accrued sick time hours currently in your bank to the pool using the Academica self-service feature
  • All donations to the pool are voluntary, irrevocable, and are not tax-deductible charitable contributions 

The pool will be closely monitored to avoid any potential deficit or surplus. If the pool becomes close to being depleted, Human Resources will initiate a special donation campaign.   

If you have questions, please review the COVID-19 Pandemic Donation Program - Shared Sick/Illness Hours Pool Frequently Asked Questions or contact Human Resources at askhr@wayne.edu.