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Minutes of Benefits Advisory Committee (BAC): November 17, 2011

Attending: Lise Sanders, Steven Roof, Amy Diehl, Heather St. Germaine, Yaniris Fernandez, Jerry Bohdanowicz, Hilary Clark, Shelly Ruocco (ex officio)

I. Review and Follow Up

 The group was asked to review minutes from the October 27, 2011 BAC meeting. The BAC members approved the minutes. Hilary reported on the attendance at the information sessions and question and answer sessions up on campus during Open Enrollment. Hilary reported on the number of attendees at the benefits fair, 155. It was suggested to schedule next year's benefits fair on a Wednesday and also to highlight on the benefits fair flier the on-campus groups who attend.   

II. Faculty FMLA

The subcommittee of the BAC working on the Faculty FMLA policy of the BAC made up of Shelly Ruocco, Yaniris Fernandez and Lise Sanders reported on their recent meetings and progress made. The draft items the committee has worked on are as follows:

Sabbatical/Tenure/Reappointment Clock - Sabbatical keeps accruing as the faculty member is still doing work for the College during leave. Reappointment clock, faculty will receive a letter and decide whether or not they want to extend their contract. If they don't stop the clock they will be on the normal reappointment time and requirement schedule.

Adoption - Leave must be taken within one year of adoption. The subcommittee referred to Smith and Mount Holyoke's faculty leave policies. If both parents are employed the leave would apply to whoever identifies as primary caregiver. FMLA for adoption would apply when the child adopted is under the age of 5 (we will double check this with the regulations before finalizing). 

Leave to care for sick family member - Still to be determined at a future meeting.

The subcommittee will present at the faculty meeting on December 6, 2011 and at school meetings in February and March 2012 then to the Monday group presentation. As this will end up in the Faculty Handbook, it will need to be voted on by Faculty.

III. Tuition Grant

Data to review the proposed change to this policy has not yet been collected. Information needs to be gathered to figure out cost of benefit extension to 0.5 FTE employees by looking at all employees who may make use of the benefit while also keeping in mind that the benefit can apply to more than one dependent child. It was noted that the tuition grant amount has not gone up with inflation. 

The numbers will be pulled together and analyzed at the December BAC meeting on December 22, 2011.

IV. Staff Early Retirement

This topic was discussed briefly and will remain on the agenda for the December BAC meeting.

V. 403(b) Committee Update

Due to recent changes in the laws governing 403(b) plans and new regulations that mirror those already established in 401(k) plans, there is fiduciary responsibility placed on the employer to analyze investment options on a regular basis to be sure funds that are offered are providing the best return within the investment category. All of the funds currently offered for our retirement plan are TIAA-CREF. Greg Andonian, Bay State Fiduciary is working with Hampshire and the other colleges in the area to bring the schools into compliance with these new regulations. Under the new regulations the College is responsible for educating employees on the retirement plan and the investment funds available. Greg Andonian will hold meetings for employees in addition to the TIAA-CREF seminars offered.  New products may be available after this compliance work is put into place. 

The retirement seminars by Dave Carboni have been very well attended. Human Resources is working to bring Dave back in the spring to provide retirement education to targeted groups possibly including same-sex couples, mid-career employees and/or Facilities and Grounds employees.

VI. Hampshire Early Learning Center (HELC)

A parent and staff member has brought to the committee a concern that the Early Learning Center, used by many on campus as daycare provider to dependent children, offers some challenges with regard to the school's schedule.  When comparing the Hampshire College holiday calendar to the HELC calendar, the HELC is closed an additional 20 days per year. This is problematic especially for non-exempt employees who may only have 10 vacation days (length of service under 3 years) or 15 vacation days (length of service under 8 years). This can be difficult for exempt employees and non-exempt employees (length of service over 8 years) as these groups each receive 20 vacation days per year, but that means that all 20 days need to be applied to the HELC center.

Based on this misalignment of closings the center and other scheduling misalignments, such as pick-up times, the Center turns out not to be an option for some who cannot accommodate the schedule. 

All of the HELC teachers are non-exempt and take at least some vacation days on particular days.

Funding has been identified as a possible hurdle in making changes to the HELC. One question raised was whether a slight raise in tuition would assist with the problem.

 A small group of BAC committee members including Heather St. Germaine and Amy Diehl will create a bulleted list of concerns in December to present to Casie Smith, the director of the HELC. The BAC might also extend an invitation to Debbie Kallman, Casie Smith's supervisor to an upcoming BAC meeting.

Parents in a Pinch a referral service for child and elder care nationwide was briefly discussed. UMass will begin with this program in January. The Wellness Corporation may also provide similar services. 

One member of the BAC discussed a helpful website that offers assistance to low-income Massachusetts residents in a variety of forms, from childcare subsidies to utility subsidies, tax credit info, etc. We hear that several staff members already make use of these services.

VII. Employee Survey Goal

This top was not discussed at the November meeting due to lack of time. It will be on the agenda for the December BAC meeting.

The BAC will meet again on Thursday, December 22, 2011, from 9:00 a.m.-10:30 a.m. Please send all comments about these minutes to and your comments will be shared with the committee.

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