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Leave Program Modernization

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Over the past decade, views on work-life balance and the value of time away have shifted. Recognizing leave as a high-value benefit, the university is exploring how we can modernize our staff leave programs to ensure they meet people’s needs, as well as make the staff leave programs more competitive in the higher education and health care markets.

Background and Guiding Principles

In 2020, a committee comprised of faculty and staff representatives across the system formed to evaluate the university’s current leave programs, including benchmark analysis for various industries and markets and data analysis and feedback from campus and health care staff. From this evaluation, the committee identified three key areas of leave program for improvement:

  1. More flexible vacation and sick time programs.
  2. Short-term disability leave.
  3. Parental and family care leave.

 

Following the committee's work, a working group of HR, Finance, campus and health care representatives developed a proposal to address the key areas of the leave program, with a commitment to:

  • Modernize leave programs to make them more market competitive;
  • Improve the effectiveness of the leave programs;
  • Realize cost savings, while prioritizing the needs of our people and create a sustainable program;
  • Design leave programs that promote work-life balance; and 
  • Explore differentiating leave by staff type and industry.

The proposal applies to staff eligible for leave (faulty are not in scope for the proposed changes). If approved, current campus and health care staff will transition to a new leave program when it is implemented. Accrued vacation and/or sick balances at transition will be honored.

Preparation to Proposal Development

  • 2020
    • Committee completes benchmarking and initial analysis.
  • June 2021
  • June 2021February 2022
    • Working group engages with TRAC, leadership and key constituent groups.
  • November 2021

Next Steps

Any changes would go into effect at a future date, with opportunities for campus and health care staff to share feedback and ongoing communication to keep the university community informed of the process.

Before Board Vote

  • June 2022
  • JulyAugust 2022
    • Solicit additional feedback from campus and health care staff advisory groups.
  • September 2022
    • Final proposal complete, with anticipated effective date and program design.
    • Leave program proposal presented to Board for vote.

Pending Board Approval

  • October 2022December 2023
    • Informational sessions available systemwide.
    • Ongoing resources, communications and support.
    • Configure and test myHR/PeopleSoft HR and other software with new program designs.
    • Conduct trainings for employees, managers and timekeepers.
  • January 2024
    • Recommended date for new leave programs to begin.

Frequently Asked Questions

Any changes must be voted on and approved by the Board of Curators. However, we understand faculty and staff will want to learn about the proposed leave program. The FAQs below describe basic information about the project and the proposed leave program structure.

Will faculty leave be impacted by this modernization proposal?

No, faculty leave is not in scope for the proposed leave program.

 
How can I provide feedback?

We plan to collect feedback from campus and health care staff advisory groups about the proposed changes in July and August 2022.

Individuals may also share feedback, questions or concerns via AskHR by completing the form "Proposed Leave Plan Feedback" (also linked in the top menu).

 
Will there be any sessions after the Board of Curators meeting?

Informational sessions will be available systemwide to provide greater awareness and understanding of the change after the September 2022 Board of Curators meeting. Dates will be posted on this webpage as sessions are scheduled; please stay tuned.

 
What is the proposed date for changes to go into effect?

Any proposed changes to the leave program will go before the Board of Curators in September 2022 for a vote with a recommended effective transition date of January 1, 2024.

 
What would happen to vacation, sick and personal balances for existing employees?

If the proposed leave program is approved, current campus staff would transition to the new program as described in other FAQs. Vacation and/or sick balances at transition would be honored.

 
What is a PTO (paid time off) bank?

A PTO bank plan combines vacation, sick, personal and in some instances holidays, into a single bank of days for employees to use when they take paid time off from work. PTO is a more modern approach to providing employees with time off that gives employees more flexibility for scheduled and unscheduled absences. A PTO bank’s primary focus is on when time is taken off, and not the reason for the time off.

 
How does a PTO bank differ from the university's current leave plans?

In the current leave program structure, paid time off is separated in different categories such as vacation, sick, personal and holidays. Employees earn a specific number of hours for each category and time off can only be taken for that purpose.

A PTO bank does not separate leave into categories. It uses a single pool of time off to give employees more control over how they spend their time away from work, whether for vacation, an illness, a field trip with a child or any other personal reason.

 
Why is a PTO bank structure recommended for the university?

If the university transitioned to a PTO bank, it would:

  • Ensure university leave practices are comparable with other organizations in our market and attractive to job candidates who value discretionary time away from work.
  • Promote a culture of wellness that encourages employees to use their time off to focus on themselves and their families.
  • Provide equitable coverage for employees who have a medical event through a short-term disability plan.

Employees would no longer need to identify why they are choosing to take time away from work, since the PTO allocation can be used for any eligible time away from work. The use of PTO hours should be scheduled in advance whenever possible, according to UM policy and procedures.

 
Could an employee opt out of the new leave program?

The proposed leave program provided to the Board of Curators specifies all eligible employees move to the new leave program design, effective January 1, 2024, with no option to opt out.

 
Who is eligible for paid time off at the university?

All benefit-eligible administrative, service and support staff and certain non-regular academic employees are eligible to receive paid time off.

 
How does the recommended new leave program affect leave taken under FMLA?

The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) is a federal law that provides employees the right to take a leave of absence for family, medical reasons and leave for military families while maintaining job protection.

FMLA provides job protection, but is not a paid leave program, unless an employer provides a benefit that provides pay concurrent with FMLA. Visit the About the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) webpage for more information.

University employees may use paid time off, short-term disability or other approved leave while on FMLA in order to be paid while on FMLA.

 
What is short-term disability?

Short-term disability covers a portion of the employee’s salary when they are unable to work for a short period of time due to a temporary medical disability.

Short-term disability does not provide job protection. Job protection is determined by university policies and state/federal laws, such as the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA). Rather, it is an insurance-type policy, provided by the university to provide income replacement while on medical leave. Short-term disability typically has a short elimination period, such as seven calendar days.

 
What is parental leave?

Parental leave provides paid time off, in addition to an employee’s annual PTO allocation, for employees who are welcoming a new child into their home.

Parental leave includes:

  • Bonding time for birth mother (after end of short-term disability coverage period)
  • Bonding time for the non-birthing parent
  • Adoption
  • Foster care placement
 
What is caregiver leave?

Caregiver leave provides additional paid time off to care for a family member with a serious health condition.

 
How will health care employees be impacted?

A proposed leave program for campus was presented to the University of Missouri Board of Curators as an information item only. A proposed health care leave program is still in development to ensure market competitiveness within the health care industry. The health care program will look different than the campus program.

 

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Reviewed 2022-06-24