Faculty Benefits Committee Meeting Minutes

August 24, 2009, 9:30 – 11:00


Present:   Bettina Cothran (chair), Wayne Book, Richard Dagenhart (new member), Clint Demetriou, Chuck Donbaugh, Barbara Henry, Sharon Ray, Teresa Snow, David Bottoms (The Bottoms Group).

Absent:   Barry Sharp



Bettina Cothran was re-elected as chair by the benefits committee. 


Furloughs—update by Chuck Donbaugh

There will be a town hall meeting at Ferst Center with President Peterson.  As state budget continues to deteriorate, Governor Perdue has instituted a mandatory furlough for state employees.  Three days must be taken by the end of the year with an additional 3 days to be taken by 6/30/10.

The 4 furlough days 2009 are to be taken Dec. 21- 24.

Furloughs will not affect benefits, retirement, or leave accrual.  Certain employees will be exempt.

They include the following:

(1)  Employees critical to Health & Safety. 

(2)  Employees earning less than $23,660 per year.  The number of furlough days taken by employees earning more than $23,660 will be scaled.  For example:

Salary                                   Days Furloughed

$23,751.35                              1

$23,843.41                              2

$23,936.19                              3

$24,029.69                              4

$24,123.92                              5

$24,218.90 or more                 6

(3)  Faculty and staff who are fully or partially supported directly by externally sponsored research grants or contracts will have the number of exempt days prorated based upon the level of external support.

(4)  Graduate research and teaching assistants.

(5)  Non-resident employees working under an H-1B visa.

(6)  GTRI employees (sponsored $).

Note:  GT Foundation funds are not considered sponsored funds.


Temporary employees will not be assigned work during the furlough period.

The institute will remain open.


To help employees with furloughs, a furlough savings plan will be offered beginning in September.

Under this plan, a certain amount is deducted from the monthly salary and put into a savings account for Sept, Oct, and Nov., relieving the gap in December.  This is a savings option.  Any employee can opt out.


In addition, a website has been set up to inform employees about furloughs at


Employees can also go to      hr.ask @ ohr.gatech.edu


Benefits Update  —Clint Demetriou

David Bottoms from the Bottoms Group was introduced to the committee.


Previously GT had worked with the same benefits broker for 23 years.  It was decided that it was time to re-evaluate and determine what benefits were currently available in an effort to remain competitive and give employees the most in terms of their elective benefits. 


A RFP was sent out and 12 groups responded.  A review committee was set up at GT representing the whole campus.  The top 6 proposals were chosen and given to that committee.  Interviews were set up for each of those companies and they met with the committee. 

After the review process, the Bottoms group was chosen as the new benefits broker.


Following the decision, focus groups were set up on campus for the broker to meet with.  From those focus groups, the broker was able to get a good idea of the GT campus makeup and specific concerns/needs regarding benefits.


Benefits Update BOR changes—Sharon Ray

(1)  The indemnity plan will be eliminated for 2010

(2)  Planned improvements to PPO are:

(a)  PPO will be moving to a nationwide network

(b)  PPO will add a limited extended care provision (30 days) compared to indemnity which was unlimited.

(c)  Voluntary mail order prescription option will be added.  This will allow employee to get 90 day supply of meds for 2 1/2 times the co-pay as opposed to having co-pay paid each time you go to the drugstore.


(3)  HSA PPO

BOR will seed HSA.  Seed money will be $750 for an individual or $1500 for a family.  Half will be received in January and half will be received in July.  The seed money will be for any active employee (retirees excluded) enrolled this year or previously in HSA.  Currently it is not known if seed money will be taxable.

(4)  For retirees moving off of indemnity plan, there will be a rate change

Those 65 or older who are enrolled in Medicare Part B will be pay less for medical plan than employees who are not enrolled.

(5)  BOR Dental Plan will have open enrollment this year.  In addition, previously there was a $1,000 limit per year which was combined with $1,000 lifetime orthodontic benefit.  This will now be separate and the yearly limit will be increased to $1,200 per year.


Benefits Update (voluntary benefits offered to GT employees—David Bottoms

(1)  Short Term Disability

Currently a 30 day elimination period before an employee can begin collecting.  There is a total definition of disability that must be met in order to qualify as well as a pre-existing clause.  The Bottoms group is working with vendor to get the 30 day elimination period reduced.  A partial disability definition will be added and the pre-existing clause may be modified.

Sharon Ray stated that this can impact pregnancy since a mother may be able to collect ST disability sooner and not have to cover as much of the time out on her own.

In addition, there will be an open enrollment for all employees so that employees can opt-in without proof of insurability.

(2)  Long-term disability

The max benefit will be increased from $9,000 to $10,000.  Currently there is a pre-existing clause so that no pre-existing condition is covered for 24 months.  This will be reduced to 12 months.

(3)  Voluntary Life Insurance

BOR and GT offer a life insurance policy.  The BOR policy makes sense for smokers because there is no premium increase if you smoke.  However, at 70 yrs age or if individual becomes disabled, the BOR benefit is decreases to $40,000.  The GT plan will offer a switch from BOR without medical questions.  Benefits on that policy do not decrease.

NOTE:  Most rates will decrease or at least stay the same on the voluntary benefits.

In addition, efforts are being made to renegotiate enhancements to Dental Plan.  The max benefit may be increased. The vision care premium will decrease by about 7.5%.


Possible additions:

(1)  Currently a long term care option is being explored.  Plans tend to be more successful when offered off the normal benefits cycle.  Plan is to announce option during open enrollment and then offer a separate enrollment for it.  This will allow time for employees to be educated on the option.  Plans are heavily regulated by the state and therefore a lot of information has to be conveyed.

(2)  Potential changes to AFLAC plans—Instead of just covering cancer, it may be possible to extend coverage to critical illness in order to provide more options.

(3)  Look at offering life insurance policy where rates do not go up with increasing age (pay more up-front).  Some may offer LT care benefit.


Open enrollment dates are Oct. 26-Nov 20th.  A personal conversation with a benefits advisor, via telephone, will be required this year. Employees will be assigned preferred call-in times alphabetically.  The benefits fair will occur on October 21st.

This week, HR will send out an e-mail about changes.  They will also do posters, postcards, etc., as well as send out the actual guide.

The new HR website is up today.  They will put up an open enrollment announcement soon.

With all of the changes education will be key.  The Bottoms Group has been working with Sharon and Clint to consolidate the benefits booklet. 

The Bottoms Group will make available non-commission benefits counselors to help employees review and make changes to their current policies.  The will have multi-lingual telephone support centers available.  A personalized benefits statement will be available online.

Sharon Ray stated that with the current economy and budget issues, employees need to know what they are buying and make sure they invest their money wisely in terms of benefits.  She also added that there will be survey questions asked at the end.  One of which is “Do you understand your benefits better?”

Chuck Donbaugh suggested that a letter of endorsement from the faculty benefits chair might be a good idea.


Fidelity / TIAA-CREF midyear review—Clint Demetriou

Process seems to be going well and both carriers are doing well.  Younger employees tend to be more likely to enroll with Fidelity whereas older employees tend to prefer TIAA-CREF. 

Sharon Ray stated that they now need to form a committee to do quarterly investment reviews.


Donated Sick Leave Update—Barbara Henry

Draft of sick leave policy has been made.  Due to lack of time, the draft will be e-mailed to the benefits committee for review and further discussion at September’s meeting.

Action Item—Put donated sick leave proposal on agenda for September and allow for time discussion before moving forward.


Childcare Update—Chuck Donbaugh

President Peterson and his wife toured both the current facility as well as the planned facility site.  They were very supportive.  The institute will continue to seek out funding sources.


Great Colleges to Work For Update—Chuck Donbaugh

GT made honor roll for large schools.  Ranked in top 10 for 7 categories.  Overall, results were very positive.


New Business

H1N1 potential issues—Clint Demetriou

Due to potential missed work, HR reps and contacts have been asked to ensure that they have coverage (especially all essential personnel). 

Provisions are being made on campus to ensure if a large scale outbreak were to occur that essential services (health, police, etc) would remain operational.


Potential Change in Meeting Time—Bettina Cothran

Due to class schedules, it was proposed that the benefits meeting time for fall be changed.  New meeting start time will be at 8:30.


Schedule of Upcoming Meetings

            Meeting will occur in the OHR Conference Rm (220)

            Suggested meeting times are from 8:25-9:55 on the following dates:

            28 September