July 30 Message to Staff: Updates, Resources and Appreciation

To Our Staff:

I hope you and your families are doing as well as possible in these challenging times. I deeply appreciate your efforts on behalf of Case Western Reserve as we all navigate the complexities of this global pandemic. On behalf of the Human Resources team, I write to share updates about resources, opportunities and other information that may be of interest.

First, we recognize that the risks and restrictions related to COVID-19 have caused significant stress; add in the anxiety created by recent surging cases, and the burdens grow even heavier. We want to remind you that the university offers free and confidential access to counseling and referrals through IMPACT Solutions, as well as other offerings that provide support. Please visit this new resources page for more information.

Some of you may recall that we announced a Voluntary Retirement Incentive Program last month to provide staff considering the end of their careers the opportunity to receive a substantial benefit for choosing to depart this summer. The program also helps departments reduce spending amid the constraints that COVID-19 creates. We are pleased to share that participation exceeded expectations, and wish those leaving the university the very best in their retirements.

While on that topic, we want to remind you that our retirement webpage includes updates about upcoming webinars, one-on-one advising sessions, and other information and events that may help you in planning ahead for your financial future.

We also wanted to alert you of the university’s decision to extend the grace period for 2019 Health Care Flexible Spending Accounts (FSAs) to Dec. 31, 2020. Typically, the HSA grace period is March 15, but this spring the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) announced it would allow sponsors to extend the grace period to the end of this calendar year. As a result, Case Western Reserve employees who did not use all of the funds they contributed can now submit a reimbursement for qualifying expenses incurred through Dec. 31, 2020. To take advantage of this extended grace period, employees must submit a Reimbursement Request Form or request the reimbursement through your online account at Meritain. You can use your FSA debit card to access the funds in your current year (2020) flexible spending account.

Finally, I want to make clear that this year’s fall semester calendar—which includes classes on Labor Day—means that Sept. 7 will not be observed as a Case Western Reserve holiday for 2020. Instead, staff will have a paid day off on Wednesday, Nov. 25, the day before Thanksgiving. Employees who want to take Sept. 7 as a vacation day still have that option, pending supervisor approval.

This message would not be complete without acknowledging the extraordinary contributions of Staff Advisory Council leaders Carlier Meyers and Jean Seneff, who have respectively served on the university’s staff re-entry and accountability committees. In addition to their regular duties, they have been present as the groups discussed principles, plans and protocols related to individuals’ return to campus in ways that mitigate risk in clear, constructive and effective ways. Their commitment to this process, and to staff safety and success, are as inspiring as they are deeply appreciated. Please join me in thanking them for their ideas, insights and wise advice.

Carolyn Gregory
Vice President for Human Resources