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About . Employee Handbook . Benefits 

6. Benefits

In order to attract and retain the very best talent, employees of the Cleveland Institute of Art receive a wide range of College benefits including health, dental, and vision insurance plans. In addition to these plans’ employees may put aside pre-tax dollars from their pay for reimbursement of expenses not covered by their healthcare plans (e.g. co-payments, deductibles, co-insurance), and for dependent care. In addition, the College provides employee group term life insurance. Statutory benefits (those required by law) such as workers’ compensation, and unemployment insurance cover all employees pursuant to the provisions of these state programs.

Employees will learn about benefit programs for which they are eligible on their first day of employment. An overview of employee benefits can be found in this handbook and are further defined in the summary benefits information given to all eligible employees. Actual plan documents govern employee benefits rights. To the extent there are any inconsistencies in the general descriptions below and the actual plan documents and summary plan descriptions, the terms of the plan documents and summary plan descriptions shall govern.

The following benefit programs are currently available to eligible full-time and part-time employees, as well as their qualified dependents, where applicable, once the required waiting periods have been satisfied. Some benefit programs require contributions from the employee; however, the College pays the majority of the expenses. Employee contributions are made with pre-tax payroll deductions.

  • Healthcare Insurance
  • Dental and Vision Insurance
  • Healthcare & Dependent Care Reimbursement Accounts
  • Life and AD&D Insurance 
  • Paid Time Off
  • Short-term Disability Program
  • Long-term Disability Insurance
  • Tuition Remission and Tuition Exchange
  • 403 B Retirement Plan
  • Other supplemental coverage

Eligibility for College benefits is dependent on the employee’s classification and length of service. Unless the policy specifically states otherwise, employees in the following classifications are eligible for benefits offered through the College:

  • All full-time and part-time employees working a minimum of 30 hours per week for the academic year. 
  • All faculty employees with an annual appointment letter working a full academic year

The College reserves the right to revise, supplement, and/or terminate benefits programs and/or benefits levels at any time, including but not limited to, the right to modify plan design, employee co-pays, deductibles, co-insurance, contribution levels, eligibility effective dates, and to change care providers.

6.1 Benefits Continuation (COBRA)

The Cleveland Institute of Art complies with the requirements of the Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act (COBRA), which gives employees and their qualified dependents the opportunity to continue health insurance coverage at their cost for specified periods when a “qualifying event” occurs (e.g. termination of employment, divorce, etc.)

The College provides employees with written notice of their rights under the law when they become eligible for coverage. All employees should read and retain a copy of this information. 

6.2 Retirement Annuity Plans

We help employees provide and plan for the future through the CIA Retirement Plan. Employee contributions are made through payroll deduction, on a before-tax basis, and are matched by CIA as provided in the Summary Plan Document (“SPD”). Full-time employees and part-time employees are eligible to contribute to the CIA Retirement Plan.

CIA will match a portion of the annual contribution for full-time and part-time benefits-eligible employees. Employees who participate may contribute any portion of their salaries up to the maximum amount allowable by law.  

Additional details, current year contribution limits and forms are available in the Human Resources Office.

CIA reserves the right to modify, discontinue and make any other types of changes to all offered benefits at its sole discretion and without advance notice to employees.

6.3 Short-term Disability Program

The Cleveland Institute of Art provides its eligible full-time employees, faculty, and part-time benefits-eligible employees with short-term disability benefits for instances of their own serious health condition as determined by a qualified physician. In order to qualify for short-term disability benefits, employees must be employed with the College for at least 90 days. Employees must complete an application for the benefit and their physician must certify that the employee’s health condition necessitates their absence from work.

Benefit period
Short-term disability covers up to 12 weeks of disability during which you are unable to perform the material and substantial duties of your job due to your own non-work-related illness or injury. Short-term disability provides full pay salary replacement during this leave. 

Waiting period
Short-term disability pay starts with the first day of an accident, surgery, or illness if hospitalized, or the eighth calendar day when hospitalization is not required. During the waiting period (i.e. 0-8 days, depending upon circumstances), employees must use any accrued and unused sick time, personal time, and accrued and unused vacation time. During short-term disability, employees are responsible for payment of the employee portion of insurance premiums in order to continue health care coverage. While on short-term disability, the accrual of sick and vacation time will cease.

Pregnancy-related disability 
Birth mothers can take up to eight weeks of short-term disability following the birth of a baby. Birth mothers may cease work two weeks prior to their due date without medical certification, but would need to use their accrued sick and vacation time.

Determination of disability 
Your physician(s) will be asked to provide proof of disability to substantiate your disabling condition. This information could include office treatment notes, test results, prescription histories, specific restrictions/limitations and treatment plans from all treating physicians. MetLife case managers will conduct a review of your medical records as well as use national disability guideline to assess claims. 

MetLife will attempt to contact your physician on your behalf to obtain the information needed to make a claim determination; however, you are ultimately responsible for making sure your physician provides MetLife with this information. Your physician will need to provide information as soon as possible, but no later than 30 days, to avoid any delays in your claim determination and potential impact to your short-term disability pay. If your physician does not respond to requests, MetLife will notify you via phone and letter.

Return to work
In order to return to work, the employee must provide a return-to-work statement authorized by their physician. If the employee is still disabled after 12 weeks, they may qualify for long-term disability benefits.

6.4 Long-term Disability Insurance

The College provides its eligible full-time employees and part-time employees who work a minimum of 30 hours per week with long-term disability insurance for instances of their own serious health condition as determined by a qualified physician. In order to qualify for long-term disability benefits, a claim must be filed with the insurance carrier and all of the following conditions must be met:

  • Employment by the College for at least 90 days; and
  • Exceed 90 days of disability due to the same or related sickness or injury, which must be accumulated within a 180-day period

The long-term disability benefit percentage is 60% of monthly base salary up to a maximum monthly benefit of $6,000.

Disability benefit programs are intended to supplement the College’s leave of absence policy and to comply with the federal Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993. For absences that qualify as “serious health conditions,” also refer to the Family and Medical Leave policy in section 5.5 of this handbook.

If the employee is unable to return to work after 12 weeks of active long-term disability coverage, the college retains the right to fill their position, see reasonable accommodation policy section 8.12

6.5 Paid Family Leave

Cleveland Institute of Art provides up to 11 weeks of paid family and medical leave in a 12-month period to eligible employees as defined below.

To be eligible for paid Family and Medical leave (PFML), an employee must:

  • Be a regular full-time employee with at least one full year of service at CIA and have worked at least 1,250 hours in the 12 months prior to the commencement of the leave.
  • Require leave from work for a reason covered by the Federal Family and Medical Leave Act, as explained below.

Waiting period

There is a 7-day waiting period before PMFL eligibility begins.  Employees must use any accrued PTO to cover this period, employees without PTO will take this time as unpaid. While on paid family leave, the accrual of sick and vacation time will cease.

Reasons for Leave 

An eligible employee can take PFML for any of the following reasons:

  • Birth and care of the newborn child of the employee
  • Placement with the employee of a child through adoption or foster care
  • To care for an immediate family member (spouse, child or parent) with a “serious health condition.”

*serious health condition as defined in section 5.5 of this employee handbook

Use of PFML
PFML will be subject to the following general requirements:

  • Employees are entitled to take up to 11 weeks of leave in a single 12-month period based on a doctor’s certification for the reasons specified above. For the purposes of this policy, CIA will calculate the amount of PFML available to an employee using a “rolling” 12-month period.  Available leave is determined by subtracting the number of weeks of PFML taken during this 12-month “look back” period from the 12-week total allowed. PMFL is only for continuous leave, intermittent conditions do not qualify. 
  • Employees will be eligible for up to 11 weeks of leave after a 7-day waiting period.  During the waiting period the employee will be required to use paid time off to cover their time.
  • Any PFML taken for the birth/adoption/foster care placement of a child must be completed within one year after the date of birth or placement.
  • Full-time employees will be compensated at the employee’s regular, base weekly rate of pay.
  • If the reason for PFML also is covered by the CIA’s short-term disability program (or other policies), benefits will run concurrently.
  • To the extent applicable, PFML will run concurrently with federal FMLA and any leave provided under state or local law.
  • The maximum PMFL cannot exceed 11 weeks
  • Employees may not exceed a total of 11 weeks combined leave within a year.  If an employee has taken time on short-term disability that time will be deducted from their PMFL eligibility.
  • If an employee is enrolled in group health insurance or other insurance benefits, these benefits will continue via payroll deduction.

In support of the need for PFML, the employee must provide a complete and sufficient certification form to CIA within 15 calendar days of the request. If it is not practicable for the employee to provide a certification within 15 days despite the employee’s diligent, good faith efforts to do so, the employee must contact CIA within 15 days to explain the situation.

Certification of the serious health condition must include the following:

  • Date when the condition began;
  • Condition’s expected duration;
  • Relevant facts regarding the condition

For a seriously ill family member, the certification must include a statement that the patient requires assistance and that the employee is needed to care for the family member.

If an employee timely returns from PFML and used the leave for the stated purpose, the employee will be reinstated to the same position held when leave began, or to an equivalent position with equivalent benefits, pay and other terms and conditions of employment.

Return from PFML will be in compliance with CIA’s FMLA policy as defined in section 5.5 of the employee handbook.

The following conduct is strictly prohibited in relation to PFML:

  • Engaging in fraud, misrepresentation or providing false information to CIA or any health care provider.
  • Obtaining additional employment
  • Failure to comply with the employee’s obligations under this policy.
  • Failure to timely return from the leave.

Employees who engage in such conduct will be subject to loss of benefits, denial or termination of PFML, and discipline.

6.6 Tuition Remission

The Cleveland Institute of Art provides tuition remission benefits to all eligible employees and their qualifying immediate family members. Remission credit is applied toward the cost of tuition for any undergraduate degree program or continuing education classes offered by the College.


100% Employees working a minimum of 35 hours per work for a full year
Continuing Education courses 
80% Full-time employees with 1 full year of service
40% Part-time benefits-eligible employees

The benefit is available after one continuous year of service. Remission begins at the start of the full semester following the date of eligibility. Courses taken by employees under this program cannot interfere with regularly scheduled work hours.

The remission is for tuition charged by the College for any undergraduate degree program class offered by the College. Fees and other charges are also not subject to remission.

For purposes of tuition remission, an immediate family member is a spouse or child, stepchild, or adopted child of an eligible employee of the Cleveland Institute of Art. Children are eligible up to age 26, with the benefit ending at the end of the academic year in which the student turns 26.

Tuition remission may be considered taxable under Federal and/or State regulations. Employees should consult with their tax advisor for a determination.

The tuition remission benefit terminates on the day an employee is no longer an employee of the College. 

6.7 Tuition Exchange

Tuition Exchange Inc., a non-profit association, was established to make careers at colleges and universities more attractive and supplement the means of providing a higher education for children of eligible employees. CIA is a member of this reciprocal scholarship program. Through the program, tuition is exchanged on behalf of eligible employee’s children who attend one of
the associated colleges or universities (other than the Cleveland Institute of Art).

Eligible employees may apply for this benefit after one year of continuous service. The dollar value and availability of scholarships vary from year to year. Because the College does not administer the program, it cannot not guarantee the availability of this benefit for its employees. The College also cannot guarantee the availability of a “slot,” even if the applicant is otherwise eligible.

In addition to children of current employees, the children of retired CIA employees with ten years or more full-time service are eligible. However, children of currently employed employees shall have priority over those of qualifying former employees in any situation where the Cleveland Institute of Art cannot export all applicants.

For more information about the Tuition Exchange Program visit or contact Human Resources.