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New Time-Off Benefits and Leave Policy

Staff Handbook: Chapter 5 (Section 522)
In accordance with the new Massachusetts Domestic Violence Leave law signed into law on August 8, 2014, employees who have been the victim of domestic violence or sexual abuse are entitled to job-protected leave. The Domestic Violence Leave policy can be found in Section 522 of the Staff Handbook. If you have questions about this policy, please call Human Resources at ext. 2268.



Employee Tuition Reimbursement Benefit Enhancement

Human Resources is pleased to announce that the maximum reimbursement amount under the Tuition Reimbursement benefit has been increased to $2,100 effective July 1, 2014. The increase will impact classes taken after the effective date. This benefit will reimburse eligible employees for courses taken at other colleges or universities. Detailed information about the Tuition Reimbursement benefit, including eligibility requirements, waiting period and eligible courses can be found in the Staff Handbook. The form for the Reimbursement benefit can also be found on the Human Resources website.

Several of my colleagues have expressed concern that the process of gathering information for the gender study group (Admission Policy Study Group) is not anonymous. This subject is one with very strong opinions on both sides of the issue. It is my fear that staff will not be open about their thoughts due to possible repercussions on their stated views. Is it possible to share anonymously?

If people want to respond anonymously they can fill out the form with a bogus name and email. However, at Smith we work very hard to have reasonable and open discourse, and we are striving to do so in this case. We understand that this is an issue where people of good will have differing views, and the study group has appreciated the willingness of members of the Smith community (and indeed, the study group itself) to articulate those views openly. *We just learned that, in fact, feedback is shared with the working group with no names attached. Staff in the Office of Institutional Research remove identifying information as it is compiled to share. Asking for a Smith email is attempt to limit feedback to members of our immediate community. Who said what is not the critical point here.

Has there been any further discussion on the discount page? I liked knowing where I might be able to get a discount as it helped determine where I would shop.

Yes, we have shared feedback with Human Resources that this is a resource that staff value. We were just told that the discount page will be reinstated sometime this Spring- though no deadline has been set. The plan is for the Human Resources Specialist to maintain the webpage of known discounts, which will live on the Human Resources website.

Smith used to offer water aerobics classes for staff, but canceled them. It would be nice if that could be an option again. It would also be nice if a lane or two could be reserved in the pool during lap swims for staff who are not strong swimmers, so they don't have to compete with the stronger, faster swimmers. How could we go about requesting these things?

Staff/faculty offerings are coordinated by Rachel Cook in exercise and sports studies. You should contact her directly to request that water aerobics be offered again. Questions about the pool and pool use can always be directed to Kim Bierwert in athletics. Apparently there are signs indicating that outside lanes are for slower swimmers.

Is it possible to create a Facilities Management web page so staff can confirm parking bans online? Getting one email with no follow-up is confusing, especially when bans are in effect but the College is open.

College Relations is working with Facilities to make sure that parking ban communications are clear. You can expect that if there are parking ban updates they will now be sent in follow-up emails to all Smith employees.

Why aren't staff members under the age of 26 eligible for employer contributions to retirement plans?

It is a Smith decision to require that employees be a minimum age of 26 before Smith contributes to their retirement plan. This is a financial decision and impacts a small percentage of employees.

Why can't Staff Council run a ListServ so staff can send/receive information?

Staff Council has been trying to get an All-Staff email list going for some time now. The great news is that we just launched such a service via Google Groups! Tell your friends and colleagues to sign up so they can stay in the know! Contact us if you need the instructions to sign up re-sent to your Smith email.

Are Staff allowed to take Interterm classes?

Yes. Smith students, staff and faculty may register for non-credit interterm classes and workshops. When registration is open, staff can view the classes and workshops offered and register at http://www.smith.edu/interterm. Staff need to discuss the schedule of the class they would like to take with their supervisor to make sure it will not interfere with getting their regular work done.

Why was retirement changed from being based on a percentage to being a flat amount?

Smith does provide a percentage for retirement and not a flat amount. As stated on the Benefits page on the Human Resources website, "Smith will contribute 9 percent of eligible earnings up to a specific amount of earnings (the integration level). The integration level is established each year, and it is $59,774 for 2014. Above the integration level, Smith will contribute 13.3 percent of eligible earnings." Read more

What do you do when you think there is an injustice in your office? What do you do when you can't talk to your supervisor about it?

You should always start with your supervisor, but Human Resources staff are a good resource for these kinds of issues, and can help. Staff Council is also a place you can always bring questions or ask for advice. Council officers or chairs of relevant committees are always willing to listen and connect you with the resources or tools to help.

Could the Schacht Health Center for Health and Wellness be utilized by employees for the flu shot and other routine care through our health care provider?

Though the Schacht Center does offer staff flu shots, there is a co-pay associated with this service. (You can get it for free at your docstor's office and some local pharmacies.) The Schacht Center is a student health services. The building and staffing would have to be much larger to provide routine health care for the entire campus community.

What do you do if you feel like the budget in your area is being misspent?

Ideally you would talk with your supervisor about the issues you see since they will be the most knowledgeable about the decisions being made and are the ones to request more money if that is what is needed. If that doesn't seem feasible, you can always talk with your supervisors supervisor or one of the staff members who sit on ACRA.

Are there options for Smith employees who want to invest their retirement in a socially responsible (SR) fund?

Yes. Currently there is one SR fund which is a large growth, all-stock fund called the Neuberger Berman Socially Responsible Fund. Voya offers other SR funds that include both stock and bonds, but employees would need to ask HR to include them in our available options.

Is it possible to have the "free-with-Smith-ID bus routes during the semester continue when the college is closed (e.g. during the summer), so that staff members who are in the opt-out program can still use the bus for free?

Unfortunately, no. The current agreement for no-fare buses on Five College Routes is limited to the academic year and results from a large fee charged by PVTA. There is no independent funding to subsidize the costs of summer buses at this time.
PVTA encourages the purchase of monthly passes when the free buses are not running.

Is there a process for recycling used furniture and equipment?

Yes! Smith College has a policy in place for furniture reuse, which is posted on the Purchasing website homepage and contracts page. Purchasing will post an eDigest announcement shortly to inform employees that are not yet aware of the existing policy.

Whom do I call if maintenance outside a building is needed?

Outdoor plant issues: Jay Girard, landscape manager, jgirard@smith.edu. Grass/infrastructure: Bob Dombkowski. Grounds section supervisor, bdombkow@smith.edu

Is there a Smith staff discount for Enterprise?

YES! The online code is: L480303. If the code does not work, you can call Enterprise directly, tell them you are a Smith College employee, and the discount will be applied.

Where is the discount page for Smith employees?

Many businesses offer Smith employees a discount without any special code- just mention that you work at the College. We are currently discussing with Human Resources whether a discount page makes sense and if so, who should maintain the list of discounts available for Smith employees. Since the discount page had not been updated for several years and many businesses listed no longer existed, the decision was made to take down the page for now. (See March 2015 update above.)

Harvard Pilgrim's Universal Dental Plan

Universal Dental Plan is not dental insurance. This plan does not meet minimum creditable coverage requirements under Massachusetts Law. The plan provides discounts at specific dental providers for dental services. The plan does not make payments directly to the providers of dental services. Plan members are obligated to pay for all dental care services but will receive a discount from those dental care providers who have contracted with the discount dental plan organization. The range of discounts will vary depending on the services provided.

This plan would not take the place of our dental insurance as our dental plan is much, much richer than this program. This program has a monthly membership fees, it is not free. Many of our employees may find limited value in the program as there are no dentists in our immediate area that are part of the program. The closest dentists are in the Springfield area. That said, employees can sign up through Harvard Pilgrim's website. We will make sure that our rep has information at the fair.

Employee Tuition Reimbursement Increased

Human Resources is pleased to announce that the maximum reimbursement amount under the Tuition Reimbursement benefit has been increased to $2,100 effective July 1, 2014. The increase will impact classes taken after the effective date. This benefit will reimburse eligible employees for courses taken at other colleges or universities. Detailed information about the Tuition Reimbursement benefit, including eligibility requirements, waiting period and eligible courses can be found in the Staff Handbook at smith.edu/hr/handbook_403.php.

Update on Employee Assistance Program

Our Employee Assistance Program provider, The Wellness Corporation, has been acquired by E4 Health, a leading provider of holistic life services and wellness solutions for organizations nationwide. The merger of these two experienced, professional teams will afford expanded service offerings for faculty and staff, while providing all the high quality services and capabilities that you and your family/household members are accustomed to. The EAP has been re-branded, LifeScope. The toll-free help line (800-828-6025) will remain the same for the foreseeable future. For more information about Smith's EAP, visit http://www.smith.edu/hr/benefits_eap.php or call Lynn Cocco at x2273.