Q: What if an employee calls to say they are going to be late and gets in an hour or so after the start of their work day? How is the time counted/charged?
A: If it's not a pattern that requires some form of management follow up, and if it's just a matter of minutes or a couple of hours, the supervisor should see if the support staff member can make up the lost time. Remember, for support staff, the lost time must be made up within the same work week or deducted from wages.
Q: What if an employee fails to call in when late or absent?
A: An employee who is going to be late and/or unable to attend work must call their supervisor. Most collective bargaining agreements require that the call be made within the first hour of the work day. Unless excused by sufficiently serious extenuating circumstances to explain the failure to call, the employee may be subject to discipline.
Q: What if an employee misses a lot of work time for reported illness or personal emergencies or is habitually late?
A: Attendance records should be reviewed periodically. When the record of absenteeism and lateness appears excessive or abusive, bring it to the attention of your departmental HR representative and/or to Labor Relations or HR Employment & Client Services for review and action, as appropriate.
Q: What is a disability leave and how is it handled?
A: New York State Disability benefits are cash benefits provided to eligible employees while disabled due to non-occupational or off-the-job illness or injury. All employees are eligible except Officers of Instruction and Officers of the Libraries, or those covered by a union contract for disability. To be eligible for New York State Benefits a full-time employee must have worked at least four (4) consecutive weeks prior to the start of disability. A part-time employee must have worked at least 25 consecutive days prior to the start of disability. Benefits are paid for a maximum of 26 weeks during a period of 52 consecutive weeks.
An employee—a support staff member or an officer of administration or research—who is absent for more than seven consecutive calendar days (five work days) due to a reported illness or injury that is not job-related must file a New York State Disability Claim Form (DB-450). The employee or their supervisor should send or fax this form to:
HR Benefits Disability Services
615 West 131st Street, MC 8703
Studebaker 4th Floor
New York, NY 10027
Telephone: (212) 851-0662
Fax: (212) 851-7024
If the employee sends the DB-450 directly to HR Disability Services, they must still provide the supervisor with a note from an attending physician attesting to an inability to work for health reasons that covers the entire period of absence.
Note: Employees covered under the collective bargaining agreement with 1199 SEIU must file an 1199 disability claim form (not the DB-450) with their HR or departmental administrator.
Q: What if an employee claims to have an underlying medical condition and/or requests some form of medical accommodation?
A: When a staff member claims an underlying medical condition as the cause of an absenteeism problem, or if they request medical accommodation, a supervisor or HR representative should contact the Return to Work Program Manager (SEE above) for review and follow-up. This will assure compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).
Q: Can an employee out on a disability leave of absence who exhausts their sick leave use accrued, unused vacation and/or personal days?
A: Yes. The leave of absence, however, must be fully documented on the PAF to show the entire period of disability, as certified by the employee's attending physician on the DB-450, with appropriate codes to identify the type of leave and pay indicator. Note: The use of vacation and/or personal days can only be authorized upon the exhaustion of paid sick leave.
Check with your Human Resources representative or the Return to Work Program Manager (870-3464) for instructions on how to fill out the PAF.
Q: What happens if an employee becomes seriously ill or requires medical attention prior to or during scheduled vacation?
A: If an employee becomes seriously ill prior to their scheduled vacation, as confirmed by the appropriate medical documentation, the period of disability should be charged to sick leave and treated like any disability circumstance, and the vacation should be restored. If an employee becomes seriously ill and is hospitalized during vacation, as confirmed by the appropriate medical documentation, the period of disability should be treated like any disability circumstance and the appropriate amount of vacation time restored. In all other situations, once a vacation commences the time cannot be charged to sick leave.
Q: Do employees earn sick leave, vacation or personal days while on a leave of absence?
A: Support staff members do not earn sick leave, vacation or personal days nor are they entitled to holiday pay while on an unpaid leave of absence; however, these benefits continue to accrue during a paid leave. Adjustments in sick leave, as necessary, are either made within the same anniversary year as the leave of absence if the employee has sick leave available upon their return to work, or in the succeeding anniversary year.
Officers do not accrue vacation or personal days during a leave of absence, paid or unpaid. The salary continuation period for an officer on a documented disability leave of absence includes any paid holiday that may occur during the period of disability. An officer is not paid for holidays that occur during an unpaid leave of absence.
Q: Can an employee "borrow" sick leave, vacation and/or personal days not earned?
A: No. Under no circumstances can an employee "borrow" unearned sick leave, vacation and/or personal days. The level of benefit is exactly as it is defined under University policy or the respective collective bargaining agreement.
Q: Can sick leave or vacation be used in the case of an on-the-job accident?
A: The employee should be credited with salary continuation only to the extent dictated by University policy or the applicable collective bargaining agreement relating to on-the-job accidents or illness (Workers' Compensation). Some contracts provide a separate salary continuation plan for Workers' Compensation cases. Note: The 1199 agreements have no salary continuation for Workers' Compensation cases. However, it has been agreed that the first week (5 days), not covered under Workers' Compensation, can be charged to sick leave to the extent the employee has such time available.
Under University policy, the same sick leave schedule is used for both occupational and non-occupational illness/injury.
In no case may vacation or personal days be used to cover absences due to reported on-the-job illness or injury. Once the applicable benefit is exhausted, the employee should be taken off payroll. Further compensation in all cases will be to the extent to which the employee is entitled in line with the provisions of New York State Workers' Compensation law.
Q: What date should be used to determine the appropriate accrual of vacation and personal days (and for support staff, sick days)?
A: Normally, the hire date and seniority date are the same and either could be used to determine the accrual of time. However, if those dates are different and the department is unsure about which date to use, they should contact their HROS service manager for direction.
Q: How are time accruals calculated for regular part-time support staff?
A: Regular part-time support staff members are entitled to pro-rated sick leave, vacation and personal days based on the number of hours worked per week. For administrative purposes, regardless of the number of hours a regular part-time employee works per day, his/her earned benefit "day" is equal to 1/5th the total hours of the work week. Accumulations, therefore, should be maintained in hours.
Actual time lost should be charged against the appropriate hourly balance.
Q: Do regular part-time support staff members get paid for holidays?
A: Yes, but only if the holiday occurs on a day the regular support staff member would ordinarily be scheduled to work.
Q: Do short-term casuals get paid for University holidays? Do they receive other benefits?
A: Short-term casuals are only paid for holidays, at straight-time pay, if they work on that day. They are not entitled to other benefits (sick leave, vacation, or personal days).
Q: While on an official leave of absence from the University, can an employee work for compensation with another entity or employer?
A: Generally, no. Any such case should be discussed with Labor Relations or HR Employment & Client Services.
Q: Can I deny make-up time to an employee?
A: While you should not unreasonably deny make-up time, it must be operationally feasible—as determined by you, the supervisor—and made up within the same work week. An employee with a chronic lateness or absenteeism problem should not be granted make-up time until the problem is corrected.
Q: Can an employee use their lunch hour to make up time or shorten the work day?
A: Under New York State Labor Law, it is the responsibility of the supervisor to provide at least a 30-minute lunch break for all full-time employees. A full-time employee cannot work during their lunch break or forgo a lunch break and use it to shorten their work day. An employee should not work more than five consecutive hours without at least a 30-minute meal break. SEE the applicable collective bargaining agreement for contractual language regarding meal breaks.
Q: Can an employee use their breaks to make up time or shorten the work day?
A: No. The breaks cannot be used to make up time or shorten the work day. They are what the term suggests: "breaks" during the course of the morning or afternoon for employees who work a full half or whole day. Remember: Employees covered under the collective bargaining agreements with Local 2110 UAW and SSA do not get scheduled breaks unless they occupy a position for which the supervisor has to supply a relief person in order for the employee to leave the work area, i.e., telephone operators. All other staff covered under the agreement can leave the office with supervisory approval for a "break" during the morning or afternoon (for no more than the allotted 15 minutes).
Q: What if an employee comes in early and counts that time towards their number of hours worked that week, possibly resulting in overtime?
A: Overtime is only authorized time worked, meaning authorized by the supervisor. However, if an employee begins work early and marks the additional time worked on their timesheet, they must be paid for it (and receive overtime, if applicable). The employee should be advised that, going forward, they must record their starting time as of the beginning of the regularly scheduled work day unless otherwise authorized by you. If the hours are worked without supervisor approval, the employee may be subject to disciplinary action. Remember that officers are exempt employees under FLSA and are not eligible for overtime.
Q: Why does the University require that records be kept of time worked and time-off for support staff?
A: The University tracks the time worked and time-off of non-exempt staff (support staff) in order to comply with federal regulations, including the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) and FMLA, to comply with collective bargaining agreements, and to accurately administer benefits.
Q: Why does the University require that records be kept of time-off for officers?
A: The University tracks the time-off of officers in order to comply with federal regulations, including the Family Medical Leave Act of 1993 (FMLA), and to accurately administer benefits.
Q: What are my obligations to an employee who transfers from my department to another University department in terms of sick leave, vacation and/or personal days?
A: An employee's attendance records—including unused, accrued sick leave, vacation and personal days—transfers with them when they move from one University department to another without a break in service. If in transferring, an employee moves from one bargaining unit to another or from support staff to officer status, the supervisor or Human Resources representative should contact the Department of Employee & Labor Relations to review the calculation of benefits in the year of transfer.
Q: Can an employee use their sick leave for family illness?
A: The Local 2110 and TWU Local 241 contracts, as well as University policy as it applies to non-union support staff, provide for the use of up to four (4) days of the employee's sick leave each year for family illness (spouse, child or family member residing in the employee's household).
Q: When can I ask for a doctor's note?
A: A doctor's note can be requested for any absence for reported illness or injury in appropriate circumstances. For example, is there reason to question the absence? Was the employee's health such that they were unable to report for work? Doctor's notes provided to the supervisor need only verify that the employee was unable to work for health reasons (without detailing the nature of the illness or injury), including the date(s) covered. The note should be on the doctor's original stationery containing an original signature. Photocopies are not acceptable.
A doctor's note can routinely be requested for absences before and/or after a paid holiday or an absence of three or more consecutive work days. Failure to provide the required documentation may result in an absence without pay.
Note 1: For employees covered under a collective bargaining agreement, check the applicable sections of the appropriate contract.
Doctor's notes for all absences for reported illness can be requested if a staff member is put on written warning for excessive or abusive absenteeism. Failure to provide the requested documentation may result in an absence without pay as well as, possibly, further disciplinary action.
Note 2: Supervisors should check attendance records regularly and bring problems that require follow-up to their departmental Human Resources representative or to Labor Relations.
Q: How should doctor's appointments be accommodated?
A: Routine or non-emergency doctor or dental appointments should be made outside of working hours if at all possible. If not, support staff can either make up the lost work time within the same work week or charge the lost time to vacation or personal days to the extent that such time is available. Doctor's appointments as a follow-up to a disability leave are covered under the sick leave provisions. An employee requesting time off for a series of appointments should be asked to provide a note from his/her doctor outlining the appointment schedule over the applicable period of time. Any questions regarding the appointments should be discussed with the Return to Work Program Manager (SEE below).
Note 1: Employees covered under the 1199 collective bargaining agreement (clerical and cafeteria units) who have sick leave in their bank may use it for their own medical appointments at the start or the end of the work day. They must pre-schedule these appointments with their supervisor and work the balance of the day.
Note 2: Employees covered under the 2110 collective bargaining agreement may use accrued sick leave for their own medical or dental appointments, or for appointments for family members, as defined in Section C of the contract in accordance with the following procedure: (1) employees must schedule the appointment with their supervisor at least one week in advance (except in case of emergency treatment); (2) sick leave must be taken in one hour increments; (3) the supervisor may require documentation of the appointment; (4) approval for use of sick leave will not be unreasonably denied (under this section, use of sick leave may be denied if operational needs require the employee's presence or if the position must be covered on an overtime basis by another employee); (5) employees who have been given a written warning or who have been suspended for excessive absenteeism or tardiness within the previous year may be denied the use of sick leave for medical or dental appointments; and, (6) time taken for family members will be debited against the four days set forth in Section C.
Q: What if an employee's new anniversary year occurs while they are out on sick leave or on disability?
A: An employee out sick uses up whatever their sick leave bank contained at the commencement of the absence. The employee has to have returned to work in order to re-establish their eligibility for a new sick leave allowance.
Q: Is unused sick leave paid upon termination?
A: No. The only benefits "cashed out" upon termination are accrued unused vacation and/or personal days up to the allowable maximum. For vacation, that may include the prior fiscal year's accrual plus vacation earned in the current fiscal year. For personal days, the maximum at termination is three days. (SEE Tracking Time Worked and Time-off: General Guidelines for details about personal-day accrual.)
Q: What are flexible hours?
A: Flexible hours refer to regularly assigned working hours that are different from the normal departmental schedule. Under the terms of the contract with Local 2110, an employee can request a change in schedule for compelling personal reasons such as child care and educational consideration. The department can grant such a request as long as the department's functioning will not be adversely affected. When granted, the department should allow for a review of the agreed-upon schedule at the end of a reasonable period of time to assure operational feasibility.
Q: What is my responsibility if an employee asks for a change in their work schedule for their religious observances?
A: Under the law, a department must reasonably accommodate an employee's request for a change in their regular work schedule for religious observances unless such accommodation constitutes an undue hardship. Questions as to the requested accommodation and what constitutes a "hardship" should be discussed with Labor Relations or HR Employment & Client Services.
Q: What are the rules for taking daytime classes under tuition exemption?
A: A department can grant a change in work schedule for the semester to accommodate a daytime class if the change will not adversely affect the department's functioning or, in the case of an officer, affect the employee's ability to fulfill their job responsibilities. For support staff, any change in schedule must still allow the employee to work a full work week with at least a 30-minute lunch break each day. An employee should not work more than five consecutive hours without at least one 30-minute meal break.