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COVID-19 Emergency Need Based Awards

December 03, 2020


COVID-19 has been declared a national emergency under federal law that allows the University of Pennsylvania Carey Law School (“Penn Law”) to offer to its employees one-time emergency tax-free needs-based assistance. This assistance is being offered in the form of payments or reimbursements for certain types of expenses as “qualified disaster payments” under Internal Revenue Code Section 139. This Policy outlines eligibility for such payments and the procedures for requesting and receiving assistance.


All active full-time Penn Law employees are eligible to apply for a Work at Home Needs-Based Award (“Award”) from the Penn Law COVID-19 Emergency Relief Fund (the “Fund”). Active employees include those who are currently on payroll.

Interns, independent contractors and temporary employees are not eligible for assistance under this Policy.

Qualifying Disaster Event

The Fund is intended to assist employees who have experienced an unforeseen financial hardship as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Reasonable and necessary personal, family, living or funeral expenses incurred as a result of COVID-19 will be considered.

Examples of events that will be considered as qualifying for Fund assistance include, but are not limited to, the following: (1) uninsured medical expenses caused by the employee’s severe illness or accident; (2) uninsured expenses incurred for the medical care of, or caused by, the death of an employee’s immediate family member; or (3) unexpected and continuing drop in household income or increase in eligible living expenses due to COVID-19.

The Fund’s goal is to help employees who were not experiencing financial distress before the emergency address new financial strain caused by COVID-19. Longstanding financial problems not related to COVID-19 do not meet the criteria of the Fund. Awards are not intended to reimburse employees for the cost of non-essential, luxury or decorative items nor to restore an employee’s economic position prior to the emergency.


Requests for Assistance

Employees are required to submit a written on-line explanation of need to Penn Law’s Human Resources (HR) department, including the specific expenses incurred and the circumstances that warrant the need for assistance.

Substantiation of expenses, such as receipts, is not required but may be requested in Penn Law’s discretion. In the application, the employee must fully explain that how the reasonable and necessary personal, family, living or funeral expenses were incurred as a result of COVID-19.

Awards will not be made for expenses otherwise reimbursed through insurance or otherwise, or for replacement of the lost wages, business income or personal income of the employee or any member of the employee’s household.

Upon approval from the Alumni Panel and HR department, the payment request will be processed through the Workday system.

Amount of Award

Each employee is eligible for a maximum of $500 in a one-time emergency payment from the Fund.


This Policy will be administered by the Penn Law HR Department who will be responsible for discretionary decisions necessary in the application of this Policy.

Award applications will be first reviewed (on an anonymous basis, using only Penn I.D. number) by one or more Penn Law alumni volunteers (the “Alumni Panel”). After first level approval, the applications Penn Law’s HR Department will conduct a second level of review and determine final approval. Payments not qualifying as “Qualified Disaster” relief payments under I.R.C. Section 139 (e.g. requests for lost wages or income replacement, requests for luxury items, or requests for expenses covered by insurance) will not be approved, since they would not qualify for tax-free status of the award.

This fund is supported by voluntary charitable donations and contributions from individual donors and other entities desiring to assist Penn Law employees who are facing unexpected financial challenges due to COVID-19. The Fund has been created to respond to specific needs related to the COVID-19 pandemic and response and is not available for general financial assistance.

Award Allocation

Awards will be allocated to eligible employees who submit qualifying applications during each application period. Applications will be awarded based on available funds at the time of grant. Employees will receive notification of an award through an Award letter, and awards will be processed tax-free through Workday. Employees are required to be actively employed by Penn Law at the time of the grant of the Award and to agree in writing to the terms and conditions of the Award letter.

All Awards are subject to the availability of funds and extent of need. Because the fund is supported by donations, availability of funds at a given time is not guaranteed.


Application To apply, please click here for the on-line application.