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Family leave; tree plaza

Q

I have several Delphi questions. I'm a male, without children (adopted or
otherwise), who is concerned about the equity of UCAR policy regarding
leave for childbirth and adoption. My understanding is that childbearing
leave is handled in a similar way to "leave due to any other type of
disability" (UCAR Benefits Manual). I take this to mean that sick leave is
to be used for the childbearing leave.

My questions are:

(1) Although childbirth is certainly debilitating, I believe that most
people would distinguish between childbirth and a sickness, since
childbirth is not an abnormal medical condition. I doubt if an expecting
parent would be too thrilled to be starting a career at UCAR given that
they would almost certainly have to take some unpaid leave for the
childbirth, since they will not have a chance to accrue sick leave by the
time of the delivery. Why is it that UCAR considers it appropriate to use
sick leave for childbirth? Isn't this somewhat harsh for new employees who
have not accrued much sick leave?

(2) My understanding is that a parent who gives birth may use 6 to 12 weeks
of sick leave, depending on the difficulty of the delivery and on whether
she has this sick leave accrued. A parent who adopts is eligible for two
weeks of sick leave. Is this correct, and does UCAR feel that the
difference between a childbirth and an adoption is such that it justifies a
discrepancy of three to six hundred percent in the sick time that can be
taken due to these events?

(3) I realize that this comes up regularly, but is it possible that the
move of Finance and Administration to Pearl Street could clear up some room
for daycare facilities at UCAR?

(4) On an unrelated note, do you know what will happen to the trees on the
tree plaza at the Mesa Lab when the plaza is remodeled? Is there a way to
transplant them?

Answered on July 13, 2000

A

First, it may be helpful to readers to review UCAR's policy on leaves of
absence, available at www.fin.ucar.edu/hr/benefits/manual/index.html
on the Web. Based on the results of the recent American
Physical Society (APS) survey, a comprehensive review of family-friendly
issues will be conducted.

(1) Childbirth is classified an "illness" or "disability" (though
temporary) by many organizations since it is considered a medical
condition. UCAR handles childbirth leave in a similar manner to that of any
illness or disability.

Because childbirth is a medical condition and may require surgery, the body
needs time to heal just as in many other medical conditions requiring
hospitalization. Thus, childbearing leave is considered to be sick leave.

UCAR's policy on benefits, as with salaries, is to be competitive with
similar organizations. We must balance the needs and wants of employees
with the costs of providing these benefits. Overall, UCAR's benefits
package, including vacation, sick leave, and other types of leave, is
generous compared to most of our peer organizations.

Prior to accepting employment at UCAR, employees are given information on
the sick leave and vacation benefits for which they are eligible. New
employees are automatically given six days of sick leave upon the first day
of employment, prorated by full-time equivalent (FTE) status. At the same
time, the employee accrues vacation hours. If a new employee needs to use
sick leave, and exhausts those available hours, vacation hours may be used.
The leave policy states, "with special approval, sick leave credits can be
advanced to those who have not accumulated enough to cover the period of
disability."

(2) The employee's physician determines the time needed for recovery from
childbirth. UCAR does not stipulate the amount of time needed for recovery.
As with any illness or disability, we depend upon the employee's physician
to provide a suggested return date based upon the needs of the individual
employee.

In an adoption, many employees have used family sick leave, a subset of
available hours within the employee's sick leave balance. These hours, up
to 80 per year, are available for use by an employee who requires leave to
care for an immediate family member. If these hours are exhausted, an
employee may use accrued vacation hours. Thereafter, the leave would be unpaid.

In either an adoption or childbirth, the employee may be eligible for
benefits under the federally mandated Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA)
which allows for paid or unpaid leave up to 12 weeks per year. Employees
with one year of service or greater are eligible. During the period of FMLA
the employee's job is protected and UCAR continues to pay its customary
share of the health insurance premium as though the employee were not on leave.

(3) With Finance and Administration's move to Pearl Street, ESIG staff have
already moved into some of the vacated space. The remaining space is being
used to temporarily relocate FL staff during the MINT rewiring project. The
question about daycare facilities has been asked many times over the years
(Delphi Questions in 1981, 1987, 1988) as well as reviewed by the
President's Council in more recent years. Significant costs, legal
liabilities, and lack of available space have kept UCAR from pursuing the
development of a daycare facility.

-Laurie Carr, Benefits Manager, Human Resources


Response, question 4 (received 30 June): The [original] trees on the ML
tree plaza are too old, weathered, diseased, and inaccessible to be good
candidates for transplant. We are currently working with the construction
contractor to determine if the trees can be recycled for use as garden
mulch. Trees of from three to four inches in diameter are optimum for
planting. The new trees will be Patmore ash. Although they will initially
be smaller than the existing trees, we will have the next 35 years to enjoy
their growth and development.

-Tina Bogott, ML Renovation Project Manager, Facilities Support Services