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Report on Employee Benefits Comparison to be Discussed By Trustees March 29

By Jody Record, Campus Journal Editor
March 24, 2010

President Mark Huddleston and Vice President for Finance and Administration Dick Cannon attended a special meeting of the OS, PAT and Extension Educator councils March 22 to discuss an employee benefits evaluation study done by the HR consulting firm Mercer.

The results of the study will be made public on March 29 during the USNH board of trustees’ financial affairs committee meeting in Concord. The Mercer report will be reviewed in public session. Cannon noted actions are expected to be taken at the trustee’s April 5 meeting.

Mercer was hired to determine how USNH employee benefits compare to the recruiting market for total compensation and to see if benefits currently being offered to employees of the university system are competitive, cost sustainable and contemporary.

When asked by a council representative what stood out about the report, Huddleston said he was surprised to see USNH benefits rate at or below some of the comparison schools. The president also noted that, regardless of how the university measures up, benefit growth still must be contained.

“There will still be efforts to rein in benefits,” Huddleston said, adding UNH presently spends $.46 cents on the dollar for employee benefits.

Moving to a “cafeteria” style choice for benefits—where employees would pick and choose the benefits that are important to them and pass on those that aren’t—is one possible way to contain growth, Huddleston said.

When councilors asked what they should do next, Huddleston suggested they wait to read the report and be prepared to respond quickly to let trustees know of their concerns.

Proposals scheduled for review by the System Personnel Policies Council (SPPC) include options designed to strengthen total compensation programs that result in a positive benefit/cost relationship and eliminate total compensation programs that have a declining benefit/cost relationship.

Proposals currently under review by the SPPC include:

  • Reduction of PAT vacation in the first three years of employment.
  • Establishment of earned time maximum accrual and cash-out maximum, with transition plan.
  • Elimination and transition of longevity pay.
  • Funding of skill attainment awards.

If approved, the changes would take effect July 1, 2010. 

During the March 22 meeting, Sharon Demers, assistant vice president of human resources, suggested councilors prioritize the proposed changes according to what they feel is most important to employees.

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