March 2014 Feedback

In March 2014, SAC received the following feedback, which has since been addressed:

Desire to see an increase in the Tuition Aid Program (TAP) for staff with eligible dependents

Status Log

Date

Status

Detail

2014-03-04 Submitted
 Form
2014-03-04 Logged
Issue #03-01
2014-03-05 Assigned
Diana Richardson
2014-03-19 Scheduled
2014-03-25
2014-03-25 Discussed
2014-03-25
2014-03-25 Closed Recommendation approved

Related Topics

Benefits

Background

This is a concern that was mentioned and discussed at a SAC meeting on August 27, 2013. At that time there were no plans for an increase.

Submitter Request

The submitters would like to see an increase in the TAP allowance to keep up with rising tuition costs.

Recommendation

In early February the Corporation approved a 4% increase to Brown's tuition. The President and Provost have announced that TAP would be indexed each year based on Brown's tuition increase starting on July 1, 2014. Therefore, the TAP benefit will be increased to $10,400 effective for all classes starting on or after July 1, 2014 ($10,000 x 1.04 = $10,400).

Given these facts, SAC will not take any further action.

Frustration with access to Employee Education Program

This is a department concern.

Status Log

Date

Status

Detail

2014-03-17 Submitted
Form
2014-03-18 Assigned
Kim Departie
2014-04-16 Scheduled
2014-04-22
2014-04-22 Discussed
2014-04-22
2014-05-16 Monitored
Pending Response to Recommendation sent to Benefits Office

Related Topics

Benefits

Background

The Employee Education Program (EEP) is managed and administered through the Benefits Office with the assistance of the Senior Benefits Special Program Coordinator. The EEP is a fiscal year program that follows Section 127 of the IRS code which allows Brown to give employees up to $5,250 in tax-free tuition per calendar year.

Brown, like other institutions that follow Section 127, does not let employees exceed the IRS calendar year allowance. The Benefits Office provided Dartmouth, Yale, and Princeton as examples.

For non-Brown courses, a fiscal year limit of $2,500 is applied. The Benefits Office reports that although there are no plans to increase this limit, the amount of $2,500 still covers 2-3 courses for the majority of EEP participants, dependent upon the school being attended.

In 1999, EEP was revised to permit degree programs in any area of study---not just job-related programs. In 2012, it expanded to allow for any number of distance learning courses to be taken up to the fiscal year limit for those enrolled in degree programs.

The Benefits Office offers EEP informational workshops twice a year during the months of August and January, and highly encourages interested employees to attend a workshop.

Submitter Request

Submitters are looking for increased funding and easier access to courses.

Recommendation

The President’s Staff Advisory Council,

Considering that almost all of the submissions to SAC related to the Employee Education Program have been, to some extent, points of information and that the Benefits Office currently hosts two EEP workshops per year;

Recognizing, however, that clarification provided by the workshops may not be accessible to all staff;

Recommends that the Benefits Office update its website with a page for the Employee Education Program that would achieve the following:

  1. Provide examples on how other staff have taken advantage of the benefit, where the examples include:
    1. online courses,
    2. daytime courses,
    3. nighttime courses,
    4. Brown courses,
    5. courses at other institutions;
  2. Provide guidance on what “job-related” means and how an employee may have that discussion with their supervisor, and supervisor with their employee;
  3. Help employees understand how one and two Brown courses in a calendar year may affect employees financially;
  4. Represent information succinctly with diagrams, tables, and graphics where possible;
  5. Reference Brown trainings as a professional development alternative to coursework.

Issue #03-04: Request for treadmill desk for health and productivity

Status Log

Date

Status

Detail

2014-03-25 Submitted
Form
2014-03-26 Assigned
Matthew Tsimikas
2014-05-16 Scheduled
2014-05-27
2014-05-27 Discussed 2014-05-27
2014-05-27 Closed Recommendation Approved

Concerns

  • Effects of sedentary work on health
  • Capital investment with respect to procurement, maintenance and repair of requested equipment given the university’s workforce of over 5,000 employees
  • Fair and equitable access to the equipment

Background

The University has an exemplary track record of producing a healthy work environment for Brown employees. Currently,  Brown is being recognized by the Alliance for Work-Life Progress for success in work-life programs, policies and practices. To earn the Seal of Distinction, Brown had to meet criteria and be assessed in each of the seven categories listed for work-life effectiveness that defines a best-in-class work-life portfolio in today's workplace.  The seven categories were:

  • Caring for Dependents
  • Health and Wellness
  • Workplace Flexibility
  • Financial Support
  • Paid and Unpaid Time Off
  • Community Involvement
  • Transforming Organizational Culture

Recommendation

The President’s Staff Advisory Council,

Recognizing the importance  of health and well-being to employee happiness and productivity;

Recognizing, also, the University’s record in producing a healthy work environment;

Understanding this issue to be a matter pertaining to individual workplace setups;

Encourages staff who have an interest in non-standard office furniture such as treadmill desk to make requests directly to their departments.

Issue #03-07: Concern that the Excellence Awards do not reflect excellence above and beyond required job

Status Log

Date

Status

Detail

2014-03-27 Submitted
Open Forum
2014-04-04 Logged
Issue #03-07
2014-04-04 Assigned
Diana Richardson
2014-05-16 Scheduled
2014-05-27
2014-05-27 Discussed 2014-05-27
2014-05-27 Closed Recommendation Approved

Concerns

  • Merit of excellence awards
  • Process for selecting awardees

Requests

  • Publication of achievements of awardees

Background

According to the manager of employee programs in Human Resources and the following HR webpages and documents:

The aim of the excellence awards is to showcase standards of performance which should inspire excellence across the University;

Nominations are reviewed by HR Business Partners from across the University whose collective expertise and supplemental research allow for knowledgeable evaluation of all candidates;

Awards are made to a diversity of nominees, so that there is representations of excellence from different job types, grade levels, unions, genders, ethnicities, etc.

Recommendation

The President’s Staff Advisory Council,

Believing in the importance of recognizing the achievements of high-performing employees in addition to the employees themselves;

Citing the disparate sources of information on the excellence awards and the opacity of the selection process;

Recommends that Human Resources update its website with one, comprehensive webpage dedicated to the Excellence Awards that:

  1. Enumerates the award categories, descriptions, and criteria;
  2. Lists current and past winners and summarizes their accomplishments;
  3. Explains the role of the HR Business Partners in the selection process; and
  4. Lists the HR Business Partners.