Maintaining Eligibility for Health Benefits for Spring Quarter 2020, due to COVID19

Last Updated: March 31, 2020

If you are an adjunct faculty member currently enrolled in health (medical or dental) benefits through Pierce College, Washington State Health Care Authority has provided guidance that allows higher education institutions to temporarily lower the threshold for maintaining benefits coverage for spring quarter 2020. To help ensure health insurance coverage is not lost during this critical time, the following rules will apply to adjunct faculty who have established eligibility for health benefits prior to the start of spring quarter.

  • Adjunct faculty teaching at least one (1) credit (or 6.67% FTE) in spring will maintain their benefits.
  • Adjunct faculty who had their class(es) cancelled due to low enrollment or the course is no longer being offered in spring, may request to use sick leave for the entire quarter that is equivalent to 1 credit (6.67% FTE) for the purpose of maintaining their benefits.
  • Additional information and details for adjuncts impacted will be posted here.

*NOTE: If you would like to prepay your deductions (health insurance premiums, LTD, FSA, DCP or your life insurance) from your last paycheck (4/10/20) for winter, please contact the benefits office at no later than April 3, 2020. Thank you.

Adjunct Faculty Benefit and Leave Information

Adjunct faculty eligibility for health insurance and retirement benefits are determined on a quarterly basis. In determining eligibility for health insurance and retirement benefits, Pierce College follows the following regulations (click on the links for more information):

Benefits eligibility determinations are made after the 10th instructional day. Here are the associated timelines for notifications:

  • Late July/summer quarter: Notification of eligibility status changes
  • October/fall quarter: Notification of eligibility status changes
  • February/winter quarter: Notification of eligibility status changes
  • May/Spring quarter: Notification of eligibility status changes + Notification of eligibility for Summer/Off-Quarter Coverage for the following academic year + Notification of eligibility for 2-Year Averaging for the following academic year.

Eligibility Decisions

Adjunct faculty will be notified through their Pierce College email regarding the status of their benefit eligibility (establish eligibility for benefits, maintain eligibility for benefits, or lose eligibility for benefits) each quarter. Adjunct faculty with questions regarding their eligibility have the right to ask Human Resources to re-evaluate their eligibility at any time. For questions regarding your benefits, please send an email to benefits@pierce.ctc.ecu.

If you become newly eligible for health insurance, coverage usually starts the first day of the month after the quarter begins. In some instances, coverage will start the first day of the month the quarter begins. You’ll be notified in your eligibility notice when your coverage will begin. You are responsible at this point to complete and return to Human Resources enrollment paperwork indicating your choice (including waiving coverage). Failure to do so results in your being automatically enrolled in medical and dental coverage according to PEBB regulations.

If you lose eligibility for health insurance, coverage usually ends the last day of the month a premium was deducted from your paycheck. Once benefit decisions are made, a notice will be sent to you and it will let you know exactly what the termination date is. Afterwards, you’ll receive information regarding the ability to continue your insurance through COBRA. Note that if you have the ability to join another health plan (spouse, parents, etc.), losing coverage is usually considered a life event and could enable a special open enrollment period for you. Contact your other plan’s HR department to see if your event qualifies.

Stacking Notification Form

Stacking Notification Forms are used to inform Pierce College that you are working as an adjunct faculty at more than one institution of higher education (stacking or combining hours worked) for the purposes of establishing or maintaining eligibility for health insurance and retirement benefits with Pierce College. This form does not need to be completed if you are teaching only at Pierce College or are currently on benefits with another college. To submit a stacking notification form, please complete the form on the intranet (requires a login)

*Acceptable institutions of higher education that can be used to stack hours are on the WaTech website.

Maintaining Eligibility

There are three ways to maintain eligibility for health insurance:

  • Work half-time or more per quarter (50% FTE or more). This includes stacking hours from other Washington State public education institutions.

  • Use an available Summer/Off-Quarter Coverage protection (If you have worked the three (3) previous quarters and have averaged 50% FTE or more, you are eligible to maintain benefits for one quarter without working at least 50% FTE).

  • Use the 2 Year Averaging protection (If you have worked at least two (2) quarters in each of the two (2) preceding academic years and have averaged 50% FTE or more, you may be eligible to maintain benefits for one (1) academic year).

There are two ways to maintain eligibility for retirement benefits:

  • Work any percentage per quarter. Stack hours from other public education institutions.

  • Use an available Summer/Off-Quarter Coverage protection.

Sick Leave

Adjunct faculty starts accruing sick leave beginning the first term of employment with district. The rate of accrual is the same as full-time faculty, except sick leave is prorated depending upon the percentage of full-time. Sick leave is used at the same rate as given. View the Faculty Leave Matrix for rates.

Faculty whose pattern of absence due to illness or disability affects the delivery of educational services to students may be required to submit a health care provider statement confirming the medical necessity for absence from the job and prognosis for return to normal duties.

Sick leave balance is maintained until there is a break in service for more than four (4) consecutive terms. Summer term is not considered a break in service. A break in service results in loss of all accumulated sick leave.

If you would like to transfer your leave to another accepting agency, please notify Human Resources in writing.

Personal Leave

Adjunct faculty are eligible to use one (1) personal leave calendar day per contracted quarter. Except in emergency situations, the faculty member shall give the dean of instruction or designee at least two days’ notice of intention to take personal leave.

Such notice will include the completed leave request and the class coverage forms. At least two (2) days’ in advance of the leave, the faculty member shall inform his or her class(es) of the date(s) of the leave. Unused personal leave does not carry over to subsequent quarters of employment, nor have any cash value at the end of employment.