Jul 14, 2024  
2019-2020 Faculty Handbook 
2019-2020 Faculty Handbook [FINAL EDITION]

Section IX- Benefits

9. Benefits


Faculty holding a full-time appointment are provided a comprehensive program of fringe benefits, the nature of which shall be determined from time to time by the university.

The information contained herein is in summary form only. The details of each benefit are provided in policy statements issued by the university or in publications provided by the respective benefit carrier, copies of which are maintained in the Office of Human Resources.

The Faculty Council Faculty Affairs Committee shall be notified of changes initiated by the university in the nature of benefits provided or the amounts of such coverage, and timely notice of any such changes will be given to all eligible faculty members. However, nothing in this section or this handbook shall be construed to limit or otherwise abridge the right of the university to increase, decrease, modify, or amend the nature of the fringe benefits provided or the levels of coverage applicable thereto.

9.1. Enrollment in Benefits

All new faculty members are required to visit the Office of Human Resources, ground floor, Old Main, Chester campus during the first week of their first semester of employment (or earlier, if more convenient). The following information will be obtained and benefit programs discussed:

  1. Data as may be required by governmental entities to establish a payroll record;
  2. Personnel Data Record form for compliance reporting;
  3. Online enrollment forms to initiate participation;
  4. Retirement Plan application and contribution forms to meet ERISA (Employee Retirement Income Security Act) requirements.

Enrollment in benefit programs, including the retirement plan, is the responsibility of the faculty member. Participation is not automatic, since the employee’s signature and date of signing are required on a document of record for each plan to establish eligibility and to designate beneficiaries.

9.2. Insurance

9.2.1. Health Insurance Plans

The University provides a range of comprehensive health plans for employees, their spouses, domestic partners, and dependents.  Detailed descriptions of the plans are available on the Human Resources webpage accessible through my.widener.edu.

The health plans provide coverage for preventative care, vision services, prescription drugs, out-patient services, and mental health services.

You may waive medical insurance if you have adequate coverage elsewhere.

9.2.2  Dental Insurance Plan

The dental plans provide coverage for basic and restorative services.

9.2.3. Disability Short-Term Disability and Sick Leave to Ninety Days

The University self-insures full-time faculty members for a period of 90 consecutive days for 100% of base earnings for time not worked because of a disability caused by illness or accident. During the course of any short-term disability, the university, through designated administrators and supervisors, reserves the right to require an employee to provide medical evidence of disability. Long-Term Disability and Salary Continuation Program

Long-term disability compensation pays 60% of regular base salary up to $12,000 maximum per month and is taxable income. Payments are reduced by payment received from other programs such as social security. Payments wil cease when the disability ceases or age 65, whichever is sooner; there is a phase-out of benefits if disability begins after attaining age 62.

In order to qualify for long-term disability compensation coverage, employees must satisfy certain provisions related to an inability to work as provided by the University’s group insurance policy.

Tenured faculty receive an extended initial additional benefit that equals 40% of base salary during the second ninety (90) consecutive days of absence because of an approved disability.

Details of the long-term disability program are available on the Human Resources webpage accessible through my.widener.edu.

9.2.4. Group Life Insurance and Accidental Death and Dismemberment Coverage

Group life insurance coverage is provided to all full-time faculty in the amount of one and one-half times base salary to a maximum insurance of $150,000. However, see also section 9.2.10 as to benefits after age 65. A full description of the group life insurance coverage and its potential income tax implications are available on the Human Resources webpage accessible through my.widener.edu.

9.2.5. Travel/Accident Insurance

Full-time faculty are covered by travel accident insurance in the amount of $250,000 payable in the event death is caused by accident while traveling on university business. Commutation is not deemed to be travel on university business.

9.2.6. Liability Insurance

Subject to the express language of the university bylaws, it is the policy of the university to indemnify and defend members of the university faculty who have acted within the course and scope of their employment and, as a result thereof, are defendants or are threatened to be made defendants to any lawsuit or governmental claim (other than an action by or in the right of the university), provided that the university faculty members acted in good faith; and, with respect to any criminal proceeding did not have reasonable cause to believe that their conduct was unlawful; and whose conduct did not fall substantially below the standards generally practiced and accepted in like circumstances by similar persons performing the same or similar duties.

9.2.7. Worker’s Compensation

All employees are covered by worker’s compensation insurance for work-related injuries. The insurance provides for medical care and disability payments if an employee is out of work for an extended period. All injuries must be reported on a timely basis to the Risk Management Office to initiate a claim.

9.2.8. Unemployment Compensation

Faculty are covered under the respective state unemployment compensation insurance laws. This insurance provides income to employees who have been laid off and cannot find other employment immediately. Award of unemployment benefits is at the discretion of the individual state office of unemployment compensation.

9.2.9. Death Benefits

The university provides a death benefit on behalf of a full-time faculty member equal to five percent of salary for each five years of completed employment. This benefit is payable only to the elected life insurance beneficiaryof a full-time faculty member whose death occurs while employed.

9.2.10. Insurance Benefits Working after Age 65

Participation in any group medical plan is offered to all employees without regard to age.

Participation in the Widener University Retirement Plan is offered to all employees without regard to age.

Participation in the group life insurance plan continues at sixty-five percent (65%) of the amount of base salary At age 70, the insurance in force is reduced to fifty percent (50%) of base salary.

Participation in the long-term disability plan continues until termination of full-time employment or retirement or age 70, whichever is earlier. Any covered employee who becomes disabled after age 62 receives benefits under a schedule specified in the agreement then in effect between the University and the insurance carrier.

9.3. Retirement

9.3.1. Social Security

Old age, survivors, disability, and hospital insurance benefits are provided by taxes levied under the provisions of the Federal Insurance Contribution Act (FICA). This tax is levied on both the employee and the university at the rates established by law.

9.3.2. Widener University 403(b) Retirement Plan

To help plan for future retirement, the University offers a defined contribution retirement plan. The plan offers a variety of investment options with varying fees and rates of return.

The University contributes through both an employer match of employee contributions and through a nondiscretionary base contribution which does not require an employee contribution.

Upon employment, an eligible employee may elect to make voluntary contributions to the plan. The University will match the employee election up to 5% of base salary in ½% increments from 1% to 5%.

After one year and attaining age 21, the University will contributed 5% of base salary in addition to the matching contribution.

Employees are immediately vested in University contributions.

The plan permits employees to make additional contributions up to the IRS annual limit. Compliance with this limit is the responsibility of the employee. The percent of base salary the employee elects to contribute is an option that may be exercised twice each plan year (calendar.)

Although the retirement plan is designed primarily to assist employees with long-term savings, the plan offers options for in-service withdrawals, hardship withdrawals, and loans.

Detailed plan information is available on the Human Resources webpage accessible through my.widener.edu.

9.3.3. Post-Retirement Medical Benefit

Widener University provides post-retirement medical insurance or contributes to a VEBA Post-retirement Health Reimbursement Account for faculty hired prior to September 16, 2016. Plan participation is determined by employment date and age.

Both plans require eligible employees to have a minimum of 16 years of service and retire at or after attaining age 65.

Retiring faculty are encouraged to meet with a Human Resources representative to review plan options, cost, and to enroll in a University plan.

The details of the post-retirement medical plan and the VEBA Post-retirement Health Reimbursement Account are available on the Human Resources webpage accessible at my.widener.edu.

9.4. Tuition

9.4.1. Tuition Remission

Full-time faculty are eligible for tuition remission benefits for themselves, their spouses, their domestic partners, and their dependent children for selected academic programs provided all eligibility and admissions requirements are met.

The tuition remission benefit covers full tuition cost for undergraduate programs and up to the master’s level tuition cost for all graduate level courses. Tuition remissions does not extend to room or board charges or charges such as general fee, parking, athletic team participation, etc.

Dependent children will be eligible for tuition remission only for courses leading to a baccalaureate or associate’s degree at Widener University. This can include up to 9 credits prior to matriculation provided the dependent child is at least 18 years old. Dependent children may only receive one undergraduate degree through the tuition benefit.

Spouses or domestic partners of employees with at least three (3) years of full-time service are eligible for tuition remission for graduate level courses with the exception of law school courses, the online MSW program, and the online MBA program.

Details about applying for tuition remission for dependent children are available on the Human Resources webpage accessible through my.widener.edu.

Dependent children (as defined above) of full-time faculty are eligible to receive a cash grant of up to $500 per semester for payment of tuition and required fees at an accredited institution of higher education, provided the faculty member has completed five (5) or more years of service at Widener University. The dependent child must be pursuing a program leading toward an associate’s or baccalaureate degree. Benefits are restricted to a total of two children and may not exceed $1,000 per year per child. Dependent children who have scholarships or other tuition benefits at other institutions which exceed Widener’s tuition are not eligible. Dependent children partipating in tuition remission at Widener or utilizing tuition exchange are not eligible for a cash grant.

Dependent children of tenured faculty with five (5) or more years of service are eligible for tuition benefits if the employee dies or becomes disabled through prolonged mental or physical illness (see Section 8.3.4. ) while in the service of the university.

Dependent children of retired faculty who have completed five or more years of service are also eligible for the above tuition benefits. However, natural born or legally adopted children acquired after retirement will not be eligible for the foregoing benefits.

9.4.2. Tuition Exchange Programs

Children of faculty, as defined in Section 9.4.1., are eligible to participate in the tuition exchange programs of which the university is a member.  Widener University is a participating member of Tuition Exchange, Inc., a non-profit corporation which is comprised of institutions of higher education, and of the Council of Independent Colleges (CIC) Tuition Exchange Program.

The purpose of the tuition exchange programs is to provide an opportunity for children of faculty and staff of member institutions to attend other member institutions with tuition remission provided by the host institution.

Each host institution establishes its own policy with regard to the amount and duration of tuition remission granted at that institution. These are competitive scholarships and the University does not guarantee scholarship awards. Each participating institution determines the number of scholarships that will be awarded, the criteria for the award, the scholarship amount, and to whom the scholarship will be awarded.

The dependent children of all full-time faculty and exempt staff are eligible for participation in the tuition exchange programs; however, participation may not exceed eight (8) semester of study per dependent child.

Dependent children may receive only one undergraduate degree through the tuition benefit programs.

9.5. Other Benefits

9.5.1. Pride Recreation Center

Faculty membersmay use the facilities and equipment in the Pride Recreation Center.Spouses and domestic partners of faculty members may use the facilities after completing the appropriate forms and paying a $60.00 annual fee. Detailed information and forms are available at the Pride Recreation Center.

9.5.2. Employee Assistance Program

The university provides an Employee Assistance Program which assists with short-term counseling, referral services, work/life resources and legal/financial resources. For confidential assistance, employees can call 877-695-2789.

9.5.3. Flexible Spending Accounts

Flexible Spending Accounts (FSAs) let full-time employees set aside pre-tax dollars to help offset medical and dependent care costs that are not reimbursed by insurance plans. These accounts can also be used to reimburse dental and vision expenses.  Expenses incurred by anyone the employee claims as a dependent on his/her income tax return are eligible to be reimbursed under the FSA plan.

9.5.4. Compensation Policy

Compensation includes both salary and costs paid by the university for the faculty member’s benefits that are made available through insurance plans, tuition remission, and the retirement plan. Each component of compensation is subject to annual review to effect the most prudent use of the university’s financial resources.