Manager Frequently Asked Questions

Why is the University making this change?
The University is making these changes for a variety of reasons including confidentiality of medical information, full compliance with all state and federal laws, and an adequate level of income protection for all staff.

What are the primary features of this program that managers can share with staff? 

  • A bank of sick days (incidental sick time) that will be immediately available at the start of the fiscal year (Sept.1 of each year). Sick days will no longer accrue on a pay period basis.
  • All incidental sick days may be used for a staff member's personal medical condition, as well as to care for a qualified family member who is sick.
  • Upon approval of Extended Sick Time (EST), staff will have their regular base wages/salary paid at 100 percent during the period of EST. The current Short Term Disability (STD) plan that provides benefits at 60 percent of pay will no longer be necessary, and employee premiums for the current STD plan will cease effective Sept. 1, 2012.
  • Vacation and personal floating holidays will not need to be exhausted before staff are allowed to use sick time.      

What is the new program's prime benefit to managers?
When the person you manage has been placed on the Extended Sick Time Program and/or Long-Term Disability you will have information on their expected return to work day allowing you to plan the staffing needs of your unit or department.

Does the program have new requirements for managers?
If you have an employee who has begun Extended Sick Time, you will need to make a Kronos entry after the person has been out sick for more than seven calendar days. Managers will need to sign off on exempt employees' time records each month.    

What tools will be available to managers to oversee absence by staff?
The Absence Management Program FAQs (to be distributed the week of July 16) may be shared with all staff and faculty. Monthly Kronos entries by staff and manager sign off are required. The Hartford will be managing the return to work of your staff member(s) who are on Extended Sick Time or on Long-term Disability.

What do managers need to do between now and the program's start on Sept. 1?
The new program's highlights were emailed to every member of the Northwestern staff and faculty July 2, and you may want to check with your staff members to make sure they received and reviewed it. If there are questions, please recommend staff and faculty attend an 'info-session' at your school or department so they may learn more about it and ask questions following the presentation (the scheduled time for your school will be sent by your HR School Administrator).

If an employee uses more than the alloted incidental sick time, is there any action managers need to take?
Should an employee use more than the allotted incidental sick days, you should seek to understand the attendance challenges the employee is having. You may want to discuss the situation in advance with your HR Consultant so you are prepared for the conversation with your employee.

How will a department arrange for the salary coverage if the employee has been deemed to be eligible for extended sick time? Will there be a process to be reimbursed by the benefit pool?
Extended Sick Time will occur as a result of the employee reporting the disability to The Hartford when it is clear that they will be absent from work for seven or more calendar days. Once The Hartford has approved the length of disability, they will inform the Leaves Administrator (Benefits) of the duration and approval. This information will be furnished to Payroll with notification to the Supervisor as well. There will be departmental payroll relief for sick days beyond 5 days with the Department creating the journal to charge the benefit pool.

Questions that Managers may be asked: 

What happens to my existing sick bank?
Existing sick banks for exempt employees will be eliminated since the Extended Sick Time (EST) provides 100 percent of base wages/salary for an approved absence.

Do I have to use all my vacation and sick time before going on disability?
No. Extended Sick Time will provide benefits for an approved absence after a seven-calendar-day elimination period. Employees can use incidental sick and vacation time during this waiting period to continue getting paid. Any sick and vacation time remaining after seven calendar days will be available to the employee once he returns to work.

I have less than one year of service, am I covered under Extended Sick Time?
All Active Full-time and Part-time Employees who are benefit eligible Regular Status Staff and Reduced Work Calendar Staff. Full-time is 37.5 hours per week and Part-time is 18.75 hours per week. There is a six-month service requirement for the new extended sick time program. Coverage will begin automatically after six months from your date of hire.

I have less than one year of service, am I covered under the Long Term Disability plan?
All active full-time and part-time employees who are benefit eligible regular status staff, reduced work calendar staff, post-doctoral fellows, faculty, academic faculty, and visiting faculty are eligible for long term disability insurance coverage as of the first of the month coincident with or next following your date of hire.

I am under the age of 24, am I covered?
Yes. There is no age requirement for the new absence management program.