Important Information Regarding your Temporary Layoff
The following is some important information we hope you find helpful.
During this temporary layoff, the Company will continue your group insurance benefits (including health and dental coverage, AD&D, LTD, and Life Insurance). The associated premiums will be paid by the Company during this time.
Manulife Insurance is our service provider. If you have any questions, please contact Manulife directly at manulife.ca/planmember or 1-800-268-6195.
Employee & Family Assistance Program
Our Employee & Family Assistance Program (EFAP) provider is Workplace Options. During this temporary layoff, the company will continue to provide this benefit. They offer a number of services that are free of charge. Please feel free to contact them at 1-877-847-4525 or email@example.com.
Workplace Options offers support through counselling and resources for various topics including:
- Support for Organizational Changes and Career Transitions
- Personal Finances
- Mental and Physical Health and Wellness
Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB)
The Emergency Care Benefit and Emergency Support Benefit have been merged into the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB). The CERB will pay $2,000 per month for the next four months, backdated to March 15th.
Employees who have been laid off may apply to the Canada Emergency Response Benefit immediately. The application form will be available from Service Canada starting April 6. If you are already receiving EI regular and sickness benefits you will continue to receive these benefits and should not apply. If you have already applied for EI but your application has not yet been processed, you do not need to also apply for this new benefit, your claim will be automatically moved over to the CERB and you will receive the 16-week benefit. If needed, you can use your hours to apply for benefits after October 3, 2020.
You can apply in one of these three ways:
- By accessing it on your CRA MyAccount secure portal;
- By accessing it from your secure My Service Canada Account; or
- By calling a toll free number equipped with an automated application process.
Government benefits and services are changing rapidly, please visit the Service Canada website for the most up to date information.
It is difficult to predict processing times given the massive amount of claims. Employees should expect that payments may be delayed.
EI rules are changing rapidly, please visit the Service Canada Employment Insurance website for the most up to date information.
Applying for Employment Insurance Benefits
- Complete the online application – This includes making sure you have: the names and addresses of your employers in the last 52 weeks, the dates employed with each employer and the reasons you’re no longer employed, and personal information including mailing address, Social Insurance Number (SIN), and banking information.
- When completing online, you will be asked if you have been given a code. The answer you should enter is No. A code is not required for this layoff.
- Provide supporting documents – You can visit My Service Canada Account (MSCA) to view ROEs that have been issued to you by past and current employers. Your ROEs will be sent electronically to Service Canada after payroll is processed to ensure the date last worked is submitted and any earnings for that pay are accurately reported.
- Receive access code by mail – Service Canada will mail you a benefit statement, which includes a 4-digit access code. You need this code and your SIN to get updates about your application and to complete biweekly reports.
- Review your application status
Applying for Employment Insurance Sickness Benefits
- The one-week waiting period for EI sickness benefits will be waived for new claimants who are quarantined so they can be paid for the first week of their claim
- Establishing a new dedicated toll-free phone number to support enquiries related to waiving the EI sickness benefits waiting period
- People claiming EI sickness benefits due to quarantine will not have to provide a medical certificate
- People who cannot complete their claim for EI sickness benefits due to quarantine may apply later and have their EI claim backdated to cover the period of delay
Working While on EI
If you work while receiving regular benefits and have served your waiting period, you will be able to keep 50 cents of your EI benefits for every dollar you earn, up to 90 percent of the weekly insurable earnings used to calculate your EI benefit amount. This 90 percent amount is called the earnings threshold. If you earn any money above this threshold, we will deduct it dollar for dollar from your benefits.
For more information, visit the Working While on Claim page.
When you work and receive benefits at the same time, you must report your work earnings and hours for each week you work, in the week in which the work occurred.
If you receive other payments while receiving EI, some types of earnings will be deducted from your EI benefits, while other types of income have no impact on your EI benefits. You can refer to the earnings chart to find out if a payment constitutes earnings for benefit purposes and, if so, how those earnings are allocated.
To support student and apprentice loan borrowers during the COVID-19 pandemic, the Government of Canada has announced its plan to pause the repayment of Canada Student Loans and Canada Apprentice Loans until September 30, 2020.
Government benefits and services are changing rapidly, please visit the Service Canada website for the most up to date information.
Many banks and unions are offering mortgage deferrals and other financial relief programs for those impacted by COVID-19. You can find more information on lenders’ deferral measures by visiting their websites:
Please contact your institution to see if you are eligible.
Many of the utilities across Canada have communicated that they will not disconnect non-payers or grant payment flexibility depending on the circumstances. It would not hurt to contact your utility provider to determine if there are flexibilities available to you.
Please visit our employee website www.blackandmcdonaldhealth.com, which is available for access at any time, for COVID-19 updates, messages from our leaders, and more resources to help you through these difficult times. You can check out the dedicated Temporary Lay Off Employee Tile for further supporting materials.
We want to keep in touch. If you have any questions or concerns, please contact your Regional HR Representative.
Important Information for Furloughed Employees
During these trying times, there are a few things to think about. Please refer to the following information which may assist you:
Benefits- Dental/Vision Carriers
Please refer to the plan carrier you are under:
Blue Cross Blue Shield of Kansas City
Employer group number: 36732000
Virtual Care option
Highlights of recent modifications to our plan
Early medication refill limits will be waived on 30-day prescription maintenance medications (excluding opioids and controlled substances). This is consistent with the CDC recommendation to have a one-month supply of medication on hand. Member cost sharing will apply as normal.
Prior authorizations will be waived for diagnostic tests and for covered services that are medically necessary and consistent with CDC guidance if diagnosed with COVID-19. Blue KC will also make dedicated clinical staff available to address inquiries related to medical services, ensuring timeliness of responses related to COVID-19.
The COVID-19 diagnostic test will be covered consistent with CDC guidance related to COVID-19, with no cost share to the member. Effective March 18, 2020, covered services and items furnished during the office visit, urgent care visit or emergency room visit that results in the ordering or the administration of the COVID-19 test will also be covered with no cost sharing.
Dental and Vision carrier – Sun Life Financial
Employer Group Number 919941
Go to the link www.sunlife.com/onlineadvantage. This will allow covered participatants to create an account to access all the available services and locate providers in their service area. Using in network providers will keep the participants out of pocket expenses at a minimum. You can also contact them at (800) 442-7742.
Employee Assistance Program – Alternative Employee Assistance
24 Hour HelpLine: (800) 466-8282
Member services range from confidential counseling, personal money management, legal advice to grab-a-ride programs. The only information the employee is required to have when contacting the provider is the name of our company, Black & McDonald.
401k Retirement Plan
Our funds are housed with Fidelity Investments and managed by Prime Capital Investment Advisors
How do I file?
The U.S. Department of Labor’s (https://www.dol.gov/) unemployment insurance programs provide unemployment benefits to eligible workers who become unemployed through no fault of their own and meet certain other eligibility requirements.
Unemployment insurance is a joint state-federal program that provides cash benefits to eligible workers. Each state administers a separate unemployment insurance program, but all states follow the same guidelines established by federal law.
To receive unemployment insurance benefits, you need to file a claim with the unemployment insurance program in the state where you worked. If you worked in a state other than the one where you now live or if you worked in multiple states, the state unemployment insurance agency where you now live can provide information about how to file your claim.
Am I Eligible?
Each state sets its own unemployment insurance benefits eligibility guidelines, but you usually qualify if you:
- Are unemployed through no fault of your own. In most states, this means you have to have separated from your last job due to a lack of available work.
- Meet work and wage requirements. You must meet your state’s requirements for wages earned or time worked during an established period of time referred to as a “base period.” (In most states, this is usually the first four out of the last five completed calendar quarters before the time that your claim is filed.)
- Meet any additional state requirements. Find details of your state’s unemployment insurance program at Careeronestop.org.
How Do I Apply?
To receive unemployment insurance benefits, you need to file a claim with the unemployment insurance program in the state where you worked. Depending on the state, claims may be filed in person, by telephone, or online.
- The Careeronestop site is sponsored by the US Department of Labor. You can select the location for state programs here. You should contact your state’s unemployment insurance program as soon as possible after becoming unemployed.
- Generally, you should file your claim with the state where you worked. If you worked in a state other than the one where you now live or if you worked in multiple states, the state unemployment insurance agency where you now live can provide information about how to file your claim with other states.
- When you file a claim, you will be asked for certain information, such as addresses and dates of your former employment. To make sure your claim is not delayed, be sure to give complete and correct information.
- It generally takes two to three weeks after you file your claim to receive your first benefit check.
Guidance on Unemployment Insurance Flexibilities During COVID-19 Outbreak
NOTE: Check with your state’s unemployment insurance program regarding the rules in your state.
Federal law permits significant flexibility for states to amend their laws to provide unemployment insurance benefits in multiple scenarios related to COVID-19. For example, federal law provides states flexibility to pay benefits where:
- An employer temporarily ceases operations due to COVID-19, preventing employees from coming to work;
- An individual is quarantined with the expectation of returning to work after the quarantine is over; and
- An individual leaves employment due to a risk of exposure or infection or to care for a family member.
In addition, federal law does not require an employee to quit in order to receive benefits due to the impact of COVID-19.
You can also find the full listing of all State contacts for UI assistance here: https://oui.doleta.gov/unemploy/agencies.asp
The Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA or Act)
The Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA or Act) requires certain employers to provide their employees with paid sick leave and expanded family and medical leave for specified reasons related to COVID-19. These provisions will apply from April 1, 2020 through December 31, 2020.
Paid Leave Entitlements
Generally, employers covered under the Act must provide employees: Up to two weeks (80 hours, or a part-time employee’s two-week equivalent) of paid sick leave based on the higher of their regular rate of pay, or the applicable state or Federal minimum wage, paid at:
- 100% for qualifying reasons #1-3 below, up to $511 daily and $5,110 total;
- 2/3 for qualifying reasons #4 and 6 below, up to $200 daily and $2,000 total; and
- Up to 12 weeks of paid sick leave and expanded family and medical leave paid at 2/3 for qualifying reason #5 below for up to $200 daily and $12,000 total.
A part-time employee is eligible for leave for the number of hours that the employee is normally scheduled to work over that period.
In general, employees of private sector employers with fewer than 500 employees, and certain public sector employers, are eligible for up to two weeks of fully or partially paid sick leave for COVID-19 related reasons (see below).
Employees who have been employed for at least 30 days prior to their leave request may be eligible for up to an additional 10 weeks of partially paid expanded family and medical leave for reason #5 below.
Qualifying Reasons for Leave Related to COVID-19
An employee is entitled to take leave related to COVID-19 if the employee is unable to work, including unable to telework, because the employee:
- is subject to a Federal, State, or local quarantine or isolation order related to COVID-19;
- has been advised by a health care provider to self-quarantine related to COVID-19;
- is experiencing COVID-19 symptoms and is seeking a medical diagnosis;
- is caring for an individual subject to an order described in (1) or self-quarantine as described in (2);
- is caring for his or her child whose school or place of care is closed (or child care provider is unavailable) due to COVID-19 related reasons; or
- is experiencing any other substantially-similar condition specified by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
The U.S. Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division (WHD) has the authority to investigate and enforce compliance with the FFCRA. Employers may not discharge, discipline, or otherwise discriminate against any employee who lawfully takes paid sick leave or expanded family and medical leave under the FFCRA, files a complaint, or institutes a proceeding under or related to this Act. Employers in violation of the provisions of the FFCRA will be subject to penalties and enforcement by WHD.
For additional information or to file a complaint:
Protecting your Finances During the COVID-19 Pandemic
The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau is committed to providing consumers with up-to-date information and resources to protect and manage their finances during this difficult time as the situation evolves.
Federal, state, and local governments are working to respond to the growing public health threat of coronavirus, or COVID-19.
Communities continue to announce the temporary closure of businesses, schools and other public facilities or events. While these actions are necessary steps to help reduce exposures, it may bring financial uncertainty for many people who could experience a loss of income due to illness or workplace closures.
The CFPB and other financial regulators have encouraged financial institutions to work with their customers to meet their community needs.
Please visit the https://www.consumerfinance.gov/coronavirus/ for current information and resources.
Financial Institutions Offering COVID-19 Assistance
Starting March 9, 2020, the following are in place for an initial 30 days, according to the company website:
- For eligible Credit Card Customers: Credit line increases and collection forbearance programs
- For eligible Mortgage Customers: A range of hardship programs through our service provider, Cenlar FSB. Please contact them at1-800-2CENLAR (1-800-223-6527) Monday-Friday 8:30am – 8pm ET and Saturday 8:30am – 5pm ET”
Wells Fargo shared its response to the coronavirus disease, stating that “Wells Fargo is committed to helping customers experiencing hardships, including from the Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19).
If in need of assistance, we encourage customers to call us at 1-800-219-9739 to speak with a trained specialist to discuss options available for their consumer lending, small business and deposit products.”
It also included its efforts to keep branches safe with sanitizing products as well as warning customers to look out for potential scammers impersonating government employees or charities during the crisis.
U.S. Bank has posted several products on its website that it is offering at a discount to help those affected by COVID-19. It is also directing customers to reach out to 888-287-7817 if in need of “additional support.”
Capital One published an update to its website, urging customers to take advantage of digital options whenever possible, and sharing their Contact Us page as a resource for those in need as a result of the coronavirus.
PNC posted the following statement to its website: “Should you, as a PNC customer, encounter hardship as a result of coronavirus, please call us at 1-888-762-2265 (7:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m. ET Monday – Friday; 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. ET Saturday & Sunday) to discuss your options. PNC offers an array of hardship relief options for which customers may be eligible depending on their product(s) and needs.”
PNC also left open the possibility to expand assistance programs in the future, if needed.
Discover said in a statement that it “is extending relief to qualified customers who are experiencing financial difficulty caused by the spread of the Coronavirus (COVID-19). Discover customers may receive assistance that can include support related to payment timing, fees and late payments.”
Discover is encouraging customers to reach out by phone or through its “mobile text app, which connects a customer directly with an agent.” To access relevant phone numbers and other questions related to COVID-19, you can visit www.Discover.com/coronavirus.
A student loan servicer, announced the following relief effort on its website: “If you’re affected by COVID-19 directly or indirectly and need our support, we’re here to help you with options to reduce or postpone your payments:
- Change your repayment plan to reduce your monthly payments
- Apply for a deferment
- Apply for a forbearance”
To access this relief, you can “visit Nelnet.com, email us at Help@Nelnet.net, or call us at 888.486.4722 from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. (Eastern) Monday – Friday.”
Another major student loan servicer, provided a statement on its website for those affected: “If you’ve been impacted by the coronavirus and are having difficulty making payments, we encourage you to call us at 888-272-5543 to explore your options to reduce or postpone your payments.”
Great Lakes released updated information on its website, posting that if you are a “affected by COVID-19 directly or indirectly and need our support, we’re here to help you with options to reduce or postpone your payments.”
You can reach out to Great Lakes digitally on its website, mobile app, or by emailing BorrowerServices@glhec.org. If you’d prefer to speak to someone over the phone, you can call (800) 236-4300.
Sofi posted a COVID-19 update to its website: where you can find a list of general service-specific contacts, as well as resources provided in response to the novel coronavirus.
For support related to student loan payments, SoFi advises that “to inquire about forbearance and hardship relief due to COVID-19, please contact MOHELA at
(877) 292-7470 or send a secure message through sofi.mohela.com and they can address your concerns.”
For support related to personal loan payments, SoFi directed customers to call its “Hardship Relief Team to go through your options at (855) 456-7634.”
Free Financial Planning
Financial advisors across the country are offering pro bono advice to people whose wallets are impacted by the outbreak. The XY Planning Network offers a search tool on its site that helps pinpoint financial advisors (more than 50 listed) who are willing to provide free advice on coronavirus relief.
Other forms of Relief
Internet Companies Providing Relief
Due to the coronavirus pandemic, over 100 companies have pledged not to terminate services to any residential or small business customers who cannot pay their bills, waive any late fees and open its WiFi hotspots to any American who needs them.
In a promise to “keep American connected,” the Federal Communications Commission’s site offers a full list of companies and associations that are participating.
Internal Revenue Service (IRS)
At a March 17th press briefing, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin announced: “If you owe a payment to the IRS, you can defer up to a million dollars as an individual… interest-free and penalty-free for 90 days.”
As of March 20th, this move now also applies to Tax Day. Mnuchin announced via Twitter that the deadline to file your taxes will be postponed “from April 15 to July 15″ for “all taxpayers and businesses.”
Be aware that this move only applies to your federal taxes. You’ll need to check with your state to find out if it is offering any similar measures.
Please reference the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for the most current information about COVID-19 here. https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/index.html
- What you need to know
- Resources for the community
IHEARTBUDGETS (https://www.iheartbudgets.net/covid19-financial-resources/) is a financial resource site which is frequently updated and provides insights on a number of different topics
- COVID-19 Financial Relief
- COVID-19 Families First Bill
- Financial Help From Experts
Keep in Touch with Black & McDonald
Please visit our employee website www.blackandmcdonaldhealth.com, which is available for access at any time, for COVID-19 updates, messages from our leaders, and more resources to help you through these difficult times.
We want to keep in touch. If you have any questions or concerns, please contact your
HR Representative Kimberly Henry at (816) 410-8668
Or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org
IT hardware, network and access considerations for employees during temporary layoffs
During this period of temporary layoffs, you may be asking how this impacts you from an IT point of view regarding email, JDE, DSI, and corporate equipment.
Regions are managing this differently, so we’ve outlined a couple situations below.
Anyone who has their IT access (JDE, DSI, and/or email) suspended and has been asked to return their equipment: Your access will be suspended, not deleted. Please return all equipment as requested to your HR representative or manager. On rehire, your account will be re-enabled with the access you had before. You may be given a different phone or laptop, however efforts will be made to return the same equipment.
Anyone who has their IT access (JDE, DSI, and/or email) suspended and has been requested to keep their equipment: Your access will be suspended, not deleted. On rehire, your account will be re-enabled with the access you had before. Please make every effort to secure your corporate equipment, ensuring both it and the information on it are secured at all times.
Anyone who has their IT access (email) continued and has been requested to keep their equipment: Your email will remain active. On rehire, the remainder of your account will be re-enabled with the access you had before. Please make every effort to secure your corporate equipment, ensuring both it and the information on it are secured at all times.
For further information please contact the IT Department by email email@example.com or telephone 1 (866) 626-6022.