Tips and Resources on Compensation and Personnel Matters

Compensation and Staffing News
October 2018: Benefits Tune-up Month
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Benefits Tune-up 2.0

Are you confident that you are following all of the rules associated with the UUA's Retirement Plan, Health Plan, and Group Insurance Plans? Do you know who is eligible for what? Are you aware of the enrollment windows for the insurance plans? Is it clear to you when each employee should begin receiving employer contributions to their retirement account?

We're not referring here to the Compensation Guidelines, which outline recommended salary and benefit levels. We mean the Plan Rules - the legal must-do's associated with each Plan that spell out eligibility requirements and more. Unfortunately, given all that has to be attended to by congregational leaders, important details about administering our benefit plans sometimes get misunderstood or forgotten.

"Benefits Tune-up Month" debuted last October as a time for congregational leaders to check themselves on their benefits administration knowledge and practices. We introduced a new resource, the Benefits Tune-up Workbook, to assist you in the process. Many of you told us how helpful the Workbook was to you and/or reached out to us with questions as a result of going through it.

A year has passed, and it's time for Benefits Tune-up 2.0. We've made a few updates to the Workbook. Please take the time to review and complete it. By administering UUA benefits well, you are taking good care of your staff and sparing your congregation the financial and emotional risks associated with errors.

Lessons Learned the Hard Way
Please don't let a situation like one of these (composites of multiple actual situations) happen to you and your staff:
  • A congregation hires Ellen, a Director of Music who previously worked for another UU congregation that participates in the UU Retirement Plan. The Personnel Committee Chair, who handles onboarding, mistakenly tells Ellen that she won't begin receiving employer contributions until she's been on staff for a year - failing to realize that Ellen had already met the Year of Eligibility Service provision of our Plan. Several years later, Ellen finds out by reading this newsletter that she should have received employer contributions all along in her new congregation. Now the congregation needs to make her whole. In other words, not only must they make up the missed contributions, but they also need to remit the lost earnings that would have been realized on those contributions. Lesson: After an employee satisfies the Year of Eligibility Service, they never have to re-satisfy it, even if they change congregations. Once in, always in.
  • A congregation offers the UUA's Long-Term Disability coverage. Even though he is eligible, Brian, the new Membership Coordinator, doesn't get enrolled. Several years later, Brian develops a disabling condition that will keep him out of work, potentially for many months, perhaps even permanently. Under the LTD Plan, Brian would have continued to receive 2/3 of his salary after a 90-day waiting period. Congregation members feel terrible, and many are asking about the congregation's ethical responsibility. Tensions and budget worries arise. Lesson: Enroll all eligible employees for LTD within 60 days of hire. This protects your staff's income and your congregation's collective well-being in the case of an employee's long-term injury or illness. Enrollment more than 60 days after hire requires medical underwriting approval and is by no means guaranteed.
Benefits Tune-up Workbook Testimonials
Here's a sampling of the feedback we received last fall about the Benefits Tune-up Workbook:
  • "THANK YOU for putting this workbook together. I wish I had this information when I first started as an administrator 2 years ago. It would have saved me a lot of time and mistakes." 
  • "The Benefits Tune-up Workbook was a great way to get the Personnel Committee to focus on these issues."
  • "Our bookkeeper and I learned that sitting together and reviewing our procedures through this tune-up helped us work together more efficiently."
More Compensation and Staffing Resources
You already know about the Tune-up Workbook and this newsletter. Here are some additional resources. Please share these materials with other congregational leaders as appropriate.
  • Regionally-based Compensation Consultants are trained and supported by our Office. They are available anytime to help you with salary and benefits questions and concerns, and they offer full consultations to help with compensation planning for your whole staff. Their services are always free of charge.
  • Check out our Compensation Program page to access UUA Compensation Guidelines and Worksheet, along with links to info on special (tricky!) topics: Fair Labor Standards Act, Employee vs. Independent Contractor, and Ministerial Compensation.
  • Look on our Salary Recommendations page for salary charts, capsule job descriptions, and geo index listing. You'll also find a Guide to Salary Recommendations to help you use our information well in your context.
  • Our Staffing Practices page offers a variety of staffing-related resources, including a Welcoming and Onboarding Checklist; Position Description Template; Performance Evaluation Tips, Traps, and Trends; and our series on Staffing for Diversity.
OCSF Briefs
  • November is Open Enrollment Month for our Health and Dental Plans. (As a reminder, there is no open enrollment for Life or Long-Term Disability insurance.)
  • We are currently negotiating 2019 Insurance Plan rates.
    • We anticipate a modest rate increase to Health Plan premiums in January.
    • Dental, Life, and LTD rate increases may be more substantial.
  • The 2019 model Ministerial Agreement for Full-time Solo/Senior Ministers will be finalized and posted soon. Thanks to all who participated in the process by sharing feedback on the draft!
  • If you didn't get the chance to share your experience with Compensation and Staffing News last month, we hope you'll do so now by taking this brief survey.
Jan Gartner | Compensation and Staffing Practices Manager |
 UUA Office of Church Staff Finances
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