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April 2006

Staffers give high marks to new Leave Donation Program

When UCAR archivist Diane Rabson learned that her father was in grave condition with an ailing heart, her main focus turned to helping her aging parents. She made repeated trips to Delray Beach, Florida, to meet with doctors and make sure her dying father was getting the best possible care, while also giving her mother emotional support and helping her with such tasks as paying the bills.

Diane Rabson
Diane Rabson holding a picture of her parents. (Photo by Carlye Calvin.)

As the crisis continued for almost three months, Diane ran out of vacation days and family sick leave. Not sure where to turn, she called HR's Cyd Perrone to inquire about a new UCAR program in which staffers can tap extra time off in the event of an emergency.

Within a day, Diane had an additional 80 hours of paid time off (PTO)—and an opportunity to provide critical support for her parents without sacrificing a paycheck.

"I'm so thankful," says Diane. "Having time off from work and getting those 80 hours of leave meant that I could spend time with my father in the last days of his life."

Diane is one of several staffers who have turned to the Leave Donation Program in time of need. Launched in 2004, the program enables employees who have accumulated more PTO or vacation hours than they plan to use to donate some of their hours to a leave "bank." Other employees, who are facing emergencies and have no time off left, can apply to use some of the hours.

UCAR began the program after hearing requests from staffers who wanted to donate leave and had heard of the PTO bank concept from other organizations. Since its inception, 34 people have donated more than 900 hours and eight people have tapped the bank for about 550 hours.

To receive a donation, all a staffer has to do—after exhausting paid leave—is to fill out a one-page form and explain that the situation is an emergency. HR typically acts on a request within hours.

"It's a very nice benefit," Cyd says. "People are thankful for it."

"A saving grace"

The Leave Donation Program proved to be something of an eye-opener for CISL's Marcia Killingsworth. Just a year after arriving here from the private sector, she was diagnosed with appendicitis. Due to complications, she wound up needing two surgeries and had to take off a number of days, spread over a couple of months.

“I felt there were others who needed the PTO more than I did.”

—Kim Prinzi Kimbro

From a benefits perspective, she fell into something of a gray area because she required more sick time than her accumulated PTO hours, but not enough for salary continuation leave (also known as short-term disability). Were it not for the PTO bank, she would have lost more than two weeks of pay.

"Coming out of corporate America, I was very impressed," Marcia says. "Some companies have programs like this, but they ask you to pay back the donated leave, which basically means you may have to go the next year without any vacation days."

Marcia adds that UCAR's leave program enabled her and her husband to focus on getting her back on her feet instead of worrying about bills. "It was a saving grace," she says.
For staffers on the other side, donating extra hours gives them the satisfaction that comes with helping their colleagues. In COSMIC, Kim Prinzi Kimbro made a donation after hearing about coworkers who had run out of PTO, even though her own hours were limited. "I felt there were others who needed the PTO more than I did," she explains.

Unfortunately for those who like to donate, the leave bank isn't taking more hours at the moment. "People are still sending me forms to donate, but we can't accept them because we have enough right now," Cyd says.

When the bank gets low, she will put an announcement in Today@UCAR asking for more donations. Some staffers have already inquired about donating to the bank. SOARS director Raj Pandya, who has accumulated a large number of PTO hours, contacted Cyd only to learn that his hours weren't needed at the time.

"I'm hoping to donate the next time they need more hours," he says. "I'll never use all my PTO. Why not give some of it to someone who will put it to good use?"

by David Hosansky

In this issue...

Foothills Lab 0: ACD settles into new digs

Staffers give high marks to new Leave Donation Program

Short Takes: An overview of projects throughout the organization

Random Profile: Gina Starr

Roberta Johnson named director of teachers association

Delphi Questions: FL basketball court, phone solicitations

Just One Look


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