CASPER, Wyo. — A change in the University of Wyoming’s retirement plan will cut millions in employee health insurance benefits for future retirees.

The UW Board of Trustees in June moved to reduce the number of sick days an employee is allowed to accrue toward retirement from 960 to 480 and converted the payout to a one-time cash payment based on salary, the Casper Journal reported ( ).

Previously staff could bank unused sick days, which would then be applied toward payment of state health insurance premiums at retirement.

The old system was more than what other state employees received, UW President Laurie Nichols said

“This change, which aligns the university with other state agencies, is a prudent move during this time of financial uncertainty,” Nichols said. “Overall, our benefits package is still a strong one. Employee morale is always a concern during budget reductions, but this is a necessary step to put the university in a stronger position for the long term.”

Law professor Robert Sprague, of the Faculty Senate, says there was no notice that the benefit was being considered for elimination and no mention that the decision had been made.

He said he plans to ask the Faculty Senate to approve a resolution calling on the board to revisit the issue. He said the change should at least only apply to teachers hired after July 1.

“It didn’t matter what job you had here — as long as you qualified, you were paid the insurance premium based on your health insurance plan,” Sprague said. “Now the amount of your benefit depends on your salary at retirement.”