FAQ: General questions for employees

Published June 26, 2020
Last updated Tuesday, April 5, 2022

Below are answers to frequently asked questions. Additional FAQ and information can be found at the links below:

If you have questions that are not answered in our FAQs, please email covid19@usc.edu and our response team will help find an answer.

COVID-19 Testing

Faculty and staff who are not fully vaccinated are required to participate in testing every 72 hours before coming to campus. Faculty and staff who are not up to date on vaccinations by abiding by the booster shot requirements need to test weekly before coming to campus. Please visit USC’s Pop Testing site for information on locations and hours.

Faculty and staff can test during work hours, but please be sure to give your supervisor notice. Non-exempt faculty and staff will be compensated for the time spent getting tested, including travel time to the nearest testing location designated by USC.

All medical services, including testing and vaccinations, require a completed patient consent.

Medical services, including testing and vaccinations, may not be provided to the user.

Yes. Protected health information (PHI), which includes any information about health status, provision of health care, or payment for health care that can be linked to a specific individual, is private and protected information. This is the individual’s private information and is protected under HIPAA. This is your private health information and only accessible to health care providers and clinical support teams in USC Student Health. No other USC departments or persons have access to this information without your consent. De-identified information may be aggregated for the purposes of further analyzing and improving the effectiveness of this screening method.

This is permitted. However, you will be responsible for costs of the weekly testing and uploading the records into MySHR. Tests must be PCR tests and are subject to approval for acceptance by USC Student Health medical teams and Keck Medicine of USC Clinical Laboratory teams. Rapid antigen tests are not accepted. Testing outside of USC is not recommended; this may cause delays in receiving results in a timely manner and contact tracing for potential campus exposures.

Under the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) and recent regulatory guidance, faculty and staff covered by a USC health plan are now able to purchase over-the-counter (OTC), including at-home, COVID-19 tests authorized by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) at no cost without a prescription. Please note that the FFCRA applies to most insurance plans; if you are not covered by a USC plan, check with your insurance company for details. The reimbursement of OTC COVID-19 tests will remain in effect until the Public Health Emergency (PHE) is rescinded. That date has not been announced. Visit the applicable health plan page below for specific details.

OTC tests are for personal use only. When required to participate in testing before coming to campus, tests must be PCR tests and are subject to approval for acceptance by USC Student Health medical teams and Keck Medicine of USC Clinical Laboratory teams. Rapid antigen tests are not accepted. Testing outside of USC is not recommended; this may cause delays in receiving results in a timely manner and contact tracing for potential campus exposures.

COVID-19 Vaccination Policy

All fully remote faculty, staff, and postdocs within the United States need to meet USC’s COVID-19 Vaccine Policy (including the recently announced booster updates). Complete one of the following to meet the requirement:

  • Upload proof of your COVID-19 vaccination status through USC’s health portal, MySHR, in the COVID-19 Vaccine Documentation section of the Upload Documents page.
  • Get vaccinated at any USC Pharmacy or USC health care facility or clinic (proof of vaccination status will be automatically submitted).
  • Submit a completed religious or medical exemption form to MySHR. Please allow 14 days for your religious or medical exemption form to be reviewed.

Yes, as announced in the Spring 2022 COVID-19 Health and Safety Protocols memo, the university is requiring booster doses for all students, faculty, and staff.  Faculty and staff who are not up to date on vaccinations by abiding by the booster shot requirements need to test weekly before coming to campus. As a reminder, faculty and staff who are not fully vaccinated (have an approved exemption) are required to participate in testing every 72 hours before coming to campus. Please visit USC’s Pop Testing site for information on locations and hours.

Visit the COVID-19 Vaccine Policy FAQ on the USC COVID-19 Resource Center site for information on timing of boosters if you have recently recovered from COVID-19 or are currently in quarantine or isolation for COVID-19.

Booster information must also be uploaded through USC’s health portal, MySHR, in the COVID-19 Vaccine Documentation section of the Upload Documents page.

Boosters should be obtained a minimum of five (5) months after receiving your second dose of Pfizer or Moderna, six (6) months after receiving your second dose of an EUL-approved vaccine, or two (2) months after receiving a Johnson & Johnson single dose. You are granted a one-month period to complete the booster requirement once eligible.

Visit the COVID-19 Vaccine Policy FAQ on the USC COVID-19 Resource Center site for information on timing of boosters if you have recently recovered from COVID-19 or are currently in quarantine or isolation for COVID-19.

All faculty and staff who are in the eligible timeframe for a booster must upload this information to MySHR. If you do not upload your information, additional restrictions will be in effect for you, including getting tested weekly before visiting campus.

Please note that:

  • You will have a 30-day grace period to receive your booster after your primary series has been completed.
    • Boosters should be obtained a minimum of five (5) months after receiving your second dose of Pfizer or Moderna, six (6) months after receiving your second dose of an EUL-approved vaccine, or two (2) months after receiving a Johnson & Johnson single dose.
  • If you are in the process of being fully vaccinated or have not met the minimum time requirements between the completion of your primary series and the booster, you can continue to access campus and will be granted the same 30-day grace period as noted above. As per LADPH guidelines, you will also need to participate in the university’s POP Testing program, getting tested once per week before coming to campus.Should you fail to upload your booster information by the end of that grace period, additional restrictions will be in effect for you.
  • Unvaccinated individuals with previously approved medical or religious exemptions may retain exemption from the booster requirement. Regular COVID-19 testing cadence is every 72 hours for unvaccinated individuals. 

Student Workers

Health Insurance and Benefits

  • Employees (and covered dependents) enrolled in the USC Trojan Care EPOEPO Plus, 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 (and covered dependents) 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 (and covered dependents) 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 – the 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.

  • At this time, employees enrolled in the USC Trojan Care EPO, EPO Plus, 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. 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) Monday through Friday from 7 a.m.-7 p.m. Employees can also schedule appointments online at org/getcare or with the Kaiser Permanente app.

The one-year pause on non-elective (automatic) retirement contributions ended on Dec. 31, 2021. These contributions restarted with your January paychecks and can be seen in the Employer Paid Benefits section of your payslip.

Workers’ Compensation

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 you were working on campus and begins with the employee notifying the supervisor who will then provide the injured employee with the DWC-1, CA Workers’ Compensation Form. The Workers’ Compensation documents must be completed and returned to the employee’s supervisor and/or HR Partner.   The employee should also call and report the injury to Broadspire (our claims company) at 800-495-2315 and speak to the Medcor Nurse Triage.

If an employee contracts COVID-19 while performing work functions on campus, the employee may submit a Workers’ Compensation claim, which will go through the standard claim decision-making process.  Access the Workers’ Compensation claim form here.

Childcare

USC childcare 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 for anyone entering their facilities, including both children and employees.

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.

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

Although the USC childcare centers limit care to children age six and under, the Bright Horizons back-up care program (see question below) has varying age limits.

For employees who must come into the office and require back-up childcare, it may be available through Bright Horizons. First time users can click on "First time user" at the bottom, then on the sign-up page and use username USoCal and password: Benefits4You. Bright Horizons can also be reached at 877-BHCares (877-242-2737) or through their smartphone apps (iOS or Android). Note: Benefits may vary by location, and some employees are governed by contracts that do not include these benefits; check directly with Bright Horizons.

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/day per child
  • $25/day for up to three children
  • $6/hour should you require in-home care

Employees also may access Sittercity, a web resource that can be used to find childcare. Visit the Access Sittercity website, and then click on “Use it” next to “Find Sitter, Nannies and Housekeepers.”

California COVID-19 Supplemental Paid Sick Leave Law

The 2022 COVID-19 Supplemental Paid Sick Leave law applies retroactively to Saturday, January 1, 2022 and expires on Friday, September 30, 2022.

All faculty and staff are eligible for 2022 COVID-19 Supplemental Paid Sick Leave.

For full-time faculty and staff: Up to two buckets of 40 hours

For part-time faculty and staff: Prorated hours based on work schedule

Please contact your HR Partner or HR Payroll Analyst who will assist you with your request.

Eligible faculty and staff using Workday will select one of the two 2022 COVID-19 Supplemental Paid Sick Leave buckets based on the qualifying reasons:

Bucket 1: “COVID-19 CA Supplemental Sick 1 – (Quarantine, Symptoms, Vaccine Related)” – You may take up to 40 hours of leave if you are unable to work or telework for any of the following reasons:

  • Caring for yourself
    • You are subject to quarantine or an isolation period related to COVID-19 as defined by an order or guidelines of the California Department of Public Health, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, or a local health officer with jurisdiction over the workplace.
    • You have been advised by a healthcare provider to quarantine.
    • You are experiencing COVID-19 symptoms and seeking a medical diagnosis.
  • Caring for a family member
    • You are caring for a family member who is subject to a COVID-19 quarantine or isolation period or has been advised by a healthcare provided to quarantine due to COVID-19.
    • You are caring for a child whose school or place of care is closed or unavailable due to COVID-19 on the premises.
  • Vaccine-related
    • You are attending a vaccine appointment for yourself or a family member.
    • You cannot work or telework due to vaccine-related symptoms or because you are caring for a family member with vaccine-related symptoms.
    • You may only take up to 24 hours per vaccine/booster appointment for the above qualifying reasons unless you provide verification from a health care provider that the covered individual is continuing to experience symptoms related to the vaccine or booster.

Bucket 2: “COVID-19 Supplemental Sick 2 – (COVID-19 Positive Test)” – You may take up to an additional 40 hours of leave if you are unable to work or telework due to you or a family member for whom you are providing care tests positive for COVID-19.

  • USC may require documentation of a positive test for you or your family member.
  • If you test positive, USC may require you to submit to a diagnostic test on or after the fifth day and require documentation of results. This test will be at no cost to you.
  • You are not entitled to the leave if you refuse to test or show documentation.

Eligible faculty and staff using an alternative timekeeping system (e.g., KRONOS, BOSS, and MyPortal) should submit the time off request using their normal time off request system.

2022 COVID-19 Supplemental Paid Sick Leave is retroactive to Saturday, January 1, 2022. You may be eligible for a retroactive payment and balance adjustment if you took time off during the eligible retro period for one of the qualifying 2022 COVID-19 Supplemental Sick Leave reasons, using another form of time off plan (e.g., vacation, sick, PTO), or used unpaid time off.

Please contact your HR Partner or HR Payroll Analyst who will assist you with your request.

LA City Ordinance COVID-19 Supplemental Paid Sick Leave Law

The amended LA City Ordinance COVID-19 Supplemental Paid Sick Leave law applies retroactively to February 10, 2021. It is in effect until two calendar weeks after the expiration of the COVID-19 local emergency period.

Not all employees are eligible. The plan is limited to employees who earn less than 160 hours of combined paid time off (e.g., vacation, sick, PTO) annually. Generally, this applies to part-time employees, resource employees, and student workers.

Employees who accrue at least 160 hours of leave on an annual basis, emergency and health services personnel (DPS, Keck Medicine) and, pursuant to the existing collective bargaining agreement, Local 11 employees, do not qualify for City of Los Angeles Supplemental Paid Sick Leave.

Employees eligible for LA City Ordinance COVID-19 Supplemental Paid Sick Leave are also eligible for CA COVID-19 Supplemental Paid Sick Leave. Employees eligible for LA City Ordinance COVID-19 Supplemental Paid Sick Leave can use this leave for the following additional reasons that are not covered by CA COVID-19 Supplemental Paid Sick Leave – they take time off work because they:

  • are at least 65 years old or have a health condition such as heart disease, asthma, lung disease, diabetes, kidney disease, or weakened immune system;
  • need to provide care for a family member whose senior care provider temporarily ceases operations in response to a public health or other public officials recommendation. This provision is only applicable to an Employee who is unable to secure a reasonable alternative caregiver.

For Full-time Employees: Up to 80 hours of Supplemental Sick Leave

For Part-time Employees: Prorated hours based on the employee’s work schedule

Eligible employees using Workday should select the “COVID-19 LA Supplemental Sick” time off plan in Workday Time Off to request the time. Eligible employees using an alternative timekeeping system (e.g., KRONOS, BOSS, and MyPortal) should submit the time off request using their normal time off request system.

The amended LA City Ordinance COVID-19 Supplemental Paid Sick Leave is retroactive to February 10, 2021. You may be eligible for a retroactive payment and balance adjustment if you took time off during the eligible retro period for one of the qualifying LA City Ordinance COVID-19 Supplemental Sick Leave reasons, using another form of time off plan (e.g., vacation, sick, PTO) or used unpaid time off.

Please contact your HR Partner or HR Payroll Analyst, who will assist you with your request.

Major Disaster Shared Leave Program

USC has implemented a shared leave donation plan that allows employees who are working and getting paid to voluntarily donate some of their accrued and unused vacation, winter recess time, or PTO to a shared pool. Due to a surplus balance, we are no longer accepting donations at this time. Employees who experience a severe hardship – including that caused by the expiration of COVID-19 Paid Administrative Leave –  and employees who have exhausted all available vacation, PTO, or winter recess time are eligible to apply. See the Major Disaster Leave Sharing Plan webpage for details.

Environmental Health & Safety (EH&S)

The Building Readiness Dashboard is a listing of campus buildings that meet or exceed standards in terms of air ventilation/filtration systems, water treatment, and cleaning protocols. Leased and off-site spaces are also included on this dashboard.

Staff and members of the USC community can access the Building Readiness Dashboard for the USC community here. If you are a building manager, you may access the Building Readiness Dashboard for Facilities Managers here. Contact EH&S at ehs@usc.edu for your credentials.

Plexiglas partitions are not required under USC’s Phase 5 Reopening Guidelines. However, if schools/departments want to proceed with procurement:

  • Indicate area(s) where partition(s) will be installed on a building floor plan. Contact the building manager or USC Facilities Planning and Management (FPM) Engineering Services to obtain one.
  • Take several photos of the area(s) for visual reference.
  • Submit the floor plan and photos to EHS@usc.edu for review and approval. Additional information may be requested.
  • Refer to the Guidelines for Procurement of Plexiglas Partitions for more information.

In general, people working in shared offices should maintain at least six feet physical distancing (approx. 36 square feet per person). Please consult with your building or space manager for any other limitations.

Observe posted maximum occupancies in elevator cars during COVID-19. This may be up to four persons depending on car size. Do not overcrowd. Maintain six feet distancing when ascending or descending stairs.

Facial coverings are no longer required indoors in most locations on USC campuses. This includes classes, labs, offices, libraries, recreational facilities, dining facilities, and athletic facilities. Wearing a facial covering is still permitted and encouraged while on campus to help prevent the spread of COVID-19.

Local, state, and federal guidance requires the continued use of facial coverings in health care facilities (including patient care buildings and testing sites) and on public transportation (including USC shuttles). It may also be required in certain circumstances, like in the event of an outbreak on campus.

No. Individuals cannot set additional rules in their offices or classrooms and must abide by the university policies.

Yes. Follow instructions on the COVID-19 N95 Voluntary Use Request Form web page to request a mask. Additionally:

  1. Read through each item of each section of Appendix D and click the boxes for acknowledgement.
  2. Fill in the online Voluntary Request form and attach the completed and signed Appendix D (electronic signatures are acceptable).
  3. Submit the form.
  4. EH&S will contact you with next steps.

If you only need standard surgical masks for use at work, please contact your divisional/academic administrative unit for instructions on obtaining these.

USC’s EH&S team has developed Best Practices for Food and Drink. For this and all other EH&S resources, please visit the EH&S COVID-19 Resource Center.

The university is working with the leased building owners to ensure they meet or exceed USC’s Building Readiness minimum standards.  Until your building is listed on the portal, please adhere to the following:

  1. Follow the USC Reopening Guidelines for indoor occupancy.
    • Risk mitigation is a layered approach: vaccines, masking, symptom screening (Trojan Check), washing of hands, cleaning of surfaces, etc.
  2. Offices should be single occupancy.
  3. Maintain distance in the space whenever possible. If there are common spaces where you will have more than one person in a space for longer than 15 minutes and distancing is not possible, please identify these areas on a plan and reach out to ehs@usc.edu for further assessment.

Facilities

Our current actions meet or exceed all local, state, and federal standards and conform with guidelines from both the CDC and the American Society of Heating, Refrigeration, and Air-Conditioning Engineers. Specifically:

  • All heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) systems have been serviced and checked to verify proper operation.
  • All of the HVAC filters have been replaced and optimized to maximize the filter efficiency that the HVAC system can accommodate with an ultimate goal of MERV 13. We will supplement with portable filtration units when needed and applicable, and in some cases, other mitigations such as distancing are in place when possible.
  • It’s validated that the building air change rate (ACH) is at a minimum of six and supplement with portable units when needed and applicable. In some cases, other mitigations such as distancing are in place when possible when the ACH is below six.
  • All centrally controlled HVAC building systems are ran at least one hour before building occupancy. All systems that have the ability to run with 100% outside air will be run during this time to flush the building with filtered outside air.

We are working closely with landlords to validate building specifications against the standards we are applying in our USC owned spaces and recommending mitigations where warranted.

  • Classrooms and common areas: cleaning and sanitizing two times per day.
  • Offices: Cleaning and sanitizing two times per week (one full, one partial). “Full” entails taking care of the trash, vacuuming, and dusting. “Partial” refers to taking care of the trash and spot cleaning hard surfaces. High touch areas are sanitized two times per day.

Health, Hygiene and Safety for Employees training

Yes, every student, faculty, and staff member is required to complete the TrojanLearn Health, Hygiene, and Safety training before coming to campus for the first time to be able to obtain a Trojan Check daily pass.

Failure to complete this requirement will result in Trojan Check showing that you are not compliant with this requirement and not allowing you to access the daily wellness assessment, and thus a daily pass. Without a daily pass, you cannot access USC’s campuses.

Visit the TrojanLearn site and click on the image for Health, Hygiene, and Safety training on the homepage. Be sure to complete the appropriate version of the training (Employees version for faculty and staff | Students version for students and student workers). This course is not assigned to you in your TrojanLearn transcript.

The module was updated with the latest information about COVID-19 and about the ways that you can protect the health and safety of yourself and others in our community by understanding the proper processes and procedures. It is important to be up to date on the latest in our collective efforts to stop the spread of coronavirus. If you completed it prior to August 2, 2021, you will need to take the updated version.

To fix this, please complete the following steps:

  • If you took the training prior to August 2, 2021, you must take the updated version as soon as possible. To do so:
    • Go to TrojanLearn
    • Click on the Health, Hygiene, and Safety button on the homepage or type in the name of the course (“Health Hygiene and Safety”) in the upper right
    • Launch the appropriate version (Employees version for faculty and staff | Students version for students and student workers)
    • Be sure to view all slides, take the quiz
    • The acknowledgment page will open in a separate window, click on the “complete course” button
  • If you took the training on or after August 2, 2021:
    • First, check to make sure whether the course is in the “Active” queue. To do this:
      • Go to TrojanLearn
      • On the homepage, click on the “My Transcript” link
      • You will be redirected to a page that shows your “Active” queue
      • If the training is listed, click to relaunch the course, being sure to go through every page of the training, taking the quiz and after the acknowledgement page opens in a separate window, clicking on the “complete course” button
    • If the training was not listed in the “Active” queue, next check the “Completed” queue by doing the following:
      • Change “Active” button to “Completed”
      • If the course is listed in the “Completed” queue and it has been more than 4 hours since you completed the training, contact the HR Service Center
        • If it has been less than 4 hours since you completed the training, note that it can take up to 3-4 hours for Trojan Check to be updated
    • If the training is not in the “Active” or the “Completed” queue, you will need to take the training. To do so:
      • Go to TrojanLearn
      • Click on the Health, Hygiene, and Safety button on the homepage or type in the name of the course (“Health Hygiene and Safety”) in the upper right
      • Launch the appropriate version (Employees version for faculty and staff | Students version for students and student workers)
      • Be sure to view all slides, take the quiz
      • The acknowledgment page will open in a separate window, click on the “complete course” button

Please note it can take up to 3-4 hours for Trojan Check to update. If you have technical difficulties, email uschr@usc.edu.