Many organizations in the United States, and throughout the world, continue to struggle with financial challenges due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and Rensselaer is no exception. As a result, the Institute has made the difficult decision to furlough a portion of our workforce whose duties and responsibilities cannot be performed remotely, or where the normal workload has diminished significantly due to the impact of COVID-19. The furloughed employees were notified earlier today.
The furlough is effective May 1, 2020, and we anticipate it will last until July 31, 2020; however, we will continue to regularly assess the external guidance and our internal circumstances. Rensselaer will reinstate furloughed staff based on federal and state guidelines, as well as the business needs of the Institute.
Our furloughed employees will continue to receive the health and welfare benefits for which they are currently enrolled. Additionally, furloughed employees are eligible to apply for up to 39 weeks of NYS Unemployment Insurance benefits, and benefits assistance under the Federal CARES Act through July 31, 2020. The CARES Act provides furloughed employees who are eligible for unemployment insurance with an additional benefit of $600 weekly. The CARES Act is designed to assist employers and employees with situations like ours, in which employees cannot perform most or all of their job-related duties due to the COVID-19 pandemic crisis. The Division of Human Resources has provided the NYS Department of Unemployment verification of employment for furloughed employees. However, furloughed employees must initiate their individual claims.
Furloughed employees should contact Mr. Louis Padula, Director of Benefits, Retirement, and HR Information Systems, at (518) 276-6164 or by email should they have any questions regarding the continuation of Rensselaer health benefits during the furlough, or navigating the New York State Unemployment Insurance application process.
The Capital Employee Assistance Program (EAP) continues to be a valuable resource for all employees and their families. As our community continues to cope with anxiety precipitated by the global COVID-19 crisis, and faculty and staff face personal and professional challenges, Capital EAP continues to operate 24/7 and provides access to confidential counselors and support services. Confidential counselors and services can be accessed at https://capitaleap.org or by calling either (518) 465-3813 or (800) 777-6531. The access code for Rensselaer is 105293.
We appreciate your understanding of this difficult decision, and regret that the COVID-19 pandemic crisis has required us to take this action. This decision is not a reflection of the skills, knowledge, ability, or overall job performance of furloughed employees.
Please continue to stay safe during these challenging times, as we look forward to better times.