COVID-19: Employment Changes & Benefits FAQ

Table of Contents 
  1. General Employment Questions
    1. Should employees continue to work from home, or continue to come to work if they perform critical functions, until the end of the notice period? If so, are employees allowed to use leave during this time? 
    2. Will I have access to my UO email account and other UO systems while I am on leave without pay?
    3. When will employees be brought back to work? 
    4. How many employees will be returning in the fall? 
    5. When will the university notify employees on leave what their status will be after August 31?
    6. What happens if an employee elects to participate in the leave without pay program and their position isn’t needed in the fall?
    7. What if I find another job before learning whether or not I will return?
    8. Where can I get more information about unemployment insurance benefits?
    9. Where can I get my questions answered?
    10. As an SEIU employee, how is my seniority affected if I am placed on leave without pay?
    11. How will the University choose which SEIU employees should return?
  2. Extended Benefits Program Election Questions
    1. When do I have to make a decision about choosing the Extended Benefits Leave Program or a layoff?
    2. What happens if I do not submit an election for to HR?
  3. Benefits Questions
    1. What will happen to accrued leave balances while on leave without pay?
    2. Can I use my accrued leave during my leave without pay period?
    3. Will I lose my benefits based on the change to my job as part of the university's response to COVID-19 (coronavirus)?
    4. How much will I have to pay to continue my benefits?
    5. Can I make changes to my benefits?
    6. How do I make allowable changes to my benefits?
    7. How do I pay my premiums?
  4. FMLA/OFLA Questions
    1. Are employees who are on leave without pay eligible for Expanded FMLA leave for Childcare/Place of Care Closure?
    2. If I am currently on a continuous leave under regular FMLA/OFLA, how will leave without pay affect my status?
    3. Can I apply for regular FMLA/OFLA while on leave without pay?

This webpage will be updated as more information becomes available, and a PRINTABLE version can be downloaded using this link.
Last updated April 28, 2020 at 10:23 a.m.

General Employment Questions

Should employees continue to work from home, or continue to come to work if they perform critical functions, until the end of the notice period? If so, are employees allowed to use leave during this time? 

Yes, employees should be scheduled as they normally would be, as the university has committed to providing employees with full pay and benefits during the notice period. Employees may request to use leave during the notice period through the usual supervisor approval process. 

Will I have access to my UO email account and other UO systems while I am on leave without pay?

During the leave without pay period, you will have email access and will remain on all University of Oregon employee communications, like AroundtheO and emails from the President. That said, while you are on leave without pay, you are not required to check your email or otherwise do any work. Other system, database, and physical location access may be modified to reflect the fact that you may not be working through the summer.

When will employees be brought back to work? 

The University anticipates bringing employees back toward the end of the summer in preparation for Fall Term.

How many employees will be returning in the fall? 

The University does not yet know what our staffing needs will be in the fall, but the goal and the belief is that we will bring back  employees as work returns to campus over the summer. 

When will the university notify employees on leave what their status will be after August 31?

Employees should expect to hear from the university no later than early August regarding what their status will be after August 31.

What happens if an employee elects to participate in the leave without pay program and their position isn’t needed in the fall?

If a position isn’t needed in the fall, the employee will be laid off.

What if I find another job before learning whether or not I will return?

Please notify Human Resources if you are resigning your position with the University by emailing hrinfo@uoregon.edu or calling 541-346-3159.

Where can I get more information about unemployment insurance benefits?

Unemployment insurance is managed by the State of Oregon Employment Department, which provides information and resources are their website. Human Resources has also compiled information and links to helpful resources on the Unemployment Insurance Benefits webpage.

Where can I get my questions answered?

We apologize for not being able to connect with you in-person and understand that while personal connection is difficult during this time period, you have questions that need to be answered.  With that in mind, here are the following options for quickly connecting with an HR professional:

  • Email hrinfo@uoregon.edu.
  • Call the HR voice message line at 541-346-3159 and leave a message. We will be diligently checking and responding to those inquiries as quickly as possible. Please let us know if you want a call back or whether we can email you a response to your question.
  • Call the above number and ask for a meeting with an HR professional. We will contact you and set up a time to discuss your questions.
  • Information will also be available on the HR website. Please continue to check the website for the most up to date information.

As an SEIU employee, how is my seniority affected if I am placed on leave without pay?

Employees shall continue to accrue seniority while out on leave without pay.

How will the University choose which SEIU employees should return?

Employees will be chosen based on work unit, seniority, and classification.

Extended Benefits Program Election Questions

When do I have to make a decision about choosing the Extended Benefits Leave Program or a layoff?

You have 10 business days from the date of notice to notify the university of your decision. Please follow the instructions on the election form in your notification packet to provide the university with your decision.

What happens if I do not submit an election for to HR?

You must notify the university of your choice within 10 business days of the date of notice if you wish to participate in the Extended Benefit Leave Program. If an election form is not received within 10 business days, then you will be laid off.

Benefits Questions

What will happen to accrued leave balances while on leave without pay?

Accrued leave balances will remain unchanged during the period of leave without pay. Although employees do not accrue additional paid leave while on leave without pay, their balances remain available to them at such time they are returned to work or available for pay out in accordance with collective bargaining agreements and policy should employment end.   

Can I use my accrued leave during my leave without pay period?

No.

Will I lose my benefits based on the change to my job as part of the university's response to COVID-19 (coronavirus)?

Extended Benefits Program

No. Your core and optional benefits will continue at the same cost without disruption. The university will continue to pay its contribution, and you will continue to pay your same monthly premium share. 

If you currently opt-out of PEBB medical, you will no longer receive the monthly cash-back payment when leave without pay begins. However, your dental and vision insurance and optional benefits will continue, if enrolled.

Layoff

Your benefits will continue without change during the notice period. Your benefits will end on the last day of the month after loss of eligibility.

You then have the option to continue your benefits under the guidelines of the federal COBRA law.

How much will I have to pay to continue my benefits?

Extended Benefits Program

Your cost for your benefits will remain the same as it is now. The Benefits Office will be in contact with impacted employees to provide individual cost information.

In the meantime, here is how to calculate your cost based on your full-time or part-time status prior to the job change.
Full-time: classified employees = 0.75 FTE or more; officers of administration = 0.50 FTE or more
Part-time: classified employees = 0.50 to 0.74 FTE)

  • If you are a full-time classified employee or officer of administration, please refer to the deductions on your earnings statement to determine your cost. Refer to the Business Affairs website for how to read your earnings statement.
  • If you are a part-time classified employee, calculating your cost is based on a variety of variables. Please contact Human Resources at 541-346-3159 or hrinfo@uoregon.edu for assistance.

Layoff

During the notice period, the cost of your benefits will remain the same. Once your coverage ends, the cost of continuing your benefits is based on COBRA premiums.

Can I make changes to my benefits?

Extended Benefits Program

Yes, but with limits. You cannot make changes to your core benefit plans or coverage levels. However, you can cancel your enrollment in optional benefits or choose to cancel enrollment in all benefits. If you take no action, then your benefits elections will continue without any changes.

Your options include:

  1. Continue all core benefits and optional benefits elections without any changes. If you take no action, then your benefits elections will continue without any changes.
  2. Cancel optional benefits such as life and AD&D insurance, disability insurance, and long term care insurance. There is no option to change plans or coverage levels for core benefits, which includes medical, dental, and vision.
  3. Cancel all core benefits and optional benefits.

Layoff

You cannot make changes during the notice period. You will receive information from the COBRA administrator, BenefitHelp Solutions, that includes instructions for making changes to your benefits as part of the COBRA election process.

How do I make allowable changes to my benefits?

Extended Benefits Program

You will receive a notification from the Benefits Office that includes instructions for making allowable changes to your benefits.

Layoff

You will receive a notification from the COBRA administrator, BenefitHelp Solutions, that includes instructions for making allowable changes to your benefits.

How do I pay my premiums?

Extended Benefits Program

Instructions for self-payment procedures will be included in your notification from the Benefits Office. The pay arrangements require a check or money order to be mailed to the Benefits Office.

Layoff

Instructions for self-payment procedures will be included in your notification from the COBRA administrator, BenefitHelp Solutions.

FMLA/OFLA Questions

Are employees who are on leave without pay eligible for Expanded FMLA leave for Childcare/Place of Care Closure?

No, employees who are on leave without pay due to lack of available work are not eligible for expanded FMLA/OFLA. Eligible employees are allowed to utilize Expanded FMLA/OFLA during their 30 or 90 day notice period prior to the start of the leave without pay period, if needed.

If I am currently on a continuous leave under regular FMLA/OFLA, how will leave without pay affect my status?

Your current FMLA/OFLA leave will continue while on leave without pay until you have exhausted all available hours, you have been released by your healthcare provider, or you notify hrleaves@uoregon.edu that you no longer wish to utilize FMLA/OFLA . Employees will not be eligible to use any accrued paid leave or receive pay while on leave without pay.

Can I apply for regular FMLA/OFLA while on leave without pay?

Yes, you can apply for regular FMLA/OFLA while on leave without pay. If approved, your leave without pay and FMLA/OFLA will run concurrently and will provide up to 12 weeks of protected leave; however, you will not be eligible to use any accrued paid leave or receive pay while on leave without pay.