1. Can I get paid time off to get vaccinated?

    RF will permit up to four (4) hours of paid time off per COVID-19 vaccine injection for full and part time employees who are vaccinated during their scheduled work time. While you are not required to get permission to schedule a vaccination during work time, please be sure to notify your supervisor once you have an appointment, when practicable. Record your appointment(s) on your timesheet under the “Other Paid” column and then select “COVID-19 Vaccine” from the drop-down menu options. Provide documentation for the appointment(s) to your RF Payroll Coordinator.

  2. How will I receive my paycheck?

    Direct deposit will be the easiest and quickest way to receive your wages. If you are not currently enrolled, but are interested in direct deposit, please visit our website to enroll under My Payroll and Benefits or email for an application. We strongly encourage you to enroll in Direct Deposit immediately.

  3. How will my wages continue if I am unable to come to work for an illness related to COVID-19?

    Special COVID-19 Sick Leave: RFCUNY has provided a temporary leave benefit of up to 14 days of paid sick leave to its employees for their own COVID-19 illnesses and to take care of ill family members with a confirmed case of COVID-19. This benefit can be used for a COVID-19 illness, any disabling condition from a COVID-19 illness, and any mandatory or precautionary order of quarantine or isolation (if related to travel, see Question #17). Special COVID-19 Sick Leave is not applicable in cases where an employee is deemed asymptomatic or has not yet been diagnosed with any medical condition and is physically able to work. Sick leave, annual leave, or unscheduled holiday leave may be used in those cases. To apply for COVID-19 Sick Leave, please complete the Confidential COVID-19 Report form and submit supporting medical documentation to Yinet Conde, at

  4. Will I still be paid if I can’t work because of a personal illness or to care for family members?

    You may use sick leave and/or Paid Family Leave for this purpose.

    Paid Sick Time: RFCUNY provides its employees with significant paid sick time both for their own illnesses and to care for ill family members. Paid sick time should be charged for any illness not attributable to a confirmed case of COVID-19. A description of these benefits is available in RF Policy No. 506-H, Time Off and Leave Benefits.

    Paid Family Leave (PFL): RFCUNY employees may use PFL to care for a sick family member whose illness is not attributable to a confirmed case of COVID-19. A description of this benefit is available in RF Policy No. 506-H, Time Off and Leave Benefits.

  5. Currently, I need a note from a physician if I am out of work for a personal illness for more than 5 days. Will I need a similar note if I am out because of COVID-19 illness?

    We will follow established sick leave and disability policies. Therefore, you will need a note from a physician if you are out of work for more than 5 days due to personal illness. If you are unable to get a doctor’s note due to reasons related to COVID-19 and want to return to work, please contact RF Human Resources by email

  6. I am using sick leave for issues related to COVID-19. How do I complete my timesheet?

    If you are ill with a confirmed case of COVID-19, you are caring for an ill family member with a confirmed case of COVID-19, or you are subject to an order of Mandatory Isolation or Precautionary Quarantine (if related to travel, see Question #17), select “Other Paid” on the timesheet and select COVID-19 Sick from the drop-down list.

  7. Am I required to use my existing sick leave accruals if I have a confirmed case of COVID-19, am caring for an ill family member with a confirmed case of COVID-19, or are in Mandatory Isolation or Precautionary Quarantine due to COVID-19?

    No, the up to 14 days of Special COVID-19 Sick Leave is in addition to any sick leave, annual leave or unscheduled holiday leave accruals you may already have. If related to travel, see Question #17.

  8. I am not feeling well but I can’t get to a doctor. Is there an alternative?

    Yes, Empire Blue Cross provides telemedicine services through their Live Health Online program. This telemedicine program allows members enrolled in the PPO, POS, and EPO plans to access medical and mental healthcare remotely. Live Health Online can be accessed online at or by calling 1-844-784-8409. You may also contact the 24/7 Nurseline at 800-337-4770. Remember to have your Empire Member Enrollment Number handy. You can access your Empire information including member ID number, check on prescription details, view claim history, or find a provider through the Empire App - Sydney Health.

  9. Would I be covered for COVID-19 testing or treatment? Do I have to pay co-pays, co-insurance or deductibles?

    Your Empire PPO, POS, or EPO plan covers COVID-19 test with no out-of-pocket costs. If you are diagnosed with COVID-19, your health plan benefits will apply. All cost-sharing, including co-pays, coinsurance, and deductibles will be waived for COVID-19 services received by in-network participating providers.

  10. I am concerned about my prescriptions. What if there is a shortage of my medication?

    Ingenio Rx, Empire’s prescription drug manager, is closely monitoring the supply of medications available to members. If they see there could be a shortage of a certain drug, they will find alternate medications that you could take for about the same price. This is a great time to think about changing from a 30-day supply to a 90-day supply of any prescription medicines you take on a regular basis. If you don’t have a prescription for a 90-day supply, talk to your doctor to see if a 90-day supply would work for you. You can even get them through home delivery pharmacy. If you have specific questions about the medicine you take, call the pharmacy services number on your member ID card 833-271-2374.

  11. Whom can I contact with my benefits questions?

    You may contact your assigned Campus Benefits Coordinator by calling 212-417-8600, option 4, or email Please allow for some longer response times due to the high volume of calls and emails.

    Further information from our health insurance carrier, Empire Blue Cross/Blue Shield, can be found at:
    Anthem Coronavirus FAQs
    Anthem Coronavirus Flyer
    Sydney Care Mobile App
    Live Health Online Telemedicine
    COVID-19 Coverage Options
    The COVID-19 Vaccines – Myths vs. Facts
    Empire Video: Coverage Options when there is a Qualifying Life Event
    COVID 19 Test Site Finder

  12. What happens to all my benefits if I am placed on unpaid leave (furloughed)? Do I continue to have health insurance, retirement contributions, flexible spending plans and other benefits?

    Health and Dental Insurance – Typically, benefits-eligible employees have one month of coverage beyond the last month in which they worked. In other words, if your last day of work is March 15th your health insurance coverage (and dental for full time employees) remains in effect through April 30th. Another example is that if you are furloughed on April 2nd your health insurance will run through May 31st. After the additional month, the employee will be eligible to continue health insurance through COBRA. Pursuant to the American Rescue Plan Act, employees who have lost their coverage involuntarily are eligible for a 100% subsidy for the cost of the COBRA premium for the months of April 2021 through September 2021.  Furloughed benefits-eligible employees will be sent information regarding this temporary subsidy. For more information, contact your Campus Benefits Coordinator at .

    Pension and Retirement Benefits – Contributions to the TIAA Defined Contribution Plan, TIAA Tax Deferred Annuity Plan, and TIAA 457(b) Plan will be suspended should you be placed on an unpaid leave of absence. Mandatory employer and employee contributions as well as elective contributions will resume when you return from leave without pay. Should you wish to change your TDA or 457(b) elected deferrals please submit a new Salary Reduction Agreement and/or 457(b) Deferral Agreement form to your Campus Benefits Coordinator. You may email for more information. You may call 800-842-2252 to speak to a TIAA representative.

    Flexible Spending Plans - Employees enrolled in the RF’s Pre-Tax Flexible Spending Program (Medical, Transit, Parking, or Dependent Care) through ABS may submit receipts for expenses incurred for up to 120 days from when their unpaid leave of absence starts. Employees who are reinstated and active during the plan year have allowances as a result of the Consolidated Appropriations Act 2021. This law includes several provisions that provide relief for the Section 125 healthcare and dependent care flexible spending accounts (FSA). The provisions include the temporary modification of the Plan to allow active RF employees to increase, decrease, enroll, or waive enrollment without a qualifying life event for Plan Year 2021. A participant cannot reduce their election to less than what has already been reimbursed by ABS or contributed by the employee. The provision also allows for the temporary modification of the grace period, FSA reimbursements after an active employee waives or de-enrolls from the plan, and the dependent care FSA limiting age increases to “14” for the remainder of the plan year in which the child aged out. Only the unused portion of the dependent care FSA balance is available to reimburse for qualified childcare expenses. For more information about the COVID-19 temporary relief plan changes, please contact your Campus Benefits Coordinators at, or contact ABS at or 877-732-8125.  Claims may be submitted online, by email or by fax to 860-673-2207.

    Health Advocacy and EAP, Life Insurance, and Long Term Disability – During the period of furlough, the employer-paid benefits including health advocacy and employee assistance program, life insurance coverage, and long term disability insurance will continue. Health Advocate trained advisors, counselors, and nurse advocates can be reached 24/7 at 866-799-2728 or online at

  13. Can a furloughed employee collect unemployment insurance?

    Yes. A furloughed employee may apply for unemployment insurance benefits online at, or call the Telephone Claims Center at 1-888-209-8124. You will need the following information when filing a claim:

    • New York State Registration Number – 0458396
    • RFCUNY Federal Identification Number (FIN) - 131988190

  14. I am feeling anxious and am having a difficult time dealing with the COVID-19 crisis. With whom can I speak?

    Anxiety is a normal response to a stressful situation. Knowing the difference between typical and atypical stress is important. Monitoring your stress level will let you know when you need to seek additional help. Health Advocate may be reached 24/7 by calling 866-799-2728. They ensure all personal information is kept confidential. A licensed EAP professional provides short-term counseling by phone or email to help the individual better cope. For additional information, you may visit:
    Managing Anxiety in an Anxiety-Provoking Situation

  15. What has changed with respect to my flexible spending plans?

    Flexible Spending Plans
    In response to IRS guidance released on May 12, 2020, the RF has applied the following COVID-19 Relief Provisions to the Advanced Benefits Strategies Flexible Spending Plans. These provisions allow temporary changes to Section 125 healthcare and dependent care flexible spending plans to assist with the response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

    For 2020, the Section 125 Healthcare and Dependent Care plan will allow for:

    • Mid-year increase, decrease, addition or revocation of 2020 healthcare and dependent care plan elections.
    • Grace Periods for 2019 Healthcare and/or Dependent Care plans are extended to allow for unused funds to reimburse expenses incurred through December 31, 2020.

    How to make a change?
    Written attestation from the participant is required to make a new annual election, increase, decrease, or revoke the current Healthcare and/or Dependent Care Expense annual pretax election.

    Complete a new ABS Enrollment Form and submit to your Campus Benefits Coordinator –,,

    ABS may be contacted at 877-732-8125. Claims may be submitted online, by email or by fax to 860-673-2207.

  16. What Telemedicine Services are available to me?

    Empire Blue Cross provides telemedicine services through their Live Health Online program. This telemedicine program allows members enrolled in the PPO, POS, and EPO plans to access medical and mental healthcare remotely. Live Health Online can be accessed online at or by calling 1-844-784-8409. You may also contact the 24/7 Nurseline at 800-337-4770. Remember to have your Empire Member Enrollment Number handy. You can access your Empire information including member ID number, check on prescription details, view claim history, or find a provider through the Empire App - Sydney Health.

    Ease of use
    Use your smartphone, tablet or computer with a webcam. Sign up at or download the app on your smart device. Registration is free
    24/7 access to doctors
    See a board-certified doctor in minutes, right when you need it. For things like the flu, cold, sinus infection, pink eye, rashes, fever and more.
    Maintain social distancing and avoid long appointments or office visit wait times. Get connected to a doctor in about 10 minutes or less.

    Learn more or contact your Campus Benefits Coordinator at or 212-417-8600 option #4 should you have any questions.

  17. What important benefit contacts should I be aware of?

    Research Foundation Unemployment information:
    Empire Customer Service: 800-453-0113;
    Cigna Dental Customer Service: 800-244-6224;
    Advanced Benefits Strategies: 877-732-8125;
    Health Advocate: 866-799-2728;
    TIAA: 800-842-2252;

  18. [Updated] I am thinking of traveling or have recently traveled outside New York State. What guidelines should I follow?

    Employee domestic and international travel should be postponed until further notice.

    If you do travel, you must follow State guidelines for quarantining and/or testing upon return, and check with your local HR department regarding requirements for re-entering the work site.

    In response to the ongoing COVID-19 public health emergency and the risk posed by a resurgence of the virus, Governor Andrew M. Cuomo has issued a Travel Advisory requiring all travelers coming from non-contiguous states and from countries designated by the CDC as level 2, or 4 in its COVID-19 Travelers’ Health Notices (THN) to quarantine after arrival. This applies to New York residents as well as visitors. By following the applicable quarantine requirements, you are doing your part to reduce the spread of COVID-19 and ensure the health and safety of our city and our campus communities.

    All arrivals (including from contiguous states) must complete the Travelers’ Health Form. Employees arriving from non-contiguous states may “test out” of quarantine early by obtaining a diagnostic COVID-19 test three days before traveling to New York and again on the fourth day after arrival, once they receive their second negative result. All other arrivals must quarantine for 10 days. However, the mandatory quarantine does not apply to those who have had a brief passage in non-contiguous state. Examples of such brief passage include but are not limited to: stopping at rest stops for vehicles, buses, and/or trains; or lay-overs for air travel, bus travel, or train travel.

    If you become ill during the self-quarantine period, seek medical advice and isolate yourself from others. If you have any health-related questions, please contact your health care provider.

  19. What other resources exist?

    New York State Department of Health
    New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene
    Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
    World Health Organization
    Supporting At-Home Children. Resources for Parents.

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