Human Resources

Voluntary Early Retirement Incentive Program

Purpose of the Plan

The purpose of the Emerson College 2020 Voluntary Early Retirement Incentive Program (the “Program”) is to provide special benefits to eligible employees who voluntarily resign from employment with Emerson College (the “College”) under the terms and conditions described below. The Program is being offered for a limited period of time beginning July 24, 2020, and ending August 21, 2020.

This document contains the official text of the Program and also serves as the summary plan description for the Program.

Eligible Employees 

An employee will be eligible to resign under this Program if they:

  • Is classified as a full-time U.S. employee of Emerson College;

  • Is not a Dean or Assistant Vice President of Emerson College;

  • Is actively at work at the time of election unless they are not actively at work as the result of an approved FMLA leave;

  • Would have attained the required number of points as of November 1, 2020, to be determined as follows:

    • Employees age 55-59 must attain 80 points.

    • Employees age 60 or older must attain 75 points.

    • An employee will receive one point for each year of their age and one point for each Year of Employment.

    • “Year(s) of Employment” means an employee’s completed year(s) of employment from their most recent date of hire by the College through November 1, 2020.

An employee’s eligibility will be determined by Emerson College.

Separation Benefits

If Emerson College determines that an employee has met all the conditions for participation in this program, the employee will receive the following benefits:

Severance Payment

  • Emerson College will provide a severance payment in an amount determined in accordance with the following schedule:
10 to 19 Years of Service 2 weeks of Base Pay for each Year of Service
20 or more Years of Service 52 weeks of Base Pay
  • “Year(s) of Service” means an employee’s completed year(s) of employment from his or her most recent date of hire by the College until their date of termination from employment. If the employee has a partial year of employment in which they were employed for more than 6 months (defined as more than 183 days), the College will treat that period as one Year of Service.  Years of Service will be calculated through November 1, 2020.

  • For purposes of the Program, “Base Pay” shall mean a Participant’s annual base salary or wages from the College. Base Pay shall be determined as reflected on the College’s payroll records, and shall not include bonuses, overtime pay, shift premiums, commissions, employer contributions for benefits, incentive or deferred compensation or other additional compensation.  A Participant’s Base Pay shall include any salary reduction contributions made on their behalf to any plan of the Employer under section 125 or 403(b) of the Internal Revenue Code of 1986, as amended.  One week of Base Pay shall mean:  (i) for a Participant who is classified by the College as exempt, the Participant’s Base Pay on August 21, 2020, divided by fifty-two (52); and (ii) for an Eligible Employee who is classified by the College as non-exempt, the average of the non-overtime hours the Participant worked per week for the preceding six months multiplied by the Participant’s base hourly wage as reflected in the College’s records on August 21, 2020.

  • The severance payment will be made in equal installments consistent with normal payroll practices and commencing as soon as practicable after the later of the employee’s last day of employment or the date on which the employee’s Separation Agreement and General Release becomes effective.


If an employee currently participates in the Emerson College Health, Dental, Life & LTD Benefits for Employees Plan, the College will subsidize the employee’s current level of participation in Emerson College’s group medical and/or dental insurance plans in accordance with the following schedule (the “COBRA Subsidy Period”), provided that the employee completes and timely submits the COBRA election form. If currently enrolled in the family medical and/or dental plans, the employee must remain on the plan(s) to receive the subsidy. If the employee cancels their coverage, the subsidy will not be continued for dependents.  Further, if you are age 65 or older, the duration of the subsidy may be impacted by your Medicare eligibility/entitlement as per CMS regulations. 

10 or fewer   4
11 or 12   5
13 or 14   6
15 or 16   7
17 or 18    8 
19   9 
20 or more   12

During the COBRA Subsidy Period, the employee will be required to pay the employee portion of the premiums, and the College will pay the employer portion of the premiums at the same rate as paid on behalf of current employees, as long as the employee does not become eligible to participate in another medical or dental insurance plan including Medicare, whether or not enrolled.  After the COBRA Subsidy Period, the employee may continue his or her group health benefits through COBRA for the period permitted by law (if any), by timely paying the full premiums at their sole expense.  A separate notice regarding your COBRA rights and benefits will be mailed separately by Emerson College’s COBRA administrator.  Employee agrees to promptly notify the College if they become eligible to participate in another medical, or dental insurance plan including Medicare, during the COBRA Subsidy Period.  

Conditions for Receiving the Benefit

In order to receive the special benefits provided by this Program, an eligible employee must satisfy all of the following conditions:

Resignation Election

The employee must complete a Resignation Election Form and return it to Emerson College by no later than August 21, 2020.  After August 21, 2020, the opportunity to elect to participate in the Program will expire automatically, and no further offers to resign under this Program will be considered.  Emerson College may, however, in its sole and absolute discretion, accept a Resignation Election within a reasonable time following August 21, 2020, in the event Emerson College has difficulty locating and communicating the Program to an employee otherwise eligible to participate under the terms of the Program.

Selection by Company

Employees will be selected in the College’s sole discretion to participate.  Selected employees will be notified by the College no later than September 3, 2020.

Last Day of Employment

Emerson College, in its discretion, has designated a projected Resignation Date for each eligible employee who resigns under this Program of October 23, 2020 (“Projected Resignation Date”). An employee’s Projected Resignation Date is subject to change at the discretion of Emerson College to accommodate the College’s business needs. Emerson College will inform the employee if the employee’s actual last day of employment date will be earlier or later than the Projected Resignation Date (“Revised Resignation Date”).

The employee must continue to be actively employed until their Projected Resignation Date or, if applicable, their Revised Resignation Date.

An employee will not be eligible for benefits under this program if their employment is terminated at any time by Emerson College for cause or for behavior prejudicial to Emerson College or any of its affiliates, as determined by Emerson College in its sole discretion.

Execution and Non-Revocation of Release

An employee will be eligible for benefits under this program if they sign and dates a Separation Agreement and General Release (“Agreement”) in the form and within the time period prescribed by Emerson College, does not revoke the Agreement before it becomes effective, and delivers the signed Agreement to Emerson College.  The employee will have 45 days after they receive the Agreement to consider whether to sign the Agreement.  The employee will also have 7 days after they sign the Agreement to revoke their acceptance of its terms.  Assuming the employee does not revoke their acceptance, the Agreement will become effective on the 8th day after the employee signs the Agreement.

Return of Emerson College Property and Settlement of Expenses

On or before the employee’s last day of employment, the employee must return all Emerson College property in the employee’s possession or control and must settle satisfactorily all expenses owed to Emerson College and any of its affiliates.

Right To Rescind Resignation Election

An employee may rescind their Resignation Election and continue employment with Emerson College by providing written notice to Emerson College at any time before August 21, 2020.

Right To Terminate Benefits

Notwithstanding anything in this Program to the contrary, Emerson College shall have the right to terminate an employee’s benefits payable under this Program at any time, in the event that:

  • The employee has been reemployed by Emerson College or any of its successors or affiliates before the completion of the scheduled payment of separation benefits, or

  • Emerson College, in its sole discretion, determines that the employee has breached any of the terms and conditions set forth in any agreement executed by the employee as a condition to receiving benefits under this Program, including but not limited to, the employee’s Agreement.

No Other Separation Benefits

An eligible employee who elects to voluntarily resign under this Program will not be entitled to receive any other separation benefits under any other plan, practice, or policy maintained by Emerson College or any of its affiliates.

College Authority

Emerson College shall have sole authority and discretion to administer and construe the terms of this Program and to decide all questions concerning the Program.  Without limiting the generality of the foregoing, such authority shall include the power:

  • to interpret the Program, its interpretation thereof to be final and conclusive on all persons claiming benefits under the Program; and

  • to decide all questions concerning the Program and the eligibility of any person to participate in, and receive benefits under, the Program.

Claims Procedure

The Director of Compensation and Benefits, or her designee reviews and authorizes payment of benefits for those employees who qualify under the provisions of the Program.  No claim forms need to be submitted.  Questions regarding payment of benefits should be directed to Ann-Marie Driscoll, Director of Compensation and Benefits 20 Park Plaza, 13th floor, Boston, MA 02116.

If an employee feels they are not receiving the benefits which are due under this Program, the employee should file a written claim for the benefits with Ann-Marie Driscoll, Director of Compensation and Benefits 20 Park Plaza, 13th floor, Boston, MA 02116. A decision on whether to grant or deny the claim will be made within 90 days following receipt of the claim.  If more than 90 days are required to render a decision, the employee will be notified in writing of the reasons for the delay.  In any event, however, a decision to grant or deny a claim will be made by not later than 180 days following the initial receipt of the claim.

If the claim is denied in whole or in part, the employee will receive a written explanation of the specific reasons for the denial, including a reference to the Program provisions on which the denial is based.

If the employee wishes to appeal this denial, the employee may write within 60 days after receipt of the notification of denial.  The claim will then be reviewed by the Senior Associate VP and Chief Human Resources Officer, or her designee, and the employee will receive written notice of the final decision within 60 days after the request for review.  If more than 60 days is required to render a decision, the employee will be notified in writing of the reasons for the delay before the end of the initial 60 day period.  In any event, however, the employee will receive a written notice of the final decision within 120 days after the request for review.

General Rules

Right to Withhold Taxes

Emerson College shall withhold such amounts from payments under this Program as it determines necessary to fulfill any federal, state, or local wage or compensation withholding requirements.

No Right to Continued Employment

Neither the Program nor any action taken with respect to it shall confer upon any person the right to continue in the employ of Emerson College or any of its subsidiaries or affiliates.

Benefits Non-Assignable

Benefits under the Program may not be anticipated, assigned, or alienated.

Unfunded Program

Emerson College will make all payments under the Program and pay all expenses of the Program from its general assets. Nothing contained in this Program shall give any eligible employee any right, title, or interest in any property of Emerson College or any of its affiliates nor shall it create any trust relationship.


The provisions of the Program are severable.  If any provision of the Program is deemed legally or factually invalid or unenforceable to any extent or in any application, then the remainder of the provisions of the Program, except to such extent or in such application, shall not be affected, and each and every provision of the Program shall be valid and enforceable to the fullest extent and in the broadest application permitted by law.

Section Headings

Section headings are used herein for convenience of reference only and shall not affect the meaning of any provision of this Program.

Program Amendment And Termination

Emerson College has the power to amend, modify, or terminate this Program at any time with respect to any employee at any time prior to such employee’s termination of employment. Eligible employees do not have any vested right to benefits under this Program.

Governing Laws

The provisions of the Program shall be construed, administered and enforced according to applicable federal law and, where appropriate, the laws of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts without reference to its conflict of laws rules and without regard to any rule of any jurisdiction that would result in the application of the law of another jurisdiction.

Statement Of Erisa Rights

As a participant in this Program you are entitled to certain rights and protections under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 (ERISA). ERISA provides that all plan participants shall be entitled to:

Receive Information About Your Program and Benefits

Examine, without charge, at the plan administrator’s office, and at other specified locations all documents governing the plan and a copy of the latest annual report (Form 5500 Series) required to be filed by the plan with the U.S. Department of Labor and available at the Public Disclosure Room of the Employee Benefits Security Administration.

Obtain, upon written request to the plan administrator, copies of documents governing the operation of the plan and copies of the latest annual report (Form 5500 Series), if any required, and updated summary plan description.  The administrator may make a reasonable charge for the copies.

Prudent Actions by Program Fiduciaries

In addition to creating rights for plan participants, ERISA imposes duties upon the people who are responsible for the operation of the employee benefit plan.  The people who operate your Plan, called “fiduciaries” of the plan, have a duty to do so prudently and in the interest of you and other plan participants and beneficiaries.  No one, including your employer, or any other person, may fire you or otherwise discriminate against you in any way to prevent you from obtaining a welfare benefit or exercising your rights under ERISA.

Enforce Your Rights

If your claim for a benefit is denied or ignored, in whole or in part, you have a right to know why this was done, to obtain copies of documents relating to the decision without charge, and to appeal any denial, all within certain time schedules.

Under ERISA, there are steps you can take to enforce the above rights.  For instance, if you request a copy of plan documents or the latest annual report from the plan and do not receive them within 30 days, you may file suit in a Federal court.  In such a case, the court may require the plan administrator to provide the materials and pay you up to $110 a day until you receive the materials unless the materials were not sent because of reasons beyond the control of the administrator.  If you have a claim for benefits which is denied or ignored, in whole or in part, you may file suit in a state or Federal court.  If it should happen that plan fiduciaries misuse the plan’s money, or if you are discriminated against for asserting your rights, you may seek assistance from the U.S. Department of Labor, or you may file suit in a Federal court.  The court will decide who should pay court costs and legal fees.  If you are successful the court may order the person you have sued to pay these costs and fees.  If you lose, the court may order you to pay these costs and fees, for example, if it finds your claim is frivolous.

Assistance with Your Questions

If you have any questions about your plan, you should contact the plan administrator.  If you have any questions about this statement or about your rights under ERISA, or if you need assistance in obtaining documents from the plan administrator, you should contact the nearest office of the Employee Benefits Security Administration, U.S. Department of Labor, listed in your telephone directory or the Division of Technical Assistance and Inquiries, Employee Benefits Security Administration, U.S. Department of Labor, 200 Constitution Avenue N.W., Washington, D.C. 20210.  You may also obtain certain publications about your rights and responsibilities under ERISA by calling the publications hotline of the Employee Benefits Security Administration.

VERIP Employee Letter

Read Here

Additional Information

Program Name: Emerson College 2020 Voluntary Early Retirement Incentive Program

Effective Date and Plan Year: July 24, 2020 with a plan year of July 24- July 23

Program Sponsor: Emerson College; 120 Boylston Street, Boston, MA  02116


EIN: 04-1286950

Program Number: 510

Type of Program: Welfare benefit plan - severance pay

Program Administrator: Attention: Shari Stier (Program Sponsor)

Agent for Service of Legal Process: Program Administrator

Funding: Self-Insured

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