Yale staff members who take time off from work for a family illness will be able to count these away days as “sick time” starting next week, Chief Human Resources Officer Rob Schwartz said Wednesday.
Under the current policy, University staff were required to draw on personal or vacation time in the event if they had to take days off to tend to sick family members. While the new policy does not provide a net increase in the total number of days off, unused sick days and vacation days — unlike unused personal days — carry over from year to year, Schwartz said.
Yale President Richard Levin said he thinks the measure is beneficial for employees and will expand their options for taking time off.
“This way people can use their sick time for that purpose,” Levin said. “It just seemed like the right thing to do.”
Vice President for Finance and Administration John Pepper, who serves on the year-old Work Life Advisory Committee that drafted the new policy, said the measure acknowledges workers’ family obligations.
“The change recognizes that illness as it affects a person’s work not only involves their own health, but the health of their immediate family members,” Pepper said. “This was a need that we saw that looked like something we should do. We moved very quickly to do it.”
Some Yale staff members had mixed reactions to the new policy.
Law School dining employee Kenny Smith said he thinks the new policy is more accurate because days taken off to care for sick family members are better classified as sick days than as personal or vacation days.
“I would rather take it out of sick days just because that’s what they’re for,” Smith said.
Mabel Barnes, an employee at Commons, said that she approves of the new system for taking days off, but is also satisfied with current system.
“Here, it’s been working quite well as far as I’m concerned,” Barnes said.
But a Yale library worker who declined to release his name said that the result of the policy is negligible since there is no increase in overall time off.
“You’re not gaining nothing, you’re not losing nothing,” he said. “They’re just giving it another name. Unless you’re giving me more days, a day off is a day off either way you do it.”
Eligible family members of the employee include a child, spouse, parent, parent-in-law or same-sex domestic partner, according to the new policy. The sick time can be applied if the employee is caring for the ill or injured family member, accompanying the family member to a procedure or checkup or attending to a hospitalized family member.
Yale staff members annually receive 12 sick days, four personal days and an average of 22 vacation days, Schwartz said. The policy is not retroactive and will not re-credit personal or vacation time previously used to care for ill family members.