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Recognizing our Work - $1,000 Special Award Announced

Date: October 15, 2021


Earlier this week, Scott Kirby announced that all active employees will receive a special award of $1,000 this year, for their exceptional work during 2020.  The special award is intended to recognize the collective and individual work of employees that helped United get to the other side of the pandemic and come out stronger.


Following the announcement, there have been a number of questions about this company offered program and we have endeavored to seek clarification on a number of these questions.


Leaves of Absence & Eligibility for the Award


Flight Attendants on a leave of absence, including a Special COLA, for November, for the purposes of the recently announced $1,000 award, are not considered to be active and will not be considered active on November 10, 2021.  Consequently, these employees will not receive the award payment in November


Flight Attendants who take a Special COLA in November will be eligible to receive the award payment provided they have returned from leave, including a Special COLA, for the January 2022 schedule month which begins on December 30, 2021.


Further, Flight Attendants may take the November and, if offered, December Special COLA and will still be eligible for the $1,000 award provided they have returned to work prior to December 31, 2021.  (Being back in schedule for the full January schedule month which starts of 12/30/21, meaning no Special COLA for January, will qualify them to receive the $1,000 award payment mid-January.


Impact of Special Award on Retirement


We have confirmed that United has determined that this award will not be considered eligible earnings for either of the pension plans (CARP and IAM-NPP) nor will these monies be subject to 401(k) withholding or the defined or matching contributions.

To create another “Retirement” option opportunity for our members, we have asked United management if it would be possible for individual employees to elect to directly contribute the proceeds of the award into their 401(k) plan accounts in a manner like that which is done with Profit Sharing.   While we have advocated for this additional option over the course of the week, we have been advised this in not a possibility. While there was an interest in terms of what the idea of direct deferral can do for future retirement security, the answer that came back is a “no” – at least not directly.  Because this award is not Retirement Plan-eligible pay and is not eligible for 401(k) deductions, it cannot be directly deferred.   It was suggested that another way to defer the additional income would be for employees to allocate additional savings to their 401(k) plan accounts for the last four (4) pay checks of this year (11/01, 11/16, 12/01 & 12/16).

To have additional deductions taken from the remaining four paychecks of the year, you must change your contribution percentage no later than today, October 15, 2021 to be effective for the November 1, 2021 advance paycheck.


Alternatively, if you wish to be taken from only the final three pay checks of the year following the issuance of the Special Award payment on 11/10, you may change your contribution percentage during the period from October 16, 2021 through October 29, 2021, which will be effective for your November 16, 2021, paychecks going forward.


To increase your current deferral percentage to your 401(k) Plan account, access NetBenefits from Flying Together or the Fidelity Website at www.401k.com.  From the landing page, click on Retirement Savings >> Quick Links >> Contributions >> Contribution Amount. 


Remember, this change to your contribution percentage will remain unchanged unless you return to the webpage after the 12/16/21 paycheck is issued to reset the contribution percentage to that desired for the 2022 calendar year.


If you have additional questions, contact your Local Benefits Committee or Local Council Office for assistance.

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