SMU revises University Policy Manual regarding sick leave, bereavement; changes are the first wave of a comprehensive update

Jeff Strese

SMU revises University Policy Manual regarding sick leave, bereavement; changes are the first wave of a comprehensive update

Benefits U logoSMU’s Department of Human Resources is undertaking an overall review of its policies in Chapter 9 of the University Policy Manual. The first major changes will allow newer employees to make immediate use of accrued sick leave and create a formal procedure for taking bereavement leave.

“While previous updates typically have been driven by regulatory changes, Human Resources felt it was time for a comprehensive review,” says Jeff Strese, executive director of human resources.

As of Tuesday, July 1, 2014, the University has eliminated a rule stipulating that new hires be employed by SMU for six months before they can use accrued paid medical absence leave, says Amy Sample, assistant director of human resources for compensation and records management. “No one plans an illness, and this policy change recognizes that,” she says, adding that the update is also consistent with the University’s efforts to promote prevention and wellness in the campus community.

> See SMU Policy Number 9.21: Paid Medical Absence for Staff (log in with your 8-digit ID number and e-mail password)

In addition, SMU has created a new procedure to account for leave taken after the death of a family member. Employees may take up to three paid days of bereavement leave during each bereavement period. After the first three days, additional paid hours will be drawn from accrued medical absence leave. If and when these hours are depleted, the hours will be drawn from accrued vacation time.

These changes reflect current best practices among the University’s peer and aspirant institutions, as well as in other industries, says Sample, who is managing the Chapter 9 update project.

See SMU Policy Number 9.39: Staff Bereavement Policy (log in with your 8-digit ID number and e-mail password)

The Department of Human Resources sought the advice of several campuswide stakeholder organizations to formulate the first wave of policy updates. Representatives of groups including the SMU Staff Association, the Faculty Senate, the Office of Institutional Access and Equity, the Council of Deans and the President’s Commission on the Status of Women contributed to the final changes.

“We’ll continue to reach out to these representatives as we complete our updates to Chapter 9,” Strese says.

Other updates published on July 1 include minor language changes to the following sections:

  • 9.8 Pre-Employment Screenings
  • 9.12 Personal Conduct
  • 9.13 Corrective Action for Staff
  • 9.16 Termination of Employment
  • 9.28 Tuition Benefits
  • 9.31 Duty to Report Suspected Child Abuse

A comprehensive update to Chapter 9 of the Policy Manual should be completed by the end of the 2014-15 academic year, Sample says. The last major update took place in June 1994, when the Policy Manual was brought online.

News about future changes will be posted in the SMU Forum.

> Bookmark SMU’s online University Policy Manual (log in with your 8-digit ID number and e-mail password)

August 11, 2014|News|

New SMU health program pays incentives for wellness, prevention

Benefits U logoIn an effort to improve the health of SMU’s faculty and staff, while helping to control rising medical costs, the University is offering a voluntary health and wellness program with a $300 cash incentive for those who successfully complete the program.

Healthy Outcomes, a voluntary pilot program, is designed to reward healthy behavior and to acknowledge the crucial role of prevention in reducing the cost of health care, says Jeff Strese, executive director of SMU Human Resources. “We want to encourage employees to be aware of their health status and to take action, if needed.”

The program is a response to significant portions of the Affordable Care Act that go into effect Jan. 1, 2014. The healthcare reform law encourages better outcomes and lower costs by permitting employers to offer incentives to employees who take steps to become more aware of their health issues and reduce their known risk factors.

A key component of the program is a baseline check-up designed to identify specific health risks and help participants take steps to maintain good health or improve risk factors.

Catapult Health logoSMU has contracted with Catapult Health to administer the check-ups on campus. The 45-minute Baseline Check-up will measure blood pressure, height, weight, and waist circumference. The Check-up includes a finger-prick blood screening which will identify any risk factors associated with HDL cholesterol, triglycerides and blood glucose. You will also have a private consultation with a nurse practitioner to help you establish your health goals.

The Check-up meets the screening requirements for those participating in Wellpower and for those who wish to participate in the 2014 Deductible Discount Program.

The Healthy Outcomes Program is open to all SMU faculty and staff members enrolled in a SMU medical plan on January 1, 2014.

There are three steps to completing the pilot successfully and earning a $300 Healthy Outcomes Achievement Award:

  1. Complete a Baseline Check-up before Friday, Nov. 25, 2013 using Catapult Health or your primary care physician. During the Baseline Check-up, you will complete a Commitment Form to officially join the program.
  2. After your Baseline Check-up, your Achievement Period begins. You will have until Thursday, May 15, 2014 to meet your health goals based on your screening results:
    1. If you have no risk factors, your goal will be to maintain your good health by keeping your lab values in the normal range.
    2. If you have one or more risk factors, your goal will be to improve your lab values for each risk factor identified.
    3. Catapult will provide information about SMU’s wellness resources that may help you achieve your goals, or you may select a program of your choice and/or work directly with your primary care physician.
    4. If you are pregnant, you may download and complete a maternity waiver form found on the appointment scheduler website.
    5. If you have a medical condition that would impede your ability to meet the program goals, Catapult and your physician can work with you to develop an alternative program. Email Catapult to request a medical condition form to be completed by your physician.
  3. Complete the Results Check-up before Thursday, May 15, 2014 using Catapult Health or your primary care physician. The Results Check-up will include another finger-prick blood screening that will determine if you met your health goals during the Achievement Period.

Check-up results and information are protected by the federal Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA). SMU will not have access to your individually identifiable health information.

SMU will receive a list of names along with the Check-up date in order to properly credit participants with completing a screening for Wellpower and the 2014 Deductible Discount. If you volunteer to participate in the Healthy Outcomes program, your name will be released to SMU only if you qualify for the $300 cash incentive. SMU will not know if you volunteered for the program, but did not complete it successfully.

The on-campus Baseline Check-ups will begin Tuesday, Oct. 29 and continue through Friday, Nov. 15 on the main campus. The SMU-in-Plano campus will host the final day of Check-ups on Tuesday, Nov. 19, 2013. Make an appointment online at www.timeconfirm.com/smu or by calling (214) 269-1513 and following the automated instructions. The online and phone schedulers are both available 24/7.

The Check-up is open to all benefit-eligible staff and faculty. Spouses and family members are not eligible to participate at this time.

Additional information about how to use results from your own physician, screening/check-up locations, directions to schedule your appointment and more may be found on the SMU HR website.

Watch your mailbox for more information from SMU Human Resources.

Related:
> SMU to use new pharmacy network in 2014
SMU’s Fall 2013 flu shot clinics begin Sept. 25

October 8, 2013|News|

SMU to use new pharmacy network in 2014

Benefits U logoImportant changes to SMU’s Health and Wellness Plan pharmacy network are coming in 2014 – “changes that should help the University group health plan and its faculty and staff members save more than $1 million on their prescriptions over the next three years,” says Jeff Strese, executive director of human resources.

Participating pharmacies have agreed to offer greater prescription discounts to remain in the SMU network, which serves all of the University’s medical plans. They include Costco, Kroger, Sam’s Club, Target, Tom Thumb and Wal-Mart, as well as several independently owned stores.

CVS and Walgreens pharmacies will no longer be part of Express Scripts’ SMU network. If you have recently filled a prescription at a CVS or Walgreens, you will receive a letter from plan administrator Express Scripts providing the locations of three network pharmacies closest to the pharmacy last visited.

Express Scripts logoExpress Scripts has created a web portal, Express-Scripts.com/SMU, that will allow faculty and staff members to compare prescription prices at more than 450 Dallas-Fort Worth area retailers. The site will be open during the University’s 2014 open-enrollment period, Oct. 12-31, 2013.

If you currently use CVS or Walgreens but want to take advantage of the new prescription discounts, you must transfer your prescriptions to a network pharmacy by Jan. 1, 2014. You can complete a transfer in one of three ways:

  • Take your prescription container to the new network pharmacy of your choice; they will contact your current pharmacy to transfer the prescription.
  • Call your new pharmacy and ask them to contact your current pharmacy for your prescription information.
  • Ask your doctor to call your new pharmacy with your prescription information.
  • Ask SMU’s Compass Health Pro, Jeremy Garrett, to do the work for you. He can research Express Scripts’ contracted rates at pharmacies near you after Jan. 1, when Express Scripts loads its online database of 2014 prescription pricing. Call after Jan. 1 with your Rx information at (800) 513-1667, ext. 726.

If you currently use a CVS or Walgreens pharmacy to fill prescriptions, you can continue to do so. However, you will pay the full retail cost without plan discounts, and the costs will not apply toward your medical plan deductible or out-of-pocket maximum.

After extensive analysis with Express Scripts, SMU’s Department of Human Resources learned that 99 percent of faculty and staff members currently filling prescriptions at a CVS or Walgreens pharmacy have access to an alternative network pharmacy within less than three miles of their current pharmacy location, says Sheri Starkey, director of total compensation and senior associate director of human resources.

“By asking some faculty and staff members to move to our new retail pharmacy network, all faculty and staff will benefit from the savings our plan will experience over the next three years,” she adds. “This change is one step we’re taking to ensure the continuation of a comprehensive and affordable benefit plan.”

The University’s mail-order prescription plan will remain unchanged.

More information on the new SMU pharmacy plan will be included in the 2014 open-enrollment packages, scheduled for delivery in early October 2013.

> Learn more about 2014 open enrollment at smu.edu/hr

Related:
SMU’s Fall 2013 flu shot clinics begin Sept. 25

September 20, 2013|News|

SMU seeks full participation in Protection of Minors program

SMU President R. Gerald Turner has requested that all University employees complete an online training program on their responsibilities under Texas law to report suspected child abuse.

The course, “Program for the Protection of Minors,” requires approximately one hour to complete and includes a module on fundamentals of the Clery Act. Per University Policy #9.31, all SMU employees are required to complete the training.

The program is offered as a partnership among SMU’s Office of Police and Risk Management, SMU Human Resources, and the Dallas Children’s Advocacy Center (DCAC). The policy requirement applies to the SMU-in-Taos and SMU-in-Plano campuses as well as to the main campus.

> Complete SMU’s Program for the Protection of Minors on Blackboard

Texas colleges and universities are required to comply with the law laid out in Senate Bill 1414 relating to abuse-prevention training for employees who work with campus programs for minors, which took effect Sept. 1, 2011. For the first phase of training, an SMU task force spent five months identifying the University populations that work directly with minor children, says Jeff Strese, executive director of human resources.

All SMU camp operators, coordinators, and employees who work with minors completed a version of the program by June 1, 2012, Strese adds. In addition to the training in Blackboard, the SMU Police Department has completed DCAC’s first-responder training, which is recognized for its collaborative and child-centered approach to protection of minors, says Associate Vice President and Chief Risk Officer Anita Ingram.

Phase Two of the training rollout is currently in progress for all benefit-eligible faculty and staff, as well as student workers. The deadline for completion is Tuesday, April 30, 2013. The third phase will include training for temporary employees, including adjunct faculty.

The University has committed to exceeding state standards for compliance, said President Turner in a video introduction to the program. Turner and the President’s Executive Council have already completed the program.

Log in to Blackboard at courses.smu.edu with your 8-digit SMU ID and e-mail password. Find the training program on the right side of the page under My Courses (HRPPM-01: SMU Program for the Protection of Minors).

If you believe you have already completed the program, check your training summary in Access.SMU or contact SMU HR to review your training records. For more information, contact Mary Stall, 214-768-2194.

Find the full training sequence and more information on Blackboard

April 17, 2013|News, Save the Date|

HR schedules more information meetings on retirement plan transition

SMU BenefitsU logoSMU’s Department of Human Resources continues its information programs on new retirement plan administrator Diversified with a series of discussions on the fine points of how the change will affect faculty and staff members.

Diversified will conduct a series of on-campus group education meetings to discuss the transition in greater detail – including how the move will affect individual accounts and what participants should do to prepare for the change. The meetings will take place Sept. 26-30 and Oct. 5, 2011.

About 600 faculty and staff members attended campus meetings in early September to get a general overview of key changes and their advantages, says Jeff Strese, executive director of human resources. Diversified will assume its administration and recordkeeping duties for the SMU retirement plans in January 2012.

> Find a complete schedule of meetings (PDF format)
> Register online for a group meeting at the time and place of your choice

September 22, 2011|News, Save the Date|
Load More Posts