There is some confusion regarding continuation of health benefits coverage and vacation accrual while on a Staffing Adjustment Leave of Absence (or “Staffing Leave”/”Staffing Adjustment Leave” for ease of reference). Hopefully this will answer some of the questions that have been raised.
Continuation of heath benefits coverage
As stated in the Informational Bulletins that are posted when Staffing Adjustment Leaves are offered, health benefits coverage will end on the first day of an awarded Staffing Leave—with an exception. If a F/A has a trip that overlaps from the prior month to the awarded leave month, the Staffing Leave begins on the first day following the overlap. This means your pairing must have some duty that touches the awarded leave month. (However, keep in mind that in order to not have your vacation accrual reduced by 1/12 you must have some paid time in the leave month. That requires duty beginning after midnight in the leave month rather than duty simply touching the leave month.)
For example, if a trip begins on the final day of the prior bid month, and overlaps into the second day of the leave month, the leave would officially begin on third of the month. Since the overlap would result in Worked TFP during the month of the staffing leave, health benefits coverage would continue throughout the remainder of the month.
If no overlap trip exists, health benefits coverage will lapse on the first of the month and a COBRA packet will be sent. There are several options in this case:
- Complete the COBRA paperwork and submit it along with the appropriate payment to continue health care coverage.
- If the leave is only one month, complete the COBRA paperwork and mail it in promptly. If health care expenditures during the leave are less than the amount of the COBRA payment, there is no need to pay the payment.
- Secure other coverage in the marketplace, or through a convenient union supported health care portal such as Working America Health Care (a joint partnership between Working America and Union Plus); their phone number for AFA members is 866-961-3297.
- If you have other coverage, there is no need to complete the COBRA paperwork.
If you have Recurrent Training or other Company required training during a Staffing Adjustment LOA, your health care coverage will re-start on the first day of training and continue through the end of the bid month.
We have been told that if the leave is 30 days or more, it will be necessary to call the Benefits Portal number (AON) when you return to work in order to restart your health care benefits. This is a fairly new procedure.
Vacation accrues each month that a F/A has paid TFP for that month. If there is no pay for the month, vacation accrual is reduced by one-twelfth (1/12).
If there is an overlapping trip, vacation will accrue during the leave month.
Scheduled vacation during a leave of absence is not automatically paid, and does not automatically result in vacation accrual for the following year. For vacation during a Staffing Adjustment Leave of Absence, there are two options:
- Vacation days can be manually traded to later available days. First it is necessary to find available open vacation time, and then call Crew Administration to request the trade to be processed due to the leave status.
- You may request that any of your awarded vacation days be paid to you on either the fifth (5th) or twentieth (20th) paycheck while you are on a Staffing Adjustment Leave. The request must be made no later than seven days prior to the selected pay date. If you have requested that you receive vacation pay during the month of the Staffing Adjustment Leave, this will prevent your vacation accrual from being reduced by 1/12 for that month.
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Your MEC – Jeffrey Peterson, Brian Palmer, Yvette Gesch, Lisa Pinkston, Laura Masserant, Cathy Gwynn, Sandra Morrow, Stephen Couckuyt; and MEC Benefits & Retirement Chairperson Terry Taylor