Different Levels of Benefits on Campus – Zupnick Associates

Institutions of higher education might seem likely places to observe equality for employees, but that’s not the case when it comes to institutional employee benefits and perks. So, in academic systems, HR must engage employees to help them understand different levels of benefits.

What Do Faculty and Staff Benefits Look Like?

General benefits for college and university faculty and staff may include …

  • Health insurance with prescription coverage

  • Dental insurance

  • Vision insurance

  • Employee Assistance Program (EAP)

  • Flexible spending account (FSA) covering health care and care of dependents

  • Primary and specialty care networks

  • Retirement plans

  • Tax-deferred savings and investment programs

  • Benefits and retirement planning consultations and other learning opportunities

  • Vacation, holiday and sick leave accruals

  • College savings plan

  • Employee tuition assistance

  • Disability coverage

  • Life insurance

  • Leave: holiday, personal, sick, and vacation leave

  • Opt-out Programs

  • Pre-Tax Contribution Program (PTCP)

Instructional and research activities at academic institutions need support from diverse employee types too. So, they carry diverse benefits packages.

For example, the Binghampton University Employee Benefits page explains, 

“It is important to realize that your benefits package is determined by the specifics of your employment relationship and eligibility requirements.”

Similarly, the City University of New York (CUNY), tells its employees, “Your benefits program is based on your category of staff.” Each has its own benefits plans and options. And, it has many categories into which its employees fall:

  • Adjunct staff

    • Teaching

    • Non-teaching

  • Classified civil service

    • Full time

    • Part-time

  • Classified managerial

  • Continuing Education Teacher (CET)

  • Doctoral students and graduate assistants

  • Executive Compensation Plan (ECP)

  • Instructional staff (teaching and non-teaching)

  • Skilled trades

Each university system has its own terminology to categorize employees for different levels of benefits.

What Influences Different Levels of Benefits?

Universities have their own policies and procedures that affect the distribution of benefits. For example, full-time vs. half-time vs. part-time status affects the employee category. Universities also hire permanent, short-term, or tenured employees. 

Not only that, but exempt vs. non-exempt status also affects individual benefits offerings. Finally, states and institutions offer insurance policies from more than one insurer.

Regulation Affecting Different Levels of Benefits

Many regulations affect benefits at institutions of higher education. And, here are some of the most critical laws. They affect all employees, regardless of their job category.

Health Insurance Under the Federal Affordable Care Act

The Federal Affordable Care Act regulates health insurance at universities and colleges. It applies to all organizations, nationwide, with more than 49 full-time employees. So, universities must offer medical insurance to their full-time employees and their children. In addition, HR must find ways to accommodate Medicare into their benefits system.

Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act (COBRA) of 1985

COBRA affects employers that sponsor group health plans nationwide. Hence, they must offer COBRA coverage for employees and their families. Temporarily extending health and dental coverage, it helps exiting faculty and staff.

HIPAA and Privacy Practices on Protected Health Information

The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) keeps employee health information private. It does so by regulating how organizations use and disclose employee medical information. Also, it tells how individuals can have access to their own information.

Women’s Health and Cancer Rights Act of 1998

Janet’s Law, or, the Women’s Health and Cancer Rights Act (WHCRA) covers employees after a mastectomy.

Taxes on Same-Sex Spousal Benefits

The U.S. Department of Treasury and the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) recently recognized same-sex marriages. Even so, many states regulate couples differently. But, some states still tax benefits of same-sex spouses as income. 

Other Laws Affecting Benefits

Laws, like the Federal Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) and state laws affect categories. Hence they also affect benefits distribution. For example, New York Labor Law defines positions exempt from overtime requirements.

Understand Different Levels of Benefits for Employee Satisfaction

Benefits a particular faculty, staff, or student employee receives vary.  Especially since both internal and external regulation come into play.

All campuses must comply to federal and state laws affecting benefits. Even so, universities and colleges categorize employees differently. Hence, HR staff must familiarize faculty and staff with their different levels of benefits. An experienced insurance broker can provide tools for ideal coverage to engage faculty and staff and help them understand. 

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