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Employers: Start Thinking about 2018 Benefits

​6/28/2017

Learn about the importance of reviewing and refining benefit groups. 

It’s time for you, as the employer, to begin thinking about 2018 benefits. Beginning mid-July, all employers must review and submit an Employer Agreement so employees will be able to elect benefits in the fall that will take effect January 1, 2018. Here are some questions to ask as you consider benefits you will offer employees for 2018 through the Benefits Plan of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.):

  • Who will we (the employer) cover?
  • What benefits will we offer?
  • How much will we ask our employees to contribute?

Who will we cover?

Keeping in mind that all eligible employees in a classification or benefit group must be offered the same benefits, employers may use criteria such as work hours, length of service, or job types to determine eligibility in benefit groups.

One example of how an employer may offer different benefits to employees is by work hours. For example, an employer might offer certain benefits to full-time employees who work between 30 and 40 hours per week and other benefits to part-time employees who work at least 20 hours per week.

Another example would be offering benefits by job type. An example of this might be to offer workers at an organization’s day school certain benefits and those at the church other benefits.

In addition, as part of creating benefit groups, employers may decide when employees will be covered: when they are first hired or after a waiting period (up to a maximum waiting period of 90 days for medical coverage), as long as those decisions comply with any applicable laws.

What benefits will we offer?

The next decision is about the benefits to offer. Review the benefits you offer now and decide whether to continue those benefits selections for 2018 or make changes. Remember that Pastor’s Participation is required for installed pastors.

Menu options are available for employees other than installed pastors:

  • defined benefit Pension Plan
  • Retirement Savings Plan of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) (RSP), a 403(b)(9) plan
  • Death and Disability Plan
  • medical coverage in the PPO and/or EPO, including prescription, vision, and Employee Assistance Program
  • dental coverage

Pastor’s Participation (required for installed pastors and available for eligible other teaching elders) includes

  • defined benefit Pension Plan participation;
  • death and disability benefits coverage;
  • medical coverage in the PPO option (full family); and
  • availability of the RSP and dental, supplemental death, and supplemental disability (if eligible) coverage.

The Board urges employers to enroll other teaching elders who work at least 20 hours per week in Pastor’s Participation. All teaching elders in non-installed positions working at least 20 hours weekly should be enrolled for the same coverage.

How much will we ask employees to contribute?

Menu options — If offered, dues for the Pension Plan and death and disability coverage are 100 percent employer paid (11 percent of effective salary for the Pension Plan plus 1 percent of effective salary for death and disability coverage; these dues have not changed since 1987). Death and disability coverage offered without Pension Plan participation is employer paid and is 2.5 percent of effective salary for 2018. Employers pay at least 50 percent of the Member-only coverage of the lower-cost medical option they choose to offer their employees; employers decide how much, if any, to contribute toward the additional cost of covering eligible family members.

Pastor’s Participation — Employers pay 100 percent of the dues for the Pension Plan, death and disability coverage, and medical coverage. The employer may choose to pay some or all of dental, supplemental death, and/or supplemental disability (if applicable) coverages. Members in Pastor’s Participation must be offered participation in the RSP. The employer may also choose to make an RSP contribution on a member’s behalf, offer a matching contribution, or both.

Next Steps

After determining benefit groups, selections, and costs, the next step will be to log on to Benefits Connect beginning in mid-July and review and/or update the Employer Agreement for 2018. Costs for 2018 coverage will be available then.

Look for more information in the coming weeks about reviewing benefits selections and updating the Employer Agreement for 2018. In addition to the support of the Employer Services team, available to assist in making these important decisions, the Board will also provide web tutorials, a dedicated pensions.org section, and other print and online resources. Keep these key dates in mind:

Now: Employers should start thinking about the who, what, and how much decisions

Late June: Web tutorials Considerations for Selecting Benefits and Creating Your Employer Agreement available on pensions.org

Early July: The launch of Selecting 2018 Benefits section, on pensions.org

Mid-July: Log on to Benefits Connect to begin modeling and building the Employer Agreement

October 13: Deadline to submit the final 2018 Employer Agreement through Benefits Connect

October 30 – November 17: Annual enrollment for employees to elect 2018 benefits

Employers who have questions about the benefits available to employees or the benefits selection process should call the Board at 800-773-7752 (800-PRESPLAN).

Importance of Benefit Groups

Reviewing and refining benefit groups while updating your Employer Agreement in Benefits Connect is important. During annual enrollment in the fall, employees will elect 2018 benefits from the selections you make now. Assigning employees to the right benefit group affects the coverage for which employees can enroll and the cost of benefits for you and for employees.

Being thoughtful as you begin reviewing benefit groups helps avoid unintended outcomes if groups are not set up correctly. For example, some employees may receive coverage that requires unanticipated employer contributions; or, you may unintentionally not offer a group a benefit, such as dental. Keep in mind the following:

  • If you employ teaching elders who work 20 or more hours per week and who are not installed pastors, the Board urges you to provide benefits to this group through Pastor’s Participation. If you choose Pastor’s Participation for these teaching elders, it should apply to all teaching elders working 20 or more hours per week.
  • As you work through the benefits selection process, it’s important to select benefits designed to support a position and not a specific person. Over time, the person in the position or the needs of that employee may change.