Last year, the voters of Massachusetts strongly affirmed the principle that paid sick leave for oneself and to care for a family member is a right not a privilege. The labor movement was the first to introduce the right to have sick leave without jeopardizing your pay and/or job, and it is union benefits that have become the model for health care protection for people who haven’t had such protection before. Here’s an overview of your benefits. We hope you exercise your right to hard won sick leave, paid or unpaid, and related benefits.
There are 9 primary ways that the right to health care is secured for employees represented by the BEU, either in our collectively bargained contract or by statute: 1) sick days awarded annually; 2) the Sick Leave Bank (SLB); 3) health insurance, or payment for opting out; 4) accommodations under the Americans with Disabilities Act; 5) protection of your job while you are on leave under the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA); 6) Dental Insurance; 7) Long-Term Disability Insurance; 8) the Health Reimbursement Arrangement (HRA); and 9) The Flexible-Spending Account. This is just a summary. Be sure to look into the details.
Here’s how it works: teachers and administrators (and others in Units A and B) receive 12, and Paras 10, sick days a year (adjusted according to full or part-time status). If an educator runs out of sick days (and hasn’t opted out of the program) he or she may apply to receive paid sick days from the Sick Leave Bank. Fellow members of the units of the union contribute 1 sick day per year to the bank to support one another. Paras may receive as many as 45 Sick Bank days per year, teachers up to 60 in their first year, and 90 per year from then on. Twenty-five percent of days used will be paid back over time. A form requesting the days should go to one of the BEU reps on the SLB committee, Melanee Alexander and Janet Campbell.
Benefits help offset the costs of illness or disability and protect your job. If the costs of your healthcare are insured through Brookline, the Town of Brookline will pay 87% of your premiums. If you opt-out of having this insurance after having a plan for at least a year, you will be paid $1000 for individual plans and $2500 for a family plan. If you are disabled, short or long term, the Americans with Disability Act requires that your employer work with you to come up with reasonable accommodations (if possible) that enable you to do and keep your job. The Family Medical Leave Act protects your job while you are taking care of a family member or yourself. You are entitled to 60 workdays per 12-month cycle (as bargained by the BEU. In other places the 6o days can include non-workdays). You may sign up for dental insurance through the town (you pay the full premium). You can also purchaseLong-Term Disability Insurance, sponsored by the BEU. The latter insurance is paycheck insurance. If you cannot work, you will receive up to 60% of your pay, tax-free until you reach age 65. We are currently in an open enrollment period. If you sign up before the end of Winter Break, you cannot be denied. For information, contact Brian Fitzgerald at 781-224-1724 or at email@example.com. An informational packet on Long-Term Disability Insurance is posted at beu.groupsite.com.
Finally, you may be eligible for a refund of some of your co-pays (in- or out-patient care, imaging). For details and a form, call Benefits Administrator Scott O’Shea (617) 730-2120 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org. Another benefit is the Flexible Spending Account that allows you to set aside tax-free money to pay for healthcare expenditures.
There will be information on your town benefits in the months to come.