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Best Employers for Workers Over 50

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AARP Best Employers for Workers Over 50

George Mason University

2009 Winner

Benefits/Health: Full- and part-time employees who work 20 or more hours per week can receive individual and family medical, prescription-drug, vision, dental, long-term care, and short- and long-term disability coverage.

To help employees handle out-of-pocket health-care costs, the university offers health flexible spending accounts (FSA). In addition, to help offset an increase in health-insurance premiums, George Mason offers a $3 monthly health-insurance credit for individuals and a $9 monthly health-insurance credit for families.

Retirees under and above age 65 receive the same health benefits as working employees. In addition, retirees have the services of an employee assistance program and receive individual and spousal life insurance. Employees who have worked for the university for a minimum of 15 years at retirement are eligible for a health-insurance credit to help with the cost of premiums.

Benefits/Financial: Full- and part-time employees who work 20 or more hours per week can participate in a defined-benefit plan, an employer-matched defined-contribution plan, or a money-purchase defined-contribution plan. George Mason offers 403(b) and 457(b) plans. The university also contributes funds to either the Virginia Retirement System or the Optional Retirement Program defined-contribution accounts. George Mason automatically enrolls all new hires in the contribution plan; all employees can choose to invest in life-cycle funds based on age and proximity to retirement; and employees age 50+ can make catch-up contributions. Staff from the financial-services firm that administers the plan, and other financial experts, provide financial information and training to George Mason employees. The retirement plan's vendors visit campus monthly to offer one-on-one financial counseling. In addition, the university offers financial-planning seminars, pre-retirement seminars, and retirement counseling.

Employees at George Mason receive paid time off and leaves of absence without pay to care for children or other family members.

All the university's full- and part-time employees have access to wellness benefits, including flu shots, health screenings, health-risk appraisals, a smoking-cessation program, fitness-facility discounts, exercise programs, a weight-loss program, and stress-management training. The staff and faculty also have access to the university aquatic center, the physical education building and gym, and dining or nutrition resources. During the past 12 months, 33 percent of all employees have used at least one of the wellness benefits.

Among the other wellness programs, each fall, the university holds a faculty-staff Enrichment Day. That day, employees can participate in seminars, a vendor fair, and lunch. All employees have access to on-site child care, grandchild care, referral services to assist with child care, grandchild care, and eldercare, and backup services for all three types of dependent care. The university has a corporate arrangement with a Web site that provides employees free access and where they can find babysitters, pet-sitters, or day care for elderly relatives.

Benefits/Alternative-Work Arrangements:
Full- and part-time employees can take advantage of flexible or compressed-work schedules, job-sharing, and telecommuting. Full-time employees can move to part-time work on a permanent or temporary basis.

Opportunities for Retirees: George Mason has 544 retirees and a staff person with direct responsibility for managing retiree relations. The university communicates with its retirees regularly, invites them to events and celebrations, provides them ongoing access to retirement-planning workshops and information, and formally acknowledges employees when they retire.

Upon retirement, employees also receive a package from the university that contains sports tickets, a parking decal, and a campus ID card for access to all university facilities. George Mason maintains a list of retirees who are available for temporary assignments, consulting positions, full- or part-time work, and social, volunteer, and training opportunities—which are expanding for retirees.

Age of Workforce: Thirty-seven percent of George Mason University employees are age 50+, with an average tenure of 11.6 years.

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