PAT Council Discusses Leave Without Pay and Background Checks
By Jody Record, Campus Journal Editor
March 21, 2007
A change in the number of leave-without-pay days and a broadening
of background checks were the key topics at this month’s
PAT council meeting.
The number of days PAT workers can take without pay will
likely be cut from 120 days to 90—which is what OS
employees get--according to an update by Phil Hammond on
the most recent SPPC meeting, where the issue was discussed.
“Part of the reason for the change is to bring the
policy in line with other policies—for example, if
we had to shut down long-term like Tulane (University in
New Orleans),” Hammond said. “At Tulane, a lot
of people lost jobs. Having a plan laid out provides some
peace of mind.”
In response to whether the proposal was related to policies
of UNH’s new insurance carrier, Harvard Pilgrim, Sharon
Demers said she didn’t believe it was related to benefit
cost containment but, rather, to make the policy equitable
across the board.
“My sense is, it’s to make it all more comparable;
so there is consistency in how people are treated,” Demers
Hammond pointed out that for employees to be able to keep
medical benefits during unpaid leave and not have to pay
the full premium, they must return to work for at least 30
days after the leave period.
“If they don’t come back, they will get a bill
for the extended time. They have to come back or they have
to pay the money back,” Hammond said, adding the proposed
change will be voted on in May or June.
Hammond also noted there wasn’t a lot of evidence
to show the need for 120 day leave; in the last 18 months,
only two PAT employees have asked to stay out longer than
90 days. But Scott Bugbee called the reduction an “erosion
of benefits” and suggested that, instead of freely
giving up the perk, the PAT council should ask for something
A new policy regarding background checks would give Human
Resources guidelines on how and when they could be done,
Hammond said. Included could be credit checks for those employees
whose work is related to finances and criminal background
checks for someone who works at the childcare center.
“That’s one of the things that would be looked
at: what checks would be appropriate,” Demers said. “Right
now we’re looking at people with high access—who
have keys to buildings, for example. We need to decide where
to start; where’s the greatest exposure.”
Part of the problem, Demers pointed out, is that background
checks can’t simply be attached to a job classification
because not all classifications do the same level of work.
“This applies some consistency,” she said of
the types of background checks that will be done in the future. “Institutions
can be sued for negligent hiring.”
The change will create an umbrella policy that will be included
in future employment advertisements, she also said.