N.C. Department of Correction--Correction News--August 1997
DOC PERSONNEL OFFICE HOLDS FIRST BENEFITS WORKSHOP
Raleigh - Correction benefit representatives from across the state gathered in Raleigh at the McKimmon Center July 15 to hear first-hand information on employee benefits.
Retirement, workerís compensation and savings plans were among the topics at the one-day seminar sponsored by the Dept. of Correction Personnel Office. In addition to personnel staff, experts from outside service companies and from state personnel were on hand to answer questions. Here are a few highlights:
One attendee asked if she was out-of-town and is a subscriber of Health Maintenance Organization (HMO) and had a medical need, could she go to a physician in a neighboring county. The answer was that it depends on the HMO. HMOís that do not require selecting a particular physician permit members to go to another county that has that same HMO. However, if the HMO requires selecting a physician, the member must receive a referral from that particular physician to go to another county.
Another asked if someone moved into a county without HMOís, could you stay with your original HMO. The answer is yes, you are permitted to stay with your original HMO.
When dependent children go to college, the HMO policy would cover them for emergencies, but if itís a regular doctorís appointment, the child must return home for the care. However, it was noted, that the Blue Cross, Blue Shield dental plan covers care for out-of-state dependents.
Only ten percent of Correction employees have signed up for the NC FLEX plan which offers free eye care coverage and pre-tax savings through a dental plan, health and dependent care spending accounts, and accidental death and dismemberment insurance. "Thatís free tax dollars weíre talking about," said Betty Graves, personnel analyst for DOC.
NC FLEX offers a 20 to 60% discount in eye exams and glasses. If you enroll in any NC FLEX program option in October, the benefits start the first of January. You cannot drop the monthly payroll deductions until the end of the year unless your family status changes.
Employees must sign up for the NC FLEX coverage during a 30-day open enrollment period or when a change in oneís family status occurs such as a marriage, divorce or disability.
An employee had divorced, remarried, and forgot to change the beneficiary status on his retirement form. When he died, the current wife discovered that all his benefits would go to his ex-wife. Glenn Wall, from the retirement system division of State Personnel said only the courts could change that status. It was a serious reminder to all to keep personnel and retirement forms up-to-date.
Wall recommended notifying the retirement system six months to a year in advance of your planned retirement date. He said his office would be happy to send a preliminary estimate of monthly payments during retirement.
VOLUNTARY SHARED LEAVE
Dept. of Correction co-workers can donate vacation time to each other under the Voluntary Shared Leave Program. Family members, as defined in DOC policy, may donate vacation or sick leave to their relatives. When an employee leaves, he or she can give all but 40 hours of their sick leave to an immediate or extended family member working in state government who has been approved to receive Voluntary Shared Leave donations.
Catherine Garner, DOC benefits specialist, said she is inundated with requests. Three forms are needed to begin the process and Garner said if one of those forms is missing, the process is delayed.
Garner noted that working with this program is a reminder to her that DOC employees are not only caring, but are generous to each other.
FAMILY MEDICAL LEAVE
This Federal law entitles eligible employees to take 480 hours of leave per a 12-month period related to a medical need. For training on this topic, contact the DOC Personnel Office.
House Bill 1135 is now being considered to change the Employee Suggestion system. Employees would be able to earn up to $20,000 for their suggestions on how to save tax dollars. Thatís an increase from $5,000 and would include those suggestions that are currently going through the system. The Dept. of Correction made more suggestions than any other state agency this past year, according to Catherine Garner, benefits specialist.
Dues are $3 a month, or $36 a year to join the State Employees Association of North Carolina. That buys you a full-time lobbyist in the General Assembly, the best way to fight to protect your existing benefits, according to Deborah Bowden of SEANC.
Other benefits include group term life insurance with low premiums, a 75-cent per month accidental death or dismemberment coverage, a scholarship program based on merit or need, and many discounts for hotels, restaurants, theme parks, and more.
The Office of Staff Development and Training offers two-day courses for employees to plan for their retirements. The first, "Preparing Makes Sense," is targeted for those with five to 20 years of state service and the other, "Preparing for Tomorrow" is for those with 25 years of service or are over the age of 50.
Instructor Dana Bridges said OSDT will send the trainers to your area upon request.
Also, the DOC Personnel Office is working on a fall workshop devoted entirely to the subject of workerís compensation.
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