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September 2000

Delphi Questions: Food service at Jeffco, EAC funds, family leave

Question #450 (received 9 June):

I noticed in this month's Staff Notes Monthly that Food Services is setting up cafeteria space at the Pearl Street site. I am very disappointed to hear this, especially given the fact that for years Jeffco employees tried and failed to negotiate with Velma for some sort of service (even when staff was as high as 60 in the early nineties, all we wanted was fax [ordering and] shuttle service at noon). Also, I am concerned that divisions and programs will end up with higher overhead rates in order to subsidize a convenience for a few employees. Here are my questions:

(1) How much of a subsidy, if any, does Food Services estimate it will need each year, including space, in order to pay for the new Pearl Street location?

(2) How many employees (not total customers, since I'm sure we aren't doing this as a service to the general public) per day does Food Services estimate it will attract? How many employee hours per week go into this location? Is Food Services going to employ new staff to do this (or cover work at the FL site), or are they going to split existing staff between sites?

(3) At Jeffco, we were told that one of the reasons we couldn't even have sandwiches delivered was that we were close to many fast food restaurants and could just go there (at least two miles). At the Pearl Street site they are walking distance from many excellent eateries, at least one of which is in the business park. How is the Pearl Street site different from Jeffco in terms of their need for convenience and moderately healthy fare?

(4) Wouldn't it be easier to have a shuttle run between Pearl and FL at noontime, or to provide blue bicycles for employees to use to get over to FL, than to open an entire eating facility?

(5) Given that Velma seems to have found a way to be more accommodating to all staff, even small groups, is she planning on offering something to the Jeffco crew?

Response (13 July):

Thank you for your questions. We will be exploring the feasibility of providing services at Jeffco (see below). May I assure you, first of all, that all facility plans are carefully analyzed by a wide group of people who look at many factors. Any plans for extended food service must fit into the overall break-even Food Service operation. This was done for Pearl Street. It was first determined that there was a need for a common area for larger meetings and events as well as a support area for the planned corporate training center. Food Services only occupies the back wall of this common area. It is operated as a satellite operation for one and a half hours per day (11:30 a.m. to 1:00 p.m.). There is also a vending area, similar to those at other sites, which offers snacks and beverages. Now let me try to answer your questions specifically.

(1) As stated above, Food Services is expected to operate in a break-even manner and has been able to maintain that status over the years. Cafeteria prices are kept as low as possible as well as the costs for all other services, including coffee breaks, receptions, dinners and the like, which are available to UCAR entities. This in turn is reflected in lower costs in UCAR budgets compared to getting these services from the outside. We strive to provide better service and quality, too.

Regarding space, the public and common areas are used by all, not just Food Services. We are also exploring opening the food service area at Pearl Street to the public during lunch, as it is at ML and FL.

(2) We do have an employee at the Pearl Street location during the above times. She is also a necessary part of the FL staff, which has seen an increase in business over the past several years and needs that additional support. We feel that Pearl Street works within our structure to help us maximize resources, production, staff, and time.

(3) I do not recall specifics regarding Jeffco requests for food service ten years ago, but I am certain that there was much consideration given to these. We do know from early experience that an e-mail/delivery system did not work at Pearl Street. There were challenges in people knowing their schedules, inadequate time to prepare food for delivery, and limited selections suitable for transportation.

Pearl Street is 3 minutes away from Foothills, while Jeffco is at least 30 minutes. Delivery would have to be coordinated with Traffic Services. The costs would be much higher. Would this be feasible with the business we would expect to generate?

There are several other factors to consider. Jeffco is a highly specialized facility, one where the on-site population varies according to job assignments. Another very practical consideration is health department regulations. ML, FL, and Pearl are all licensed food service operations and must meet stringent requirements in transportation, service, and sanitation and the practicality of doing that at Jeffco would have to be determined.

We will survey the group at Jeffco in September to determine the interest and level of support. I would then like to sit down with a group of interested staff to determine feasibility of such an endeavor. If anyone might be interested in being in this focus group, please contact me (ext. 1193, vryan@ucar.edu).

(4) Shuttle service and "blue bikes" are available for employees at Pearl Street as they are at other locations. These are utilized for lunch, I'm sure, but a fair number of employees stay at Pearl Street and use the food service daily. At this time it appears appropriate to offer all options.

(5) Food Services does indeed make every effort to accommodate all staff and divisions. We have provided numerous coffee breaks, luncheons, receptions, and dinners to Jeffco when requested over the years. We look forward to exploring practical options to expand the service.

—Velma Ryan, manager
Meeting Rooms and Conferences,
Food Services and Special Functions

Question #452 (received 14 June):

The Staff Notes Monthly article on the new science store said that the store will be selling T-shirts. Up until now, the EAC has raised funds by selling UCAR/NCAR T-shirts each year. If the store sells NCAR T-shirts, won't that have a negative impact on the EAC? With the EAC understaffed and struggling to continue sponsoring the services and events they traditionally have, this seems like a bad time to erode one of their sources of income.

Response (18 July):

As the questioner correctly states, a large part of the EAC's budget has historically come from the sale of T-shirts. However, store consultants hired by UCAR to help develop the new science store recommended that product development and sales for UCAR/NCAR be consolidated. UCAR management agreed that this would be a good business decision. Joan Chiszar, former EAC chair was also supportive of this recommendation, as it would allow the EAC to be able to focus more time and energy on planning events.

To compensate for the revenue loss, the EAC requested and received a budget increase. This will help ensure that the EAC continues to sponsor the services and events that everyone looks forward to and enjoys. As always, the budget will continue to be reviewed annually to determine whether needs are being met and adjusted accordingly.

–Bob Roesch director
Human Resources

[Editor's note: See The EAC for more on the EAC.]

Question #455 (received 26 June):

I have several Delphi questions. I'm a male, without children (adopted or otherwise), who is concerned about the equity of UCAR policy regarding leave for childbirth and adoption. My understanding is that childbearing leave is handled in a similar way to "leave due to any other type of disability" (UCAR Benefits Manual). I take this to mean that sick leave is to be used for the childbearing leave.

My questions are:

(1) Although childbirth is certainly debilitating, I believe that most people would distinguish between childbirth and a sickness, since childbirth is not an abnormal medical condition. I doubt if an expecting parent would be too thrilled to be starting a career at UCAR given that they would almost certainly have to take some unpaid leave for the childbirth, since they will not have a chance to accrue sick leave by the time of the delivery. Why is it that UCAR considers it appropriate to use sick leave for childbirth? Isn't this somewhat harsh for new employees who have not accrued much sick leave?

(2) My understanding is that a parent who gives birth may use 6 to 12 weeks of sick leave, depending on the difficulty of the delivery and on whether she has this sick leave accrued. A parent who adopts is eligible for two weeks of sick leave. Is this correct, and does UCAR feel that the difference between a childbirth and an adoption is such that it justifies a discrepancy of three to six hundred percent in the sick time that can be taken due to these events?

(3) I realize that this comes up regularly, but is it possible that the move of Finance and Administration to Pearl Street could clear up some room for daycare facilities at UCAR?

(4) On an unrelated note, do you know what will happen to the trees on the tree plaza at the Mesa Lab when the plaza is remodeled? Is there a way to transplant them?

Response, questions 1-3 (received 13 July):

First, it may be helpful to readers to review UCAR's policy on leaves of absence, available on the Web. Based on the results of the recent American Physical Society (APS) survey, a comprehensive review of family-friendly issues will be conducted.

(1) Childbirth is classified an "illness" or "disability" (though temporary) by many organizations since it is considered a medical condition. UCAR handles childbirth leave in a similar manner to that of any illness or disability.

Because childbirth is a medical condition and may require surgery, the body needs time to heal just as in many other medical conditions requiring hospitalization. Thus, childbearing leave is considered to be sick leave.

UCAR's policy on benefits, as with salaries, is to be competitive with similar organizations. We must balance the needs and wants of employees with the costs of providing these benefits. Overall, UCAR's benefits package, including vacation, sick leave, and other types of leave, is generous compared to most of our peer organizations.

Prior to accepting employment at UCAR, employees are given information on the sick leave and vacation benefits for which they are eligible. New employees are automatically given six days of sick leave upon the first day of employment, prorated by full-time equivalent (FTE) status. At the same time, the employee accrues vacation hours. If a new employee needs to use sick leave, and exhausts those available hours, vacation hours may be used. The leave policy states, "with special approval, sick leave credits can be advanced to those who have not accumulated enough to cover the period of disability."

(2) The employee's physician determines the time needed for recovery from childbirth. UCAR does not stipulate the amount of time needed for recovery. As with any illness or disability, we depend upon the employee's physician to provide a suggested return date based upon the needs of the individual employee.

In an adoption, many employees have used family sick leave, a subset of available hours within the employee's sick leave balance. These hours, up to 80 per year, are available for use by an employee who requires leave to care for an immediate family member. If these hours are exhausted, an employee may use accrued vacation hours. Thereafter, the leave would be unpaid.

In either an adoption or childbirth, the employee may be eligible for benefits under the federally mandated Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) which allows for paid or unpaid leave up to 12 weeks per year. Employees with one year of service or greater are eligible. During the period of FMLA the employee's job is protected and UCAR continues to pay its customary share of the health insurance premium as though the employee were not on leave.

(3) With Finance and Administration's move to Pearl Street, ESIG staff have already moved into some of the vacated space. The remaining space is being used to temporarily relocate FL staff during the MINT rewiring project. The question about daycare facilities has been asked many times over the years (Delphi Questions in 1981, 1987, 1988) as well as reviewed by the President's Council in more recent years. Significant costs, legal liabilities, and lack of available space have kept UCAR from pursuing the development of a daycare facility.

—Laurie Carr, benefits manager
Human Resources

Response, question 4 (received 30 June): The [original] trees on the ML tree plaza are too old, weathered, diseased, and inaccessible to be good candidates for transplant. We are currently working with the construction contractor to determine if the trees can be recycled for use as garden mulch. Trees of from three to four inches in diameter are optimum for planting. The new trees will be Patmore ash. Although they will initially be smaller than the existing trees, we will have the next 35 years to enjoy their growth and development.

—Tina Bogott, ML renovation project manager
Facilities Support Services

[Editor's note: See the article about the tree plaza for more on the tree plaza remodeling.]

Questions and suggestions from the staff to management may be submitted in confidence to the coordinator, Janet Evans (ext. 1114, ML room 517). They should be submitted in written form, preferably via interoffice mail in a sealed envelope marked confidential; they must be signed. Detailed procedures for submitting questions are given in the UCAR Policies and Procedures Manual, section 4-1-2. Questions and answers of general interest to staff are submitted to Staff Notes Monthly by Janet. They may be edited for publication. For more information, including links to questions and answers published in Staff Notes Monthly and a log of all questions submitted since 1995, see the Delphi Service Web page.

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Edited by Bob Henson, bhenson@ucar.edu
Prepared for the Web by Jacque Marshall
Last revised: Thu Sep 7 14:59:51 MDT 2000