Sick, vacation days could become CSU transferable

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The California Faculty Association plans to bargain for a contract with the CSU system that will allow employees from one campus to donate accrued sick and vacation days to an employee at another CSU campus.

“We as faculty can offer our assistance to other faculty members that may be ill (on other campuses),” said James David Ballard, president of the CSUN chapter of the CFA.

The Catastrophic Leave Donation Program currently allows employees of a CSU campus to donate their time to another employee at the same campus.

Once an employee receives these donations and takes the time off, the individual is then on catastrophic leave, according Laurie Gold-Brubaker, manager of benefits administration CSUN Human Resources.

Employees must use up all of their available leave credits in order to be eligible to receive donations, Gold-Brubaker said. New hires are also eligible for the program since they would have not acquired any leave credits.

Ballard said the giving process wherein credits are exchanged is negotiated on each campus. CFA is hopes to change the process with their bargain contract.

“Here we have this 23-campus community with tens of thousands of employees, but we’re stuck with this local area,” Ballard said. “This (bargaining contracts are) something we’re requesting because we’ve seen that it’s actually an issue for faculty and staff.”

In order to be eligible for the program, the employee must have exhausted all accrued sick, vacation, personal holiday, and compensatory time off leave credits, according to the Catastrophic Leave Donation Program’s general guidelines.

Gold-Brubaker said information about catastrophic leave is available on the Human Resources website.

“I would say people are knowledgeable of (catastrophic leave) as a program that is utilized,” Gold-Brubaker said.

She said she believes the program is generous and beneficial to CSUN.

She said employees could receive up to three months time of donated leave credits. If the employee needs more time off, the individual would have to reapply, and she then evaluates them on a case-by-case basis.

Any leave credits left unused are given back to the employee.

Additionally, employees can choose who they want to solicit donations for them. Requests for catastrophic leave donations are placed in the “@CSUN” Public Relations publication, which comes out every two weeks.

“The employee is choosing how they want their department or campus representative to solicit donations on their behalf,” Gold-Brubaker said.

Some professors said they had varying levels of knowledge about the program.

David Kretschmer, chair of the Elementary Education Department within the Michael D. Eisner College of Education, said he has some knowledge of the program.

“I do know that faculty and staff that have catastrophic illnesses are granted time off campus,” Kretschmer said.

Kretschmer said he had actually donated some of his leave credits to another employee, but added that he has never needed any donations himself.

“I think it helps out in times of need,” Kretschmer said. “It helps faculty out who have expended their sick and vacation time.”

Kretschmer said all employees should be made aware of the program.

“I think most folks become aware when they need to become aware,” Kretschmer said. “Most of us are teaching and working hard. It’s not in the forefront of our thoughts everyday. Luckily, there are good folks on campus that offer advice.”

Ballard said the issue is not that employees are not aware or do not care about the issue, but just that it is not of extreme importance yet.

If the new contract is approved, Ballard said he wants employees to have an easier time receiving their donated leave credits to an employee on another CSU campus.

“There comes a point where it’s impacting a person’s job,” he said. “At that point, there has to be some dialogue. We have obligations and we need to be responsible to those obligations.”

John Brown, instructional support technician in the Biology Department, who worked closely with Edward Koprowski, who is a support technician in the department.

Koprowski asked for leave credit donations, and a notice was placed on the “@CSUN” publication Aug. 29. Attempts to reach Koprowski were unsuccessful.

Brown said Koprowski retired shortly after the announcement.

“His retirement was due to illness,” Brown said. He said he is not too familiar with the program and said it would have been useful to have known more about it.

“Right after we started bargaining, one of our members got sick,” Ballard said. “It’s really sad when you’re sitting with someone and the next day (that person is) gone. You just never know when this is going to apply to you.”

Ballard said because each campus is distinct and independent from each other, it makes it more difficult to create new policies to connect them.

“It is one of those benefits that not very many people know about,” he said. “In a time of crisis it can be very useful.”

Cynthia Ramos can be reached at cynthia.ramos.838@csun.edu.