Addressing common questions and concerns from clients and employees impacted by the coronavirus.
Group Management Services , a Certified Professional Employer Organization based in Richfield, Ohio, assures clients access to the same level of support and resources throughout the Coronavirus pandemic.
“Our number one priority is getting employees paid and maintaining benefits for those employees,” GMS President Mike Kahoe said. “As such, we are offering our customers grace period on all benefits, state unemployment, and workers’ comp billings.”
GMS wants to address all concerns, starting with the list of common questions we anticipate from our clients and employees.
Q: How will GMS employees be able to continue to work to ensure that my employees get paid during this crisis?
A: GMS has taken the precaution of instituting a company-wide work-from-home policy. In fact, a large percentage of our company already works from remote locations several days per week. This gives us a great deal of confidence in our ability to support you without disruption. Additionally, all GMS employees have access to all GMS systems, including phones and video conferencing, from wherever they work, and these systems are built on highly redundant platforms.
Q: How is GMS protecting my data during this crisis? Aren’t allowances being made that could reduce the cyber protections in place to allow your employees to work from home?
A: GMS has invested in cyber security improvements over the last 18 months that are effective at protecting our Clients’ data regardless of where you, or our staff, interact with it. All these safeguards remain in place, and we will maintain a high level of vigilance to ensure that your data and your employees’ payroll is secure.
Q: Will my GMS plan pay for the COVID-19 testing (Codes U0001 and U0002)?
A: Yes. GMS will waive member cost share for these tests when administered by in-network providers in accordance with the CDC guidelines.
Q: Will my GMS plan cover the treatment for COVID-19?
A: Yes. Treatment for COVID-19 is eligible under the normal provisions of the plan when following CDC guidelines.
Q: If I lay off part of my workforce in response to the COVID-19 crisis, can the company continue to cover those employees?
A: Yes. As long as you continue to pay premiums, you may continue to cover laid-off employees even though they are not actively at work. Please note that you must administer the plan on a uniform, non-discriminatory basis. In other words, you may not choose to pay premiums for only certain people.
Q: If I have to lay off my entire workforce in response to the COVID-19 crisis, can the company continue to cover those employees?
A: Yes, as long as one person remains actively employed by the group. If you continue to pay premiums, you may continue to cover laid-off employees even though they are not actively at work. Again, this must be administered on a uniform, non-discriminatory basis.
Q: What about continuation of coverage?
A: As long as one person remains actively employed, employees may be offered COBRA and may elect to continue coverage under COBRA under the normal notice and election procedure.
*If the plan has no active employees, the plan is terminated and COBRA is not an option. In that case, employees would have a special enrollment period to enroll in individual coverage or could purchase a short-term plan that is subject to medical underwriting.
Q: If I have to terminate coverage for my employees in the middle of a month, will I receive a refund of my premium for the rest of the month?
A: While your contract states that GMS will not refund a partial month’s premium, we will refund the proportional amount of premium should you terminate your coverage before the end of the month given the gravity of the current situation.
Q: In light of the COVID-19 crisis, can I get a grace period extension on paying my premium?
A: Yes. GMS is offering to extend the grace period for your next monthly premium payment by 30 days.
Q: Will employees who are laid off temporarily as a result of COVID-19 concerns be permitted to rejoin the plan without a waiting period when they return to work?
A: Yes. There will be no waiting period for current employees who are rehired by May 31, 2020. New hires are subject to any waiting period the plan requires.
Q: What should Employers do if an employee discloses they have been in close contact with a person who tested positive or who is awaiting test results for COVID-19?
A: According to the CDC, individuals who have had close contact with a person diagnosed with COVID-19 should self-quarantine. Employers can require an employee who has been exposed to the virus to stay home. Your HR Account Manager would be happy to help you navigate through these types of situations.
Q: If an Employer is considering a temporary or permanent lay off what steps should be considered?
A: Employers should work closely with their HR Account Manager who will help guide them through this process. Items to consider include how to appropriately select employees for lay off, necessary documentation to provide to the employee, COBRA and Health Care Benefits (if applicable), and assisting with unemployment benefits.
Q: Will Coronavirus related layoffs affect my unemployment rate?
A: Every state is different. In Ohio (where we are headquartered), these layoffs will not affect your rate. All coronavirus layoffs will be charged to the Ohio Unemployment Mutual Fund and will not be charged to your account.
Q: Will my employees have a waiting week before their unemployment starts?
A: No, Governor DeWine (Ohio) has waived the waiting period for all lack of work claims so employees can start collecting as soon as the claim has been processed.
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