Employee Benefits and Policies affected by COVID-19

The global COVID-19 pandemic has upended our daily life, resulting in heightened anxiety and fear. In addition to concerns for our physical wellbeing and that of our loved ones, many employees are also confronting financial challenges and uncertainties. Read below for updated options available for employees.

Emergency Employee Loans

Full-time employees hired on or before April 8, 2020 are eligible to receive an interest-free university loan in an amount up to $10,000 to assist with expenses related to COVID-19. Beginning on April 16, 2020, employees interested in pursuing this option are encouraged to contact David Martinez, Director of Payroll and Human Resources Information Systems, at [email protected] to discuss loan terms and repayment options.

Employee Emergency Fund

The Office of University Mission and Campus Ministry, the Office of Equity and Inclusion, the Division of Student Affairs and the Office of Business Affairs have collaborated on the creation of an Employee Emergency Fund (EEF) to support employees needing additional assistance due to COVID-19. The EEF will allow the university to provide one-time $400 financial assistance to such employees and will be administered by the Office of University Mission and Campus Ministry. Distributions will be made via a direct deposit into employee checking accounts. Beginning on April 16, 2020 employees interested in the EEF should complete the request form. Emergency assistance will be distributed quickly and with respect for the confidentiality of your individual situation.

Information on benefits and programs implemented by the City of New York to assist residents managing the impact of COVID-19 can be found online.

Deadline Relief During Outbreak Period

On April 29, 2020 the IRS and Department of Labor announced an extension of certain deadlines during the one-year period from March 1, 2020 through February 28, 2021(the “Outbreak Period”).  In general, deadlines were extended for the following:

  • Qualifying Life Events
  • Filing HRA claims
  • Filing FSA and Dependent Care FSA claims
  • Filing benefit claims or appeals or requesting an external review of an adverse benefits determination.
  • Making COBRA elections and COBRA premium payments.

Just before the expiration of the Outbreak Period, the Department of Labor issued additional guidance.  The guidance removed February 28th as the end of the Outbreak Period and instead stated that the one-year period of relief would be extended for individuals, on a case-by-case basis, through the earlier of:

  • One year from the original due date, OR
  • The end of the Outbreak Period, once it is declared.

The maximum extension period available for an individual will not exceed one year.  

How could this affect you?  

The following examples are included to demonstrate the impact of the recent deadline extension:  

Example 1:  If an employee had a 2019 FSA or Dependent Care FSA, all receipts for 2019 claims would normally be due by March 31, 2020.  The extended deadline would now allow you until March 31, 2021 to file claims for your 2019 FSA.

Example 2:  If an employee had a 2020 FSA or Dependent Care FSA, all receipts for 2020 claims would normally be due by March 31, 2021.  The extended deadline would now allow you until the earlier of March 31, 2022 or the end of the Outbreak period.

Example 3:  The normal timeframe to submit a claim to Oxford is ninety days.  The extended deadline would allow you until, the earlier of, one year after the normal 90 day deadline or the end of the Outbreak period.

We understand that these changes may be confusing.  If you have any questions regarding the COVID related deadline extensions, please contact the Benefits Department at 718-990-2363 for assistance. 

Changes to Over the Counter Rules

Over the Counter (OTC) medications are now reimbursable under Flexible Spending Accounts (FSA) without requiring a prescription. In addition, menstrual care products are now reimbursable as eligible expenses. These provisions are retroactive to January 1, 2020.

Return to Work on Campus policy series:

Policy 1101 COVID-19 Vaccination, Health and Safety Guidelines

Policy 1102 COVID-19 Paid Sick Leave Law

Policy 1103 Paid Leave for COVID-19 Vaccination