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I'm onboarded! - Mark's Journal
mhaithaca
mhaithaca
I'm onboarded!
Instead of a new-employee orientation session with a small group, like I had the last time I started a job at Cornell in 2000, now they have "onboarding" appointments where each new hire meets with a series of people individually.

I didn't need to be shown how to update my work address and phone number in Employee Essentials; I'd already done it earlier in the week, because I knew the system. I could have kept my old employee ID card, but it's been falling apart, so I opted for a new one without having to pay a replacement fee as would be true if I waited until it finished breaking. I kept the photo in the system from last time they updated it, around 2004. Could have gotten a new photo, but this one was fine.

I didn't need a lot of explanations of the benefits, and for the most part, the benefits I had before will just kick in again. There's a slightly different health plan, slightly cheaper per month but you have to specify a primary care physician. That's fine; even though I've never met her, I can specify the doctor at Guthrie who George works with, and keep seeing George. I'm going to give the healthcare flexible spending account another try, having a little pre-tax money taken out of each paycheck that I can then use for co-pays, deductibles, prescriptions, etc. For the rest of 2012 it will work as it always has, requiring you to submit a form and get reimbursed, but starting on January 1st they will be moving to a new system that lets you use a debit card to pay directly out of your healthcare account! Their old provider wouldn't do this, saying there was no way to guarantee people wouldn't charge a candy bar along with their prescription, but the new provider has no such difficulty. (And, no, you can't charge a candy bar on the healthcare debit card.)

What about parking? Well, working in Dickson means I'm eligible for an R permit, which would let me park in the close-by parking lots around the North Campus residence halls. That would cost about $15 per pay period, or over $300 per year. I'm thinking I'd rather save that money and park in the not-much-farther-away A Lot, which is free. I can always change my mind if we have a nasty winter and I get sick of the walk.

I can even opt to get a central campus permit, that would have all of the parking benefits I used to enjoy, including being able to park in "Flex" spaces on campus when I need to go to meetings, or parking in the night-and-weekend restricted lots when I'm around outside work hours. But at $777.30 per year, I think I'm gonna pass. I can always get half-day or full-day visitor permits, and I'd bet if it's for work, the department either has one-day permits or would pay for the visitor permit.

The guy from Transportation mentioned that they've also raised the fines for parking illegally, but are trying to be more lenient with appeals if you have a valid excuse, like if you're really eligible to park somewhere but your permit was in the wrong car. And, they're cracking down on staff parking at the East Hill Plaza shopping center lot and taking the bus to campus rather than park where they're allowed to. The plaza lot is now signed with a four-hour limit for customers of the businesses there (apparently some store owners complained about the lot filling up with commuters) and there are staff spaces for people who work there.

The hour-long appointment ended with the HR lady handing me my newly printed (and chip-encoded) ID card, and a "welcome gift" consisting of a Cornell mug (actually quite a nice one) and a Cornell pen.
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Comments
kukla_red From: kukla_red Date: July 18th, 2012 06:35 pm (UTC) (Link)
I am so happy for you!

And the Flexcomp money on the debit card is one of the greatest inventions of the 22nd Century. I've had one for a while now and I'll pass on a little secret an HR person told me. Let's say you decide to contribute $2000 to your Flexcomp fund for 2013. When you get your card in January, it is already funded with the total amount for the year. So if you have a large-ish medical expense to handle early in the year, the money is already available. It can come in handy.

Congratulations again!
mhaithaca From: mhaithaca Date: July 18th, 2012 06:56 pm (UTC) (Link)

That's actually always been true, not just with the debit cards. The even better little secret is that if you spend or are reimbursed for money from the account that hasn't accrued yet, and the job ends before the money finishes accruing, you get to keep it. I briefly considered taking advantage of this last January, but decided it could backfire.
beeeej From: beeeej Date: July 19th, 2012 03:09 pm (UTC) (Link)
I loved the convenience of using a debit card for my med-flex account at the law firm, and at first I rolled my eyes and got annoyed when I learned that I would have to go back to filling out forms and faxing receipts when I arrived at Barnard. But the truth is, it's really nice to be able to charge that candy bar (and shampoo and fluoride rinse and shaving cream and Frappuccino) at the same time you're charging your prescription copay, instead of having to swipe twice while people are waiting behind you.

Plus I get 1% cash back on the copays by using my own card, so $480 in annual copays becomes $475.20. It ain't winning the lottery, but it's better than a stick in the eye.
microbie From: microbie Date: July 18th, 2012 06:41 pm (UTC) (Link)
welcome back!
4bit4 From: 4bit4 Date: July 18th, 2012 06:48 pm (UTC) (Link)
YAY!!

That being said, wow. My parking is $50/month for the normal lot. If I wanted to park in the indoor lot, it's $80/month. I miss parking for free :o/
mhaithaca From: mhaithaca Date: July 18th, 2012 06:58 pm (UTC) (Link)

If I could opt for $80/month indoor parking near where I'm working now, I'd seriously consider it. Parking in the garage on the other side of campus, near my last office, was great on the hottest days of summer and the nastiest days of winter: the car stayed unbaked and uniced.
4bit4 From: 4bit4 Date: July 18th, 2012 07:00 pm (UTC) (Link)
I was indoor for my first winter, but went outdoor once Summer hit. Some day I'll go back inside, but I find that I'm a cheap bastard and $1000 per year for parking is just harsh.
From: amyphilly Date: July 18th, 2012 07:26 pm (UTC) (Link)
Congrats!! I had a problem with the flex savings account debit card a few years ago, and went back to the old faxing reimbursement system. It's easy to fax things from work. I can't completely remember what the problem was, but I think that some stores where I wanted to buy things I couldn't, and once even at a CVS or Rite-aid the card didn't work. Which made it hard to remember which system I had done something at. Since I rarely request more than $300 for the year, waiting to get reimbursed isn't a big deal.
dansr From: dansr Date: July 18th, 2012 09:54 pm (UTC) (Link)
Sounds pretty awesome all the way around :)
jccohen From: jccohen Date: July 18th, 2012 09:55 pm (UTC) (Link)
Appointments sound a lot better than the old system.
rustmon From: rustmon Date: July 19th, 2012 12:25 am (UTC) (Link)
Yay!
adelais From: adelais Date: July 19th, 2012 03:19 am (UTC) (Link)
More lenient with appeals? Could they possibly be less lenient with appeals? Or have things changed in the last 3 years?
polypolyglot From: polypolyglot Date: July 19th, 2012 05:54 am (UTC) (Link)
Yay!
rjb5 From: rjb5 Date: July 19th, 2012 03:12 pm (UTC) (Link)
Congrats on getting back...

I have the debit card for my HSA, and, as I understand it, it's not the provider's job to worry about how you spend it -- that's between the IRS and you. They warn you to keep your receipts on file in case the IRS ever audits you, and I've noticed that Walgreens, at least, even flags items on your receipt that are HSA-allowable.

And not to be a "topper", but staff/faculty parking here at UW-Seattle is $1700 per year. A bus pass is $550 per year. I seem to recall when I was working at CU, back in the early 90s, they implemented a system-wide bus pass for staff and if you didn't have a parking permit, the bus pass was free! Those were the days....

Enjoy getting settled in at the new job.
mhaithaca From: mhaithaca Date: July 19th, 2012 03:37 pm (UTC) (Link)

I can't even imagine asking staff to pay $1,700 to park. Do you at least have a free or lower-cost option for parking on the periphery?

We do have the option of taking the bus for free, which is nice, but now that my office is on the far side of campus, and it would take two buses to get the three or so miles to or from work, it seems far less likely I'll even try it.
sskipstress From: sskipstress Date: July 19th, 2012 09:45 pm (UTC) (Link)
Permit parking at my office is $3000/yr. There are some cheaper lots that are a reasonable walking distance, but I pay approximately $1250/yr to take transit because for my current commute this is the fastest and least stressful way to get to my office.

At my last job, I drove when I lived somewhere I couldn't easily walk to a Metro station because it was faster and about the same price as parking at an outlying Metro station. I also chose to pay for parking there when I was working stupid crazy hours because a 30 min transit commute isn't bad but a 10-15 min car commute is better.
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