Faculty Council hears latest on early retirement incentives, dependent audit

Processes moving forward following input from faculty members

The Faculty Council last week heard updates on the dependent benefit eligibility audit that's under way and an early retirement incentive that's under consideration by administration.

The University of Colorado has launched an audit to verify the eligibility of dependents who are covered by employee benefit plans. As announced by Payroll and Benefit Services (PBS) during spring's open enrollment for the 2009-10 year, plan participants must review the university's eligibility requirements and determine whether their dependents meet requirements for coverage by health, dental and life insurance plans.

All benefits-eligible employees have received letters explaining the process. Later this month, all plan participants with enrolled dependents will receive a verification packet from Secova, an independent third party the university is partnering with for the confidential review. Participants will be asked for industry-standard documentation — such as birth certificates, marriage licenses and/or tax returns (without financial information) — verifying that dependents meet requirements.

Addressing questions brought up at Thursday, Jan. 28's council meeting, E. Jill Pollock, senior associate vice president and chief human resources officer, said the time table for the audit allows ample time for appeals by employees.

Pollock also updated the council on the progress of an early retirement incentive that's being proposed as a tool campuses could use during times of financial distress. Because such packages are highly regulated by the Internal Revenue Service, the process has been a slow one, Pollock said. She also said that the recommended sum of up to two years' salary to be paid over five years would remain the same, because the university couldn't afford to offer up to three years' salary — the amount suggested by the Faculty Council's budget committee.

In other action at the meeting of the Faculty Council and Faculty Senate:

— President Bruce D. Benson spoke to the group about the current budget challenges facing the university, and warned that the situation is likely to worsen. Regarding the ongoing university branding project, some council members told Benson there is a perception that the faculty has not been involved in the process and is not being informed of its progress. Benson said he would take note of the concerns.

— In a report from the Privilege and Tenure Committee, UC Denver Professor Weldon Lodwick said that anticipated program discontinuances would lead to an increase in grievances from faculty. He reminded faculty members that discontinuation of a specific program or school is not grounds for a grievance by an individual.