Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Annual Report 2012: Human Resources

The primary function of the Town of Franklin is Customer Service and that service is provided by its employees.

The Human Resources Department provides Customer Service to potential, active and former employees, as well as citizens, of the Town of Franklin.

Over the past three fiscal years we had several layoffs, resignations, and retirements. This year we were finally able to hire ten full time and eight part time employees. Employees were placed in the DPW, Library, Police, and Fire Departments. Questions about benefits continue throughout an employee’s time with the Town and continue into retirement. In addition to the mandatory participation in Norfolk Retirement System, or OBRA for part time employees benefits include:

  • Life Insurance
  • Health Insurance
  • Dental Insurance
  • Section 125 Flexible Spending Accounts
  • Short and Long Term Disability plans
  • Section 457 Savings Plans

All employees, other than Police and Fire, are covered by Worker’s Compensation, a federally mandated program. Our goal is to prevent accidents and lost time from work, and to protect individuals from financial loss when there is an incident. This “no fault” insurance is designed to provide income security and medical coverage for individuals injured on the job. Since July 2011, the program is insured with MIIA Human Resources continues to ensure that incident reports are filed timely with Worker’s Compensation, reviewing claims and making payments directly to the employees. We are now able to file claims “on line” to get them set up quickly so employees are treated and claims processed quickly. Employees who have needed to use the services report a strong and positive experience working with claims managers. We also work with managers and employees across the Town to support safe work practices, so that the frequency and length
of workers compensation absences are held to a minimum.

Over the year the Town of Franklin Safety Committee updated policies, with an eye to reducing hazards at the worksite. The team created a twelve month plan focus on a range of aspects of safety.

On an annual basis, all benefit programs are reviewed to be sure they comply with Federal and State laws. Federal Health Care Reform has had a significant impact on our health insurance program and we continue to ensure we comply with all regulations.

We provide benefits that are competitive with the market to attract and keep the right workforce and provide those quality benefits at the lowest cost possible. The HR Department has continued a wellness
program, offered by MIIA to the employees of the Town. These have included fitness walking, relaxation techniques, and healthy eating. This program, designed to improve health and fitness, and to reduce health insurance costs, will continue next year at no cost to employees or to the Town. Employees were enthusiastic
about participation in the strength and aerobic classes, Healthy Matters heart program and an extended walking program.

In addition to active employees we are responsible for over 400 retirees of the Town of Franklin and Franklin Public Schools who have health and/or life insurance as a result of their long-term employment with the Town. We enjoy hearing about their activities after they have left employ with the town. As retirees are a very mobile population, it is our goal and mission to assist all retirees and their covered spouses with any questions they might have which includes the processing of all of their enrollment, coverage and address changes on a daily basis.

As we begin the next year new goals have been set. They include:

  • Work with all departments to maintain a safe work environment, with a goal of reduced lost time for on the job injuries.
  • Review best practices in the public sector and find opportunities for skill development to offer to municipal employees.
  • Continue to monitor changes arising from National Health Care Reform which will impact the Town insurance plans.
  • Partner with School HR activities to find service improvements and cost efficiencies.
  • Continue to deliver high quality customer service to employees, retirees, and citizens.
  • Constantly monitor full range of benefit options. Focus on the Health Insurance Program.
  • Identify information which can be best communicated electronically and keep web site current.
  • Provide excellent service to and resolve administrative issues arising from municipal health insurance program.
  • Facilitate managers using job descriptions and performance evaluations to strengthen organizational
  • and employee performance.
  • Educate employees on the Sec. 125 Flexible Spending Accounts which are available to them for medical or dependent care costs. Support managers and employees in employee relations activities.

We appreciate input from employees and citizens at any time.

Respectfully Submitted

Stephanie McNeil
Human Resources Director.

The Town of Franklin Insurance Advisory Committee is comprised of representatives from each of the municipal and school unions, as well as retired employees. It provides recommendations to the Town Administrator on health and dental plans. Meetings are an opportunity for employees from the unions to
learn about insurance products, industry trends, and to help identify ways to meet employee needs within the framework of Massachusetts General Law and available financial resources.

We had again advised MIIA, our insurance provider, that we needed a renewal with a minimal cost increase. In July of 2010 the Commonwealth passed legislation, giving municipalities more control over health plan

The Town also continued a Health Reimbursement Arrangement to help offset hospital in patient costs. The Committee voted in favor of the plan change and were able to achieve a 3% reduction in premium costs.

The IAC supports the development of a Wellness Program. This kind of program helps educate employees on health and fitness issues to support long term health. The goal is to reduce the increase of long term and high cost medical conditions.

The Town provides dental benefits on a totally employee paid basis. The Committee again selected Guardian Life Insurance as the provider for its dental plan. Approximately 300 employees have elected this benefit.

The Flexible Spending Account vendor was retained. This vendor provides debit cards for employees to use for immediate payment. Employees can avoid an additional out of pocket expense by using the cards. We hope the participation in this plan will grow as employees recognize the tax savings available to them, and
become more experienced in planning for medical and dependent care costs.

We have changed the plan year to a September 1 through August 31 window to more closely coordinate
with the Health Insurance Plan and with the school year.

Participants on the IAC brought good questions to the process and have been very effective in exploring alternatives, and making recommendations. The IAC plans to continue its work gaining knowledge about the full insurance program. In the coming year we hope we will be able to reach out through this committee to other employees so that there is greater understanding of benefit plans.

Respectfully Submitted

Stephanie McNeil
Human Resource Director

from the Town Clerk Annual Report page, this comes from the 2012 Annual Report

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