Employment-Related FAQs Specific to COVID-19 - Human Resources at Ohio State

COVID-19 HR RESOURCES:

Employment-Related FAQs Specific to COVID-19

This matter continues to evolve. These FAQs are subject to change as determined by the university. Please continue to monitor these FAQs for further information. Page updated 10/15/2020 at 8:35 a.m.

FAQs by Category

The COVID-19 benefits page has additional guidance on benefits changes for COVID-19.

1. Does The Ohio State University Faculty and Staff Health Plan cover testing for COVID-19?

Last updated 9/17/2020

Effective February 4, 2020, through the duration of the public health emergency, as declared by the Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS), the following items and services are covered at 100% without any cost-sharing, prior authorization or network restrictions:

  • In vitro diagnostic tests for the detection of SARSCoV-2 or the diagnosis of the virus that causes COVID-19, and the administration of such a test, that:
    • Is FDA-approved, cleared or authorized
    • The test developer has requested, or intends to request, emergency use authorization under the Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act
    • Is developed in and authorized by a state that has notified HHS of its intention to review tests intended to diagnose COVID19
    • HHS otherwise has approved in guidance
  • Serological tests for COVID-19 used to detect antibodies against the SARS-CoV-2 virus, and are intended for use in the diagnosis of the disease or condition of having current or past infection with SARS-CoV-2, the virus which causes COVID-19.
    • Items and services furnished during a visit to a provider’s office (including via telehealth), urgent care, an emergency room, drive up testing site or other (even nontraditional) provider visit that results in an order for or administration of an in vitro diagnostic test described above, but only to the extent the item or service relates to:
      1. the furnishing or administration of the diagnostic test or
      2. the evaluation of the individual to determine need for the diagnostic test.

Note, the test must still be medically appropriate under the circumstances.

If you have questions, please contact the OSU Health Plan at 614-292-4700.

2. What if an employee needs support?

Last updated 3/25/2020

If you are experiencing feelings of stress, anxiety and fear, you are not alone, and there are resources and help available if you want someone to talk to or need support. The Office of Human Resources’ Keep Well web page has resources for you or your family to receive individual, personalized support – either via text, telephone or online counselling. All Employee Assistance Program (EAP) services are confidential, complimentary and provided by experienced, licensed mental health professionals. EAP is available to benefits-eligible faculty and staff and their family members..

3. What if I am not able to obtain documents needed to verify my dependent’s eligibility for health coverage?

Last updated 3/22/2020

Ohio State’s practice is to request verification of each new dependent added to health coverage. However, during this time we are aware that some Vital Records offices are not able to provide certified copies of documents, which may make it difficult to verify eligibility. As a result, we are suspending our dependent verification process. If you have received a dependent eligibility verification request and already have the documents necessary to complete the request, please submit them per the instructions outlined in the request to successfully verify your dependent(s). Otherwise, if your eligibility verification is not completed by the current stated deadline in the notification, there will be no impact to your dependent’s coverage at this time and you will receive a new eligibility verification request to complete at a later date with a new deadline specified.

4. Can I make a change to my Dependent Care Flexible Spending Account (FSA) election since I am not incurring expenses while my dependent care provider is closed or unavailable?

Last updated 3/26/2020

A change in dependent care provider expenses is a qualified status change that allows you to reduce or cancel your Dependent Care FSA election amount, if done within 30 days of the effective date of the status change.  Complete the FSA Election Form and return via email to hr@osu.edu or fax to 614-292-7813.

5. Are telehealth/telemedicine services covered by The Ohio State University Faculty and Staff Health Plan?

Last updated 3/26/2020

Ohio State’s medical plan covers telehealth services (direct electronic delivery of health care services to a patient) from appropriately licensed providers to members through HIPAA-compliant platforms. Due to the COVID-19 public health emergency, the types of providers and methods in which services are delivered have been expanded and now include nontraditional platforms, such as Skype. Coverage for these services will be based on the office visit benefit for the provider’s specialty and according to their network participation under the applicable benefit plan. Members should contact their network providers to confirm they are offering appointments through telehealth. For more information, visit https://osuhealthplan.com/ or call OSU Health Plan at 614-292-4700.

6. Are teledentistry services covered by The Ohio State University Faculty and Staff Dental Plan?

Last updated 3/26/2020

Ohio State’s dental plan now covers teledentistry services. Teledentistry services are dental care evaluations, or advice, provided remotely using videoconference technology. Due to the COVID-19 public health emergency, these services provide an option to receive care from home when possible. Teledentistry is covered based on the plan’s preventive services benefit. Members should contact their dental provider to confirm they are offering appointments through teledentistry.

7. Will the tuition assistance benefit be impacted if employees have to go on leave?

Last updated 3/31/2020

As long as individuals continue to otherwise meet all eligibility terms within the Faculty and Staff Tuition Assistance Plan and the Dependent Tuition Assistance Plan, there is no impact to the benefit for an individual who is on a leave of absence.

8. In case of eye injury or other medical vision problem during the COVID-19 emergency, what kind of provider can I use?

Last updated 6/4/2020

Through the months of April, May and June 2020, Vision Service Plan (VSP) has expanded access to medical eye care services for VSP members and their covered dependents. It is effective through June 30, 2020. Members now have access to supplemental medical eye care for sudden vision changes, eye trauma, pink eye, foreign body removal or other symptoms that hamper day-to-day activities. Members can see a VSP network doctor in-person or remotely for supplemental eye care instead of visiting an urgent care center or emergency room. Members can also use their routine VSP coverage for lost or broken glasses or replacement contact lenses to meet immediate eyewear needs by contacting their VSP network doctor. Access to optometrists during this pandemic allows members to maintain health while easing the burden on primary care physicians and emergency rooms. Learn more with this flyer.

9. How can l learn more about changes that have been made to the Your Plan for Health (YP4H) incentive program as a result of COVID-19? 

Last updated 9/30/2020

The COVID-19 pandemic has presented challenges to obtaining biometric screenings. Please visit the YP4H website for the most up-to-date information, including how to earn the full 2021 medical plan premium credit.

10. Can I take a distribution from my retirement account?

Last updated 10/5/2020

On March 27, 2020, President Trump signed into law the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act. The CARES Act allows the university to permit withdrawals of up to $100,000 for Coronavirus-Related Distributions (CRDS) under some retirement plans. The university will allow the CRD for eligible participants through the 403(b) and 457(b) ongoing providers (AIG, Fidelity, Ohio Deferred Compensation, TIAA and Voya). Contact the provider directly to discuss when a CRD may be allowed.

Account balances at a legacy 403(b) and 457(b) provider may be transferred to an ongoing provider in order to obtain a CRD. Contact the new ongoing provider to discuss how to transfer your account.

1. Will the Child Care Program remain open?

Last updated 4/20/2020

Out of an abundance of caution the difficult decision has been made to temporarily close both our Ackerman Road and Buckeye Village Community Center locations of the Ohio State Child Care Program (CCP).

  • The Ackerman Road CCP facility closed Tuesday, March 24.
  • The Buckeye Village CCP facility closed Friday, March 27.

We cannot confirm timing for when either of the two CCP locations will reopen. Future updates will be shared via email with CCP families as more information becomes available.

2. What are my options when my child’s school or daycare is closed?

Last updated 4/3/2020

If you are an essential employee in need of child care, please see this link to the state-wide pandemic child care list. You can check to see if you are considered essential on the State of Ohio’s Child Care Essential List. Important considerations for essential employees:

  • The university does not endorse a child care facility; however, you are encouraged to check the pandemic child care list linked above and call to make sure your child care choice has openings.
  • Two forms must be completed for your selected child care location and a verification of employment is required. Acceptable forms of verification of employment include a copy of a pay stub, tax forms, work ID, a work schedule or letter from the employer. A client statement can be used if no other verification is available.

The university requires all employees who can do so to work from home. The university has suspended the requirement that, to telework, you must have alternative dependent care arrangements, which allows for more flexibility under these circumstances. However, we know telework is not an option for many of our faculty and staff who are needed so we can continue to provide care to the university community and patients. The university is continuing to explore additional resources to help navigate dependent care needs and will share information as it becomes available. It is also encouraged for staff to work with their colleagues and managers to modify schedules and/or switch shifts to help accommodate childcare needs.

The COVID-19 leave page has additional guidance for using family and medical leave due to child care closures in the sections on the Families First Act and employee scenario number 3.

1. How does a university state of emergency affect probationary employees?

Last updated 4/7/2020

Probationary periods are extended for the duration of the university state of emergency or up to 60 work days, whichever is less. This does not apply to Wexner Medical Center probationary employees.

2. If COTA’s restricted bus schedule impacts an employee’s arrival time to the worksite, how can supervisors address start times?

Last updated 5/5/2020

We encourage supervisors to:

  • Identify the number of employees impacted in their department.
  • Talk with employees about their needs and be flexible with schedule changes that could be made while balancing operational needs.
  • Be flexible with employees as they work through alternative transportation arrangements.
  • Work with Human Resources to consider flexibility with attendance policies, as appropriate, when employees plan ahead and communicate in advance.

See more information about COTA’s revised schedule.

1. Is the university open for business?

Last updated 3/25/2020

Yes. The university is under a state of emergency, effective Sunday, March 22. However, critical services remain open on campus, and employees are encouraged to telework, where possible. Classes are continuing with virtual instruction for the remainder of spring semester 2020. Learn more here.

Due to event cancellations and/or other interim measures taken to maintain operations, the university may reassign employees to do other work as long as they can be trained to perform those tasks, which can also be done utilizing telework arrangements, if appropriate. Wexner Medical Center employees who are using telework may be requested to report back on campus to assist with essential hospital operations as needed. Supervisors should consult with the Human Resources Business Partner about applicable rules for the employees with whom they are considering alternative work arrangements.

2. Are HR offices open for walk-in appointments and other in-person service requests?

Last updated 4/10/2020

The health and safety of our employees, their families, and those we interact with daily is a priority. Effective immediately, please utilize phone/email/fax or drop box (for campus, located in the 3rd floor elevator lobby at 1590 N. High Street) to communicate, provide paperwork, etc., in lieu of walk-in services.

For Wexner Medical Center, please utilize phone/email/fax for HR services, including Verification of Employment, Change of Information forms and I-9 services.

Effective immediately, fingerprinting services at the Office of Human Resources (located at the Gateway C Building at 1590 N. High Street) will no longer be available on a walk‐in basis, but by appointment only until otherwise communicated. Appointments must be made in advance with the Background Check Team at HR‐BackgroundChecks@osu.edu or 614‐292‐3595.

If it is critical to speak directly with an HR staff member, please schedule an appointment in advance with the appropriate HR contact, if known, or contact HR Customer Service at 614-292-1050 or email hr@osu.edu. For Wexner Medical Center, schedule an appointment with the appropriate HR contact, if known, or contact the HR Service Center at 614-293-4912 or HR.ServiceCenter@osumc.edu.

Visit Safe and Healthy Buckeyes for information on illness, contact tracing, isolation and quarantine.

The COVID-19 leave page has additional guidance on leave options.

1. How will occurrences related to COVID-19 be assessed within the context of attendance policies/guidelines?

Last updated 3/11/2020

Attendance occurrences related to COVID-19 will be excused from consideration for corrective action in all attendance policies across the university and medical center. Employees are expected to follow the proper call-off procedures established within their department.

2. If I am an employee with an underlying high risk medical condition or part of a high risk population according to CDC guidelines for COVID-19, what are my options?

Last updated 3/23/2020

Ohio State’s Employee Health office is monitoring and assessing risk based on CDC guidelines for any employee exposure at work.

Employees should talk to their health care provider to determine if they should be under restrictions at this time. Telework should be considered and utilized where appropriate. If telework is unavailable and the employee has restrictions per their health care provider, review the information and next steps outlined at hr.osu.edu/coronavirus/accommodations.

For Wexner Medical Center and Health Sciences employees who are pregnant and/or immunocompromised, these employees may continue to work as usual and follow guidance regarding use of personal protective equipment. These high-risk populations should not be involved in aerosol-generating procedures for any suspected or confirmed COVID-19 patients, and a comprehensive list of those procedures is being developed for Wexner Medical Center employees. High-risk populations can still provide routine patient care for suspected and confirmed COVID-19 patients. It’s important for any pregnant or immunocompromised person to know they can/should discuss their individual situation with their health care provider who can give guidance if they should be removed from patient care. Employees who live with someone with a high-risk medical condition should continue to practice standard precautions and good hand hygiene. Additional guidance for Wexner Medical Center direct patient care providers is available through the Wexner Medical Center call center at 614-293-4000.

Additional guidance specific to health care personnel.

3. What are my options if I live at home with someone that has an underlying high-risk medical condition(s)?

Last updated 7/10/2020

Employees should have their family member contact their health care provider to determine risk.

Review the information and next steps for accommodation requests that may be needed.

4. Are employees allowed to stay home in order to avoid possible exposure of infection?

Last updated 3/15/2020

If a healthy employee wishes to stay home to avoid possible exposure, telework should be offered, where appropriate. If telework is not available, the employee should talk to their manager to explore whether other alternative work arrangements are available.

5. Paid Leave Policy 6.27 states that vacation leave accrued in excess of the maximum carryover will be eliminated at the end of the pay period in which an employee’s anniversary date/benefits service date occurs each year. Will I lose accrued vacation hours accumulated over the maximum if COVID-19 restrictions limit my ability to take vacation before my anniversary date?

Last updated 4/27/2020

A vacation exception to allow use of accrued vacation over the established maximum carryover amounts as stated in Paid Leave Policy 6.27  has been extended to include every employee whose service anniversary date is between March 22, 2020 through December 31, 2020.  These individuals will have until their 2021 service anniversary to utilize over maximum accrued vacation.

6. I have resigned my position and had an exception to the Paid Leave Policy 6.27 to allow me to go over the maximum carryover. I was not able to take my time that I carried over. Will my payout include the amount over the carryover maximum?

Last updated 10/15/2020

No, the purpose of the exception to the Paid Leave Policy is to allow employees to use excess vacation hours by their 2021 service anniversary date. For employees leaving the university, the policy still requires that an employee only be paid unused vacation up to the maximum carryover amount at the termination of employment.

7. Can a supervisor require an employee to submit medical documentation to validate their illness or to return to work?

Last updated 4/15/2020

The Ohio Department of Health Stay at Home Order states that employers should not require documentation to validate illness or return to work for employees with acute respiratory illness because medical facilities are extremely busy at this time. However, managers should ask employees if the employee was provided medical advice by a health care provider related to their need for leave due to their own illness or to care for someone with an illness related to COVID-19. If the employee has documentation available, they should submit it with their leave request.

Medical documentation may still be required to support time off and/or medical leave for medical issues unrelated to COVID-19. However, in all cases (COVID-19 or non-COVID-19 related) managers are encouraged to be more flexible regarding the timing and types of medical documentation they receive during this period of time.

8. Can I donate vacation to a staff member for a COVID related absence?

Last updated 4/16/2020

Under the Paid Leave Program Policy 6.27, employees can receive donated vacation to provide care for their own or an immediate family member’s life threatening injury or illness. During this pandemic, the vacation donation allowance has been expanded to allow employees to receive donated vacation for the additional situations listed below:

  1. You are off of work due to your positive COVID diagnosis.
  2. You are off of work to care for an immediate family member who has a positive COVID diagnosis.
  3. You have a high-risk condition and your physician has written you off of work.
  4. You are caring for an immediate family member who has a high-risk condition and your physician has written you off of work.

This will remain in effect until December 31, 2020. All other provisions of the vacation donation policy and process are unchanged.

1. How can a department take proactive measures related to infectious disease preparedness?

Last updated 3/30/2020

  • Employees should be mindful of hygiene protocol and practice good hygiene including washing hands often and thoroughly, with soap and warm water, for at least 20 seconds. Alcohol-based hand sanitizer may be used as a backup. Other infection-control measures include, not shaking hands, coughing into elbow, cleaning and disinfecting frequently touched objects and surfaces with a regular household cleaning spray or wipe, and avoiding touching your eyes, nose, and mouth. Ill employees should stay home and maintain a safe distance of at least six feet from other people.
  • The university and medical center are dedicated to the health and well-being of its employees. The university and medical center are encouraging leaders and managers to critically look at the work of employees to support telework. Departments should consult with their HR Business Partners and Employee and Labor Relations to assist with this assessment if it is unclear how to handle telework arrangements with staff and faculty. Additional guidance can be found on the Working Through COVID-19 website.
  • All employees who can do so must work from home. Across all campuses, only critical services will be maintained on university property. If you are physically working onsite, maintaining a six-foot distance from others is recommended.
  • Update departmental contact lists with current telephone numbers, emergency contacts, and address information for your staff.
  • Encourage employees to have more than one back-up plan related to work, family care, etc.
2. Can our department or unit post a sign telling people to not come into our workplace if they are ill?

Last updated 3/15/2020

It is important during this time that we treat each other with tolerance and respect. We need to continue to implement the appropriate hygiene practices and encourage employees who are ill to remain home for their own health and well-being.

If your unit provides services to the public and is concerned about visitors coming to your unit who are actively ill with fever or cough/shortness of breath, you may ask that visitors not enter the building and instead either (a) call the office or staff member they were going to visit and complete their business over the phone or (b) reschedule their appointment for a different day when they are not ill.

With respect to notifying visitors of this process, Wexner Medical Center has specific guidelines and visitor guidelines about ambulatory locations and hospitals in place located at https://wexnermedical.osu.edu/features/coronavirus/patient-care/visitor-policy.

All areas should work with marketing and communications at either the university campus or Wexner Medical Center before posting any signage.

1. Are student employees expected to work as in-person classes have been suspended for the remainder of spring semester 2020? (For Graduate Associates, please refer to question 2 below)

Last updated 3/26/2020

We understand the students rely on their work to help with progress toward their degree. Supervisors should be working with student employees to develop telework agreements and develop plans for continuing work while off of campus, as well as considering alternative work assignments.  Work Study/Student employees whose living arrangements have been impacted by the university closure of residence halls should be granted flexibility in their employment status.

2. How should we handle Graduate Research Associates (GRAs) that indicated that they are not able to come to campus to conduct their research because of their health and/or the health or care needs of their family? What are their options?

Last updated 3/26/2020

Graduate students with active appointments (e.g., GTA, GRA, or GAA), should continue to operate as usual. As student/employees they have employee duties and responsibilities and are expected to continue performing these duties while teleworking. All GAs should speak directly with their PIs/Advisor/Course Leaders and others such as local HR units if they are unable to complete their work. Additionally, graduate students that are experiencing symptoms should contact their primary care physician or call the Wexner Medical Center COVID-19 Support line at (614) 293-4000.

3. As a student employee hired within the last 30 days, how can I exempt from OPERS retirement?

Last updated 3/26/2020

Exemption forms may still be emailed to hr@osu.edu or faxed to 614-292-7813. Please note: your social security number is not required if you provide your Employee ID Number (the short number on your Buck ID). Review the Student Employee Benefits page for more information about student exemptions. For more specific questions, please call 614-292-1050 or email hr@osu.edu.

1. Is teleworking required for all employees?

Last updated 3/26/2020

All employees who can do so, must work from home.

Across all campuses, only critical services will be maintained on university property. These include law enforcement and public safety; hospitals and health services; child care; limited meal preparation and service; facility utilities; residential support; and others determined to be essential by the university. Senior vice presidents and deans will make determinations related to working on campus in these areas.

  • If employees, including student employees, have questions about whether to telework or come to campus to work, please reach out to your college or unit leader for clarification.
  • If it is not essential for you to be on campus but your duties can’t be completed through teleworking, or if you don’t have the resources to telework, your Human Resources Business Professionals will work with you to determine next steps.

Graduate associates who have questions relating to their duties, or their ability to perform their duties away from campus, should consult directly with their supervising unit.

1. What should employees do if they have recently traveled internationally but are asymptomatic?

Last updated 9/14/2020

Based on the most recent Level 3 travel warnings from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Ohio State may require students, faculty and staff traveling internationally self-quarantine for 14 days upon their return to the United States. International personal travel  must be reported to travelreporting@osumc.edu and your manager or supervisor in order to plan for a possible quarantine. On July 16, 2020, CDC extended the No Sail Order and Suspension of Further Embarkation for ships in U.S. waters.

2. What if an employee has traveled and experiences a delay or inability to return due to travel restrictions?

Last updated 3/25/2020

The university requires all employees who can do so to telework. If travel restrictions cause a delay in returning home, telework should be considered and utilized where appropriate. If telework is unavailable, manager to approve a personal leave and allow use of vacation time, comp time and unpaid time.

Employees who become quarantined or diagnosed with COVID-19 while traveling abroad would be eligible to use available paid sick leave. If an employee has exhausted all paid leave balances, the employee may be considered for paid administrative leave for a time period to be determined by the university. Departments/units should consult with their HR Business Partner regarding approval of paid administrative leave and on issues of compensation.

3. I have an out-of-state vacation planned. Am I required to quarantine after I return to Ohio?

Last updated 7/24/2020

If you travel to another state outside of Ohio, you are not required by Ohio State to self-quarantine upon return. However, effective July 22, 2020, by order of Gov. Mike DeWine, issued a travel advisory that if you travel to a state where the positivity rate of the coronavirus is 15 percent or higher, it is recommended that you self-quarantine upon return. Notification of out-of-state travel and intent to self-quarantine must be reported to your manager in advance of the leave.

4. If I elect to self-quarantine, how will I get paid during the 14-days following a personal vacation out of the state?

Last updated 7/24/2020

Because a personal vacation is voluntary, any period of self-quarantine is considered an extension of your vacation time request if you are unable to telework. Telework should be considered during this period and used as appropriate. If telework is unavailable, employees must use available vacation time for the period of self-quarantine. If an employee does not have enough vacation time accrued for the entire period, unpaid time may be approved.

5. My manager has already approved a future personal vacation. Telework is not an option for me, can my time off be modified or disapproved by management because I request a 14-day self-quarantine upon my return?

Last updated 7/24/2020

We expect departments to be flexible and creative in honoring employee time off requests. Though your vacation has been approved, your leader may need to modify or deny an extended vacation request due to operational needs. Leaders are working hard to balance operational needs and must account for the additional time off due to the 14-day self-quarantine in making staffing decisions. Vacation decisions may be revisited as state guidance changes.

6. What should employees do if they are traveling out of state?

Last updated 7/24/2020

Employees should report their travel to travelreporting@osumc.edu for exclusion guidance.

If telework is unavailable and an employee elects to self-quarantine, this 14-day period will count as vacation or unpaid time. Prior to the start of your vacation, ensure your department is aware of your request to self-quarantine and, if necessary, that your vacation request reflects or is amended to reflect the potential self-quarantine. Travel restrictions have been put into place to protect the public from spread of COVID-19 in the community. It is encouraged that employees continue to wear facial coverings while in public and physical distance while traveling. Employees should do their part to ensure these expectations are met for the safety of our workplace.