Annual Report 1999
STAFF ADVISORY COUNCIL
1999 ANNUAL REPORT
The Notre Dame Staff Advisory Council (SAC) completed its fourth year of existence in 1999. It is empowered by the March 15, 1995, document that references Colloquium 2000 Recommendation 35 authored by Father William Beauchamp, University Executive Vice-President. SAC is a freely elected council of non-exempt staff who represent staff concerns on various issues. The SAC is an advisory group that does not form policy, but can have a distinct impact on policy that is formed by University administration. It is extremely important that campus staff is aware of this distinction. One of the most important functions of SAC is to serve as a two-way conduit of information between staff and administration.
During 1999, SAC held 11 regularly scheduled monthly meetings and one special meeting. In addition, several members of the SAC served on various ad hoc and standing committees, including: SAC promotion, elections, parking, staff picnic, communications, women's issues, executive and bylaws. Several of these committees often met after work or on lunch hours. We wish to thank all those SAC members who served on committees. The input generated by their additional effort was invaluable to the various ends of each committee and to the overall function of the SAC.
Attendance of elected representatives at regular meetings averaged 70% during 1999 (range: 9-100%) (Table 1). It is extremely important that elected representatives make every effort to attend all meetings because there is an inherent and important responsibility to the staff of each district that cannot be fulfilled without attending SAC meetings. Three individuals were present at all meetings in 1999: Jan Blazi, Leona Strickland and Melodie Wise. Several other individuals only missed a single meeting. Congratulations to these members for their extra effort.
Several major issues were discussed by SAC in 1999: 1) overtime versus holiday pay; 2) compensation review and matrix versus market versus performance reviews; 3) sick leave policy, and; 4) promotion of the Staff Advisory Council.
MAJOR ACCOMPLISHMENTS AND ISSUES
Overtime Pay versus Holidays: This topic received considerable attention throughout 1999. At issue is the loss of earned overtime pay when a University-mandated holiday occurs at the same pay period. Overtime pay does not take effect until 40 hours are actually worked. The Department of Human Resources (HR) did indicate the current policy satisfies terms of the Fair Labor Standards Act. But, after much discussion, it is the opinion of SAC that because the hours were earned, a better solution would be to pay overtime, regardless of holiday hours. This would be the only situation where overtime hours could be earned in less than 40 hours of actual work time. Overtime pay would still be lost if sick and vacation hours occurred during the same pay period. HR representatives analyzed costs of such a program and estimated that if all time-off days were included (e.g. vacation, sick, holiday) cost would exceed $300,000 annually. However, if only holiday hours were included, the cost may be $70,000-$100,000. The benefit to employees' salaries and morale would seem to far outweigh costs of implementing this program.
Sick Leave Policy: The SAC spent considerable time and effort discussing the University's, current sick leave policy and being educated on its nuances. Of high priority was the current cap of 720 hours accumulated time and "reimbursement" for unused sick time. HR examined sick leave policies at other institutions and reported that policies varied considerably, with no set pattern. However, the accumulation of 720 sick hours exceeds that of many other employers' policies and compares favorably with local businesses. Therefore, no change in the cap is expected or warranted.
The other major issue involving sick leave was compensation to employees for unused sick time. Several options were discussed by SAC, including: 1) remuneration at retirement; 2) periodic University partial buy-backs during employment once an employee had reached the cap; 3) designation of sick leave accumulated by one individual to be used by another individual who requires more sick leave than they have accumulated. HR indicated that most of the ideas were very good, but the main issue of receiving pay for accumulated sick leave is that some departments do not follow appropriate procedures in reporting sick time for non-exempt staff. SAC went on record to support Human Resources in pursuing accurate reporting of sick time in all depart- ments campus-wide.
Compensation Review and Matrix System: HR continued to update SAC on compensation issues among non-exempt employees. The University has now appropriated $2 million of new money ($1 million in 1997-98; $0.5 million in 1998-99; and $0.5 million in 1999-2000) above and beyond regular salary increases to aid those groups that were farthest from market value, specifically technical and office clerical staff. Significant progress was made on the University goal of an average of $110% market value, and on a campus-wide basis, HR reported the following:
Overall, the University has increased by 179 employees since January 1, 1996, and in 1998, there were 232 non-exempt new hires and 132 non-exempt promotion/transfers.
Several discussions occurred during the year concerning the promotion/transfer policy and possible inconsistencies and/or abuse. After considerable research by HR, it was reported that, indeed, nearly all promotion/transfer cases were handled appropriately. The old adage "Believe nothing you hear, and only half of what you see" may be instructive at this point.
The matrix system was in place for increases in the 1999-2000 budget year, and as discussed last year, the continued existence of the matrix appears to be uncertain; but a total shift to strictly merit increases also appears unlikely. Accurate performance reviews continue to hamper this process, and several changes were incorporated in performance review forms:
1. Position Description section has been moved to the actual form instead of in the guidelines.
2. The classification commendable was changed to exceeds expectations.
3. The classification acceptable was changed to meets expectations.
4. Reference to attendance under dependability has been deleted.
5. Separate check boxes for attendance and punctuality were added to the non-exempt form.
6. The criteria terms "initiative" and "individual effectiveness" have been deleted from the non-exempt form.
7. A broader "development plan section" has been added to the non-exempt form because this was the greatest problem observed in 1998, not only for those aspiring to promotion, but also those in need of improvement.
Annual increases will still be guided by budget constraints, regardless of the type of compensation and performance review programs.
Promotion of SAC: The SAC continues to be the voice of non-exempt employees to University administration and remains open to all ideas and issues put forth by staff. As with any endeavors, there are some distractors, due to reasonable, but very often unreasonable, expectations. To improve the image and understanding of the SAC, considerable time was spent in 1999 pondering this issue. Ad hoc and standing committees met several times, and the following lists of problems and ideas were developed.
Problems to Overcome:
- Poor/no communication between representatives and their constituency.
- Absenteeism of elected representatives at SAC meetings.
- Reorganization of districts (larger districts - fewer representatives).
- Re-emphasizing the purpose of SAC --- communication.
- Include information on the SAC as part of the indoctrination packet for new hires.
- Periodically open meetings to staff.
- Distribution of annual report to all non-exempt staff.
- Booths at campus events.
- Annual greeting cards to staff and appropriate greetings to support SAC representatives.
- Budget available.
- Staff surveys.
Input by non-exempt staff to district representatives remains the most critical function of SAC. To this end, SAC was committed to developing a list of prioritized issues after input by individual districts. The following issues were identified and are listed in order of priority.
1. Sick leave (various issues): increase ceiling, pay unused sick hours at retirement; annually reward zero lost time due to illness or injury; eliminate fraudulent reporting.
2. Retirement issues: retiree benefit enhancement; improve early retirement options; enrich pension formula.
3. Carry over of vacation time.
4. "Hazard" or "snow" pay for those staff that are on a 365 day year - 24 hours a day.
5. Insurance premiums reduced for husband and wife, versus family coverage.
6. Increase unused benefit dollar amount for staff who do not enroll in Notre Dame's insurance plan.
7. Meal plan discounts for staff.
8. Funeral policy - expanded coverage and address travel time.
9. Life insurance for other family members.
10. Expand campus telephone book to include non-exempt staff.
11. Short-term disability plan.
Clearly some of these issues were addressed earlier in this report, and others remain to be discussed by the SAC.
Other Important Activities: Several other matters were discussed or acted upon by SAC during 1999. A synopsis is given below, but more details may be found in meeting minutes, which are published in the Staff Newsletter.
- Elections and replacement of representatives to the SAC and to various ad hoc committees: This is always an active issue, as individuals continuously are promoted and/or leave the University.
- Staff picnic: A booth with a suggestion box was a new endeavor for SAC in 1999 at the annual staff appreciation picnic. Considerable planning was put into this activity, and the booth was manned by SAC volunteers during the entire picnic. We were somewhat disappointed by the lack of suggestions, but were encouraged by those who did stop by. Responses to questions/suggestions were printed in the November/December Staff Newsletter. SAC anticipates continuing this project. A logo contest was part of the activities, and Rita Egendoerfer, Department of Chemistry/Biochemistry, submitted the winning entry. (See Title cover)
- Review Bylaws: SAC bylaws are reviewed every two years, and an ad hoc committee was formed in early 1999 to address this issue. Primary changes were made in term lengths for both district representatives and executive committee members.
- Father Malloy requested the SAC review the current University Drug and Alcohol Policy and offer any changes or suggestions. Subsequent to a special meeting, SAC responded to him by letter stating our position, after input from districts and a special meeting in late September.
- Some SAC representatives questioned the disposal of seemingly good furniture and appliances by students and the University, thinking these items could possibly be used by other parties or institutions in need. University administrators indicated that the possibility of distributing these items to interested parties exists.
- The Women's Issues Committee continues to be very active and hosted several events throughout 1999, including brown bag lunches, a women's fair and an evening of reflection. This committee is comprised of six SAC members and six staff-at-large members. (For more information, see Appendix A.)
The SAC would like to thank: Paul Henry, Alan Bigger, Jeff Korros, and Rich Kazmierczak for taking time from their busy schedules to provide information to SAC representatives. Our thanks also goes to Linda Dunn, photographer.
The continued support of the Department of Human Resources is greatly appreciated - specifically the tireless efforts and patience of HR liaisons Rich Nugent, Sarah Misener, and Pam Zarazee to aid, educate and re-educate staff. Pam's additional duties as recording secretary were shared this year with Wendy Mott, who did a great job of taking over so Pam could spend some time with her newborn son. Input by other HR staff: Rita Winsor, Jessica Brookshire and Denise Murphy is also gratefully acknowledged. Sanbine Taras, an HR intern from France, was a guest at several meetings as an observer.