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Total Rewards frequently asked questions

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What do the terms exempt vs. nonexempt mean?

These terms relate to the overtime provisions of the FLSA. If a job is FLSA exempt, that means it is exempt from the overtime provisions of the FLSA no matter how many hours are worked. If a job is non-exempt, it is eligible for overtime pay for any hours worked over 40 hours in the work week.

Find more information at https://umurl.us/flsa.

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What is the vacation waiver, and why did I receive a communication about it?

If you received a vacation waiver comminucation, UM System records estimate you may be impacted by changes to retiree insurance eligibility, effective January 1, 2018. If you have the desire to retire before changes take effect, the waiver may provide peace of mind if unavoidable circumstances arise and push your official retirement date into 2018.

The waiver allows you to receive a lump sum payment for unused accrued vacation that, without the waiver, would be used after December 30, 2017.

Please note, any vacation accruals paid as a lump sum will not be included in creditable service or salary in your final pension calculation.

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My coworker/friend received information about the vacation waiver. Why didn’t I?

Employees who received the vacation waiver communication are estimated to meet the following criteria:

  • Already submitted a Notice of Intent to Retire form for 2017; OR
  • Are estimated to be in Access Category B or C as of December 31, 2017;
  • Are eligible to retire in 2017; and
  • Are in a vacation-accruing position.

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When will I receive my Form W2?

All employees have the option of receiving an electronic Form W2. If an employee opts for an electronic form by December 31, that person will be able to view and print it from myHR around the middle of January. Email notification will be sent to those who consented to the electronic W2 when it is available in myHR. The University will postmark paper forms by the end of January (or early February if the end of January falls on a weekend) to employees who opt for a paper form. Please allow 10 business days for delivery. Those who opt for an electronic form will not have a paper form generated.

If you are a retiree with University life insurance in excess of $50,000, you will receive Form W2, as well.

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Can faculty with a 9-month position waive service credit and retire in December of 2017?

The waiver form is only available to employees in vacation accruing positions, and allows them the option to waive their right to associated service and salary credit in their pension calculation. This option is not available to 9-month faculty appointments.

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Did retiree insurance change for employees who retired prior to 1/1/18?

Changes to UM System retiree insurance eligibility and subsidies, effective 1/1/2018, have no effect on employees who retired prior to 1/1/2018. These retirees, as well as their spouses and other dependents, who are enrolled in UM’s insurance plan(s) will:

  • Retain their UM insurance coverage—including medical, dental, life, and vision insurance.
  • Retain the current subsidy from UM—including subsidies for spouses and other dependents.

For a list of current plans available to retirees—including dental, vision, and life—visit the retiree benefits overview on the Total Rewards website.

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How could the changes to the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) affect my job?

The U.S. Department of Labor updated the FLSA regulations related to overtime and exemptions for executive, administrative, and professional employees. Currently, workers who make less than $23,660 per year ($455/week) are considered non-exempt (hourly) from the overtime provisions of the FLSA and therefore are paid 1.5 times regular pay for overtime hours. The updated regulations increase this salary threshold from $23,660 per year to $47,476 per year ($913/week). 

Learn more and access additional FAQs on the university's FLSA webapge (https://umurl.us/flsa).

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How do I opt for an electronic Form W2?

If you have not already opted into receiving electronic W2s, the University will send you an end-of-the-year email asking if you choose to receive Form W2 electronically. Instructions for opting in or out will be included in that email. The selection to opt in or opt out must be completed before midnight, December 31. Also, at any time, you may log into myHR to change opt in/opt out status: Select the "Payroll" tile, then in the left-hand menu choose "W-2/W-2c Consent." From there, provide or remove electronic consent. The consent status on file as of December 31 will be the status used for W2 generation (electronic or paper form).

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I submitted my NOI form but wish to change my retirement plan. Why does my dept. have to approve?

It is possible your department has already begun reviewing their budget and taking steps to make staffing changes as a result of your previously submitted retirement plan. It is at the discretion of your department if a change for an already submitted retirement plan is approved.

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If I submitted a waiver and retired in 2017, when will I receive a lump sum payment for vacation?

The lump sum payment for vacation that would have extended into 2018 will be processed in January 2018, on your final active pay cycle (biweekly – 1/24/18, monthly – 1/31/18) to allow for final accrual review and confirmation. If you have questions regarding taxes on your lump sum distribution, please work with your tax advisor.

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If I submitted the vacation waiver and retired in 2017, what happened to my unused sick leave?

While sick leave is not paid out upon retirement, you will receive service credit for all unused sick leave. There is no maximum amount of sick leave one can accrue. 

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Was there a deadline to return the signed waiver?

No. However, please be aware that if your retirement plans change within 60 days of your official retirement date, your first pension payment and retiree health insurance enrollment will likely be delayed.

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How do changes to retiree insurance, effective 1/1/18, effect current faculty and staff?

Under the changes, employees’ eligibility for UM System retiree insurance benefits, as well as their eligibility for a UM System premium subsidy, is different depending on their age and years of service. Visit the Retiree Insurance Eligibility webpage for general information on eligibility.

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What research was conducted to support the new structure of retiree insurance, effective 1/1/18?

The Retiree Medical Study provided the research on which the Total Rewards Advisory Committee (TRAC) made its deliberations when developing its retiree insurance recommendations, which have since been approved and implemented. For more information, access the Retiree Medical Study webpage or the Retiree Insurance Eligibility webpage.

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I scheduled an appointment through Capital Region. Will my appointment still be honored?

Yes. Capital Region will complete appointments with current patients at the same location and during the same hours as it has been. You can access more information on the location and hours webpage.  

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I met with Capital Region, but now want to schedule with our in-house EAP team. Can I?

Yes. When scheduling your appointment through Capital Region, let your representative know you’d like to receive services with our in-house EAP team. Capital Region will work to quickly transition new and existing patients to our EAP professionals as requested by the patient.

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I recently met with a provider from Capital Region. Can I schedule with this provider again?

Capital Region will take calls and schedule appointments through the end of October. You can schedule an appointment with a Capital Region provider until that time. Our in-house EAP team and Capital Region will then work to transition patients interested in receiving continued services.  

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When deciding which Access Category I am in, does UM round my age and years of service?

Effective January 1, 2018, employee’s eligibility for the university’s retiree insurance plans will change. Eligibility will differ based on whether an employee falls into Access Category A, B, C, or D. The Access Category you are assigned to is based on whole numbers; partial years are not counted. For example, if you are age 50.5 and have 5.5 years of service, you drop the half a year on each and add 50 and 5. In this example, the calculation is 50 + 5 = 55. It’s not 50.5 + 5.5 = 56.

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Do changes to retiree insurance affect all retiree insurance benefits, or just medical plans?

The changes pertain to eligibility and subsidies for these retiree insurance plans: medical and dental. In the future, as recommended by TRAC, the University will conduct a review of retiree life insurance as well to leverage the marketplace and provide focused value to retiree needs. 

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I want to meet with an in-house EAP provider, but I can only find Capital Region contact info.

Clients will continue to call Capital Region to schedule all appointments through October 31, whether they choose to receive services from our in-house EAP team or through Capital Region. Simply indicate your interest in scheduling an appointment with the University’s EAP professionals when you call Capital Region. You can find Capital Region contact information on the location and hours webpage.

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How does an employee become eligible for UM retiree insurance right now?

Prior to 1/1/2018, or for those employees in Access Category A, an employee was eligible for retiree health insurance if the employee was:

  • Eligible for retirement* and
  • Enrolled in a UM insurance plan prior to retirement

This structure of retiree insurance benefits applied to any employee who retired before January 1, 2018, or any employee in Access Category A. A new structure for retiree health insurance took effect on January 1, 2018, and changed eligibility criteria. Read about how eligibility criteria changed in 2018.

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What holidays does the university observe?

The university observes eight official holidays: New Year's Day, Martin Luther King Day, Memorial Day, Independence Day, Labor Day, Thanksgiving Day, the Friday following Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Day, and other days as may be designated by the President.

When a holiday falls on Saturday, the preceding Friday is observed. When a holiday falls on Sunday, the following Monday is observed.

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Will participating in the Wellness Incentive affect my eligibility for university insurance plans?

No. Your participation will not affect your eligibility or rates for university insurance plans.

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If I have a sick or vacation time accrued, what happens to it when I retire?

When you retire, you will receive day-for-day service credit for accrued sick leave, and there is no cap on sick leave accruals. 

For unused accrued vacation time, you will receive service and salary credit. Unused accrued vacation time is paid out over time at retirement; there are caps on vacation accrual based on your accrual rate. 

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Who are the in-network providers for my medical insurance plan with UnitedHealthcare?

The list of in-network providers for each medical plan is available online from UnitedHealthcare's website. If you already have a myUHC.com account, log in to view your list of network providers and facilities. If you do not yet have an account, you may visit the comparison website created by UnitedHealthcare for university employees.

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Who is eligible to receive paid holidays?

All full-time administrative, service, and support employees are entitled to receive pay of eight hours (maximum) for these holidays. Regular employees who are 75-99% FTE will receive holiday pay on a prorata basis. Any administrative, service, and support employee who is exempt from classification because they primarily direct instructional or research activities is not subject to this policy.

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How are observed holidays handled if my department works 24/7 or if I work a non-standard schedule?

Any unit or department that operates 24 hours a day or seven days a week may observe the holiday on the actual day of the holiday rather than the equivalent observed Friday or Monday. If you work a non-standard schedule, you may receive equivalent time off if the holiday falls on your normal day off. If another day cannot be arranged, you will be paid for the holiday.

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What if I am on vacation during a paid holiday?

If you are on a vacation during an official holidays, that holiday will not count against your vacation time. Hours paid for the holiday but not actually worked do not count toward overtime.

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How am I reimbursed if I am required to work on a holiday?

If you are required to work on a holiday, pay is as follows:

Nonexempt regular employees Exempt regular employees

Receive 1-1/2 times their straight-time wage rate (premium pay) for the hours worked in addition to their holiday pay. These hours will count toward the calculation of weekly overtime pay.

Receive compensatory straight time off if required by their administrative superior to work on a holiday.

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If an employee retired, then returns to a benefit-eligible position, could the benefit change again?

We can't tell you absolutely that UM System retiree insurance will never change again. But at this time, we don’t anticipate additional changes. If an employee retires and comes back to a benefit-eligible position, the retiree would return to their original retiree insurance eligibility as of their original retirement date.

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I’m in Category B with 19 years of service on 1/1/18. Can I enroll in ret. insurance after 1/1/18?

If retiring 1/1/18 or later, you must work to at least age 60 and attain at least 20 years of service to be eligible for retiree insurance. Category B employees who work to age 60 and attain 20 years of service can enroll in UM System retiree insurance plans, any date after the employee reaches those two benchmarks.

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What happens if I need to observe a special religious holiday?

Time off to observe special religious holidays may be approved by your supervisor. These hours must be taken as vacation, personal days, or treated as an excused absence without pay.

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What services and tools does UnitedHealthcare provide?

UnitedHealthcare offers many tools to help make your medical insurance coverage work for you. The myUHC Cost Estimator can help you estimate your out-of-pocket health care costs prior to seeing a doctor. Additionally, the tool allows you to compare health cost estimates at different providers so you can be sure you’re making an informed decision about what is best for you.

The Health4Me app is another resource for accessing a wealth of healthcare information in seconds. The app lets you check your account balances and benefit amounts, stores your health plan ID card, collects and tracks your current Personal Health records, and helps you view, sort, and pay claims. Additionally, you can use the app much like you use the myUHC Cost Estimator when you compare costs of common procedures. You can even connect with healthcare professionals 24/7 as well as find in-network providers and hospitals nearby in case of emergency.

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Who is the university administrator for behavioral health?

Mental health coverage for active benefit-eligible employees and their dependents is offered through United Behavioral Healthcare’s (UBH) Live and Work Well program. Use the Live and Work Well program website to access benefits, manage claims, and get information on care and services. You can also search in-network clinicians to find your best provider.

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I’ve heard I can only retire at certain times of the year; is that true?

If you are in a 9-month appointment, you may retire on 3/1 or 9/1. All others can retire on any day of the year after meeting the eligibility requirements to be a retiree.

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Under the Affordable Care Act (PPACA), who’s required to track hours, and where do they track time?

Variable hour non‐exempt employees already track worked hours and will continue to do so.

Variable hour non‐teaching exempt employees (both staff and academics that are not fully benefit eligible) should record actual worked hours using a non‐pay time reporting code in the time reporting system. Instructions on how to record hours can be found at http://www.umsystem.edu/apps/is/ps-training/upgrade9.1/PlayerFiles_HourlyTR/toc0.html. Partial hours should be rounded to the nearest half hour (i.e., 15 minutes or over round up to the next half hour and under 15 minutes round down to the previous half hour).

Variable hour teaching academic appointments quantify time worked using an equivalency of 3 1/3 hours worked for each credit hour taught. This methodology is used to determine their full-time equivalent (FTE). No action is required on the part of the individual. The FTE is entered by the department. This methodology should be applied regardless of the time period of which the class is taught (i.e., 8 weeks versus 16 weeks).

Visit the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) page for more information.

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What can vacation days be used for?

Absences from work that are not caused by an illness or injury must be taken as vacation, except for: absences due to a family death, jury duty, or leaves of absence of less than 30 days treated as excused absences. An employee may elect to charge absences due to illness or injury to their accumulated vacation with supervisory approval.

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At what rate is vacation accrued, and how much vacation can I accrue?

You may accumulate twice your annual vacation accrual. Vacation is accrued as follows:

Employee group Years of service Days per year

Office, technical, maintenance and service (includes all employees in positions designated as nonexempt and eligible for overtime pay).

5 or less 12
Over 5 17
Over 15 22

Administrative and professional (includes all employees in positions designated as exempt and not eligible for overtime pay).

5 or less 17
Over 5 22

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If spouses work for UM, what if one retired while eligible for ret. insurance and the other didn’t?

If a spouse losteligibility for UM System retiree insurance, the retiree may add the spouse as a dependent for UM System retiree insurance benefits. Please keep in mind, the newly covered spouse is eligible only for continued coverage under the same programs that individual was enrolled in as an eligible employee. Additionally, such a change must be made within 31 days after the change in status.

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Under PPACA, am I required to track hours for jobs worked outside of the university?

No, variable-hour employees do not have to track hours worked outside of the university.

The requirement is to track hours worked for the employer. Therefore, the university only has to track the hours that a variable hour employee works at the university. But if an employee works more than one job for the university, the UM System will track hours for all of those jobs.

Visit the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) page for more information.

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When do I accrue vacation time, and when can it be used?

If you are an administrative or professional employee, you will accrue vacation on the monthly pay cycle. You must be in active status by the 15th of the month in order to receive vacation accrual for that month. If you are an office/technical worker or service/maintenance employee, you will accrue vacation on the biweekly pay cycle.

Vacation time must be earned before it is taken, and though you may be accruing vacation throughout the month, it will not be available for use until the first day of the following pay period.

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Who is eligible for paid vacation?

All regular administrative, service, and support staff who have prior supervisory approval are eligible to receive paid vacation. Regular employees who are 75-99% FTE will accrue vacation on a prorata basis. Employees with primary titles that are administrative, service, and support who are exempt from classification because their positions are primarily directing instructional or research activities are not subject to this policy.

If you are a probationary employee, you may accrue vacation time. However, you cannot use this leave until your probationary period has been satisfied.

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What if I run out of vacation time?

If you exhaust your vacation time, you may take vacation without pay if you receive prior supervisory approval.

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Does the Affordable Care Act (PPACA) teaching equivalency apply to all types of courses?

Yes. This equivalency (3 1/3 hours worked per credit hour taught) will be used for classroom credit courses, online courses, and courses taught by Graduate Teaching Assistants (GTAs).

Visit the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) page for more information.

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How can personal days be used?

Personal days are paid days off to be used at an employee's discretion, and they can be taken in hourly increments. These days are subject to supervisory approval. Personal days cannot be used on the last day of duty unless the employee is to be placed on a layoff leave of absence.

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How do personal days accrue, and can they expire?

All regular administrative, service, and support staff are granted four personal days each year (upon their hire date and thereafter credited on the yearly anniversary of hire).

Your unused personal days are lost at the end of the anniversary year, even if you are on leave. Payment for unused personal days upon termination or retirement is not permitted.

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Who is eligible to receive personal days?

All regular administrative, service, and support staff are granted four personal days each year. Regular employees who are 75-99% FTE are granted personal days on a prorata basis. Employees with primary titles that are administrative, service and support who are exempt from classification because their positions are primarily directing instructional or research activities are not subject to this policy.

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Can I use personal days if I am on probation?

Yes. If you are in your initial probationary period, you may use two of the four personal days granted. If your probation period is extended, you may use the remaining two personal days.

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What happens to my personal days if I am on layoff?

If you are on layoff, you may retain personal days during the layoff leave of absence; you may also use your personal days immediately prior to the layoff. However, personal days must be taken within the anniversary year.

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