Involuntary Furlough Mitigation Program (IVFMP) & Benefits Deductions
October 17, 2020
MEC Benefits Committee
For those of us who are participants in the IVFMP, we are aware there are a number of questions/issues with the status of Benefit (premium) deductions as well as FSA and Dependent Care deductions. Over the course of the past several days, we have identified these issues to United management and are working to obtain answers to questions as quickly as possible. We have the following updates:
Benefit Premiums for Contractual Benefits
As we reported within the past several weeks, all employees on Involuntary Furlough, Special COLA, Voluntary furlough and IVFMP were to be converted to direct bill status, effective October 1, 2020. The purpose of this change is to eliminate the build up of premium arrears and to provide employees with the assurance their benefit premiums were paid and that coverage would continue uninterrupted.
While everyone remained hopeful for an early in the month extension to the CARES Act, that extension has not materialized. As a result, some of the benefit work was delayed. For those in the IVFMP, the United Benefits Center (UABC) did not receive the status change until October 12, 2020. As a result, to the extent there were earnings, payroll deductions for benefits were taken from both the October 1 & October 16, 2020 paychecks, in error. This is part of the explanation for why people are seeing deductions and, at the same time, receiving billing from the UABC for October benefits.
The UABC will shortly send a refund file to United payroll and a refund will be processed for those from whom premiums were collected. It is anticipated that refunds will be issued via an off-cycle check on or around October 22nd. It is important to keep in mind that these premiums are normally taken on a pre-tax basis and because the refund will represent wages, they will be taxable.
Supplemental Benefits Not administered by UABC
To avoid any confusion, only those benefits administered by the UABC will be converted to direct bill and pay. Those items not administered by the UABC, such as GUL or other supplemental insurance benefits, (i.e. CAIC or Allstate) will continue to be processed as a payroll deduction, to the extent wages are available.
For those in the IVFMP, if you wish to make alternate arrangements for your continued supplemental insurance coverages, please contact Design Benefits or NGP directly.
FSA and Dependent Care Account balances
We have heard from many of you about ongoing concerns with your inability to use FSA & Dependent Care balances and we have received reports from others that FSA & Dependent Care balances have “disappeared.” These are legitimate concerns and we have spent the last part of this week with Benefits and Payroll to determine the source of these irregularities. We will continue to press for a full explanation of what is happening with these funds as well as to press management to address the information and service deficiencies of the UABC in the week ahead.