November 18, 1999
The Office of Human Resources has authorized Tulane staff members to donate vacation leave to other employees who have a medical emergency and have exhausted their own vacation and sick leave. The vacation leave transfer policy allows donation either through a personal arrangement between staff members or through a system where employees donate leave time to a central bank.
"It's a morale booster," says Evola Bates, vice president for human resources, who crafted the policy. "It makes people feel good when they help other people." Bates wrote the policy, which goes into effect on July 1, after reviewing similar policies at other institutions.
Tulane's policy allows staff members who have a medical emergency, or who have an immediate family member with a medical emergency, to use donated vacation time to avoid losing income. To use the policy, staff members must have completed their conditional (six-month) period of employment and exhausted all accrued leave, including sick, vacation, floating holiday and compensatory time.
The policy will fall under the structure of the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), which allows staff members from three days to 12 weeks of leave to deal with their own serious health conditions or to care for an immediate family member with a serious health condition. Under the FMLA, this condition is defined as one that requires inpatient care or continuing treatment through a healthcare provider.
At press time, Bates says the policy neither permits nor forbids using donated time to augment a staff member's maternity leave, although leave after a birth or adoption of a child is covered under the FMLA. She says her office will decide on the inclusion of maternity leave at a later date.
To apply for the donated leave a staff member must submit a written request to human resources as well as a certification from a health provider about the medical condition. Human resources will process requests on a first-come, first-served basis and will contact the staff members supervisor to determine whether there has been any chronic abuse of leave.
Staff members who donate vacation time must also send a written request to human resources to transfer vacation leave to an individual or to the leave bank. The minimum amount of leave they may donate during a fiscal year is seven and one-half hours for staff members who work 37.5 hours a week and eight hours for those who work 40 hours a week.
The maximum amount is one-half of the donors annual accrual. Staff members who have excess accrued vacation leave may donate one-half of the excess leave prior to his or her anniversary date. Faculty members-who dont accrue vacation and sick leave-are not covered by the policy, Bates says. As the policy now stands, staff members may donate only vacation leave and not sick leave to the bank or other staffers.
Bates says the university's administration will research the possibility of adding sick leave donation to the policy. Bates says she thinks human resources and the payroll office should have no problem administering the policy.
"This topic actually came up on a human resources listserve that I belong to, and some people wrote that these policies were an administrative nightmare and others said they were very easy to do," she says. "I think the way we have set up this program will make it easy to administer and will also guard against abuse."
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