Progress report on workplace-policy recommendations issued

University departments, including Human Resources, the Procurement Office and the Ombuds Office, have jointly issued a second progress report to President John Hennessy updating the status of 27 recommendations made by the Presidential Advisory Committee on Workplace Policies. Hennessy announced early last year that he would adopt most of the recommendations.

The 13-member committee—made up of students, faculty and staff appointed by Hennessy—was created in 2004 to advise the president on the university's employment policies. Its formation came in response to student and staff protests over employment practices affecting temporary employees, the living-wage policy and the use of subcontracting, educational opportunities for employees and other issues.

This most recent progress report was released in April and stated that Human Resources is on track with the development of a new job classification and salary system for use in hiring and classifying casual and temporary employees. The system is meant to ensure temporary and casual employees are properly classified and paid a wage consistent with their responsibilities. Human Resources will start communicating information about the new structure over the summer and begin implementation on Sept. 1, the report stated.

Human Resources also is on track to implement a policy on Sept. 1 that will give temporary and casual employees who work at least 30 hours per week for one year 10 days off with pay (prorated) each year. Temporary and casual employees also will be eligible on that date to enroll in free classes offered through Training and Organizational Development.

Another policy that takes effect on Sept. 1 will require the university to pay temporary and casual employees who work at least 20 hours per week no less than the living wage specified for workers providing basic services under certain current contracts with vendors. Those contracts must, in the aggregate, be for a term of at least one year, exceed $100,000 per year and meet several other criteria set by the university.

Effective Sept. 1, workers under such contracts must be paid $11.15 per hour if they receive benefits from the vendor and $12.59 per hour if they do not, as specified in an announcement Hennessy made on May 8.

However, the report also stated that follow-through on some of the recommendations has been delayed and that others might present problems to university business offices. For instance, the recommendation to lower the thresholds for which contracts should be subject to the living-wage policy—such as contract duration and dollar value—would increase the workload in the Procurement Office beyond a manageable level, the office stated in the report.

The report added that the Procurement Office has modified all existing contracts that fall under the policy so that contractors are now required to produce quarterly reports that show they are in compliance with the wage policy. Another provision has been added in those agreements that informs contractors that their compliance is subject to an audit—and time will be allotted this summer for staff in the Internal Audit Department to conduct some audits, the report stated.

Initially, the advisory committee also recommended the formation of "worker involvement committees" in areas of campus where significant numbers of non-exempt, non-union regular, temporary and casual employees work. One pilot group, called a "staff engagement team," first met in September 2005, and a second group began meeting in January. A final evaluation of the program, which brings together "rank-and-file workers" and their supervisors to discuss improving productivity, will undergo final evaluation in July, the report stated.

Temporary and casual employees who work at least 30 hours per week for one year will be eligible, starting Sept. 1, to receive an annual $400 Staff Tuition Assistance Program benefit to be used on the same basis as other employees use STAP funds, the report stated.

A final report to the university community that specifies the actions taken in response to all the advisory committee's recommendations is expected to be issued by Dec. 31. The April progress report will be posted on the advisory committee's website at