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FAQ

There are questions that staff members frequently ask the University Staff Advisory Council to bring before Vanderbilt University administration.

The USAC Staff Life Committee respectfully offers these answers to these frequently asked questions.

If you have a question not answered here, please contact us.

  1. Why is the day after Thanksgiving not a paid holiday?
  2. Where can I find my benefits and discounts?
  3. Where is the tuition benefits description located?
  4. Where can I find information about dependents benefits?
  5. Where can I find the University's list of paid holidays?
  6. Where is the payroll calendar?
  7. What is Vanderbilt's policy on maternity leave?
  8. Does Vanderbilt have a sick bank?
  9. What is the staff hardship fund?
  10. Why do we have to pay for parking?
  11. Why have annual parking fees been raised?
  12. What are some alternatives to annual parking fees?

1. Why is the day after Thanksgiving not a paid holiday?

Vanderbilt provides seven paid holidays including New Year's Day, Memorial Day, Independence Day, Labor Day, Thanksgiving, Christmas Eve, and Christmas Day; and two paid personal days for eligible staff. Several years ago Vanderbilt Administration researched how much it would cost to add the day after Thanksgiving as a holiday and the cost at that time was more than $3,000,000. In lieu of adding more holidays, Vanderbilt chose to translate two holidays to more flexible personal days that can be used as the staff member wishes – for Martin Luther King Jr. Day, Good Friday, Rosh Hashanah or any other day deemed appropriate by the staff member.

If an office closes on the day after Thanksgiving, a staff member has the option to defer one of the other holidays (within 90 days of that day) to make up that time, use a personal day, use vacation accrual, or, for a non-exempt staff member, take the time off without pay.

Refer to Policy HR-006 (HR Policies page http://hr.vanderbilt.edu/policies/index.htm) for details.

 

2. Where can I find my benefits and discounts?

Vanderbilt benefits are described in detail on the Human Resources Web site, under the benefits tab: http://hr.vanderbilt.edu/benefits/index.htm. Click on "Benefits Details" for information on the health plan, life insurance, retirement and other benefits.

The discounts Web page is also under the benefits tab, visit http://hr.vanderbilt.edu/benefits/index.htm) and click on the "Discounts" button. The companies that offer discounts to Vanderbilt employees are not endorsed by Vanderbilt, nor does Vanderbilt lend support to the companies. Typically, these companies sign a one-year agreement to offer their discounts and the list is updated each January.

 

3. Where is the tuition benefits description located?

The tuition benefits, or Educational Assistance Program, is described in Policy #HR-013 and can be found on the policies tab of the HR Web site (http://hr.vanderbilt.edu/policies/index.htm). That page also has a very informative FAQs page for tuition benefits for children and tuition benefits for staff and spouses/partners.

 

4. Where can I find information about dependents benefits?

Vanderbilt benefits are described in detail on the Human Resources Web site, under the benefits tab: http://hr.vanderbilt.edu/benefits/index.htm. Click on "Benefits Details" for information. The insured benefits available to dependents include health, life, dental, vision, and accidental death & dismemberment.

Information on the dependent tuition program can be found on http://hr.vanderbilt.edu/policies/index.htm.

 

5. Where can I find the University's list of paid holidays?

The Holidays & Personal Days policy (Policy # HR-006) lists the paid holidays, find the policy on the HR Web site at http://hr.vanderbilt.edu/policies/index.htm. The specific days for each year are shown on the HR Web page under the Manager's Toolbox at http://hr.vanderbilt.edu/toolbox/holidaycalendar.htm.

 

6. Where is the payroll calendar?

The payroll calendar (and helpful "Payroll Pointer" flyers) is shown on the HR Web page under the Performance and Pay tab at http://hr.vanderbilt.edu/compensation/VanderbiltUniversityHumanResources.htm

 

7. What is Vanderbilt's policy on maternity leave?

Vanderbilt provides leaves of absences and job protection to staff in accordance with federal and state regulations as they apply to maternity/paternity leaves. A leave is available to a staff member for the birth of a child or who needs a leave due to pregnancy under both federal law, Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA), and state law, Tennessee Maternity Leave Act (TMLA). The FMLA allows up to 12 weeks of leave in a 12-month period for the birth, adoption, placement of a foster child and care of a newborn. Additionally, TMLA allows for an additional four weeks of leave for pregnancy and childbirth. This type of leave for birth or placement must be taken within the first year anniversary of the child's birth or placement.

A staff member is eligible for these leaves under the following conditions:

  1. Completed 12 consecutive months of employment and 1250 hours within in last 12 months at Vanderbilt.
  2. She is not using the period of maternity leave to actively pursue other employment opportunities.
  3. She is not working part-time or full-time for another employer during the period of maternity leave.

Also, a staff member who has not worked for Vanderbilt a year would be able to take a six week leave for maternity, but there is no guarantee of job protection in this case.

Maternity leave like any other leave of absences is paid from the staff members appropriate accrual banks, otherwise the leave is unpaid. If you have any question about this or any other type of leave of absences contact Human Resources, Employee Relations Office at 615.322.7259.

 

8. Does Vanderbilt have a sick bank?

No. Offering a 'sick bank' would significantly increase Vanderbilt's costs. Currently, when sick time is not used, the university is not liable for the payout (except for up to 30 days at retirement). If sick time were pooled, it likely would all be paid out, leaving Vanderbilt with considerably less money to fund other employee benefits.

Also, paid sick leave is a benefit that is meant to apply equally to all staff. Allowing donation of accruals to specific fellow staff members would mean that those staff who have more interaction with colleagues would stand to benefit to a greater degree than do those employees who work in smaller groups or otherwise happen not to know as many potential donors. If we say we'll avoid that problem by instead allowing employees to donate to a central pool, disparities would again arise, this time between those who are ill, when the pool happens to be full, and those who are ill when the pool has gotten low.

Vanderbilt offers two disability insurance plans for staff — a voluntary short-term plan and a mandatory long-term plan. These plans, which pick up where paid sick leave stops, allow staff to protect against loss of future income due to sickness. Full-time staff are offered short-term disability insurance at a low group rate negotiated by Vanderbilt. After one year of service, eligible employees are enrolled in a long-term disability plan, with Vanderbilt picking up the cost for the first $24,000 of salary coverage.

The 2010-2011 Staff Life Committee investigated this issue again and filed their report entitled Sick Bank Report.

For more information about disability insurance, see the HR Web site at http://hr.vanderbilt.edu/benefits/benefitspackage.htm.

 

9. What is the staff hardship fund?

The Faculty/Staff Hardship Fund was established in 1994 to financially assist Vanderbilt faculty and staff employed at Vanderbilt for over a year who are experiencing a temporary hardship due to an emergent event (the death of a loved one, a fire, an acute illness keeping us from work, etc).

The Vanderbilt Hardship Fund is funded by faculty and staff donations and matched by the Fringe Benefit Fund. A Committee of Vanderbilt employees volunteer their time to review the applications weekly and match them with the established criteria so that the approval or denial of requests is consistent. The program is administered through the Work/Life Connections EAP program. Work/Life Connections-EAP counselors serve as a liaison between the applicant and the Committee.

To apply for an award from the Fund, a faculty/staff member would schedule an appointment with a Work/Life Connections - EAP counselor (call (615) 936-1327) who will advise as to eligibility for the Fund and/or potential community resources. Awards are subject to payroll tax.

For more information, visit: http://www.vanderbilt.edu/HRS/wellness/wlccshf.html

10. Why do we have to pay for parking?

Traffic and Parking is a self-supported auxiliary that is funded primarily through permit revenues. Permit fees are used to cover daily operational expenses, garage and lot maintenance, the replacement of vehicles and equipment, the creation of new parking spaces and the administration of parking regulations. 

11. Why have annual parking fees been raised?

1. Fees were not raised during the years that salaries and wages remained flat, but during that time the cost to maintain the parking spaces rose steadily with the price of oil.  (Traffic and Parking is not subsidized, it is a break-even operation.) 
2. Much of our parking is now in garages rather than in surface lots and garages are much more costly to maintain.
3. The initial building costs are greater for garages.  

12. What are some alternatives to annual parking fees?

Several alternatives to annual parking fees exist.
1. Parking is free in the Chestnut Street lot with shuttle service to MCN every fifteen minutes. 
2. Vanderbilt offers free MTA bus service.
3. The Music City Star and RTA service are subsidized and there is shuttle service to campus. 
4. Zipcars and WeCars are available for employee needs during the day. 
5. Free emergency rides home
6. Vanpools and Carpools
7. New $5 hang tags are available for occasional parking by those who use alternate transportation.  
Go to http://www.vanderbilt.edu/traffic_parking/alternative-transportation.php for more details. 
 



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