Conservatives explored proposed changes to the University of Missouri system’s staff paid leave program on Thursday.
- Paid time off for vacation, sickness and personal reasons would be part of a larger bank of paid time off (PTO). Currently, they are separated by type and assigned a number of hours.
- Short-term disability leave and parental or compassionate care leave would constitute their own category of paid leave. Currently, if necessary, a staff member must draw hours from existing categories.
The proposal would affect about 13,000 system employees, Marsha Fischer, UM’s director of human resources, said in a presentation to UM’s system board of curators. The council held its regular meeting at MU.
The earliest the board would vote on the changes is September. UM spokesman Christian Basi said staff committees had been consulted and there would be opportunities for more input from staff and others ahead of board votes.
The current staff paid leave program uses a traditional approach that separates vacation, sick, personal and statutory holidays. That means a hypothetical new MU hourly staffer receives 12 vacation days, 12 sick days, nine public holidays, four personal days and four days for winter vacation, according to board documents.
The proposed program would put vacation, sick time, and personal days into the PTO bank of this hypothetical new hourly employee, and the employee would have 18 days to use for the necessary reason. The nine days of vacation and the four days off for the winter break would remain the same, according to the documents.
Under the current program, new hourly members of campus staff are offered 41 days of paid leave, but there is no paid short-term disability leave or paid leave for parents and caregivers. .
Under the proposed scheme, that same staff member would receive 31 paid days of absence in addition to paid short-term disability leave and paid parental and compassionate care leave.
The new program is being created to provide a competitive package for job applicants as well as to encourage retention of current employees. An important part of this, from a system perspective, is the addition of paid short-term disability leave and paid parental and compassionate care leave.
Responding to a question from one of the curators, Ji Chuan Leong of Aon Consulting said new mothers could use six weeks of short-term disability and four weeks of parental leave for a total of 10 weeks of paid leave. Aon Consulting participated in the evaluation and recommendation of the proposed program.
Leong said the changes aim to empower employees by allowing them to use their days off for whatever reason they choose. He said the proposed scheme would be transparent with staff leave while now offering paid time off for major life events.
One of the biggest questions surrounding the new program is what would happen to days accrued by staff members under the current paid vacation program. Fischer said details are still being worked out, but feedback from staff will help decide how to honor accrued days.
“These accrued days will not simply be taken from a current employee,” Fischer said.
Another change under the proposed paid leave program would separate MU Health Care’s leave program from that of system campuses. The health care leave program would consolidate statutory holidays into the staff PTO bank.
When curator Greg Hoberock asked why healthcare workers get fewer days off, Jon Hamberg of Aon Consulting said healthcare workers generally get fewer days off than higher education staff.
Hoberock said he felt it would be unfair for the system to give campus staff and healthcare staff different numbers of days off.
“I feel like you’re asking me to speak out of both sides of my mouth here at the same time,” Hoberock said.
He added that the Tory Board pays both campus staff and health care workers, but hospital health care workers would be entitled to less time off. “I have a fairness issue with it,” he said.
Aon Consulting used data to complete its analysis. According to Leong, system staff use an average of only four of their 12 available sick days.
“To me, that means these people want to go to work,” curator Keith Holloway said.
Throughout the discussion, the Conservatives reiterated their appreciation for what staff do for the system.
“We appreciate the staff and all of our employees who make the four universities and the hospital great,” Holloway said.
Fischer said staff members will be encouraged to give feedback on the paid vacation program and there will be training sessions ahead of any future board votes on the proposed program. If approved, it will be implemented in January 2024.