Employee FAQs

We know there are a lot of questions from employees about the changes at East Central College in response to the coronavirus (COVID-19) situation.

Some of the answers are provided here. For any employee leave and/or health care questions, contact ECC’s Human Resources department at Wendy Hartmann or visit the Human Resources Sharepoint site.

Back to Campus Plan 

East Central College will have a three phase re-opening beginning May 18th. Click here for more details.

Employee Leave

There will be ten days (80 hours) of paid emergency leave made available for current, full-time employees when the College is open for business in the case of an employee who is unable to work due to the need to care of a minor if the child’s school or childcare facility has been closed or is unavailable due to the pandemic. Full-time employees may use other accrued leave if more time is needed other than the 10 days.

Part-time employees will be paid for up to 10 days (not to exceed 40 hours) of work as otherwise scheduled. This will include the hours for the week of March 30 – April 3, 2020 or other dates when the College is closed.

Yes. There is an allowance to pay student workers for the time they would be normally be scheduled to work.

CDC and Face Masks

Yes. The message from Dr. Jon Bauer, president of East Central College, on 7.10.20 in regard to the face masks requirement:

Good afternoon. I’m writing to notify the campus about the requirement for masks this fall.

When the fall semester begins Monday, August 24, masks will be required for all students, faculty, and staff of East Central College, in an effort to mitigate the spread of COVID-19.

The masks requirement follows guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control for institutions of higher education.

Masks are one of the critical strategies for combating the spread of COVID-19. As the fall semester opens with a return of students to campus, this step is important in order to protect the health and safety of all those on the Union campus and our centers in Rolla.

Consistent and widespread use of masks helps ensure the safest environment for those on campus. While county and city requirements vary throughout the college’s district and service region, it is the responsibility of ECC to adopt and enforce measures most appropriate for the health and safety of those in its facilities.

With the number of students and employees on campus when the semester is under way, the use of masks will provide the best level of protection from contracting the coronavirus while in proximity to others.

While students may bring their own masks to campus, ECC will be providing free reusable masks. These masks, with the ECC logo, will be distributed to students in Union and Rolla at the beginning of the semester. A supply of disposable masks will be readily available if someone forgets to bring a mask to campus.

For those on campus this summer, current requirements will continue. Masks now are required inside ECC buildings in common areas, classrooms and labs in use during the summer semester, and in situations involving more than two individuals. Employees may continue to work without masks in their offices, or when meeting individually if social distancing of at least six feet can be maintained. These requirements will continue in the fall.

Faculty may elect to use face shields in lieu of masks, to facilitate effective teaching. Some may elect to use both a mask and face shield, and others may switch from one to another depending on the nature of the proximity with students in a classroom or lab setting. ECC will provide face shields and masks to faculty and staff.

Students who do not wish to wear a mask have the option of modifying their schedule to classes that are offered remotely. The fall semester includes a mix of in-person and remote classes. The decision regarding masks is made now in order to allow students and employees to plan accordingly for the fall semester.

The mask requirement for students will be treated as an expectation of the code of conduct. For employees, the use of masks is an employment condition during the COVID-19 pandemic.

In addition to wearing masks, faculty and students will be responsible for wiping down desks and/or workstations with sanitizing wipes before and after class. Combined with the regular cleaning by ECC’s custodial staff, this will also help ensure the safest environment for those on campus. Ample supplies will be available in each classroom or lab.

ECC will continue to monitor local data regarding COVID-19 transmission, guidelines from the CDC, and other authoritative sources of information in order to make decisions based on science and data. These decisions will be made in the best interests of our students, employees, and communities.

In light of new data about how COVID-19 spreads, along with evidence of widespread COVID-19 illness in communities across the country, CDC recommends that people wear a cloth face covering to cover their nose and mouth in the community setting. This is an additional public health measure people should take to reduce the spread of COVID-19 in addition to (not instead of) social distancing, frequent hand cleaning and other everyday preventive actions.

A cloth face covering is not intended to protect the wearer, but may prevent the spread of virus from the wearer to others. This would be especially important in the event that someone is infected but does not have symptoms. A cloth face covering should be worn whenever people must go into public settings (grocery stores, for example). Medical masks and N-95 respirators are reserved for healthcare workers and other first responders, as recommended by current CDC guidance.

Cloth Face Coverings Instructions

You can improve the potential effectiveness of a face mask by proper use, removal and disposal.

Please review this flyer for guidance on proper use of a face mask.

What SafeColleges Training courses related to the Coronavirus am I required to complete?  

As you know, it is important that we maintain a clean and safe environment for employees and students. The facilities department has a dedicated staff who are taking steps to ensure a clean and safe environment and are providing cleaning and sanitizing supplies throughout our locations in Union and Rolla. You will have an active role in keeping yourself and your work area safe.  Training is one element of ensuring that we meet this goal.

We have selected Cleaning and Disinfecting a Work Space and the Coronavirus Awareness courses for you to complete by June 19, 2020.

Username: ECC email address

Cleaning and Disinfecting Work Space

Corinavirus Awareness

Insurance Benefits 

Anthem has provided the College with a thorough explanation of its coverage to ECC employees in regard to COVID-19.

To avoid in-person meetings, Anthem is providing several Telehealth options. Also, Anthem will waive member cost share for telehealth visits, including visits for mental health, for our fully-insured employer, individual, and Medicare Advantage plans, and where permissible, Medicaid plans for 90 days, beginning March 17 and ending June 14.

The main FAQ topics are listed below. The complete list of FAQs from Anthem is provided HERE..

  • Employer Impact
  • Privacy
  • Benefit Coverage Questions
  • Pharmacy
  • Telehealth, Sydney Care and 24/7 Nurseline
  • Underwriting and Financial Questions
  • Life and Disability Questions

Contact the ECC Human Resources director, Wendy Hartmann  or 314-210-9648  immediately. If you are not able to contact Wendy, please contact your Administrator.

If you experience symptoms, isolate yourself, do not come to work, and seek medical attention. Inform medical professionals of your symptoms and any recent travel or potential exposure before going to the health facility. As with any contagious illness, limit the potential for exposure to other people and do not come to work.

The College will follow the guidance and regulations of the area county health department and the Centers for Disease Control if an employee is tested positive with COVID-19.

The current message from health care providers and the CDC is to stay home and don’t return to work until you haven’t had a fever for 24 hours without the use of fever-reducing medications. Anyone diagnosed with COVID-19 should closely follow the instructions of medical professionals.

Yes. Anthem health plan covers COVID-19 testing and the visit where you get the test with no out of pocket costs. If you’re diagnosed as having COVID-19, your Anthem health plan benefits apply to treatments.

More information can be found here.

Sydney Care & LiveHealth Online offers services. Simply download the free mobile app for a quick and easy way to evaluate symptoms. They can connect you with a doctor through a LiveHealth Online video session or a Virtual Care text session right from their smartphone.

The doctor they connect with can evaluate their symptoms, help them understand whether they’re at risk for COVID-19, and let them know whether they need to visit a local health care provider in person for COVID-19 testing.

Employees will find resources regarding information pertaining to COVID-19 at www.ndbh.com. Password: ECC.  Anyone can call our emotional support number 833-848-1764, a free and confidential 24/7 mental health helpline staffed by trained and caring professionals ready to guide you to the care you need.

The number will be open as long as necessary to support individuals and communities affected by disasters.

The Employee Assistance Program (EAP) has several resources to assist employees and families during the pandemic.

You call 211 or go to 211.org to chat with a person about COVID-19 assistance. The ECC counseling department has compiled a list of resources which is located on HR Share point site.

There are several counseling and community resources available.

The area health departments are working closely and communicating with the state of Missouri’s health department.

East Central College is communicating with our area health departments.

Franklin County Health Department

Phelps-Maries Health Department

EyeMed provided several FAQs pertaining to the crisis. According to the insurer, as with all managed care organizations, EyeMed is required to follow COVID-19 guidance and protocols provided by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and state and local public health and insurance departments. We recommend you follow CDC guidelines regarding routine eye exams, including postponing routine visits.

EyeMed COVID-19 – Member FAQs Updates 3.27.20

EyeMed Customer Care Center: 1.866.933.3633 (or your group-specific number on your ID card).

EyeMed Webpage

The President signed the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES) Act into law on Friday afternoon (March 27, 2020).  The Act contains numerous provisions, and there are two sections that directly affect flexible spending accounts (FSAs) and Health Savings Accounts (HSAs):

·         It permanently reinstates coverage of over-the-counter (OTC) drugs and medicines without a prescription!  This allows participants to be reimbursed for items such as Tylenol, Advil, Claritin, and Tamiflu.  No more need to ask your doctor for unnecessary prescriptions.

·         Menstrual products (such as tampons, pads, cups, liners, etc.) are now included as qualifying expenses.

The Act also made a change to Qualified High Deductible Health Plans (QHDHPs) which affects the use of HSA funds.  As mentioned in prior newsletters, the IRS released guidance (Notice 2020-15) allowing QHDHPs to cover the cost of testing and treatment for the COVID-19 (coronavirus) prior to meeting the deductible.  The CARES Act modified that even further for HDHPs that begin prior to December 31, 2021.  The CARES Act allows HDHPs to cover telehealth services without a deductible having to be met and still be a “qualified” plan.  In other words, a participant’s HSA can be used with a QHDHP that offers telehealth services without requiring a copayment or a deductible to be met.

When are these changes effective?  These two changes are retroactive to January 1, 2020 (regardless of the client’s plan year).  For example, if your health care FSA (or limited purpose FSA) is on a July 1, fiscal year, participants can now claim any expenses for qualifying OTC drugs or medicines purchased as of January 1, 2020 or later.  And, they no longer need a prescription for these medicines.

Will our plan document need to be amended for this change?  If you are using a standard document provided by ASIFlex, then you will not need a plan amendment.  If you are not using an ASIFlex prepared document, then your document may need to be amended.  If you wish to adopt this change and your document needs to be amended, ASIFlex can assist you in preparing the amendment.

Can a participant make a change in election due to this change?  Unfortunately, no.  However, participants can make new elections at the next open enrollment date to take advantage of this change in coverage.  Participants may use existing funds for any of these qualifying expenses incurred on or after January 1, 2020.

What type of documentation will need to be submitted in order to be reimbursed for these items?  The same documentation used for other claims.  Participants will need an itemized receipt from the merchant indicating:  store name, purchase date, description of product and cost of the item.

Can the ASIFlex debit card be used for these items?  Yes.  However, please keep in mind that merchants will need some time to update their Inventory Information Approval System (IIAS) in order for these items to be recognized as eligible.  Please be patient as many merchants are currently understaffed.  It is currently anticipated that this process could take up to six weeks.

What if the items do not show as eligible when the debit card is used?  Initially, debit cards may not work for these items.  If the card cannot be used to purchase these items, the employee can simply snap a picture of the itemized store receipt and submit the claim via the mobile app or file a claim online after scanning the documentation.

Which merchants will accept the ASIFlex card for these types of purchases?  We anticipate that the same merchants who accept cards now for general OTC health care products will accept the cards for OTC drugs and medicines.  But keep in mind that the merchants will need time to modify their inventory system.

Has the FSA Store site been updated for these items?  The FSA Store and the HSA Store are already in the process of updating their inventory and websites.

Where may I refer employees if they have questions?  ASIFlex is in the process of updating the following pages of its website (asiflex.com):

·         Homepage News:  links to a new participant education flyer

·         Programs tab:  Debit Card links and FAQs

·         Resources tab:  FAQs; Eligible Expenses

·         Useful Links tab:  Eligible Expenses; Menstrual care products, over-the-counter health care products, drugs & medicine

Will ASIFlex send information to my employees?  Yes, ASIFlex will release email and text alerts with a brief update referring plan participants to the updated website.


Examples of Changes Allowed for Dependent Care FSA
 

EVENT ALLOWED CHANGES
Daycare provider increases cost ·         Increase election consistent with the new cost

·         Change to another provider at a lower cost and make an election change consistent with the new cost

·         Stop the election if no other similar provider is available

Daycare provider decreases cost ·         Decrease election consistent with the new cost
Employee changes daycare provider ·         Increase or decrease election consistent with new cost
Daycare closes ·         Decrease or stop election
Child is out of school due to summer ·         Increase election consistent with need for more daycare hours

·         Decrease or stop election if daycare is needed for fewer hours or not needed

Child start school in the fall ·         Increase election if before or after school care is needed

·         Decrease election if fewer hours of daycare are needed

Note:  Change in cost rules do not apply if the care provider is a relative of the participant.

Federal Legislation & Guidance
The CARES Act signed into law on Friday afternoon contains numerous provisions (see the first article in the newsletter for information related directly to FSA and HSA funds).  Here are just a few of the other items included in the act:  direct payments to taxpayers, funds for extended unemployment benefits, an allowance for payroll tax deferment for employers, waives the 10% early withdrawal penalty for taxpayers who need to use retirement funds for coronavirus-related purposes, allows for 401K loan limits to increase to $100,000, and many other items.  You can read the text of the bill here:  https://www.congress.gov/116/bills/s3548/BILLS-116s3548is.pdf

The President signed the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) on March 23, 2020.  FFCRA guarantees free testing for COVID-19 and expands food assistance and unemployment insurance.  FFCRA also places new mandatory paid sick leave requirements on private employers with fewer than 500 employees as well as on public employers with more than 1 employee.  You can view a copy of the bill here: https://www.congress.gov/116/bills/hr6201/BILLS-116hr6201enr.pdf

 

The Internal Revenue Service issued two new notices (Notice 2020-29 and Notice 2020-33) related to Section 125 cafeteria plans (premium only plans and flexible spending account (FSA) plans).

Click here for more information.

Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA)

The Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA or Act) requires certain employers to provide their employees with paid sick leave or expanded family and medical leave for specified reasons related to COVID-19. The Department of Labor’s (Department) Wage and Hour Division (WHD) administers and enforces the new law’s paid leave requirements. These provisions will apply from the effective date of April 1 through December 31, 2020. Generally, the Act provides that covered employers must provide to all employees:

  • Two weeks (up to 80 hours) of paid sick leave at the employee’s regular rate of pay where the employee is unable to work because the employee is quarantined (pursuant to Federal, State, or local government order or advice of a health care provider), and/or experiencing COVID-19 symptoms and seeking a medical diagnosis; or
  • Two weeks (up to 80 hours) of paid sick leave at two-thirds the employee’s regular rate of pay because the employee is unable to work because of a bona fide need to care for an individual subject to quarantine (pursuant to Federal, State, or local government order or advice of a health care provider), or care for a child (under 18 years of age) whose school or child care provider is closed or unavailable for reasons related to COVID-19, and/or the employee is experiencing a substantially similar condition as specified by the Secretary of Health and Human Services, in consultation with the Secretaries of the Treasury and Labor.A covered employer must provide to employees that it has employed for at least 30 days:

Up to an additional 10 weeks of paid expanded family and medical leave at two-thirds the employee’s regular rate of pay where an employee is unable to work due to a bona fide need for leave to care for a child whose school or child care provider is closed or unavailable for reasons related to COVID-19.

For additional information see the attached file.

Under the FFCRA, an employee qualifies for paid sick time if the employee is unable to work (or unable to telework) due to a need for leave because the employee:

  1. is subject to a Federal, State, or local quarantine or isolation order related to COVID-19;
  2. has been advised by a health care provider to self-quarantine related to COVID-19;
  3. is experiencing COVID-19 symptoms and is seeking a medical diagnosis;
  4. is caring for an individual subject to an order described in (1) or self-quarantine as described in (2);
  5. is caring for a child whose school or place of care is closed (or child care provider is unavailable) for
  6. is experiencing any other substantially-similar condition specified by the Secretary of Health and Human Services, in consultation with the Secretaries of Labor and Treasury.

The U.S. Department of Labor has more detailed information on its FAQ page.

You will need to contact Human Resources and your supervisor. You may request leave by submitting the information below. You may request both types of leave and you will need to complete both sections below.

Emergency paid sick leave, please provide the information below to Human Resources and your supervisor to request leave.  You can submit this information through an email message. No form is required to be completed.

  1. Your name;
  2. The date(s) for which you request leave.
  3. The reason you unable to work based on one of the eligible reasons for emergency paid sick leave;

If you request leave because you are subject to a quarantine or isolation order or to care for an individual subject to such an order, you should additionally provide the name of the government entity that issued the order.

If you request leave to self-quarantine based on the advice of a health care provider or to care for an individual who is self-quarantining based on such advice, you should additionally provide the name of the health care provider who gave advice.

 

Paid expanded family and medical leave to care for your child whose school or place of care is closed, or child care provider is unavailable, please provide the information below to Human Resources and your supervisor to request leave. You can submit this information through an email message. No form is required to be completed.

  1. The name of your child;
  2. The date(s) for which you request leave;
  3. The name of the school, place of care, or child care provider that has closed or become unavailable.

Emergency paid sick leave and expanded family and medical leave, please provide the information for both leaves as stated above to Human Resources and your supervisor to request leave. You can submit this information through an email message. No form is required to be completed.

How do I report the FFCRA related leave on my timesheet and leave form?

Payroll and Human Resources have will be working closely with eligible employees on tracking leave. In order to streamline the reporting process, we have created one form for exempt and nonexempt employees. All employees who receive these benefits will be asked to complete a FFCRA time sheet.  No leave form will be required for COVID-19 related leave.

What leave am I eligible for through the FFCRA?

  • Two weeks (up to 80 hours) of emergency paid sick leave at the employee’s regular rate of pay where the employee is unable to work because the employee is quarantined (pursuant to Federal, State, or local government order or advice of a health care provider), and/or experiencing COVID-19 symptoms and seeking a medical diagnosis; or
  • Two weeks (up to 80 hours) of emergency paid sick leave at two-thirds the employee’s regular rate of pay because the employee is unable to work because of a bona fide need to care for an individual subject to quarantine (pursuant to Federal, State, or local government order or advice of a health care provider), or care for a child (under 18 years of age) whose school or child care provider is closed or unavailable for reasons related to COVID-19, and/or the employee is experiencing a substantially similar condition as specified by the Secretary of Health and Human Services, in consultation with the Secretaries of the Treasury and Labor.
  • Up to an additional 10 weeks of paid expanded family and medical leave at two-thirds the employee’s regular rate of pay where an employee is unable to work due to a bona fide need for leave to care for a child whose school or child care provider is closed or unavailable for reasons related to COVID-19.

Where can I learn more about the FFCRA?

Human Resources has created a FFCRA Employee Q&A User Guide related to COVID-19.  A huge shout out to Kim who has compiled the FFCRA Employee Q&A User Guide.  Additional information is located on SharePoint at COVID-19 Employee Resources.

You can also refer to the DOL website which has the complete list of FAQs (here).Who do I contact if I have questions about eligibility for the FFCRA leave?

Please contact Human Resources.

Resources & Services

Remember to take time to care for yourself and your family (physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual well-being) while coping with all the changes/restrictions due to COVID-19.  ECC’s Employee Assistance Program (EAP) through New Directions offers resources for employees who may need assistance coping with all the changes due to COVID-19.

As a full-time employee of East Central College, or a household member or dependent up to age 26 of that employee, one is eligible for:

  • 6 counseling sessions scheduled face to face (when appropriate), telephonically or via video
  • 6 online counseling sessions
  • A free 30 minute telephonic consultation with an attorney
  • A free 30 minute telephonic consultation with a financial professional
  • Worklife requests ie. Eldercare issues, seeking an electrician etc.
  • Access to an updated and robust website:  https://www.eap.ndbh.com  company code:  ecc

Crisis hotline (1.833.848.1764) is available to the public, part-time employees and students without access to an EAP.   The services that have been extended via this hotline are for in-the-moment telephonic support for issues related to COVID-19.  It does not include the services above for employees.  It is unknown how long this number will be active.  The link for this group is https://www.ndbh.com/CrisisResources.

 

Additional information can be found on sharepoint and here..

There are several community resources and services available for you and your family. Click here for a list.

The sites below can provide additional resources for you and your family.

Review this flyer from the CDC on how to protect yourself and your family.

Unemployment Insurance Benefits 

No. Generally speaking, an individual still receiving pay while off of work is not “unemployed” and is ineligible for unemployment benefits.

In most situations, yes. Missouri unemployment benefits are available to individuals who are unemployed through no fault of their own. If an employer must shut down operations temporarily and no work is available, individuals may be eligible for unemployment benefits if they meet the eligibility criteria.

In most situations, yes. Missouri unemployment benefits are available to any individual who is unemployed through no fault of his or her own. If an employer must lay off employees due to the loss of production caused by the coronavirus, individuals may be eligible for unemployment benefits if they meet the eligibility criteria.

In most situations, yes. Weekly work search eligibility requirements are not required when there is a recall date within eight weeks of the temporary lay-off.

The individual may be eligible for benefits. Unemployment benefits are available to individuals who are totally or partially unemployed due to no fault of their own. In this example, the individual—not the employer—is choosing not to work.

However, the facts of each circumstance are essential. If the employer allowed this individual to telework and the individual chose not to accept that work, they would not qualify for benefits because they would not be unemployed. If the employer required the individual to stay home but did not offer telework, the individual might be eligible for benefits.

In most cases, no. Unemployment benefits are available to individuals who are totally or partially unemployed due to no fault of their own. In this example, the individual is not available for work due to caring for children and would be ineligible. However, the facts of each circumstance are essential in determining eligibility for unemployment benefits.

Maybe. The facts of each circumstance are essential in determining eligibility for unemployment benefits and each situation must be handled on a case by case basis.

The Missouri department of Labor and Industrial Relations has additional information available at: https://labor.mo.gov/coronavirus

Work From Home Tips and Tricks

As more higher education faculty and staff work from home – many for the first time – there are some tips everyone should follow to protect yourself, your students and your institution.