The Catholic University of America

Responsibilities of the Director, Total Rewards and HRIS

Family, Medical, Parental and Safe Leave

The federal Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993 mandates that the University provide 12 work weeks of unpaid leave during any 12-month period for: a) birth of a child or care of a newborn; b) placement of a child for adoption/foster care; c) care for spouse’s child’s or parent’s serious health condition; d) leave for military caregivers and, in certain exigent situations, leave related to an employee's family member’s service in the armed forces; e) a serious health condition that makes the employee unable to perform their job. The DC Family and Medical Leave Act requires that the University provide 16 weeks of unpaid leave each for medical and family leave and extends coverage to domestic partners.  The Acts require that upon return from leave the University must restore the employee to their prior position or to an equivalent position.  The University may not restrain exercise of FMLA rights or discriminate for exercise of those rights, and must post conspicuously a notice approved by the Secretary of the Department of Labor setting forth information pertaining to the filing of a charge.  Posting may be done electronically. 

Per the DC Parental Leave Act of 1994, as a DC employer the University must provide up to 24 hours of leave during any 12-month period to an employee for the purpose of the employee’s attendance at a school-related event involving his or her child.  The leave may be unpaid unless the employee elects to use family, vacation, personal, compensatory or other applicable leave as provided by the employer.

Per the DC Accrued Sick and Safe Leave Act of 2008 (ASSLA) the University must provide employees who've worked 1,000 hours with at least 1 hour of paid leave for every 37 hours worked not to exceed 7 days per calendar year.  The University need not modify its paid leave policy if it offers option to accrue/use leave under equal terms or conditions as the Act. Leave may be used for absences: 1) Due to employee’s physical/mental illness/injury/condition, medical diagnosis/care; 2) to care for any family member or a domestic partner who has a condition or need discussed above; or 3) if employee or family member is victim of stalking/domestic violence/sexual abuse and absence is directly related to social or legal services regarding the same.  Leave accrues starting when employment starts and per the normal pay period, and may be used after 90 days of service. It is unlawful to deny leave or discriminate against an employee for using it.  Unused leave carries over to next year. The University must post conspicuous notice summarizing the pertinent provisions of ASSL including information regarding filing complaints.

The Director, Total Rewards is responsible for administering all aspects of job-protected leave pursuant to the foregoing leave Acts.

Health Care Coverage Continuation Requirements (COBRA)

As an employer with 20 or more employees the University must allow workers and their immediate family members who were covered by a University health care plan to maintain coverage if a "qualifying event" causes them to lose coverage. "Qualifying events" include: 1) death of the covered employee; 2) termination or a reduction in hours that causes the worker to lose eligibility for coverage; 3) divorce; 4) enrollment in Medicare; or 5) a dependent child reaching the age at which they are no longer covered. Notice requirements for participants and beneficiaries differ based on the particular qualifying event that triggers the continuation of benefits rights.  Health, dental and flex fund benefits are covered by COBRA. The University has outsourced COBRA notice processing.  However, the Director, Total Rewards retains coordination and oversight responsibility.

Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA)

Title I of HIPAA, the Health Insurance Reform section, imposes the following requirements upon the University: restriction on use of pre-existing condition exclusions or limitations; compliance with certification requirements regarding periods of creditable coverage for COBRA purposes or upon request in the event of termination of coverage; a special late enrollment period for group health plans for individuals who originally declined coverage due to alternative coverage if they lose such other coverage and request enrollment within 30 days; and discrimination on the basis of health status.   

Title II of HIPAA imposes requirements for the privacy and security of health data.

The Director, Total Rewards is responsible for oversight the Health Insurance Reform and the privacy and security provisions with respect to the two University plans that are covered - the Flexible Spending Plan and the Health Insurance Plan.

Employee Retirement and Income Security Act (ERISA)

ERISA establishes standards of conduct, responsibility and obligations for fiduciaries of employee benefit plans. This includes various health benefits, disability benefits, unemployment compensation benefits, retirement plans and income deferral programs.

The University's summary plans for both employee welfare benefit and pension benefit plans must accurately reflect the plan contents and contain specific information including but not limited to: 1) Name of plan; 2) address of employer; 3) statements regarding availability of information upon request; 4) EIN; 5) type of plan and type of administration; 6) contact info for plan administrator and trustees; 7) resident agent; 8) eligibility and participation requirements; and 9) disqualification and ineligibility circumstances.

As a condition of an employee's pension plan participation the University may not require the employee to complete a period of service extending beyond the later of his/her reaching age 21 or completion of a year of service (a 12-month period during which the employee has not worked less than 1,000 hours). Employees who satisfy the age and service requirements and who are otherwise entitled to participate must be to commence their participation no later than the earlier of the first day of the first plan year after satisfying such requirements, or 6 months after the date on which they satisfied such requirements. 

The administrator of the University's employee benefit plan must file Form 5500 within 210 days after close of the plan year. Retirement and other tax advantaged benefit plans must conform to regulations regarding annual notices and summaries to participants, annual Form 5500 reporting, etc.

The University must send a summary annual report to each plan participant and beneficiary receiving benefits within 9 months of the end of the plan year. The Director, Total Rewards is the Plan Administrator of the University’s ERISA plans and is responsible for the following:

Distribute Summary Plan Descriptions (SPDs):  The Plan administrator must automatically furnish to each participant of an employee welfare or pension benefit plan and to each beneficiary receiving benefits under a pension plan a copy of the SPD and all modifications and changes referred to in 29 USC §1022(a)  within 90 days after he/she becomes a participant, or in the case of a beneficiary, within 90 days after he/she first receives benefits, or if later, within 120 days after the plan becomes subject to ERISA (29 USC §1024(b)). At the University the following documents must be distributed in order to meet the distribution requirement:

Defined Contribution Retirement SPD

TDA Retirement SPD

Employee Assistance SPD

Flex Spending SPD

The Omnibus Plan Document

Once every five years the Director, Total Rewards as Plan Administrator must furnish to each beneficiary receiving benefits under a pension plan, and each participant in an employee benefit plan, an updated SPD that incorporates all plan amendments made within last five years, unless no such amendments have been made, in which case the SPD shall be given out every tenth year of the plan.

Distribute Summary Annual Reports:  Within 210 days after the close of the fiscal year of the plan, the Director, Total Rewards as Plan Administrator must furnish to each participant, and to each beneficiary receiving benefits under a pension plan, a copy of the statements and schedules, for such fiscal year, described in subparagraphs (A) and (B) of section 1023(b)(3) and such other material (including the percentage determined under section 1023(d)(11) of this title) as is necessary to fairly summarize the latest annual report. At the University this must be done by Sept. 30th of each year.

Timely Enrollment in Retirement Plan:  The Director, Total Rewards must ensure timely enrollment of all employees in the University Retirement Plan, and must automatically enroll employees who do not sign up when noticed. This must be done in accord with the Final Regulations on Qualified Default Investment Alternatives. The Director, Total Rewards must also send out the annual notices on Qualified Default Investment Alternatives.

Form 500 Filing:  Filing of the Form 5500 (the Annual Return/Report of Employee Benefit Plan) has been outsourced.  However, the Director, Total Rewards retains responsibility for oversight and coordination vis-à-vis the vendor.  The Form 5500 must be filed each year on July 15th.  

Retirement and Other Deferred Compensation Arrangements (26 USC §401 and §403)

The University's retirement plans must conform to 403(b) regulations including provisions pertaining to maximum contributions, withdrawals, direct rollover elections, minimum distributions and discrimination testing to maintain tax favored status.

If an employee fails to make an investment election under a defined contribution plan, the University may invest the assets in Qualified Default Investment Alternatives (QDIA) and be relieved of fiduciary liability for the outcome of the investment under ERISA if:  1) The funds are invested in a QDIA; 2) the participant had an opportunity to direct the investment and failed to do so; 3) the participant receives both an initial and annual notice; 4) participants who fail to direct their investments receive the same information as other participants; 5) participants in a QDIA have the opportunity to transfer the assets to another available alternative; and 6) participants must have an opportunity to invest in a broad range of investment alternatives. 

The Director, Total Rewards is responsible for oversight of all of the foregoing aspects of the University’s retirement benefits.

Cafeteria Plans (26 USC §125)

A cafeteria plan is a written plan document that allows employees to exclude from gross income certain types of employer provided benefits, such as accident and health insurance, group term and life insurance, and benefits under a dependent care assistance program. Nondiscrimination rules apply and an annual return for the plan must be filed. The Director, Total Rewards is responsible for ensuring that the non-discrimination testing occurs on an annual basis for dependent care and the medical flex spending plan.

Non-Taxability of Educational Assistance Programs (26 USC §127)

Up to $5,250 in undergraduate or graduate educational assistance may be excluded from an employees’ gross income annually if the educational assistance program is “qualified” as follows:  1) the benefit is offered on a non-discriminatory basis that does not favor highly compensated employees; 2) reasonable notification of the availability and terms of the program is provided to eligible employees; 3) there is a separate written plan for the program; 4) the program is only be for the benefit of current, retired, disabled or laid off employees and not for the benefit of an employee's spouse or children and; 5) the plan cannot offer the employee a choice of taxable income or educational assistance.  The tax free income may be used for tuition, books, and fees for job-related or non-job related education.  The Director, Total Rewards is responsible for oversight and coordination of this program.


Department of Labor Frequently Asked Questions about COBRA Continuation Coverage

Related Policies

Benefits Policy

Family and Medical and Parental Leave Policy

Non-Discrimination/Equal Opportunity/Affirmative Action Policy

Sick Leave Policy