COVID-19 – Employee FAQ

LAST UPDATED:  Thursday, May 28 – 6:40am

Recently changed: Date updated for end of COVID Paid Administrative Leave

 

IMPORTANT NOTE: The information on the page does not necessarily apply to employees of Keck Medicine of USC. Similarly, faculty and staff of Keck School of Medicine of USC, Herman Ostrow School of Dentistry, Chan Division of Occupational Science and Occupational Therapy, the Division of Biokinesiology and Physical Therapy and USC School of Pharmacy, may have different requirements that apply, as may other departments and units. Your direct Human Resources partner will have the most accurate and applicable information that applies to your situation. USC staff and faculty from the University Park Campus (including dual campus employees), contract staff, volunteers, students, vendors, and all others who work or conduct business in any Keck Medicine facility or other clinical or patient service environments should be prepared to adhere to the guidelines of each facility.

The information below pertains specifically to employees; additional FAQ can be found as follows:

HEALTH AND WELL-BEING

The USC COVID-19 site contains Medical FAQ that are kept up-to-date based on the latest developments. Employees with questions are encouraged to visit this page for more information. If employees ever have questions about the impact of their medical status on their work, they should contact their supervisor and Human Resources Partner.

The latest information on face masks and cloth face coverings can be found in the Additional Information section of the Medical FAQ.

BENEFITS – HEALTH CARE AND MENTAL HEALTH

  • Employees enrolled in the USC Trojan Care EPO and USC PPO plans will have the care they receive covered if diagnosed as having COVID-19. Out-of-pocket expenses for the focused test used to diagnose COVID-19 will also be waived.
  • Employees enrolled in the Anthem HMO health plan will have the care and treatment they receive covered if diagnosed with COVID-19. Anthem will also waive out-of-pocket expenses for the focused test used to diagnose COVID-19 and for the care visit where the test takes place.
  • For employees enrolled in the Kaiser Permanente HMO, cost sharing (deductibles, copayments and coinsurance) will be reduced to zero ($0.00) for medically necessary screening and testing for COVID-19 including the visit, associated lab testing, and radiology services in a plan hospital, emergency or urgent care setting, or medical office. If a member is diagnosed with COVID-19, all treatment including but not limited to hospital, transportation and pharmacy services will be covered in accordance with the terms and conditions set forth in the coverage document for the member’s health plan.

All employees and their dependents enrolled in the aforementioned plans through USC will receive the COVID-19 coverage outlined above.

  • At this time, employees enrolled in the USC Trojan Care EPO and USC PPO plans are required to pay their standard co-pay for consultation.
  • Employees enrolled in the Anthem HMO and MyChoice Anthem HMO can access virtual care at no out-of-pocket cost through June 14. More information can be found here.
  • Kaiser Permanente members can connect to care anytime, anywhere. To make an appointment, call 1-833-KP4CARE (1-833-574-2273) or 711 (TTY), M-F from 7am-7pm. Employees can also schedule appointments online at kp.org/getcare or with the Kaiser Permanente app.

  • The Center for Work and Family Life is open and available to help USC faculty and staff with mental health-related concerns during the COVID-19 pandemic. Highly-trained clinicians are available to discuss employee well-being, stress, anxiety, and other behavioral health issues. The phone lines are open, and Center staff members are currently scheduling remote session appointments by Zoom and teleconference for any staff, faculty, their families, and retirees. For more information, visit the Mental Health Resources page.
  • Employees enrolled in the USC Trojan Care EPO and USC PPO have access to Lyra Mental Health, which provides care for mental/emotional health at no cost. For more information, visit lyrahealth.com or see Coping with the Coronavirus Epidemic.
  • Employees enrolled in Anthem HMO and MyChoice Anthem HMO should contact their health care providers to see what mental health care options are available.
  • Employees enrolled in Kaiser Permanente HMO plan have access to mental health and wellness services and support. See kp.org for more information.

BENEFITS – RETIREMENT PLANS

Yes, employees can request retirement plan loans and distributions, as the COVID-19 pandemic is a qualifying event.

To take a loan against their retirement accounts, employees should contact their retirement plan provider:

For information on hardship distributions, and any other questions related to retirement plans, please contact the HR Service Center at uschr@usc.edu or 213-821-8100 M-F from 8am-6pm.

TRAVEL

The USC COVID-19 site contains a Travel section that is kept up-to-date based on the latest developments. Employees with questions about travel are encouraged to visit this page for more information.

WORKING FROM HOME, WORKING ON CAMPUS

Given the rapid changes to the pandemic response, no one is sure the exact date we will be able to welcome all of our employees back to campus. Our employees will not be returning mid-April, as we had earlier hoped. We will let them know when they can return to work safely on campus.

During challenging times like the one we are in with the COVID-19 situation, it becomes essential to launch our business continuity plans to ensure we continue to provide essential services to the USC community. As part of business continuity planning, each department/unit goes through the process of identifying the roles that are essential to continuing to prove services such as housing and medical care, and thus must be performed in the place of work rather than at home. These employees who are required to continue working in the office are considered essential workers. Those employees who can perform their work from home, or whose work is reduced or eliminated during situations like these, are classified as non-essential.

As was communicated in the March 13 communications from university leadership, for those staff and student workers whose work cannot be performed from home, the university will allow a minimum of 20 days of paid administrative leave, which will be re-evaluated as the situation continues to evolve.

Supervisors should determine whether temporary employees are essential or non-essential workers. If non-essential and the work can be completed from home, then they can work from home.

Neither national, state, nor local medical experts have opined that it is unsafe for essential employees to come to work. Rather, it is socially responsible to limit unnecessary gathering. Essential workers are encouraged to use social distancing practices, including keeping a distance of at least 6 feet from others and moving to conference calls or video conferencing rather than in-person meetings, and managers are expected to establish flexible work schedules. Additionally, increased cleaning regimens are being implemented in areas where essential employees will be working.

Employees should reach out to their supervisor and Human Resources Partner with ideas and recommendations to supplement social distancing practices that are already being implemented.

The ITS Keep Working resource site contains information for working remotely, including information about Zoom, an online platform for hosting web conferencing. If other technical questions arise, ITS can be reached at 213-740-5555 or consult@usc.edu.

Yes, employees working from home who are injured while performing work duties may be eligible for workers’ compensation benefits. The reporting process is the same as if working on campus and begins with the employee notifying their supervisor. The workers’ compensation documentation must be completed, and Broadspire, our claims company, must be called at 800-495-2315.

If an employee contracts COVID-19 while performing work functions, a workers’ compensation claim can be submitted, which will go through the standard claim decision-making process.

COVID-19 TECHNOLOGY WORK FROM HOME STIPEND

The COVID-19 Technology Work From Home Stipend is $53 per month for employees who are working from home. It is to cover a reasonable percentage of the cell phone, internet expenses and other technology expenses that may be generated by working from home during the COVID-19 pandemic.

No, employees who already receive a mobile allowance are generally not eligible for the COVID-19 Technology Work from Home Stipend.

Those with university-issued equipment who must still use personal internet for internet access are eligible for the COVID-19 stipend.

No. Employees with university-issued equipment that allows them to connect to the internet without any personal charge (for example, those with a university-issued laptop that connects to the internet via a hot spot on their university-issued phone) are generally not eligible for the COVID-19 stipend.

In partnership with their Human Resources Partner, the supervisor or manager of each department and unit will identify those work from home employees who should be paid a COVID-19 technology stipend. Eligible employees who are working from home will not need to do anything to ensure they are paid the stipend.

 

Employees who believe that the stipend does not cover the reasonable costs they actually incur  must maintain accurate records of such charges and submit them via the approved channels as per university policy. See the university’s Reimbursements (Expenditures) policy.

Employees should contact their department’s Human Resources Partner with any questions about eligibility.

 

The stipend is retroactively effective to March 16, 2020.

Yes, stipends are taxable income.

PAY

Payroll Services is mailing all paper checks. Please ensure your address is updated in Workday. We highly encourage everyone to set up direct deposit.

Employees can sign up for direct deposit in Workday. During the COVID-19 situation, direct deposit will be active within 48 hours of an employee’s enrollment. To sign up for direct deposit, please follow the steps in this guide.

Yes, employees can take accrued vacation time with supervisor approval, as per usual.

If employees are sick, we encourage them to take sick days to recover.

PAID ADMINISTRATIVE LEAVE

Yes, USC is extending paid administrative leave through June 30, 2020, providing approximately 15 weeks of pay (since March 16) to workers who are unable to do their jobs at home during the COVID-19 pandemic. These employees can use COVID-19 Paid Administrative Leave and do not have to use any accrued vacation or other types of leave until after June 30. Please speak to your manager or your HR Partner if you have any questions.

COVID-19 Administrative Leave is only for employees who are unable to work from home and are not on any other type of leave. Employees who can work from home should track their time as usual. If they cannot work due to illness, then that time should be coded as sick time. If they are taking a day off and not working from home, then that time off should be coded as vacation, etc.

All exempt and non-exempt employees who are unable to work from home and who report their time off in Workday and Kronos should request the COVID-19 Administrative Leave (Paid Hours). As with other time off requests, this will route to the employee’s manager for approval.

No, the COVID-19 Administrative Leave provides pay continuation for the period from March 16 to June 1, during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Yes, employees can use COVID-19 Administrative Leave in hourly increments, which do not extend the period of the paid leave (which ends June 1). For example, an employee on an 8-hour schedule, who can only work from home for 5 hours each day, can use COVID-19 Administrative Leave for the remaining 3 hours of that day.

Leaders in areas that use either of these systems will communicate the specific instructions on how to track these hours to their exempt and non-exempt employees who are unable to work from home.

The COVID-19 Administrative Leave extends from March 16 to June 30, approximately 15 weeks.  There is a commitment to re-evaluate this as the pandemic continues to evolve.  There is also a reckoning of the loss in revenue streams as revenue -enerating units and functions are impacted by a slowing and stoppage in some areas.

STUDENT WORKERS

All student workers are to record their hours as per their normal process in the payroll system(s) to which they are assigned, just as they would have prior to COVID-19.

Yes. All student workers, including federal work study students, should continue to log their normally scheduled hours into their payroll system (e.g., Workday, Kronos, etc.) through the end of the semester, which ends on May 13.

No, all student workers should document their hours as per their normal timekeeping practices.

Student workers are permitted to work up to 20 hours per week during the semester and can be scheduled to work up to 40 hours during winter, spring, or summer break. During this situation, students will continue to be paid for the number of hours they are normally scheduled to work. For example, a student worker who is normally scheduled to work 2 hours per day, should continue to log 2 hours per day in their department’s payroll system.

CHILD CARE

USC child care centers are doing the following to protect our littlest Trojans:

  • Following all guidance from the CDC and local health authorities;
  • Staffing to ensure they adhere to social distancing mandates;
  • Adhering to additional safety and cleanliness precautions, including temperature screenings of both children and employees.

Yes, even with the recent announcements by Governor Newsom and Mayor Garcetti, the child care centers are considered essential services and thus will remain open. If at any time anything changes, parents will be notified immediately.

USC and Bright Horizons work together to ensure timely communication with the families enrolled in their programs. Parents are encouraged to ensure their center has the family’s most current contact information and local emergency contact.

Yes. The 30-day notification for withdrawal has been waived. If parents are interested in re-enrolling their children for the fall semester, they will need to pay the $100 registration fee. Re-enrollment for the fall semester would need to take place within 14 calendar days of the end of the COVID-19 work from home period. More information about this due date will be communicated as changes in state, county, and local mandates are confirmed.

Tuition has been suspended for registered families who are now home with their children and are not using Bright Horizons services. For these parents, tuition for the last half of March will be applied as a credit to their Bright Horizons account for future child care. Parents who do not re-enroll with Bright Horizons will have their credit reimbursed.

Yes, employees whose child care center is closed or who do not need child/dependent care at this time because they are working from home are able to suspend their dependent flexible spending account, as these situations meet the criteria for a qualifying event. To do this, please log in to Workday and follow these instructions on the Employee Gateway.

Yes. For employees who must come into the office and require back-up child care, it is available through Bright Horizons (first time users, click on "First time user" at the bottom, then on the sign up page use username: USoCal, password: Benefits4You). Bright Horizons can also be reached at 877-BHCares (877-242-2737).

Employees also may access Sittercity, a web resource that can be used to find child care. Click here to access Sittercity, then click on “Use it” next to “Find Sitter, Nannies and Housekeepers.”

During this situation, the limit on days of back-up care has been waived.

USC has secured the following co-pays through Bright Horizons:

  • $15 per day per child
  • $25 per day for 3 or more children
  • $6 per hour should you require in-home child care

During the pandemic, Bright Horizons has waived the limit on days that parents can access back-up care.

Yes, Bright Horizons still has capacity in many of its centers. Please note that due to the increase in demand for back-up care, you may experience delays in reaching the Bright Horizons registration service via phone or web. Bright Horizons is actively working to reduce these delays and suggests registering through its smartphone apps (iOS or Android).

Crisis care is activated by USC’s child care provider, Bright Horizons, in emergency situations. When activated, employees enrolled in back-up care through Bright Horizons may secure their own child care and be reimbursed up to $100 per day.

Employees will need to sign up for back-up care through Bright Horizons (first time users, click on "First time user" at the bottom, then on the sign up page use username: USoCal, password: Benefits4You). Bright Horizons can also be reached at 877-BHCares (877-242-2737).

Employees can also access Sittercity, a web resource that can be used to find child care. Click here to access Sittercity, then click on “Use it” next to “Find Sitter, Nannies and Housekeepers.”

This information must be designated through Bright Horizons. For instructions, please click HERE.

Parents must submit a Crisis Care Request for Reimbursement Form. For more details on the crisis care program, including the reimbursement form, click HERE.

Yes. Childcare is limited to children 6 years and under.

No. Please visit the Bright Horizons website for more information on locations as age limits may vary by location.

UNIVERSITY SERVICES (BUILDING ACCESS, PARKING, DINING, MAIL, ETC.)

In accordance with local, county, and state “stay at home” directives, President Folt and Provost Zukoski announced that UPC and HSC buildings will remain locked, with access only to authorized faculty and staff who are performing essential services. Access requires physical keys or key cards.

Employees who do not have access should contact their building’s facilities manager to arrange access. Please do not contact the Department of Public Safety (DPS) for access. DPS should only be contacted for emergencies.

The building facilities manager can arrange access for contractors and vendors.

Yes, effective immediately on-campus parking permit fees have been suspended for all employees. Prorated refunds will be credited to employees retroactive to March 16.

So that essential employees working on campus during the pandemic can park as close to their offices as possible, employees with any of the following UPC structure permits - Downey, Royal, McCarthy, Figueroa, Flower, Grand or Shrine - may park in any of those facilities until further notice.

NOTE: The UPC Jefferson Structure is not included, nor are the HSC structures as those support medical facilities and are operating as normal. The Biggy and San Pablo Structures at HSC are staffed on a reduced schedule, between the hours of 7am-3pm.

Employees may cancel their transit pass for May or beyond by emailing Rideshare Coordinator Maira Meza.

We are working with Metro to determine if prorated refunds offered for their monthly program participants also apply to our corporate program. At this time, we do not have an update on this matter.

Due to the changes to building accessibility, mail delivery is no longer supported as a standard service. Instead, the Mailing & Material Management Services (MMMS) team will hold mail until the university resumes normal operations. Any department that wants to pick up its mail instead of having it held should have its department’s mail coordinator respond to the MMMS survey that was distributed via email on March 16 and 20.

Information on services and locations provided during the work from home period can be found here.

Employees with packages that are scheduled for delivery or are en route from FedEx, UPS or other third-party delivery companies should contact the carrier to reschedule or re-route the delivery.

If needed, deliveries can be routed to Mail & Material Management Services, which will remain accessible for business deliveries Monday-Friday from 9am-4pm. If you elect to deliver to Mail & Material Management Services, please send an email to mail7777@usc.edu with the carrier, tracking number and information needed to schedule the final pick-up or hold of the package.

The address to USC Mailing & Material Management Services is 3434 South Hope Street, Los Angeles, CA 90089-7777.

University Club will be cancelling the dues payroll deduction for members for March monthly and university biweekly pay period ending 3/18/2020.

USC EMPLOYEE SUPPORT FUND

The USC Employee Support Fund was developed to support our employees who are being financially impacted by COVID-19. To make a donation, please visit the USC Employee Support Fund page.

Employees are encouraged to reach out to their HR Partner, who will connect them with opportunities for support.

HIRING AND ONBOARDING

To protect the health and well-being of our students, employees and candidates, the university is putting a temporary pause on hiring activity for all positions, including those that are vacant as of April 1, 2020. The exceptions to this are emergency positions, healthcare positions, grant-funded positions, fundraising positions, and regulatory-funded positions.

Any offers that were extended and accepted, or any actions that were already communicated to prospective employees prior to April 1, 2020, will continue to be processed.

The USC Onboarding and Orientation program is on temporary pause until the state’s “shelter in place” order is lifted. Departments/units with new hires starting before then will need to coordinate their new hire’s onboarding and training, as well as ensure that an authorized person is available for the updated I-9 processing. Once the temporary pause is lifted, new hires who missed the program will be invited to attend the next session of Onboarding and Orientation.

The temporary pause does not affect emergency positions, healthcare positions, research positions, funding positions, or grant-funded or regulatory-required positions. If you are concerned about an open position, please contact your Human Resources Partner.

ICE has temporarily relaxed standards for in-person verifications. All those responsible for I-9 verifications should complete onboarding as follows:

  • As usual, inspect the Section 2 acceptable documents. This can now be done remotely (e.g., via web conference, fax, email, etc.). Please recommend that the new employee send copies of this documentation in a password-protected format if possible (i.e., password-protected PDF).
  • As usual, obtain this documentation within the first three days of employment.
  • NEW: Enter “COVID-19” in the Section 2 “Additional Information” field, as the reason for the delay in physical inspection.
  • When physical verification is able to be done, the affected new hires must report to the department I-9 processor within three business days for in-person verification of acceptable documents so that we can update either Section 2 “additional information” or Section 3 with “documents physically examined on {date}.”
  • Process as usual.
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6 Responses

  1. Thank you for all this information. Also, thank you for being so generous and humane with these policies (especially paying our student workers for the rest of the semester). This is an incredibly stressful time, and I feel very fortunate to work at USC!

  2. When you make updates to this wonderful document, could you somehow indicate the portion that is new? That would be very helpful. Thank you.

  3. Hello, what happens to us Hospitality workers who can’t work from home after June 1st? And what about high risk employees, will usc recommend them stay home?

  4. What if your dept is already talking about cutting hours or days due to budget cuts but it is all due to the COVID pandemic and they are already stating we can use vacation for the hours or days we will be short.
    Some do not have enough accruals to use therefore it will be without pay. And they plan to do this AFTER JUNE 1 when the COVID ADMIN leave will end.
    What are the options to use for the short days and hours all due to COVID?

Comment on Chris Noll

Employee update on Novel Coronavirus