Program Statement and Reason
The purpose of Emerson College’s Shared Sick Bank Program (the “Program”) is to support colleagues in need. The Program provides staff members with an opportunity to donate (share) a portion of their available sick time to colleagues in need of additional paid time off from work due to:
- their own catastrophic illness or injury, or
- care for an immediate family member with a catastrophic illness or injury
For the purpose of this Program, employees include staff only. All eligible staff are subject to the provisions of this Program unless otherwise stipulated by an applicable collective bargaining agreement.
Who is eligible for the Program?
Benefits-eligible staff working twenty (20) hours a week or more who meet the criteria below are eligible to participate in the Program.
What are the major features of the Program?
On an annual basis, the Program allows benefits-eligible staff members to donate a portion of their available (accrued and unused) sick time to a bank of time that may be used by staff who qualify for the Program.
Staff may qualify for the Program if they have exhausted their paid time off (sick, personal and vacation time) due to their difficult circumstances, pursuant to the College’s leave policies and cannot work due to their own catastrophic illnesses and/or injuries or need to care for immediate family members with catastrophic illnesses and/or injuries.
What are catastrophic illnesses or injuries?
Those who may qualify for the Program will be struggling with catastrophic illnesses or injuries.
A catastrophic illness or injury is defined as a severe medical condition that requires a staff member’s absence from work for a prolonged period of time and which results in a substantial loss of income to the staff member because of the exhaustion of all earned sick, vacation and personal time. A qualifying illness or injury might include but is not limited to cancer, major non-elective surgery, serious accident, heart attack or complications of pregnancy. In order to be defined as catastrophic, an illness or injury must be seriously incapacitating, of extended duration and requiring the services of a licensed health care provider.
What does the Program provide?
The Program provides financial relief in the form of donated (shared) sick time to staff in the most serious of circumstances. Shared sick time may not cover more than a staff member’s regular base pay, including when it is used to supplement STD, Worker’s Compensation, etc.
When and how may I contribute sick time?
Each February, the College will invite benefits-eligible staff to donate a portion of their accrued and unused sick time to the Shared Sick Bank and will provide instructions for contributing at that time.
In its discretion, the College may conduct a second donation period if the Shared Sick Bank drops below 100 days/800 hours during the course of a calendar year. There will be no more than two (2) donation periods in a calendar year.
Is the Program voluntary?
Program participation is strictly voluntary. Staff may not be coerced, intimidated or induced to participate or refrain from participating in the Program nor will staff be retaliated against or treated more favorably based on participation. Staff will receive donated sick time based on their qualifications for the Program regardless of their status as donors.
Is the Program confidential?
The identity of all Program participants (donors and recipients) will be kept confidential by Human Resources and/or those tasked with administering the Program.
How will decisions be made to provide donated sick time to affected staff?
In light of the sensitive nature of requests for time from the Shared Sick Bank and the need to review protected health information as part of this review, the College has engaged an external vendor to review and, as appropriate, approve requests for donated time. Staff may not designate that their donations go to particular individuals and there is no guarantee that particular individuals will receive sick time from the Shared Sick Bank.
Criteria for Donation
Eligible staff who wish to donate to the Shared Sick Bank must meet the following criteria and observe the following guidelines:
Once the transfer of accrued unused sick time occurs, the individual must have a minimum of ten (10) working days of their own sick time remaining. Staff who have less than ten (10) days of accrued unused sick time will not be permitted to donate.
Staff may donate an amount of their accrued unused sick time as follows:
- Staff working a 40-hour workweek or part-time based on 40 hours may donate (choose only one of the following):
- One (1) day, eight (8) hours
- Two (2) days, sixteen (16) hours
- Three (3) days, twenty-four (24) hours
- Four (4) days, thirty-two (32) hours
- Donations are pro-rated based on part-time schedules.
- Staff working a 36.25-hour workweek or part-time based on 36.25 hours may donate (chose only one of the following):
- One (1) day, seven and ¼ (7.25) hours
- Two (2) days, fourteen and ½ (14.50) hours
- Three (3) days, twenty-one and ¾ (21.75) hours
- Four (4) days, twenty-nine (29) hours
- Donations are pro-rated based on part-time schedules.
- Donations must be made in full one (1) day increments.
- Donations less than or exceeding the guidelines described above will not be accepted.
- Donations will not be retracted once transferred to the Shared Sick Bank.
- Receipt of donated sick time is determined according to Program guidelines and not influenced or guaranteed by participation as a donor.
- Staff must authorize their donation by submitting their desired sick time to donate by filling out this form: Sick Time Donation Form.
Criteria for Withdrawal
Eligible staff requesting to withdraw sick time from the Shared Sick Bank must meet the following criteria and observe the following guidelines in order to receive sick time:
- Be on approved medical or family care leaves of absence related to catastrophic illnesses or injuries.
- Cannot work due to their own catastrophic illnesses or injuries, or must take time off from work to care for an immediate family member(s) with catastrophic illnesses or injuries.
- Must provide acceptable medical verification from licensed health care providers indicating the nature, severity and anticipated duration of the medical or family care leave.
- Have exhausted all accrued paid time (sick time, personal and vacation time) due to their difficult circumstances, pursuant to the College’s leave policies, or other reasons acceptable to the College.
- Have not received donations in the twelve (12) months preceding the date of their withdrawal request.
- Have not used seven (7) days of sick time to care for a family member in the last twelve (12) months.
- Understand that the donated time they receive is taxable income.
- Email, hand-deliver or US post mail the request in writing by submitting the Shared Sick Bank Program Request Form to Human Resources. Human Resources will forward all materials to the external vendor responsible for review and approval, if appropriate. Family members or personal representatives (such as healthcare proxies) of staff in need of paid time may complete applications on behalf of staff if they are unable to do so on their own.
If staff meet the criteria for withdrawal above, they may request:
- Up to 20 days for staff working a 40 hour work week (160 hours)
- Up to 20 days for staff working a 36.25 hour work week (145 hours)
- Requests are pro-rated based on part-time schedules.
Further Considerations, Exclusions, and Restrictions
The following conditions apply:
- Staff must accurately record the use of their accrued vacation, personal and sick time during scheduled pay periods. Staff with a pattern of delinquent or inaccurate recording of their time may not participate in the Shared Sick Bank Program, either as a donor or recipient.
- Donations of vacation or personal time to the Shared Sick Bank is not permitted. Only sick time may be donated.
- The Program will not provide more than twenty (20) days, per annual request, of sick time per eligible staff member.
- Massachusetts staff who receive Short-Term Disability (STD) (60% of` base pay) or Workers’ Compensation may request sick time donations to supplement STD or Workers’ Compensation. While donated time may be used for this purpose, when there is a limited bank of available time, priority will go to eligible staff who are ineligible for STD or Workers’ Compensation.
- California staff who receive California Disability Insurance, including Workers’ Compensation or California Paid Family Leave may request sick time donations to supplement California’s paid leave. While donated time may be used for this purpose, when there is a limited bank of available time, priority will go to eligible staff who are ineligible for these benefits.
- Sick time under the Program is not retroactive to previous leaves.
- Donated sick time is to cover time away from work and is not payable in cash.
- Donations may only be provided to affected staff if there is sick time available in the Shared Sick Bank at the time an application is filed.
- If a second open enrollment donation period is conducted (e.g., if the Shared Sick Bank drops below 100 days/800 hours during the course of the year), individual staff members’ total donation for the year may not exceed four (4) days as specified under the Criteria for Donation section above.
- Staff who hold the position of Vice President and above may donate available sick time but may not receive donated time even if they otherwise qualify for the Program.
- Any donated sick time that is not used by recipients during the applicable leave periods will be returned to the Shared Sick Bank.
- Participation eligibility shall cease upon separation from employment for any reason (including retirement) and will be forfeited.
- Staff who are separating from employment for any reason may not donate any additional unused sick time to the Shared Sick Bank at the time of their separation.
- There is no guarantee that any or all qualified staff will receive donated time nor is there a guarantee related to the amount of time individual staff will receive. Since donations are not guaranteed, recipients are not guaranteed income replacement.
Decision Making Authority
The assessment of whether or not a staff member has a catastrophic illness or injury and the final decision to grant the withdrawal of days will be made by an independent outside vendor.
The leave recipient will be notified typically within ten (10) working days after the completed request is received that:
- The request has been approved or denied (if denied, the staff member will be given the reason for the denial).
- The date the staff member may begin drawing time from the bank.
- If the donated time may be applied to cover the requested period of leave that has already passed without pay.
Catastrophic illness or injuries
A catastrophic illness or injury is defined as a severe medical condition that requires a staff member’s absence from work for a prolonged period of time and which results in a substantial loss of income to the staff member because of the exhaustion of all earned sick, vacation and personal time. A qualifying illness or injury might include, but is not limited to; cancer, major non-elective surgery, serious accident, heart attack, or complications of pregnancy. In order to be defined as catastrophic, an illness or injury must be seriously incapacitating, of extended duration, and requiring the services of a licensed health care provider.
Immediate family member
A staff member’s spouse, life partner, child or parent. A child is any child who is the biological child of the staff member, who is adopted by the staff member, or whom the staff member supervised on a day-to-day basis and for whom the staff member is financially responsible.
Shared Sick Bank
The shared sick bank is similar to a checking account. Deposits of donated sick time are made into the bank and remain there indefinitely until sick time is withdrawn from the bank and transferred to recipients’ personal sick time balance.
Please contact Human Resources for further information.