900 - Benefits

Note that these policies also apply to faculty.

901 - Introduction

This series of policies provides a brief overview of general benefits the University provides for certain of its employees without mandate from any governmental agency. Specific provisions of each plan are governed by an official benefit plan document or insurance policy. If there is a conflict between the plan document/insurance policy and these policies, information in the official document/policy supersedes information in these policies. Plan summaries are available in the Benefits section of the University’s Human Resources website here.

902 - Eligibility for Benefits

Employees are eligible for benefits as described in Policy 103 and below. The groups of individuals listed in Policy 104 are not eligible.

903 - FlexPlan - Section 125 Plan

The University's FlexPlan allows employees to pay health premiums on a pre-tax basis. The FlexPlan qualifies as a Section 125 plan under federal regulations. As such, the FlexPlan is subject to restrictions on eligibility for pre-tax benefits as well as changes to benefit elections that may be made during the year. For example, eligible employees may enroll in a benefits plan on the first day of the first full month of eligible employment or during the University's annual open enrollment period. Enrollment in the Short-Term Disability and Long-Term Disability Plans occur automatically on the first day of the first full month after 12 continuous months of benefits eligible employment.

The University offers the following benefits on a pre-tax basis:

  • Medical, dental and vision health care benefits, and
  • Health care and dependent care flexible spending accounts

The following benefits are subject to withholding of taxes on premiums:

  • Long-Term Disability Insurance;
  • Supplemental Life,  Dependent Life Insurance; and
  • Supplemental Accidental Death and Dismemberment Insurance

904 - Flexible Spending Arrangement Plan

Under the University’s Flexible Spending Arrangement Plan, employees estimate the amount of eligible health care and/or dependent care expenses they will incur through December of a calendar year, and authorize payroll deductions to meet the estimates. Each employee’s payroll deductions are deposited into their flexible spending account. Employees then submit documentation of health care/dependent care expenses, and the third party administrator reimburses the employee from their flexible spending account. The maximum deferral amounts are subject to IRS regulations and, therefore, may periodically be adjusted.

The employee may change their payroll deduction amount only if a qualifying event occurs during the plan year. Some examples of qualifying events are: birth, adoption, death, marriage, divorce, or termination of spouse's employment.

Note: Under IRS regulations, an employee must forfeit any amount that remains unclaimed in the dependent care flexible spending account at the end of the plan year.  Unclaimed amounts above $500 are subject to forfeiture from health care flexible spending accounts at the end of the year.

905 - Medical, Dental, and Vision Insurance

Coverage Commencement

For regular, benefits eligible employees (see Policy 103) coverage eligibility begins the first (1st) day of the first (1st) full month of employment.

Insurance Coverage Applications

To obtain coverage under health care insurance plans, an eligible employee must complete the online enrollment application within thirty (30) days of the start date of regular employment. Employees who fail to submit enrollment applications within thirty (30) days of eligibility will be enrolled in default levels of coverage.  Applications are also accepted annually during the University's benefits open enrollment period, and in the event of a qualifying status change (e.g., marriage, birth of a child).

No person acquires any right to services and benefits under any health care insurance plans until the online application is accepted.

Dependent Coverage

An enrolling employee may also enroll any of the following persons during the first (1st) 30 days of benefits eligible employment:

  • A legal spouse or Legally Domiciled Adult (LDA), and
  • Children under the age of 26 (natural children, stepchildren, foster children, adopted children, children for whom you are the court appointed guardian, children of LDA when your LDA is also covered). Children over 26 years of age may be covered if disabled prior to reaching the limiting age.

Employees can make dependent coverage changes:

  • annually during open enrollment, or
  • when a qualifying status change occurs.

Employees must complete a status change request within 31 days. Addition of a dependent child at birth, adoption or placement for adoption must be made within 60 days. Changes due to coverage under Medicaid or a state child health plan ("CHIP") must also be made within 60 days.

906 - Option to Waive Coverage

Employees covered under another medical or dental plan may waive their medical, vision, and/or dental benefits if they provide proof of coverage on an annual basis.

The following benefits are provided to eligible employees by the University and may not be waived:

  • Basic Life Insurance;
  • Basic Accidental Death and Dismemberment Insurance; and
  • Short-Term Disability and Long-Term Disability Insurance.

907 - Short-Term Disability (STD)

Disability Claim FAQs  

How to File Disability Claim

Coverage Commencement

STD coverage commences for regular, benefits-eligible employees on the first (1st) day of the month coincident with, or next following, completion of one year of benefits eligible employment.

Short-Term Disability Benefit

The maximum benefit under the STD plan is sixty percent (60%) of pay to a maximum of $9,000 per month and for a maximum duration of 180 days from the date of disability.  Claims for the STD benefit are filed with a claim administrator who will determine eligibility and duration of STD pay.  The employee's STD pay may be reduced by the amount of other income replacement benefits (such as Social Security or workers' compensation) the employee receives for the same disability.

Once approved, STD benefits commence on the 31st calendar day of disability.  STD pay is distributed through the university’s regular payroll process.   The employee may elect to use accrued sick leave and/or vacation to supplement the STD benefit. STD pay will cease upon the earlier of 1) the return to work, or 2) 180 days from the date of disability.

Continuation of Benefits During Disability

General benefit coverage and leave accrual will continue as long as the employee is receiving Short-Term Disability payments.

908 - Long-Term Disability (LTD)

Long Term Disability Summary

Coverage Commencement

Coverage commences for regular, benefits-eligible employees on the first (1st) day of the month coincident with, or next following, completion of one year of benefits eligible employment.

Long-Term Disability Benefit

The maximum benefit under the LTD plan is sixty percent (60%) of pay to a maximum of $9,000 per month. A claim for LTD benefits is submitted by the employee to the insurance carrier which will determine eligibility and duration of LTD benefits. Eligibility for LTD benefits commences after 180 consecutive calendar days of disability. The employee's LTD benefit may be reduced by the amount of other income replacement benefits (such as Social Security or workers' compensation) the employee receives for the same disability.

Continuation of Benefits During Disability

An individual receiving LTD benefits may elect to continue the University's health care insurance benefits by participating in the federal COBRA program.

909 - Group Term Life Insurance and Accidental Death & Dismemberment (AD&D) Insurance

All active, benefits eligible employees (see Policies 103 and 105) are enrolled in the basic life and basic AD&D insurance plans on the first (1st) day of the first (1st) full month of employment. Employees may apply to purchase supplemental life and supplemental AD&D insurance coverage for themselves and eligible dependents, subject to the policy limits and the approval requirements of the insurance carrier.

910 - Retirement Plan

University Contributions

Employees become eligible for the University's contributions to the Employees Retirement Plan after completion of one (1) year of service.  A year of service is defined as 1,000 or more hours of service within twelve consecutive months of employment. See Policy 912 for special eligibility dates for those with qualifying prior employment.

Individuals who are enrolled as students are excluded from participating in the University’s contributions as are leased employees and employees participating in the retirement plan of a religious order.

The university may make contributions to employee retirement accounts as a percentage of employee’s eligible pay. Participating employees are immediately 100% vested (i.e., retirement account is owned by the employee) upon plan entry. However, contributions made by the University will be forfeited in any calendar year in which the participating employee fails to complete 1,000 hours of service unless the employee has separated from service due to death, disability or upon attaining social security normal retirement age.

Voluntary Employee Contributions

Eligible employees may make pre-tax contributions to a Fidelity Investments account by paycheck deduction. Such contributions are subject to the limitations of Sections 402(g) and 415 of the Internal Revenue code. Employees are always 100% vested in their own contributions.

Plan Contributions During A Leave of Absence

Retirement contributions continue to be made based on eligible compensation paid during a leave of absence. No contributions are made during an unpaid portion of any leave of absence.

911 - Benefits on Re-Employment at the University

Regular, benefits-eligible employees who are reemployed within one (1) year of separation of service from Seattle University are given recognition for prior service for the following employee benefits:

  • The rate of vacation accrual for regular staff employees will be reinstated to the same rate in place prior to separation of employment, and
  • Sick leave days for regular staff employees accrued but unused prior to separation will be reinstated.

Eligibility for tuition remission benefits will be reinstated upon reemployment if the eligibility period had been satisfied during prior service. Unused sick leave hours will be reinstated under the “Sick Leave for Other Employees” arrangement described in Policy 602 if a participant’s reemployment occurs within seven (7) months of the prior separation of employment.

An employee who had previously met the Employees Retirement Plan’s eligibility requirement will be eligible to participate in the plan for the purposes of the University’s contributions as of the first (1st) day of the month coinciding with, or next following, their reemployment date provided they are an eligible employee at that time. Refer to the official plan document for more information.

912 - Recognition of Prior Employment at an Accredited Institution for Some Benefits

The University recognizes qualifying former employment, as defined below, to determine eligibility for certain benefits upon employment.

Two (2) Years Prior Service - Retirement Benefits

If a regular, benefits eligible employee has established prior employment based on the following criteria, the University will begin contributions to a retirement account as of the first (1st) day of the first (1st) full month of employment. Employees must:

  • Be at least 21 years of age; and
  • Have completed two continuous years of full time employment at an accredited institution of higher education immediately prior to the date of hire at the University.

Five (5) or More Years Prior Employment - Vacation/Tuition Benefit Programs

For regular, benefits eligible employees who have completed five (5) or more years of continuous full-time employment at a single accredited institution of higher education immediately prior to employment:

  • For staff employees, initial vacation benefits upon employment will accrue based on completed years with the prior employer. The timing of subsequent adjustments to the vacation benefit will be based on accumulated service years with the university; and
  • Eligibility requirements for tuition benefit programs are satisfied upon employment.


  • Prior university must be accredited in accordance with Seattle University policy.
  • "Immediately prior" is defined as higher education being the last place of employment. If during the course of employment at the prior university the employee has a non-working break in service of no longer than six months, and all other criteria are met, prior service requirements will be satisfied.
  • Prior service requests must be received by HR no later than 30 days from hire date.

913 - Worker's Compensation

In compliance with state law, the University carries worker's compensation insurance for all employees for injuries and illnesses incurred on the job. There is a deduction from the employee's paycheck for this insurance. All job related injuries or illnesses must be reported immediately to the supervisor. HR explains these responsibilities to the supervisor and to Campus Public Safety and provides assistance in completing the necessary paperwork.

The employee must report all injuries to Campus Public Safety the same day the injury occurs. Employees have the right to seek medical care for injuries or illnesses resulting from the course of their work with the University. Supervisors must not refuse to send employee(s) for medical care even if the injury appears not to be serious. Worker's compensation insurance pays the medical expenses legitimately arising out of a job-related injury or illness.

Refer here for additional information.

914 - The Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act of 1986 (COBRA)

Employees who stand to lose health insurance due to a qualifying status change (e.g., termination of employment, retirement) may elect to continue health insurance coverage at group rates, at their own expense, under the federal COBRA law. Self-paid continued coverage is also available to covered spouses and/or dependents of employees. When a qualifying event occurs, covered employees and their dependents are notified of their options. Additional information may be obtained here.

915 - Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 (ERISA)

The University's welfare and pension plans are covered under ERISA. According to the Act, an employee is entitled to review and receive information about the University's welfare and pension plans. Visit here for plan summaries and benefit notices. Refer here for more information on ERISA.

916 - Unemployment Insurance

The University has established a reserve account and reimburses the Washington State Employment Security Department for unemployment benefits paid to former employees in accordance with the laws of the State of Washington. There is no deduction from employees' paychecks for this insurance. For more information, visit here.

917 - Tuition Program Benefits

The University provides tuition remission benefits for eligible employees and their dependents (see Policy 103) and is a participating institution in the Faculty and Staff Children Exchange (FACHEX) and Tuition Exchange programs. Tuition benefit programs are designed to provide financial assistance toward the cost of post-secondary tuition.

Requirements, benefits, limitations and other plan information are posted to the University’s Human Resources website here.

The University retains the right to modify or change the tuition programs at any time with thirty (30) days' notice to employees. Any change that occurs during a quarter will be effective as of the start of the next quarter.

918 - Benefits While on Personal or Educational Leave

An employee on unpaid personal or educational leave will not accrue vacation or sick leave during the unpaid leave. An employee on an unpaid personal or educational leave of absence greater than one (1) full benefit month may continue to participate in the University's health care benefits program (except Short-Term Disability and Long-Term Disability) by self-paying the full premium rates. While on an unpaid personal or educational leave of absence, contributions to retirement plans will cease.

919 - Privileges & Amenities

The University provides additional special privileges and amenities for employees. Contact HR for additional information and specifics regarding these additional privileges and amenities:

  • On-campus parking
  • Eisiminger Fitness Center use
  • Lemieux Library privileges

920 - Public Transportation Subsidy

The University offers regular, benefits eligible employees a subsidy on the pre-tax purchase of transportation passes. An employee who purchases a parking permit cannot receive a subsidized transportation pass.