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PAT Council Asks President to Extend Cash Buy-Out to PATs

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At its December meeting, attended by President Mark Huddleston, the PAT Council discussed the benefit extended to OS employees that allows them to cash out earned time, questioning why PAT employees aren’t offered the same benefit. During the first meeting of 2012, the council approved a letter to be sent to Huddleston formally asking for the benefit to be extended to them as well.

The USNH board of trustees approved the cash out program for OS workers in May 2011 “to limit the financial impact on employees due to the loss of the $500 Healthcare Reimbursement Account or HRA in FY12.”  To be eligible, OS employees had to be employed before July 1, 2011 and had to have three days of earned time remaining after the cash out.

In the letter to Huddleston, the PAT Council asks him to discuss the issue with the board of trustees, writing, “The decision to offer a cash-out option was developed outside of the normal System Personnel Policy Council (SPPC) process, which usually involves dialogue with the staff councils. Had the Councils been included in the process, the PAT Council would have pointed out some valid reasons for not excluding PAT staff.”

Joan Tambling, USNH director of Human Resources, has previously explained why PAT employees’ vacation time isn’t eligible for a cash out program: All earned time days have a cash value. Earned time days will all be used by the individual or paid in full at termination (or trade in for sick leave) – i.e. there is already a policy entitlement to these days, whether paid now or later.

Conversely, Tambling noted, not all accrued vacation days will be used or will have cash-out value at termination. Only up to 30 days have an entitlement. So, if a PAT employee cashes out 5 days from his or her total of 35 or 40 days, there is a new cost to the university.

PATs have other days, such as sick time and disability leave, which those with earned time do not. In other words, to determine whether the Earned Time program and the more traditional program are equitable requires a review of the full context of the programs, according to Tambling.

The letter to Huddleston ends, “As the PAT Council aims to promote unity and collaboration across USNH, we respectfully request that you bring our concerns to the Board and urge them to reconsider a PAT vacation cash out option.”