Over the past several years, May 4 has skyrocketed in popularity as Star Wars Day—as in, “May the Fourth be with you.” In honor of May the Fourth, we thought it would be fun to continue the rebellion against convention by using Star Wars themes to help future benefits gurus master the finer points in this or any galaxy. Three benefits scenarios are outlined below, with a galactic twist to help blast home these common benefits concepts.

Scenario 1: Chewbacca has requested a four-day workweek because he is looking for better work/life flexibility.

While the Rebel Alliance’s HR and benefits team has talked about four-day workweeks in passing, Chewbacca’s request has brought the discussion to the forefront. Defending freedom and eliminating evil in the galaxy takes a toll. The team realizes that the constant life-and-death nature of the work causes stress, burnout and turnover.

To gain a better understanding of how this change might work, the team must first consider the nature of their business, their organizational culture and their leadership.

Because the Alliance cannot “close” (the Galactic Empire threat is real and ongoing), they have round-the-clock operations. Certainly, they will not be able to have all employees be off the same day (e.g., Friday). Will a four-day workweek work for all roles? In Chewbacca’s case, his work as mechanic and pilot may be needed at any time. 

When considering the Alliance’s culture, they decide they are open to added flexibility, and that their leader, Chancellor and Commander-in-Chief Mon Mothma, might support this change.

The team discusses how this could be structured. There are several options when considering how many hours per day should be worked. Ten? Nine? Eight? This decision will impact the length and number of shifts. Employees will need to have different days off. The team then looks at other options, such as the 4.5-day workweek and the 30-hour workweek with six hours worked for all five days. Should workers be allowed to choose what they would like? This would add administrative complexities.

If they decide to make the change, they recognize they will need to revise current policies and look at priorities, efficiencies and technology needs. They will need to develop implementation and communication plans. In the end, the team decides to recommend a pilot (pun intended) program.   

Scenario 2: The Millennium Falcon is flying toward Tatooine for legitimate business purposes. Along the way, TIE Fighters attack the Falcon because of a personal grudge against its captain, Han Solo. Injuries occur. Because this incident occurred during a business trip, could Captain Solo’s health plan be on the hook for injuries he sustains before or during his escape through lightspeed?

Because the injuries were sustained while on a business trip for the Rebel Alliance, the injuries should be compensable under galactic workers’ compensation laws. Han Solo’s heroic reputation notwithstanding, Alliance benefits staff may decide to investigate the incident. Was Captain Solo acting recklessly or negligently at the time of the incident? Was he checking his subspace transceiver? Millennium Falcon copilot Chewbacca should be interviewed. If it is determined that Captain Solo was not at fault, the Alliance should cover his medical bills. What about time off to recuperate? Captain Solo is entitled to paid leave under workers’ comp. The Alliance can also consider permitting him to use additional sick or personal time off, if he has time available. This leave can be coordinated with short-term disability leave. The Alliance benefits department should also determine whether the leave should run concurrently with family and medical leave mandated under Galactic law. After Captain Solo is certified as recovered enough to return to work, it should be determined whether he can perform essential job functions (e.g., hand-eye coordination, firing a blaster, rescuing princesses, hiding in garbage chutes) with or without restrictions or accommodations.

Scenario 3: The Mandalorian Din Djarin (aka Mando) wants to adopt Grogu (aka Baby Yoda). He is seeking financial assistance to help with expenses.

For simplicity’s sake, let’s say Mando is a regular employee of the Bounty Hunter’s Guild, rather than an independent contractor working for the New Republic. The Bounty Hunter’s Guild offers adoption benefits. A first step for Mando is to check the Guild’s employee handbook and/or talk to the Guild’s benefits staff. There he can learn if there are eligibility requirements to access adoption benefits. Assuming a “typical” service requirement of one year or less, Mando’s 5+ years of service as a Guild Bounty hunter should make him eligible. Mando should also ask if there are age limits that apply to the child being adopted; some employers require that children be no older than what would be 16 or 18 human-equivalent years of age. At the time Mando is seeking adoption, Grogu is roughly 53 years old. However, because of the pace at which his species matures, he is still a toddler.

Once eligibility is confirmed, what benefits are available? Often, an employer will provide financial assistance up to a capped maximum amount or percentage of total expenses. While there likely would not be any adoption agency or placement fees, and no maternity fees payable to the birth mother, Mando could well incur legal fees or travel expenses (especially travel expenses—that hyperspace mileage really adds up). He should submit the information about these fees to the Guild. Another common type of adoption benefit offered is paid or unpaid leave, running either concurrently with or in addition to family and medical leave mandated under Galactic law. Time off is typically provided to facilitate bonding between parent and child, and to make adjustments to the living situation. While the bond between Mando and Grogu was firmly cemented some time ago, the leave could be spent settling into their cabin on Nevarro. Once the adoption is finalized, Grogu should be added as a dependent to Mando’s health insurance coverage.

Note: Fees paid for babysitting services are not reimbursable through adoption financial assistance. To recoup any fees paid to Peli Motto for her services, Mando should check with the Guild’s benefits department or consult the handbook to see if a dependent care flexible spending account is offered.

We sense your powers growing. But don’t end your training now! Avoid the quick and easy path that Darth Vader chose, and use the comments section to ask another question or create your own Star Wars benefits scenario.

Julie Stich, CEBS

Vice President, Content at the International Foundation

Favorite Foundation Product:Our Talking Benefits podcast!

Benefits Related Topics She’ll Happily Discuss: Issues involving mental health, financial well-being, innovative benefits, trends and new regulations (yes, she proudly admits she’s a benefits “nerdthusiast”!).  

Favorite Foundation Conference Moment: Vernice “FlyGirl” Armour’s closing session at the 2018 U.S. Annual Conference. Also, really likes being in a booth at whichever conference, and chatting with members.

Personal Insight: A history buff, Julie enjoys traveling to major U.S. landmarks. She is also a life-long Trekker, and will correct you if you mistakenly call her a “Trekkie.” 

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