HR, Payroll and Benefits News

Annual Benefits Enrollment: September 28 - October 23, 2020

The Annual Benefits Enrollment (ABE) period, September 28 - October 23, is the annual opportunity for eligible employees to enroll in or make changes to most benefits unless an employee has a qualifying life event. Changes made during ABE are effective January 1, 2021.

Eligible employees will receive emails in September and October about ABE.

Find the resources listed below on the ABE website.


  • Review your current benefit enrollments in Self Service.
  • Review the Department of Employee Trust Funds (ETF) It's Your Choice Decision Guide.
  • Attend Virtual Benefit Fair Sessions.
  • Use ETF’s Health Plan Search tool to confirm that your doctors, clinics and hospitals will be in-network in 2021 for the health insurance plan carrier you select by.


  • Use ALEX, to help with your ABE decisions. ALEX suggests benefit plans based on your personal situation.
  • Do you want to enroll or make changes to your insurance coverage? You may be eligible to enroll in, change, increase, decrease or cancel coverage for the plans listed below. For some plans you can add or remove dependents.
    • State Group Health Insurance
    • State Group Health Insurance Opt-Out Incentive (re-enrollment required)
    • Uniform, Preventive and Supplemental Dental Insurance
    • Vision Insurance
    • Individual & Family Life Insurance (current enrollees only)
    • Accidental Death & Dismemberment (AD&D) Insurance
    • Accident Insurance
  • Do you want to contribute pre-tax dollars to help pay for medical, dental, vision and/or dependent day care out-of-pocket expenses? To participate in any of the following plans, you will need to enroll/re-enroll through Self Service: 
    • Flexible Spending Account (FSAs): Health Care FSA, Limited Purpose FSA, Dependent Day Care
    • Health Savings Account (HSA) is required if you enroll in a High Deductible Health Plan (HDHP)


  • How to Make Your Benefit Elections
    Beginning September 28th, use Self Service to make your elections online 
  1. Log into the MyUW portal for UW System institutions or for UW-Madison.
  2. Go to the 'Benefit Information' module.
  3. Click on the 'Enroll' link.
  • All elections must be submitted by 4:30 p.m., Friday, October 23, 2020.
    You will receive an e-mail within 24 - 48 hours with instructions on viewing your Confirmation Statement for elections effective January 1, 2021. Review your statement for accuracy.

For more information on benefit plans and premiums, visit the ABE website. If you have questions after reviewing the available information, contact your human resources office.

Source: UW System Human Resources

Take Action Now: Submit Leave Reports to Avoid Sick Leave Reduction

Faculty, Academic Staff and Limited appointees (who have or had an active leave-eligible appointment) are required to submit a leave report for each appointment, each month, whether or not leave is used.

Employees on a consecutive day furlough are required to enter leave reports while they are on furlough. If no leave was taken for a month a “No Leave Taken” entry should be made.

Failure to submit any leave report(s) will result in a reduction of your sick leave hours.

For the July 1, 2019 - June 30, 2020 fiscal year leave reports were due June 30, 2020. While June 30, 2020 is the preferred submission date, failure to submit all leave for the July 2019 through June 2020 fiscal year by September 30, 2020 will result in a reduction of employee sick leave hours. Even one unsubmitted leave report may reduce an employee’s sick leave balance.

Leave reports may be submitted electronically via the MyUW portal. To check for missing leave reports, follow these steps:

  1. Log into the MyUW portal for UW System institutions or for UW-Madison
  2. Go to the "Time and Absence" module
  3. Click on the "Leave Reports" link

Paper leave reports may also be submitted.

Employees with missing leave reports receive monthly email reminders that lists their missing reports.

Visit the Time and Absence Help Pages for assistance with reporting leave. If you have questions or are unable to report your leave at the link above, contact your Institutional Leave Administrator.

To review the sick leave policies:

Source: UW System Human Resources

Which Health Insurance Plan is Right for You?

During the Annual Benefits Enrollment (ABE) period (September 28 - October 23, 2020), you will have an opportunity to select your health insurance plan for coverage effective January 1, 2021. It is important to select the plan design and health insurance carrier that best fits the needs of you and your family. To help you prepare for ABE, this article highlights what is the same and what is different between High-Deductible Health Plans (HDHP) and Non-HDHP health plans.

What is the same for the HDHP and the Non-HDHP Health Plans?

    • In-network preventive services are covered at 100%.
    • Both cover telehealth services at 100% without cost-sharing.
    • Coverage for federally required preventive drugs at 100%.
    • Both have a deductible (the amount you pay before the plan pays).
    • In-network coinsurance is 10% (the amount you pay after the deductible for specific services; the plan pays the remaining 90%).
    • In-network providers will provide lower out-of-pocket expenses than out-of-network providers.
    • Both allow participation in the Well Wisconsin program to earn $150 wellness incentive.
    • Both provide an opportunity to enroll in Uniform Dental Benefits.
    • Both offer out-of-network coverage through the Access HDHP and Access Non-HDHP Health Plans. Due to out-of-network coverage, Access plans are more expensive.
    • Premiums for all plans are required regardless of whether you use your health insurance.

What is different between the HDHP and the Non-HDHP Health Plans?

    • HDHPs have lower premiums (the amount deducted from your paycheck).
    • HDHPs include a Health Savings Account (HSA) to help you prepare for out-of-pocket expenses. An HSA provides three separate tax benefits:
      • Contributions are tax-deductible.
      • HSA assets may grow tax-free (through interest or investing).
      • Withdrawals for qualified medical, dental and/or vision expenses are not taxed.
    • HDHPs include an employer contribution to the HSA (up to $750 for single coverage, $1,500 for family) which remains in your HSA until you use it.
    • Non-HDHP Health Plans have a deductible for medical services and a separate deductible for pharmacy benefits; HDHPs have a deductible that includes medical services and pharmacy benefits.
    • Non-HDHP Health Plans have an out-of-pocket limit for medical services and a separate out-of-pocket limit for pharmacy benefits; HDHPs have a combined out-of-pocket limit that includes medical services and pharmacy benefits.
    • Non-HDHP Health Plans have lower deductibles.

How prepared are you and your family for expected/unexpected out-of-pocket health, dental and/or vision expenses?

Review the expenses you have incurred so far in 2020 for health, dental and vision services to help you prepare for 2021. Some of the ways you can save for expected and/or unexpected health, dental and vision out-of-pocket expenses include:

    • With a HDHP you may use the HSA (medical, dental and/or vision expenses) or Limited Purpose Flexible Spending Account (FSA) (dental, vision and post-medical deductible expenses) to set aside pre-tax earnings to help pay for qualifying out-of-pocket expenses.
    • With a Non-HDHP Health Plan you may set aside pre-tax earnings in a Health Care FSA (pre-tax) or after-tax earnings in a personal account for out-of-pocket expenses.


Source: UW System Human Resources

New Mental Health Resource Available

A new mental health resource offered through SilverCloud is available to employees. SilverCloud is an online platform that offers self-guided, interactive programs and skill-building tools to help manage anxiety, depression, stress, resilience and insomnia. It is available to all employees and students at no cost. If you are experiencing mild to moderate symptoms for any one of the above conditions, this may be an effective way for you to help manage these conditions.

What does each SilverCloud module contain?
Each module takes an average of 40 minutes and automatically saves your progress so you can come back later if you get interrupted. A typical module contains seven parts:

    1. Introduction: Helps you decide which module to get started with.
    2. Quiz: Helps gauge your knowledge and absorption of new information.
    3. Main Content: Displays the most important information and activities about the topic.
    4. Personal Stories: Based on real-life people, clinical knowledge and experiences to help you realize you are not alone.
    5. Tools: Activities that reinforce the information you learned throughout the module.
    6. Staying in the Present: Many topics discuss living in the past or thinking about the future. This activity uses mindfulness principles to bring you back to the present.
    7. Review: Allows you to reflect, set goals and incorporate what you learned into your life.

How should I use SilverCloud for my well-being?
Studies have shown that online cognitive behavioral therapy can provide an effective form of care for motivated individuals experiencing mild to moderate symptoms. SilverCloud may supplement traditional therapy or appointments with a counselor or you may use it without needing a counselor. A referral from a mental health or medical professional is not necessary to use this free online program.

Where should I go to get started?

For additional information on SilverCloud, go to the Mental Health Resources page.

What is the main difference between SilverCloud and the Employee Assistance Program (EAP)?
The main difference between SilverCloud and the EAP is that Silver Cloud is self-guided whereas the EAP allows you to speak with a counselor for help on a much broader range of services (e.g. work/life balance, will preparation, financial concerns, etc).
Note: Both programs are free and confidential.

For additional information on the EAP, go to the Employee Assistance Program (EAP) page.

Source: UW System Human Resources

2021 Benefit Change Highlights

The Annual Benefits Enrollment (ABE) period is September 28 – October 23, 2020. This is the annual opportunity for eligible employees to make benefit plan changes, consider new enrollments and/or drop coverage. Changes made during ABE are effective January 1, 2021.

Benefit plan changes for 2021 are listed below.

Health Insurance
All current health insurance plan carriers will continue to participate in the State Group Health Insurance Program for 2021. Additionally, the health insurance plan design components will remain the same (e.g. deductibles, copayments, coinsurance). The minor changes to the plans are:

    • Coverage will be added for biofeedback services for urinary incontinence.
    • Health insurance plan carriers will no longer offer a wellness incentive component as a part of their plans. Note: The $150 incentive offered through StayWell will continue (see below).

Finally, telehealth services will continue to be covered without cost-sharing (unless they would have normally been provided in an office visit setting but have moved virtual due to the pandemic).

Well Wisconsin Program: Wellness Incentive
The $150 wellness incentive will continue to be offered to employees and their spouses enrolled in the State Group Health Insurance Program. To earn the incentive, employees are required to complete a health assessment, complete one well-being activity and a screening. The screening requirement can be met by completing one of the following: a biometric screening, health care provider form, preventive dental exam (new option) or participate in a health coaching call (new option).

Vision Insurance
The vision insurance plan will be administered by Delta Vision in 2021 (using the EyeMed network). The plan will continue to offer an allowance of up to $150 toward frames or contact lenses. The monthly premiums will decrease slightly. Participants enrolled in 2021 will receive a vision insurance ID card to help eye doctors/clinics to verify eligibility/benefits and process claims.

Pre-tax Spending and Savings Accounts

    • Healthcare Flexible Spending Accounts:
      • Annual contribution limit will increase by $50 to $2,750.
      • Carryover limit will increase by $50 to $550.
    • Health Savings Accounts:
      • Single HDHP Coverage: Annual contribution limit will increase by $50 to $3,600.
      • Family HDHP Coverage: Annual contribution limit will increase by $100 to $7,200.
    • Parking & Transit Accounts: These accounts will again be available for new enrollees effective January 1, 2021. These accounts cover work-related parking and/or commuting expenses.

Accident Insurance
The Accident Insurance plan will continue to be offered in 2021. This plan is designed to protect employees and their families in the event of an accident. It includes an accidental death & dismemberment component which will be enhanced for the 2021 plan year ($100,000 vs $25,000). Monthly premiums will increase slightly.

Note: The Accidental Death & Dismemberment (AD&D) Insurance plan will continue to be offered by the UW System (coverage levels range from $25,000 to $500,000). Employees may enroll in both the Accident Insurance plan and the AD&D Insurance plan.

Watch for emails in September and October regarding ABE and your enrollment opportunities!

Source: UW System Human Resources

Reminder: Earn Your $150 Well Wisconsin Incentive

Before you know it, the October 9, 2020 deadline to earn your $150 Well Wisconsin incentive will be here!

Reach your well-being goals with the help of the Well Wisconsin Program, administered by StayWell. Earn $150 by completing the below three requirements by October 9, 2020.

  1. Complete the health assessment*
    Log into the StayWell portal to answer health assessment questions online. The assessment takes 10-15 minutes.
  2. Complete a StayWell well-being activity
    Review the well-being activities and select one to complete.
  3. Complete one of the below screening options:
      • Complete a Biometric Screening
        Log into the StayWell portal to sign-up for a screening.
      • Request an At-home Screening Test Kit (new option)
        Log into the StayWell portal or contact StayWell at 1-800-821-6591. Kits must be requested by September 25, 2020.
      • Submit a Health Care Provider Form*
        Report your height, weight and blood pressure from a visit with your health care provider. Your health care provider does not need to sign this form.
      • Get a Preventive Dental Exam (new option)
        Get your exam between January 1 and September 25, 2020 to meet this requirement and self-report the information in the StayWell portal.
      • Complete a Health Coaching Call (new option)
        Discuss your current health with a StayWell health coach, set attainable goals and work with a health coach to help you reach them.

* To request a paper copy of the Health Assessment or Health Care Provider Form, contact StayWell at 1-800-821-6591.

To learn more, review the Well Wisconsin Program page.

Health information, including responses to the health assessment, are protected by federal law and will never be shared with WI Department of Employee Trust Funds (ETF), the Group Health Insurance Program or your employer.

Source: UW System Human Resources

Register for your Flu Shot

Protect yourself this flu season by registering for your annual flu shot!

The Well Wisconsin Program offers workplace flu shot clinics because a quick needle stick now is better than a nasty illness later. Flu shots are free and voluntary for all employees and spouses enrolled in the State Group Health Insurance Program.

To receive a flu shot you must:

    • Pre-register.
    • Wear a mask to your appointment.
    • Present your health insurance ID card at the flu shot clinic.
    • Complete the Flu Shot Consent Form and bring it to your appointment. This form will be available for download from your appointment confirmation email.

The shot will vaccinate against the four most likely causes of flu illness during the upcoming season, including the H1N1- strain of influenza. The vaccine is not preservative-free and is not recommended if you are:

    • Allergic to eggs or egg products.
    • Sensitive to the mercury-based preservative thimerosal.
    • Have an active neurological disorder.
    • Have a fever, acute respiratory or other active infection or illness.
    • Pregnant (you should receive the vaccine directly from your physician).

To register for your flu shot:

    • If you already have an account, log into the StayWell portal at Then, from the dashboard, click on the Register Now button on the Flu Shot Clinics slider.
    • If you do not already have an account, go to the StayWell portal at, click the Sign Up button and follow the instructions.

For more information:

Source: UW System Human Resources

Health Savings Account: Why is this the right account for you?

With Annual Benefits Enrollment (ABE) just around the corner, you may be wondering why a Health Savings Account (HSA) is right for you.

Take a look at this ninety second video to help you understand why you should consider an HSA for 2021. Or use ALEX, your personalized benefits counselor, to help you determine why the HSA may be right for you. Remember, you must be enrolled in a High Deductible Health Plan (HDHP) in order to be enrolled in the HSA. Check your HDHP/HSA eligibility too!

If you’re already enrolled in the HDHP/HSA, this may be an appropriate time to make sure you’re getting the most out of your HSA. Review the series of HSA articles released within the last several months to help you make this determination:

Note: Annual Benefits Enrollment will occur September 28 through October 23, 2020.

Source: UW System Human Resources

Life Insurance Benefits

The UW System offers several life insurance plans to help protect you and your family in the event of death. You may enroll in one or more of the following plans if you are eligible:

  • State Group Life Insurance – Provides coverage of up to five times your eligible earnings. You may also elect up to $20,000 coverage for your spouse and up to $10,000 for dependent child(ren).
  • Individual & Family Life Insurance – Provides coverage of up to $20,000 for you, up to $10,000 for your spouse/domestic partner and up to $5,000 for dependent child(ren). If enrolled, you have an annual opportunity to increase coverage without providing proof of good health. Coverage levels can be increased in $5,000 increments up to $300,000 for employee coverage, $150,000 for spouse/domestic partner coverage and $25,000 for child(ren) coverage.
  • UW Employees Inc. Life Insurance – Provides decreasing term life insurance ranging from $7,000 to $33,000 based on your age. Coverage is not available for family members.
  • University Insurance Association Life Insurance – Provides decreasing life insurance from $3,400 to $101,000 based on your age. Coverage is not available for family members.

See the UW System Life Insurance Comparison chart for more information about who is eligible, the amount of available coverage and additional plan features.

How much life insurance do you need?

Life insurance needs vary based on your unique situation. To estimate the amount of coverage you might need, check out the Life Insurance Needs Calculator.

When can you enroll in coverage?

You may enroll within 30 days from your date of employment or newly benefits-eligible job. This is considered your initial enrollment period. If you do not enroll during your initial enrollment period, you may apply for coverage at any time through evidence of insurability by providing proof of good health (approval is not guaranteed). You may also apply for coverage within 30 days of a qualifying life event. Refer to the Life Events webpage for more details.

How to enroll in coverage.

To enroll or make changes following a qualifying life event, complete the life insurance plan’s paper application and return it to your human resources office within 30 days of the event. To apply for coverage through evidence of insurability, complete the applicable evidence of insurability form and forward it to Securian Financial. The applications and evidence of insurability forms can be found in the Forms & Resources section on each Life Insurance Plan webpage.

No application is required for enrollment in the University Insurance Association Life Insurance. Coverage is a condition of employment (for eligible employees) and you are automatically enrolled in the plan.

How much do I pay for life insurance?

Life insurance premiums vary by plan and depend on your age and the amount of coverage you elect. UW System contributes towards the cost of State Group Life Insurance and you pay the total cost of the premium for any other life insurance plan you may be enrolled in. To review the premiums for each plan, visit the Benefit Premiums webpage.

How do I pay for life insurance?

Most life insurance premiums are deducted from your pay once a month and are for coverage for the upcoming month. See the payroll deduction schedule for more information.

Source: UW System Human Resources

Benefits Resources during COVID-19

Many UW System employees and their families are working through change to their daily routines due to COVID-19. Watch these brief videos to help you understand why this change is necessary:

If you are covered by the State Group Health Insurance Program, you may have questions on if or how your doctor’s visit will be covered if you or a covered dependent shows symptoms of COVID-19. To answer your questions regarding testing, telehealth, biometric screening cancellations and more, visit the Department of Employee Trust Fund’s (ETF) COVID-19 webpage. ETF’s webpage includes information about using telehealth and nurse line services as an alternative to an office visit.

We realize that the current situation may cause stress and worry for you and your family. Our Employee Assistance Program (EAP) is available to UW System employees, their spouses or significant others, and their dependents. Services available may include a consultation on legal or financial concerns or help with how to handle an unexpected day care situation (e.g., child day care or adult/elder care). Visit the EAP webpage to determine how to contact the EAP provided at your institution.

For additional information see: Benefits during the COVID-19 Pandemic. This document provides a summary of benefit plan changes you may be able to make during the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as links to valuable pandemic-related resources.

Source: UW System Human Resources

ALEX and Annual Benefits Enrollment Dates

Have you used ALEX, your personalized benefits counselor to help you make the most of your benefits?

ALEX is an interactive benefits decision support tool that helps you understand the benefit plans offered to you and your family. Whether you are a new employee or have worked for the UW System for many years, ALEX is available to you at any time!

ALEX includes all benefit plans available to eligible employees:

  • Health Insurance
  • Well-being Resources
  • Employee Assistance Program (EAP)
  • Dental Insurance
  • Vision Insurance
  • Life Insurance
  • Accidental Death & Dismemberment Insurance (AD&D)
  • Accident Insurance
  • Income Continuation Insurance (ICI)
  • Flexible Spending Accounts (FSA)
  • Health Savings Accounts (HSA)
  • Wisconsin Retirement System (WRS)
  • Tax-Sheltered Annuity (TSA) 403(b)
  • Wisconsin Deferred Compensation (WDC) 457

ALEX currently reflects the 2020 benefit plans and premiums. The tool will be updated this fall to reflect any benefit changes for 2021.

The 2021 Annual Benefits Enrollment (ABE) period will be September 28, 2020 – October 23, 2020. As we get closer to the ABE additional information will be provided.

We hope you will make it a habit to visit ALEX with your benefit questions!

Source: UW System Human Resources

Vacation/Personal Holiday Carryover Extended

Due to the disruptive effect of COVID-19 on employee’s schedules, an interim policy was approved that allows all leave eligible Faculty, Academic Staff and Limited Appointees to extend the carryover of unused vacation from fiscal year 2019 (July 1, 2018 – June 30, 2019) for one additional year. Unused Personal Holiday from fiscal year 2020 (July 1, 2019 – June 30, 2020) may also be carried forward.

All Vacation and Personal Holiday hours carried over under this temporary extension must be used by June 30, 2021. You are encouraged to plan ahead and schedule your paid leave in advance to avoid losing any vacation and/or personal holiday hours.

Employees who extend vacation and/or personal holiday carry over are still required to submit monthly leave reports.

For more detailed information:

Source: UW System Human Resources

WRS News Online, September 2020

External link:

Are You Enrolled In A Health Care Flexible Spending Account (FSA)?

The Health Care Flexible Spending Account (FSA) and the Limited Purpose Health Care FSA provide you with an opportunity to pay certain out-of-pocket expenses with tax-free dollars. Since these are spending accounts, the funds in the accounts are intended to be spent on eligible expenses. This article is a reminder for you to use your FSA funds.

Health Care FSA Eligible Expenses include:

  • Medical
  • Dental
  • Vision

Limited Purpose Health Care FSA Eligible Expenses include:

  • Medical (post-deductible only)
  • Dental
  • Vision

Once you have incurred your eligible expenses, determine how to pay for them. In most situations, your Health Care FSA payment card (from the Health Care FSA administrator, CYC) will suffice at the point of sale or service. However, there are a few options if you need to submit your FSA claims manually or substantiate a claim made using your Health Care payment card:

  • 2020 Mobile App Flyer: Allows you to access your account information wherever you are, 24/7/365. To download, visit the Apple App Store or Android Marketplace and search for "myCYC mobile app."
  • CYC Portal: Follow the instructions on the main page to file your claim.
  • Complete the 2020 FSA Reimbursement Claim Form and submit it with substantiation to:
    • Mail: CYC Claims Department, PO Box 622317, Orlando, FL 32862-2317
    • Fax: (443) 681-4602

For efficient processing, remember to include the appropriate IRS required supporting documentation with your claim(s) submission. If CYC needs more information to substantiate your claim(s), CYC will contact you directly.

Carry Over Reminder: Up to $550 of unused funds in your Health Care or Limited Purpose FSA will carry over into the following year (even if you do not enroll in the FSA for the following year). Unused funds greater than $550 on March 31 will be forfeited. Note: A change in the carryover amount from $500 to $550 was approved by the Group Insurance Board effective January 1, 2021.

For questions, contact CYC at 1-833-881-8158 or
Additional resources may also be found on the UW System Employee Benefits website.

Source: UW System Human Resources

What is an Explanation of Benefits (EOB)?

An Explanation of Benefits (EOB) is a statement that provides details about your health and dental insurance claim(s). An EOB is created by your insurance carrier to show you how much services cost, what portion of your claim was paid by insurance, any amount(s) “written off” as a discount for obtaining services within an approved network of providers and the amount that is your responsibility to pay. Your EOB will also show how much of your deductible and out-of-pocket has been met for the calendar year.

Review the following samples for what to expect on an EOB:

When should I expect an EOB?

You should expect an EOB every time you visit your doctor or dentist. It’s important that you show your health or dental insurance ID card at each visit. It may take a few weeks for your doctor or dentist to send your claim to your insurance carrier. It typically then takes a few weeks for your insurance carrier to process your claim(s) and send you your EOB.

Do I need to submit payment to my doctor’s office or dentist’s office when I receive my EOB?

No. You should not submit payment when you receive an EOB. An EOB is not a bill. Your doctor or dentist will send you an invoice after they have receive payment from your insurance.

What should I do with my EOB?

Review your EOB upon receipt for accuracy and save it in a secure place as it contains personal health information. Additionally, EOBs may be used as follows:

  • If you are enrolled in a Health Savings Account (HSA), your EOB is an ideal document to:
    • Estimate how much to contribute to your HSA from your paycheck. Since an HSA is a component of your High Deductible Health Plan, it is important to be financially prepared to pay 100% of most services* before you meet your deductible. If unforeseen circumstances arise, you may increase or decrease your HSA contribution at any time.
      * Preventive and telehealth services are covered at 100% by your insurance even if you have not met your deductible.
  • If you are enrolled in a Flexible Spending Account (FSA), a copy your EOB is an ideal document to use to:
    • Substantiate your claims. An EOB may be submitted to the FSA administrator to show the money is being used for eligible expenses per IRS regulations.
    • Estimate how much to put into your FSA on an annual basis. Since the FSA is a “use it or lose it” account** it’s important that what you put into your FSA, you plan to use.
      **The Health Care FSA allows for up to $550 to carryover from 2020 to 2021.

How do I access my EOBs?

You may access your EOBs by logging into your account online. The website information is provided on your health or dental insurance ID card.

Who should I call with questions regarding my EOBs?

You should contact your health or dental insurance plan carrier if you have questions regarding the information on your EOBs. Contact information may be found on your EOBs and on your insurance ID card(s).

Source: UW System Human Resources

WRS Contribution Rates for 2021 to Remain Stable

The Department of Employee Trust Funds (ETF) recently announced the Wisconsin Retirement System (WRS) employee and employer contribution rates effective January 1, 2021. WRS rates are evaluated and adjusted annually.

Positive investment returns in 2019 were offset by the effect of salary and demographic experience resulting in no change in rates for the general, executive, and elected category. There will be a small increase in rates for the protective categories.

Contribution increase and decrease fluctuations are considered normal for retirement systems like the WRS that pre-fund retirement benefits.

UW System employee contribution rates are determined by employment category. Most UW System employees are in the General/Teacher/Executive category. Employees with law enforcement or public protection duties (police officers, fire fighters) are in the Protective category.

WRS Contribution Rates
Employee Category General, Teacher and Executive Protectives with Social Security
Year 2020 2021 2020 2021
Employer Contribution 6.75% 6.75% 11.75% 11.65%
Employee Contribution 6.75% 6.75% 6.75% 6.75%
Total Contribution 13.5% 13.5% 18.5% 18.4%

The 2021 rates will apply to all paychecks paid in 2021; beginning January 4, 2021 for Faculty/Academic Staff and Limited Appointees paid monthly, and January 14, 2021 for University Staff paid bi-weekly. As a reminder, WRS contributions are taken on a pre-tax basis for state and federal tax purposes.

For more information visit the WRS webpage on the UW System Employee Benefits website.

Source: UW System Human Resources

Long-Term Care Insurance

Effective July 8, 2020, all WRS eligible employees, an employee’s spouse, an employee’s parents and an employee’s spouse’s parents are eligible for long-term care insurance. Participants must live in Wisconsin to be eligible. This insurance plan is offered by Mutual of Omaha through HealthChoice (the designated agent for State employees).

What is long-term care insurance?

Long-term care insurance typically covers care not covered by health insurance (or Medicare/Medicaid). It may include coverage for assisted living, adult day care, hospice care, nursing homes, Alzheimer’s facilities and/or home modification to accommodate disabilities.

How much does long-term care insurance cost?

Each policy is individually underwritten with premiums based on age, gender and your individual health at the time of enrollment. Your premiums are also based on the length of your selected waiting period, policy limit and other components of your customized plan. Each policy may include various discounts for the life of the policy.

How do I pay the premiums for long-term care insurance?

Since this is an individually underwritten insurance policy, you are responsible for paying your premiums directly to HealthChoice. Payroll deduction is not an option.

When can I enroll in long-term care insurance?

You may enroll in long-term care insurance at any time. Your premiums will be partially based on your health at the time of your enrollment.

How do I enroll in long-term care insurance?

To enroll in long-term care insurance, contact HealthChoice directly at 1-800-833-5823 or Or visit for additional information.

Source: UW System Human Resources

Faculty, Academic Staff and Limited Appointees May Bank Unused Vacation for Future Use

Twelve-month Faculty, Academic Staff and Limited Appointees (FAASLI) are eligible to bank unused vacation after they have completed 10 fiscal years (July 1 through June 30) of employment.

Twelve-month FAASLI are allocated vacation on a fiscal year basis. While they can carry unused vacation into the following fiscal year, the vacation must be used by the end of that fiscal year, or it will be lost. The option to bank unused vacation is a way to save vacation for future use.

How Much Vacation Can I Bank?
Twelve-month FAASLI are eligible to bank up to 40 hours of vacation per fiscal year after completing 10 fiscal years of employment, and up to 80 hours of vacation per fiscal year after completing 25 years of employment. The amount of vacation that can be banked is prorated for part-time employees. There is no limit to the total number of hours (balance) that can be retained in Banked Leave and the hours do not expire.

As of June 30th, any remaining vacation or vacation carryover is eligible to convert to banked leave. HRS will convert the vacation carryover first then convert the remaining vacation.

IMPORTANT NOTE: Due to COVID-19, an interim policy allows leave eligible FAASLI to extend the carryover of unused vacation from fiscal year 2019 (July 1, 2018 - June 30, 2019) for one additional year. Unused Personal Holiday from fiscal year 2020 (July 1, 2019 - June 30, 2020) may also be carried forward. All Vacation and Personal Holiday hours carried over under this temporary extension must be used by June 30, 2021. Read More.

When Can I Use my Banked Leave?
With your supervisor's approval, you may use the Banked Leave Balance at any time, and it can be used in any circumstance in which you are allowed to use paid leave.

What If I Terminate Employment?
If you terminate employment any unused banked leave will be paid to you at your current wage rate.

To View Eligible Banked Leave Hours
If you have a Banked Leave balance, you may view your balance:

To Review the Vacation Policies

If you have questions, contact your human resources office.

Source: UW System Human Resources and UW-Shared Services, Service Operations

Summer Prepay Deductions: Continuing Insurance Coverage While on Summer Break

This spring, summer prepay insurance premium deductions were deducted from paychecks along with regular monthly insurance premium deductions for the following employees:

  • Academic (9-month) employees who will return to UW System employment in the fall of 2020
  • Academic (9-month) employees with a summer service/summer session appointment
  • Academic (non-exempt employees paid biweekly)

Summer prepay deductions were taken to continue insurance coverage through the summer months. Eligible employees were sent an email prior to these paychecks with an estimated summer prepay deduction amount. Deductions were taken for State Group Health Insurance and any other insurance programs in which the employee is enrolled.

Opt-Out Incentive and Health Savings Account (HSA) employer contributions will continue during the summer months. Summer prepay deductions are not taken for the following:

  • Flexible Spending Account (FSA) or Health Savings Account (HSA) deductions which are calculated based on a 9-month schedule for academic (9-month) employees.
  • UW Tax-Sheltered Annuity (TSA) (403b) or Wisconsin Deferred Compensation (WDC) 457 program deductions.

Confirming Summer Prepay Deductions
Employees should check their spring 2020 earnings statements to verify if they had summer prepay deductions taken from their paychecks. Summer prepay deductions appeared as a lump sum on earnings statements on the following paychecks:

  • Monthly paychecks: April 1, May 1 and June 1
  • Bi-weekly paychecks: March 26, April 9, April 23, May 7, May 21, June 4

Deductions taken pre-tax (most medical-related premiums and a portion of State Group Life Insurance premiums) will be added together under ‘Prebtx.’ Deductions taken post-tax (most life insurance premiums) will be added together under ‘Preatx.’ Regular benefit deductions for the month will continue to be listed under the plan name.

In the fall, 9-month employees’ regular insurance premium deductions will resume on the October 1, 2020 paycheck. Regular insurance premium deductions for 12-month employees will resume upon return from their summer work break.

What if an Employee does not Have Summer Prepay Insurance Premiums Deducted?
If an employee does not have summer prepay deductions taken in the spring, and then has a summer session/summer service appointment, they will be billed directly for payment of the additional premiums due to provide them with insurance coverage during the summer months.

Payment must be made by the billing invoice due date to ensure that insurance benefits are not canceled due to non-payment. If benefits are canceled due to nonpayment, the next opportunity to add insurance benefits may be during the fall Annual Benefits Enrollment period with an effective insurance coverage date of January 1, 2021. Some insurances can be applied for through evidence of insurability.

What if an Employee’s Employment Status Changes?
If an employee’s summer 2020 or fall 2020 employment status changes after they have had summer prepay deductions, they may receive deduction refunds. If an employee will not be returning in the fall, they should contact their human resources office to determine their insurance coverage ending dates.

Employees who anticipate any other status change; marriage, adoption, birth, divorce, etc., should contact their human resources office to understand the impacts to their insurance benefits.

If you have questions, contact your human resources office.

Source: UW-Shared Services, Service Operations

How To Get Medical Care When You Need It Fast

Would you like the ability to seek basic medical care from the comfort of your own home?
If so, the telemedicine services in the State Group Health Insurance Program may allow you to do so.

Take these steps now to prepare for the unexpected:

What is telemedicine/telehealth (used interchangeably)?
The remote diagnosis and treatment of patients by means of electronic communication. This means that for non-urgent medical care, you may be able to access care through video chat or a virtual house call. Through telemedicine, a doctor may recommend treatment, prescribe medication, refer you to a specialist or tell you, based on your symptoms, if you should see a doctor in-person.

Why should you consider telemedicine services?
You may receive care quicker and it may be more convenient than going to your doctor’s office or to urgent care. They are also typically less expensive than an office visit or urgent care visit.

How will your telemedicine service be covered by the State Group Health Insurance plan?
Due to the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act, effective March 27 through December 31, 2020, telemedicine services are covered at 100%. Any follow-up care may be subject to the copayment, deductible and/or coinsurance as described on the Comparison of Health and Pharmacy Benefits.

How can you obtain additional information regarding telemedicine services?
Generally, health plans offer telemedicine services through their online portals and/or through a mobile app. If you’re unable to find telemedicine information through your health insurance plans online portal, contact your health insurance plan directly by calling the toll-free number on your health insurance ID card. Otherwise, go to ETF's Telehealth Options web page for more information.

Source: UW System Human Resources

CARES Act Offers Financial Relief/Flexibility to Retirement Plan Participants

The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act ("CARES Act" or "Act") was signed into law on March 27, 2020. The CARES Act includes provisions related to retirement plans that offer both financial relief and flexibility to plan participants. The UW Tax-Sheltered Annuity (TSA) 403(b) Program has adopted the following CARES Act provisions.

Coronavirus Related Distributions
The CARES Act allows for distributions of up to $100,000 (aggregated across all plans and IRAs) for an individual who has a COVID-19 event, defined as a person:

  • who is diagnosed with COVID-19;
  • whose spouse or dependent is diagnosed with COVID-19;
  • who experiences adverse financial consequences resulting from COVID-19, including being quarantined, furloughed, laid off, having work hours reduced, experiencing COVID-19-related child care issues that impede one’s ability to work, or the closing or reduction of hours of a business owned or operated by an individual impacted by COVID-19.

Participants self-certify that they qualify for the distribution as an "affected individual." Distributions must be made before December 31, 2020. These distributions are not subject to early withdrawal penalties or mandatory withholding when taken.

The legislation permits participants to:

  • Spread out the income taxes that would be due on the distribution ratably over 3-years
  • Repay the amounts back into the retirement plan or IRA over next 3-year period if that plan accepts roll-in contributions (the repayments are not subject to retirement plan contribution limits). The repayment does not need to be made to the same plan or IRA from which the distribution was made.

Participant Loan Changes
The Act includes specific relief for participant loans from retirement accounts. A participant must have a COVID-19 related event (as noted above) to be eligible.

  • Plan Loan Dollar Limits Increased. The Act temporarily increases the maximum amount available that participants can borrow from $50,000 to $100,000 (less any outstanding loan amounts) from their plan account balance. The Act also allows participants to borrow up to the lesser of $100,000 or 100 percent of their account balance (subject to provider requirements), rather than the 50 percent limit under current rules. These loan limit increases are in effect for 180 days following the signing of the bill into law (March 27, 2020).

    The participant is still limited to only having two open loans across all providers at one time. If the participant already has two open loans, one loan must be paid off before applying for a new loan.
  • Extension for Loan Due Dates. The Act provides a one-year extension for any loan payment due between March 27 and December 31, 2020. Remaining payments, plus applicable interest, can be re-amortized over the extended period.

Temporary Waiver of Required Minimum Distribution (RMD) Rules

  • The CARES Act waives required minimum distributions (RMDs) for calendar year 2020 for defined contribution plans, including 401(k), 403(b), 457(b), as well as IRAs, allowing individuals to keep funds in their retirement plans. This includes payments to beneficiaries required under RMD rules. Participants who have already taken a 2020 RMD may now transfer the distribution amount back into the account within a 60-day rollover period of taking the withdrawal.
  • The waiver applies to 2019 RMDs due by April 1, 2020 and for 2020 RMDs due by December 31, 2020.

Contact your TSA provider for more information. TSA provider contact information can be accessed on the TSA Program web page.

Please remember that taking a loan or distribution from your retirement account could have a long-term negative effect on your account.

Source: UW System Human Resources

Employee Assistance Program Offers Resources and Webinars

The Employee Assistance Program (EAP) provides UW employees and members of their household with confidential resources to address personal and/or work-related concerns. EAP services are offered at no cost to employees. FEI is the administrator of the EAP program for most institutions. Click here to verify if FEI is your EAP administrator.

2020 Monthly Webinar Series
The FEI monthly webinar series is open for registration for eligible employees. Registration is required. Note: Employees must attend a webinar on their own time or consult with their supervisor for approval to attend.

Click here for webinar information and registration. Follow the individual links on each webinar for registration.

September 2020 Webinar: The ABCs of CBD

Time: Wednesday, September 16, 2020 - 11:00am to 12:00pm CDT

Description: With all the buzz about CBD and cannabis, what's the straight dope? Here in the U.S., more than half of all states have legalized medical cannabis, and many have decriminalized recreational marijuana. But what does the research say? Join us as we look at the impact of these substances - good, bad or otherwise.

October 2020 Webinar: Relationships 101

Time: Wednesday, October 21, 2020 - 11:00am to 12:00pm CDT

Description: What is the foundation of a good relationship? Whether you're building a relationship with a co-worker, significant other or someone you just clicked with online, we'll explore the fundamentals good relationships, discuss strategies for improving them and how you can make positive connections.

Source: UW System Human Resources