HR Programs & Services During the COVID-19 Pandemic
Programs and Services FAQs
Will faculty and staff continue to have access to HR training opportunities and wellness programming?
Yes, Training, Learning and Development (TLD) continues to offer a full program of learning opportunities, including wellness programming. You can find the current schedule on the Tufts Learning Center. We also send out regular announcements advertising the schedule of classes for the coming month.
In keeping with the university’s social distancing and work from home advisories, currently all classes are conducted remotely using the Zoom or WebEx platforms, which allow for instructor-led and group learning. Register for these on-line classes on the Tufts Learning Center.
Yes. The Fiscal Year 2020 online performance review system opened for managers to begin writing performance reviews on March 18. Managers should follow the usual performance review process; for example, asking employees to complete their self-performance summary for the year, asking for client feedback as appropriate, and writing employee performance reviews using the online performance review system in eServe. During the period of social distancing and employees working remotely, performance review conversations can still take place using technology such as Zoom or WebEx.
For more information about the performance planning and review process at Tufts, along with manager tip sheets for using the review tool in eServe, please see https://access.tufts.edu/performance-planning-and-review.
At this time, there is a hiring freeze for new staff positions. This also includes both agency temps and direct hire Tufts temps. For any request for hiring, as we do with any opening, HR Business Partners (HRBPs) will continue to review each opening with the unit and to work with the Budget Center. All job openings will be evaluated carefully on a case-by-case basis with school and division senior leadership. Our Recruiters continue to source applicants and interview candidates using WebEx, Zoom, or Skype. During this time, recruiting strategies and hiring schedules may be adjusted – your HRBP and Recruiter are ready to work with you to develop an effective recruiting and onboarding plan. Please note that externally funded positions are exempt from the hiring freeze.
Timely Benefits Considerations FAQ
The Federal government passed the CARES Act on March 27, 2020. What are the implications for my benefits?
Health Flexible Spending Account or Health Savings Account updates as a result of CARES (updated as of 8/18/20):
Over-the-counter drugs and feminine care products are now eligible for reimbursement through your Flexible Spending Account or your Health Savings Account retroactive to January 1, 2020. Eligible OTC items were added to the eligibility list on April 15 and feminine care products were added May 15. You can use your EBPA debit card for these items, or you can pay for the OTC items out-of-pocket and submit receipts for reimbursement. Find the latest eligibility list at the FSAstore.com. For more information visit ebpabenefits.com.
Health Plan Coverage updates under the CARES Act (updated as of 8/18/20):
Tufts Health Plan
COVID-19 TESTING and TREATMENT:
If you are a faculty or staff employee enrolled in Tufts Health Plan through Tufts University, COVID-19 testing will be covered with no cost share (no copayments, deductibles and/or coinsurance) when deemed by the provider as medically necessary. In addition, COVID-19 treatment will be covered with no cost share as well. Both testing and treatment coverage with no cost share will be in effect until further notice.
TELEHEALTH services provided by Tufts Health Plan contracted Providers:
Telehealth services rendered by a Tufts Health Plan contracted provider (including Teladoc) continue to be covered for all services without cost share until further notice.
TELEHEALTH services provided by Out-of-Network Providers:
Non-COVID related telehealth services rendered by an out-of-network provider will no longer be covered without cost share after July 20th.
Questions? Contact Tufts Health Plan:
Dedicated Customer Service Line: 844-516-5790
Blue Cross Blue Shield (BCBS)
If you are a Postdoctoral Scholar enrolled in BCBS coverage through Tufts University, for the duration of the pandemic BCBS has waived member cost shares for medically necessary COVID-19 testing and treatment. Referrals are not required for medically appropriate care for COVID-19 although providers must notify BCBS of hospital admission. Effective July 1, 2021 BCBS will reinstate member cost share for non-COVID-19 covered services provided via telehealth including care provided telephonically and via video chat. For more information, please visit bluecrossma.org/myblue/coronavirus-resource-center
If you are an international employee enrolled in CIGNA coverage through Tufts University: The cost share waiver will continue for COVID-19 testing and testing-related services including office visits, whether in person or virtual, through the PHE period, currently scheduled to end on January 21, 2021. Cigna is also continuing to waive cost-share for COVID-19 treatment-related visits at all sites of care, virtual or in person, and for both in- and out-of-network providers until December 31, 2020. For more information, please visit the CIGNA learn more link.
I tested positive or presumed positive for COVID-19, have observed the required quarantine and/or isolation period, and would like to return to work. How do I get medical clearance to return to work?
If you are not able to get an appointment (telephonic or otherwise) with your regular healthcare provider to discuss whether you are cleared to return to work, you can contact the Jumbo Health Center (Marathon Health) for a telephonic screening. Using CDC criteria, they will complete a form with you to certify whether you are cleared to return to work. The telephonic medical visits with Jumbo Health Center’s clinicians are available at no cost to Tufts employees and their spouses/domestic partners, regardless of whether you have your health coverage through the university. Call 617-627-0467 to schedule an appointment. Their hours are Monday through Thursday, 8:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m., and Friday 8:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.
I am enrolled in the Tufts Commuter Benefit program, and am set up through EBPA to receive recurring monthly benefits. If I am not going to use my commuter benefits for the month, can I get a refund?
Commuter benefits are purchased through a payroll deduction taken a month in advance. You will need to change your enrollment through the EBPA benefits website by the 4th of the month to stop the payroll deduction for the following month’s commuter benefits. In other words, you must cancel your enrollment by April 4, for example, in order to avoid a deduction for the May benefits. Visit AccessTufts to learn how to change your commuter benefit enrollment with EBPA https://access.tufts.edu/commuter-benefits.
Any funds loaded to your EBPA debit card that you do not use will remain in your account for future use.
If you have set up a recurring MBTA monthly pass purchase automatically loading your CharlieCard, you will need to visit the MBTA website by the 21st of the month to stop the purchase of a pass for the following month.
If you have a monthly pass loaded on your CharlieCard, and you do not use your CharlieCard or tap or swipe it anywhere during that entire month, you may contact the MBTA to inquire about whether you can get a refund. Please note that as of this writing (May 14), the MBTA is no longer issuing refunds for March and April.
For more information, please check with the MBTA at MBTA.com or 1-888-844-0355.
My dependent care provider has closed as a result of the state’s COVID-19 advisory. Can I make a change to my Dependent Care Flexible Spending Account (FSA)?
Yes, you can make a change, but you must make the new election within 31 days of the life event or “change” date. The effective date of the change is the date of the event, or in the case of COVID-19, the date of the dependent care closure.
If you want to make a change, please complete this form and submit it to TSS. Before you make any changes, however, be sure to review the following details:
- If you want to maintain access to any Dependent Care FSA amount already deferred YTD for expenses not yet incurred, but do not want additional funds withheld from your pay, you would need to change your deferral election to the dollar amount already contributed YTD. Your YTD deferral information is available on your pay detail via eServe.
- For example, let’s say you made an initial election to defer $5,000 for calendar year 2020. If you wanted to make an election to stop deferrals when your dependent care closed (for illustration, assume you already deferred $1000), your new Dependent Care FSA election would be $1000. That would allow you to submit expenses for anytime during the calendar year 2020, up to your total deferral of $1000.
- In the future when you start to incur dependent care expenses again, you would be able to make a subsequent change to the Dependent Care FSA election within 31 days of that life event (that is, the re-engaging of your dependent care services). If you decide to increase the election to accommodate additional cost, your new FSA election would need to incorporate the amount that you already deferred for the year.
- For example, say you already deferred $1000 in calendar year 2020 and you changed your election to $1000 when your dependent care closed. When you resume using dependent care services, and if you expect to spend a total of $3000 for 2020, your election would be $3000. Since you already deferred $1000, the payroll system would recalculate the remaining $2000 deferral over the remaining pay periods in 2020.
- Remember that your total deferral for the year cannot exceed the IRS maximum of $5000 per family per year.
- You may not “waive” your existing enrollment, but you may “terminate” your Dependent Care FSA for 2020. That means that future deferrals will stop and no additional funds will be withheld from your pay once your request is processed. Whatever you have deferred YTD would only be eligible for reimbursement for expenses incurred prior to the date of the termination. If you incur any Dependent Care expenses after the event date (in this case, date of the dependent care closure), those expenses would not be reimbursed from your Dependent Care FSA account.
- For example, you made an election to defer $5,000 for calendar year 2020 and your dependent care provider temporarily closed on March 15. If within 31 days you make a subsequent change in your election to terminate your enrollment, that means that only eligible expenses you incurred prior to March 15 would be eligible for reimbursement. In other words, you would forfeit any funds for which you did not have expenses incurred prior to the change date.
- Please contact TSS for more information if you want to terminate your Dependent Care FSA for 2020.
- Note: You are not eligible for a refund of any Dependent Care FSA deferrals made prior to your change election.
Benefits and Resources to Help Support You
Tufts Employee Assistance Program provider (KGA), has counselors available 24/7 to provide confidential virtual counseling via phone (800.648.9557), video, or live chat. All Tufts employees and their adult household members are eligible for this free benefit. KGA also has a COVID-19 Response Page with resources to support you and your family, such as The Daily Break: daily meditation sessions (10-minutes) and videos, guides and links related to many topics including self-care. Visit My.KGALifeServices.com for updates.
Tufts University sponsored mindfulness practices:
- Virtual drop-in meditation on Thursdays (September 17 – November 12) at 1:15 p.m. – 1:45 p.m. Sessions led by Janet Fontana, Marathon Health RN and Health Coach. Click here to join the sessions
Tufts University sponsored chair yoga:
- Virtual drop-in Chair Yoga on Wednesdays (September 16 – November 4) at 1:15 p.m. – 1:45 p.m. for faculty and staff. Sessions led by Amanda Murphy, Marathon Health RN and Health Coach. Click here to join the sessions.
Tufts Jumbo Health Center’s clinical team run by Marathon Health is available for telephonic medical visits at no cost to you. This includes questions about COVID-19 symptoms, medical triage, and other minor acute health related concerns. Telephonic health coaching to discuss wellness goals and chronic condition management is also available. To schedule a telephonic medical visit or health coaching appointment call 617-627-0467. Their hours of operation are Monday – Thursday from 8:00 a.m. – 6:00 p.m. and Friday from 8:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m. All Tufts employees and their spouses/domestic partners are eligible for these services regardless of whether you have your health coverage through the university.
Tufts Employee Assistance Program provider (KGA), has a COVID-19 Response Page with resources to support you and your family, such as The Daily Break: daily live stretch breaks (15-minutes). Visit My.KGALifeServices.com for updates. All Tufts employees and their adult household members are eligible for this free benefit.
Virtual Tai Chi on Fridays at 12:00 p.m. led by Jennifer Pustz, Assistant Researcher at the School of Medicine. Click here to join the sessions.
Tufts Employee Assistance Program provider (KGA), provides a free 30-minute telephonic consultation with a Certified Financial Planner per financial matter. Financial consultations are available for the following: budgeting, money management, debt management, debt crisis, retirement planning, college planning, tax resources, insurance planning, estate planning. Call KGA at 800.648.9557 to schedule a consultation. All Tufts employees and their adult household members are eligible for this confidential benefit.
Tufts Back-up Care Services provider Care.com has helpful information on Navigating COVID-19: Additional Precautions for Families and Caregivers and COVID-19 Articles for Parents and Caregivers All Tufts employees are eligible for this Back-up Care benefit which can help you find a caregiver for any member of your family – from infants to adults to pets.With the Personal Care Network feature, you can use a friend, neighbor, or family member. Providers are also available via their marketplace. Care.com also provides a 10% tuition discount at KinderCare Learning Centers. Visit AccessTufts for more information.
Tufts Employee Assistance Program provider (KGA), has provides consultations around a variety of issues related to childcare and parenting. Counselors available 24/7 to provide confidential virtual counseling via phone (800.648.9557), video, or live chat. All Tufts employees and their adult household members are eligible for this free benefit. KGA also has a COVID-19 Response Page with resources to support you and your family, including videos, guides and links related to many topics such as support for children and elderly. Visit My.KGALifeServices.com for updates.
There are a variety of options for Online Summer Camps and Other Experiences for Children, including virtual summer camps, tutoring, physical activity, mindfulness and play, music, and virtual field trips.
Tufts Back-up Care Services provider Care.com has helpful information on Navigating COVID-19: Additional Precautions for Families and Caregivers and COVID-19 Articles for Parents and Caregivers. All Tufts employees are eligible for this Back-up Care benefit which can help you find a caregiver for any member of your family – from infants to adults to pets. Visit AccessTufts for more information.
Tufts Employee Assistance Program provider (KGA), provides consultations around a variety of issues related to eldercare and caregiving. Counselors are available 24/7 to provide confidential virtual counseling via phone (800.648.9557), video, or live chat. All Tufts employees and their adult household members are eligible for this free benefit.
KGA also has a COVID-19 Response Page with resources to support you and your family, including videos, guides and links related to many topics such as support for children and elderly. Visit My.KGALifeServices.com for updates.
Tufts Employee Assistance Program provider (KGA), has counselors available 24/7 to provide confidential virtual counseling via phone (800.648.9557), video, or live chat. All Tufts employees and their adult household members are eligible for this free benefit. KGA also has a COVID-19 Response Page with resources to support you and your family, including videos, guides and links related to many topics such as working remotely, and managing remotely. Visit My.KGALifeServices.com for updates.
The MBTA has increased the frequency and intensity of cleaning throughout the system, and introduced new operations procedures, which are located HERE on their website.
MBTA bus customers now have a new real-time bus crowding information tool for some of the bus routes. See mbta.com/schedules. Throughout the summer, real-time crowding information will be added to additional bus routes.
In addition, the CDC offers guidelines for protecting yourself when riding public transportation.
For commuters who live close to work, there is the option of walking or biking. If you live outside of the city, Park and Pedal is another great option. You can park at a designated parking lot that is within cycling distance of your campus, and then bike the rest of the way.
Driving alone to work. Although it is the least sustainable mode of transportation, we recognize that it is often the easiest mode requiring the least of amount of planning.
For all campuses, we offer an “Emergency Ride Home” - If you have an emergency and need to leave campus early but did not drive that day, we offer a FREE Lyft. For more information and other resources for a sustainable commute to Tufts, visit Commuter Benefit Programs
Telecommuting - Eligible employees in certain positions may telecommute with prior approval from their supervisor.
The university has a commuter benefit program for benefit eligible employees managed through a third-party vendor, EBPA. Find out more on Access Tufts.
Please take a look at the blog post on the Office of Sustainability website that speaks to how one can start commuting by bike to Tufts University. There is information on where to get a bike, how to take care of your bike and of course, how to stay safe on the road.
For Boston and SMFA employees, you have access to a benefit called Bike Check through ABC TMA (A Better City Transportation Management Association). Participants are eligible to receive up to two $25 reimbursements over the course of a calendar year for eligible expenses including for a new safety gear, a new bike, or maintenance.
Boston or SMFA employees:
Start out by registering on the gomasscommute website. Once you’ve completed the registration, you will receive an email to confirm your account. GoMassCommute allows you to enter your work schedule, commute interest (Carpool or Bikepool) and other options.
There’s more information on the Boston/SMFA tab HERE.
Medford or Grafton employees: Use the miles2share app. It allows you to place your route from home to work and will search for available carpools either within the Tufts community, or outside of Tufts, if you choose.
If you’re a Boston or SMFA campus employee, A Better City TMA’s Vanpool Subsidy Program will subsidize the cost of your vanpool seat by $150 over three months if you log your trips in the gomasscommute website. Register with ABC TMA first.
- Wear a mask
- Sit in the back seat away from the driver
- Ask the driver to improve the ventilation in the vehicle if possible – for example, by opening the windows or setting the air ventilation/air conditioning on non-recirculation mode
- Use touchless payment when available
- When leaving the vehicle, use hand sanitizer containing at least 60% alcohol
- When you arrive at your destination, wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds