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A mother cares for her sick child

Changes coming on sick and bereavement leave policies for P

CAPA Benefits and Compensation Committee update

By Frank Douma

Brief, March 8, 2006

It's no surprise that everyone gets sick sometimes--including University academic professional and administrative (P&A) employees. And most of us find it useful to stay home from work to get better. But it can be a surprising experience for many P&A employees to find out how sick leave works here at the U. "May be absent with pay...for up to two weeks by informally notifying..." is how the policy currently reads. This information is followed by discussion of a more comprehensive, formal sick-leave policy, but it's the informal policy that applies when we have a cold.

And it leaves us with a headache. "Does two weeks mean 10 days or 14 days?" "Is that working days or all days?" "I see that I can stay home to take care of a sick child, but what about my spouse or partner or parent?" While the Office of Human Resources (OHR) has developed some guidance on answering these questions, it has not necessarily been widely known or followed.

The confusion may be ending. The Council of Academic Professionals and Administrators (CAPA) Benefits and Compensation Committee is working with OHR to get these questions answered.

In 2003, CAPA passed five principles that it would like to see in a new sick-leave policy: 1. Reasonable sick leave should be available to employees who are sick. 2. Reasonable sick leave should also be available to employees to take care of a member of their family (broadly defined). 3. Reasonable sick leave should be available for bereavement upon the death of a family member (defined as in the second principle). 4. Reasonable sick leave should be available to participate in wellness activities. 5. Sick leave should apply in the same way to faculty and to academic professionals and administrators.

During the past year, OHR has developed conceptual language that incorporates these principles: A revised sick-leave policy that covers principles 1, 2, 4, and 5, and a new bereavement-leave policy that addresses principle 3.

Implementation of these policies will require approval by the regents, tentatively scheduled for early fall 2006. In the meantime, however, P&A employees should watch the CAPA and OHR Web sites for drafts of these policies and make comments. Comments will be considered as the policies are developed and implemented.

For more information, see Benefits and Compensation Committee.

Frank Douma is assistant program director for the State and Local Policy Program, Humphrey Institute for Public Affairs, and a research scholar at the Center for Transportation Studies, Twin Cities campus. He serves as the Humphrey Institute's representative to CAPA and chairs CAPA's Benefits and Compensation Committee.