The University currently offers an Employee Assistance Program (EAP). It is housed in McCosh Health Center and its budget is administered by Human Resources. At this point the EAP counselor works three days per week. He provides a limited number of sessions for employees and supervisors and makes referrals as needed. There have been concerns that this limited commitment does not adequately serve the University’s needs. We recommend that the University consider a combined system that would provide fulltime EAP services on campus and follow-up and additional services by telephone (24 hours a day/7 days a week) with an outside provider and referrals to specialized local or long-distance providers. There are several respected outside agencies that provide assistance with personal finance, elder care, family counseling, and other needs; members of the task force have met with two of them. The Priorities Committee has approved additional funds for next year that should cover these recommended changes.
The EAP could become one component of a more comprehensive that would assist members of the faculty and staff in balancing work-life issues. This office could provide information about child care resources on and off-campus and about elder care, develop programs that make it easier for faculty and staff members to meet their family obligations, and provide information on a broad range of services in the community. Such an office would have one or more staff members and an oversight committee composed of a representative group of faculty and staff to provide guidance for the office and help shape priorities.
Although most employees are satisfied with the total amount of leave they are given, we have heard a number of concerns about the University’s policies regarding sick leave. Currently, University employees receive 8 sick days per year. Unused days cannot be saved or rolled over from year to year. After 8 continuous days of being ill, an employee qualifies for short-term disability. If an employee has intermittent illnesses or wishes to take time to care for a family member, the employee must use vacation days, time without pay, etc. There are situations where this presents a serious hardship for the employee. We also have learned that there are some employees who mistakenly believe they are entitled to take their 8 sick days as “vacation” if they do not need them as sick days. We recommend that the University consider:
Putting in place a system that would allow employees to roll over and bank more sick days. Only a few could be rolled over each year to accumulate up to the 14-16 day range. Unused sick leave would not be eligible for compensation. (In this respect it would differ from vacation time; an employee can “bank” up to 30 vacation days and upon leaving the University will be paid for those unused days.)
Creating a “bank” for those who use all their vacation or sick leave and still need additional time to address health and related issues. Employees would be able to apply to this bank for additional days and could be required to pay the days back if they are able.
Expanding the pilot “Paid Time Off” (PTO) program currently being tried in some of the Facilities units. The program provides time off for hours worked and eliminates the distinction among different kinds of paid leave (for illness, vacation, compelling reason, etc.), allowing employees maximum flexibility in how they allocate leave time. It has been very successful and we are told that employees, the union, and supervisors like