This picture is not as exciting as it looks.
I'm not taking a hit from a bong and lab-mate S is not having an alcoholic beverage.
Well, then what are we doing? S is just having some juice in a wine glass.
Why? Our boss meets and partners with all sorts of random groups (I feel like collaborators are just as likely to come from someone from the supermarket as someone from a conference). The latest company of interest - a genetic testing company.
You spit in a tube, register online, send it in and they tell you stuff.
I gave my enzymes a workout and spit in the tube.
And the kit has been sitting on my shelf for a few days.
I just threw it out.
I'm not sure if I'm being paranoid or smart. But between insurance considerations and Henrietta lacks, I'm keeping my spit to myself.
I do a lot of Behavioral Finance work and think about how to get people to save for retirement.
I discovered a roadblock in my own backyard.
I wrote a letter.
writing you regarding EMPLOYER Faculty and Staff Retirement Plan and exclusion of
employees who are classified as house staff, post doctoral associates &
scholars, associates in research /research associate and chaplain with Job Code
1671 (herein “ineligible employees”).
#1 Lack of accessibility of the
information about the exclusion
#2 The reasoning behind the exclusion
Associate in Research at the Center for Advanced Hindsight. I’ve been at EMPLOYER for almost a year studying
Behavioral Finance and thinking about how to encourage people to save for
retirement. Yes, I’m disappointed that
I’m ineligible (as well as everyone in my lab) but I’m also deeply concerned
about the policy as it relates to the larger problem of saving for retirement.
Concern #1 –Availability of Information
About the Exclusion
no explicit mention of the exclusion in the information that was provided to me
upon being hired. I re-reviewed those
materials including “My benefits. My
life” packet and the only mention of eligibility (Page 32, fine print) appeared
to be connected to tenure and being paid on a monthly basis.
reviewing benefits information my perception was that after one year salaried
by month I was eligible. On November 15th,
2011, I put a note in my calendar for November 15, 2012 to remind me to sign up
for the retirement plan.
in this job for the benefits or salary but when the possibility of working at EMPLOYER was presented to me I took a close look at my finances to understand the
implications of the job change. The job
represented a huge increase in satisfaction and happiness but the tradeoff was
a significant decrease in salary. I had
to rethink my budget, investments and retirement plan. I worked with my financial advisor and we
revamped my plan.
getting the contribution probably isn’t going to shatter my retirement
plans. That said, the implications could
have been significant for someone in a different financial situation.
struggle to get people to even think about retirement. EMPLOYER has a reputation for having a “great
retirement plan.” Information about
eligibility should be make much more explicit, especially to those who are
ineligible. If not at the time of hire,
there are other channels (e.g. plan website) where this could be explicitly
communicated. I took me 11.5 months and
some digging to figure it out and I'm paying attention.
Concern #2 – The reasoning behind
contribution plans are meant to encourage saving and can also increase tenure
(vesting %’s based on years of service).
Employers are incentivized to contribute to defined contribution plans.
discovering that there was a class of employees who were not eligible got the EMPLOYER contribution I spoke with [HR] to better understand the reason
understanding is as follows:
non-discrimination test of the EMPLOYER retirement plan indicated that Research Associates and
other positions did not contribute to the plan or stay at EMPLOYER very long.
concerns/confusion are as follows:
The EMPLOYER Retirement Plan was recently updated and now requires 3 years of service
(instead of 1) before an employee is eligible for the contribution. If having people in the plan only stay a
short time is a concern, this takes care of that. An employee can control how long they stay at EMPLOYER. The employee cannot control what
other people with their title do.
The EMPLOYER Plan provides an outright employer contribution regardless of employee
contributions (this is my understanding at least). This is probably one of the reasons that it
has such a great reputation. Many
companies will match employee contributions in order to encourage saving. Both approaches (outright
contribution/matched contributions) have their merit.
encouraging employee contributions is important to EMPLOYER perhaps a matching
program could be create an incentive to match for classes of employees who
don’t contribute on top of what EMPLOYER does.
have to wonder if the EMPLOYER program as currently structured is a good way to get
people started and familiar with the idea (and benefits) of retirement
planning. I imagine many of the ineligible employees are younger with small
salaries. At that age and income it’s very
difficult to think about the future and understand how a small contribution can
grow over time. Perhaps EMPLOYER can give a
head start of leg-up to who can benefit greatly from saving but don’t feel they