October 27, 2016 Vice Chancellor Representatives’ Meeting
Attending: Bryan Andregg, Linc Butler, Gena Carter, Phillip Edwards, Matt Fajack, David Fraley, Lori Haight, Shayna Hill, James Holman, Karen Jenkins, Jackie Overton, Katie Musgrove, Michael Penny, Charles Streeter, Carol Tresolini, Ben Triplett, Felicia Washington
Gena Carter began the meeting at 1:32 p.m. Phillip Edwards noted that tuition waiver policy needs to become more visible for employees desiring this discount. He suggested that the University create one clearing house for the benefit of employees. Carter asked that employees with information to send this along to her and Linc Butler. She said that Kathy Bryant would be willing to post something on the Human Resources website. Bryan Andregg noted the problem that tuition waivers are not being accepted for certain executive courses.
Carter noted the suggestion that the Continuing Education of the Friday Center would be the best location for staff to find answers to their questions. Edwards noted the value of employees obtaining advanced degrees toward their talent development. Charles Streeter proposed that the Forum include this information in a staff handbook similar to the faculty handbook. Felicia Washington asked for a copy of the faculty handbook. Gena Carter noted that the new employee orientation gives blurbs from the handbook. Washington sought to make this information more public. Michael Penny said that the faculty handbook is available at facultyhandbook.unc.edu. Streeter proposed that the Forum include information about tuition waivers in its InTouch newsletter the month before classes begin.
Michael Penny said that the Business School and Journalism and Mass Communication School have opted out of the tuition waiver program. Katie Musgrove added that the School of Government’s Masters’ Program has also opted out. Michael Penny thought that it was not in the interest of these programs to accept tuition waivers. Carol Tresolini said that she was very surprised to hear of these exemptions. She would check on the status of these programs. Felicia Washington said that professional schools have had permission for tuition waiver exemptions. Musgrove thought that tuition waiver always applied to undergraduate courses. Carter said that Human Resources would reach out to the Kenan-Flagler Business School of more information. She said that the tuition waiver program is not driven by the budget model but is directed by University policy instead. Tresolini said that Masters’ programs set curriculum whereby all students, tuition waived and not, must enroll together.
Bryan Andregg asked about the possibility of establishing a wellness program for University staff in collaboration with the Gillings School for Public Health. He said that the UNC-Chapel Hill program needs a full-time staff person to properly support the program’s mission. Gena Carter said that UNC-Chapel Hill used to have such a staff person but lost the position due to budget cuts and other priorities. Felicia Washington said that the Office of Human Resources recognizes the need for a more active wellness program. She said that UNC-Chapel Hill needs to devote resources to having a healthy work-life balance for its staff. Carol Tresolini said that faculty used to have their own plan around ten years ago.
Andregg hoped to reengage the Live Well, Work Well program from around three years ago. Linc Butler hoped to reestablish resources for a long-term program by looking at the UNC-Asheville model which uses a half-time support position.
Felicia Washington noted that University policy specifies that certain courses are not covered by the tuition waiver program for staff, including the MBA, MPP, and the non-degree courses at the Friday Center, among others. Carol Tresolini said that the exemption was meant to apply only to professional schools and not to undergraduate degree courses.
Charles Streeter relayed the experience of an employee who applied for a position, only to be told that the position was already filled and the person had been brought in for an interview only to fulfill a diversity requirement. Understandably, the woman was livid about this treatment. Gena Carter asked if this employee had already applied for another job. Streeter said that he would supply more details, but wanted to put the general question on the radar for Human Resources to avoid similar situations. Washington said that her office would hold a conversation with those specific people involved. She emphasized the point that anyone receiving an interview for a position must receive full and fair consideration. She said that these interviews should not take place for solely to fulfill diversity requirements. She said that the Human Resources Office should make proper training available to the interviewing committee as well as the Human Resources Council. Ben Triplett noted that on-line training for interviews is available for EHRA and SHRA employees. Bryan Andregg wondered how often a pool of candidates has been returned as not diverse enough.
Charles Streeter asked for an update on the new budgetary model. Matt Fajack said that Finance & Administration had discussed this model with Chancellor Folt. He said that the next meeting would be the best time to discuss this model. Fajack said that Vice Chancellors will receive a briefing on the shared services model in a November 14th communication. He said that Finance & Administration must gather data to start further progress this coming calendar year. He said that only Vice Chancellor units, not schools, will work within the shared services model. The model will be implemented piecemeal by month. He did not want to get ahead of any policies on the subject. Streeter noted interest in how the shared services model will affect people’s jobs, most notably the potential for employees to lose their jobs. He also noted the possibility that people will be asked to carry the burden for more than one position without further compensation. Fajack said that the question of obtaining these efficiencies still is being answered.
James Holman noted a policy related to housekeepers’ performance reviews. In this policy, employees must be present for 85% of their scheduled worktime in a quarter to avoid receiving a counseling letter. However, excused absences count as absences in this quarterly reckoning. He did not think it right that a doctor’s visit approved by one’s supervisor could be held against the employee in their performance review. Holman said that one employee had called him regarding an approved two-week vacation followed by a doctor’s note for illness. That employee received a counseling letter. Holman said that this situation is bad for employees and bad for morale, particularly as staffing has been cut to the bone. He said that Housekeeping positions have gone vacant for 6-8 months. He said that these employees deserve their time off, but do not deserve ratings of ‘Good’ or lower for work attendance below 85% a quarter under this policy.
Gena Carter said that Holman’s question raised multiple issues. She asked about which absences qualify as excused. Ben Triplett said that these employees must ask for time off three days in advance. Felicia Washington asked if it not advertised that excused days count as part of the threshold for attendance. Holman said that employees know this now since the policy has caused an uproar. He bemoaned a lack of communication about the policy.
Ben Triplett said that the percentage threshold is cumulative and reviewed every three months. An employee in their second quarter has six months reviewed cumulatively. Triplett said that unless an employee holds over 20 years’ service, the employee will not earn enough to go over their allotment. Matt Fajack asked about serious illnesses. Ben Triplett said that the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) governs these instances. Jackie Overton asked if this policy covers hospitals stays. Triplett said that it does not. Civil leave, jury leave, and workers’ compensation leave also do not count under the policy to go over allotment. (?) Any absence in Housekeeping will count versus the threshold if not covered under the FMLA.
Shayna Hill asked about employees who take two weeks’ vacation then have an illness which requires them to be out of work for another week. Would this employee be penalized? Triplett said that this employee would receive a counseling letter. Holman said that this policy undermines the morale of employees trying to do their job. Triplett said that two hundred-plus hours are selected as a threshold by management intentionally. He said that Housekeeping units must have a certain number of employees present to get the job done. The policy was established to prevent burnout among Housekeeping staff forced to cover for their absent co-workers. If more than two employees in a unit are out, they cannot clean as they should.
James Holman asked about housekeepers working first shift. Why do managers not disapprove leave for employees in danger of going over the threshold? Triplett said that managers can do this. Holman asked about temporary housekeepers taking their 31 day break and also the need to take six months to replace positions in Housekeeping. Triplett observed that these were separate issues. Holman said that these issues go to the question of burnout among Housekeeping employees.
Triplett said that the pilot program of this attendance policy had improved attendance 5% in the pilot unit. He would not argue that there have been communication issues, but the policy was added due to staffing issues in units. He said that this has been the Housekeeping department’s policy for two years.
Bryan Andregg asked if the policy could review attendance every quarter but assess attendance annually. Triplett said that Housekeeping has multiple staff, some of whom are international staff. He said that the department tries to address, not punish, in these situations and he granted that there had been a communications breakdown. Katie Musgrove asked that the department make it clear that the counseling letter is not a formal reprimand.
Gena Carter clarified that a counseling memo/clarification of expectations is a part of a manager’s tools to monitor employee time off. She said that these letters do not go into an employee’s main personnel file. Holman responded that these letters still affect an employee’s personnel review. Ben Triplett said that an employee is not expected to see if they will be absent for a week’s illness six months ahead of time. He said that if an employee fell below the 85% attendance threshold there would perhaps be questions about an upcoming choice to take a full two weeks’ vacation following. Triplett said that Housekeeping is production work that requires people to be present.
James Holman asked which other departments are affected by this policy in the Facilities Services division. Ben Triplett said that each department in Facilities Services writes their own attendance policy. Felicia Washington noted the time remaining was nearly at an end. As a manager, she did not want to face twenty different leave slips on January 1st of each year. Holman noted that some employees have already asked for time off in this situation. Triplett said that the majority of problems result from managers not knowing about absences ahead of time.
Gena Carter said that a training effort to let employees and managers know about the nuances of the policy seemed in order. Matt Fajack said that he would inquire with Anna Wu about establishing training about this policy. Ben Triplett said that a leadership meeting on November 15th in Housekeeping should clarify the situation. David Fraley noted that information shared with leadership does not always reach line employees.
In the absence of further discussion, the meeting adjourned at 2:25 p.m.
Matt Banks, Recording Secretary