TO: Executive Board
FROM: Jane Hallum, Secretary-Treasurer
Bob Carrothers, Director of Contract Administration
DATE: June 1, 2001
RE: Revised Procedures for Paid EOL
Article 4 provides that PEF can access its members for internal union business if we reimburse the State for the cost of releasing the employees. We call this time "Paid EOL". (Release for Labor/Management, grievance investigation and for informing members about PEF membership and its benefits are unaffected by any of the changes discussed in this memo)
PEF and GOER have recently agreed to revise the procedures to request paid EOL as well as revising the form used when we use paid EOL. Had we failed to reach agreement on new guidelines on the use of EOL, future use of paid EOL could have been put in jeopardy.
Among the significant changes are:
Employees using paid EOL now have a means by which they can attend without prior charge to leave credits. (Previously, people had to charge personal or annual leave and then have the time restored when the forms were processed and approved). There are some specific timeframes that must be met for this to be possible. If the timeframes are not met, we have the same right to access paid EOL, but the system of "charge and restore" will be applicable.
The forms have been modified to remove the "purpose" section. Members will now complete a three digit "use code" to eliminate any confusion about the purpose of the meeting.
Article 4 requires PEF to provide a list of all designees to internal committees and boards. PEF will also provide GOER with advance notice of scheduled meetings of the various committees. PEF also has the right to name additional participants for any meeting even if they are not formal members of the committee or board.
EOL forms will now have to be submitted within 60 days of their use. Untimely forms will be accepted at the discretion of GOER.
When requested EOL, an employee will have to indicate the meeting and whether they are seeking EOL for a full or half day. Also, if requested, the employee will have to supply the phone number (e.g., PEF Headquarters or Regional Office) where they can be reached while on EOL. There has been no other change in how employees request release time from their agency.
Notwithstanding the changes in the process and the form, the standard by which agencies can approve or deny EOL remains the same: EOL can only be denied if the agency determines that an individual's absence will unreasonably interfere with agency operations.
The new procedures make special accommodation for teachers (who do not earn annual leave) and for people working other than day shift (see below for details on both).
Questions and Answers
Q: Why did PEF agree to change these procedures?
A: Article 4 of the PEF contract requires that the procedures for the use of paid EOL be mutually agreed upon by PEF and GOER. As a matter of practice, PEF uses paid EOL far in excess of the amount provided by the PEF Contract. In some years, we can use more than 4 or 5 times more than the 400 days we are granted by Article 4. Had we failed to reach agreement on new guidelines on the use of EOL, future use of paid EOL could have been put in jeopardy.
Q: I have been appointed as an official representative to one of the PEF Contract Committees (e.g., Joint Committee on Health Benefits (Article 9) or Workers' Compensation Committee (Article 13)). Historically, we filled out a separate EOL form. Do we continue to do so?
A: No. All paid EOL absences will be recorded on the new form. In those cases where there was an actual meeting with the State representatives of the Committee, PEF will not be charged for the paid EOL. On those occasions, however, when PEF decides to convene a meeting of our designees to the Committee (and not meet with the State) PEF will be charged for the paid EOL. In any event, the form and the code remain the same. Finally, there is a separate code for pre-meetings of the Article 14, 15, 18 and 22 Committees. This is necessary because there is a sideletter that provides an additional bank of paid EOL for the specific purpose of Contract Committee Pre-Meetings.
Q: The purpose of my paid EOL does not really fit into one of the categories. What should I put in the "other" category?
A: If the category is not immediately evident, please contact the Secretary-Treasurer's office for advice on which code to use.
Q: Since I have to tell my agency what meeting I'm attending, can they deny my request for paid EOL based on which meeting it is?
A: No. The singular basis by which an agency can deny release for paid EOL is if your absence would unreasonably interfere with agency operations.
Q: PEF provided the required three week notice of the meeting, but I failed to request the time two weeks in advance. Can I be denied release on that basis?
A: No. Assuming that the absence would not interfere with agency operations, release for paid EOL would be approved, but you would have to charge leave credits for the absence. The credits would be restored once the paid EOL Reimbursement form was processed.
Q: Are we required to use these forms for Labor/Management Meetings?
A: No. Release for Labor/Management Committee Meetings is not paid EOL. There are, however, situations where PEF will want to confer with the members of a particular Labor/Management Team. To allow for such activities, PEF has created the Labor/Management Advisory Council which includes, among others, all members of statewide L/M teams. When we need access to the members of a particular L/M team, PEF will notify GOER of the specific people designated to attend a particular meeting.
Q: Can these procedures be changed?
A: The procedures and the form can only be changed by mutual agreement of PEF and GOER. Either party can request a revision, but the other party must agree. Otherwise, the Agreement continues until after the next Contract is negotiated and ratified. At that time, the parties will review the procedures to conform them to whatever changes, if any, were made to Article 4 of the Contract.
Q: When I request the time off for paid EOL and identify the meeting, am I required to provide a meeting agenda or to identify the purpose of the meeting?
A: No. The only requirement is that you identify the specific meeting and indicate whether it will be a full or half-day.
Q: In the past, it sometimes took more than a year for EOL time to be restored to my accruals. Will this continue?
A: No. First, it is important to remember that for virtually all absences related to paid EOL, there is now an option for you to attend without first charging your leave accruals. Moreover, in the instance that you do not meet the criteria for "Option A" or otherwise choose to use "Option B" and charge your accruals, the timeframes for submission are much tighter than those used previously. Finally, since we are using pre-approved codes for the absences, the time delay that resulted from trying to reconcile the "purpose" section employees completed will be eliminated.
Q: The members of an internal committee want to convene a meeting. How do we get this approved?
A: PEF policy requires that all paid EOL be approved by the Secretary-Treasurer.
Q: I have questions about the new procedure. Who should I call?
A: Questions about the procedure, the form or paid EOL in general can be directed to the Secretary-Treasurer's office or to Contract Administration.
Article 4, Employee Organization Rights provides the means by which PEF can access its members for various Union Purposes. Various provisions of Article 4 provide leave for grievance investigation, contract negotiations, Labor/Management activities and for informing members about PEF membership and its benefits. All of this time is allowed without charge to accruals and without expense to PEF. These types of release are unaffected by the negotiated changes in Article 4 or the revised procedures discussed in this memo.
Article 4.7 provides a mechanism by which PEF can access its members for internal union meetings, including but not limited to the annual convention, Executive Board Meetings, and internal Committee meetings. The Contract provides a limited number of days that PEF can access employees for these functions without charge to the Union. Historically, we have been able to use days beyond the limits specified in the Contract, provided we agree to reimburse the State for the costs of the additional days. For convenience purposes, we will refer to this time as paid EOL.
During the 1999-2003 negotiations PEF agreed to a number of changes to Article 4. We agreed to reduce the number of Contract provided paid EOL days from 415 to 400 per year, and importantly, we agreed to provide GOER with a list of the PEF members appointed to the various internal committees and boards as well as a listing of our elected leadership. Paid EOL will be limited to the people who appear on these lists, however, we did include language that gives PEF the right to designate additional PEF members who are not formal appointees to participate in any committee meeting or function for which paid EOL could be appropriately used. (The provision of these lists is key to some of the changes in how paid EOL is recorded and is fully explained below).
Finally, Article 4 has long contained a provision that requires that the "procedures for the advance request for the use of such leave [paid EOL] and the advance designation of employees…shall be by means mutually agreed to.." by GOER and PEF. Although in previous years the State never expressed an interest in modifying these procedures, they did raise the matter after the conclusion of contract negotiations. (The revisions we made are the subject of this memo and a complete copy is attached).
The contractual standard for approving or denying the use of paid EOL remains unchanged: agencies can deny advance requests to use paid EOL only to the extent that "the resulting absence of any individual employee will not unreasonably interfere with an agency's operations". (see p. 16 of the 1999-2003 Contract). While the standard for approval or denial remains the same, we did agree to make some important changes in how the time is recorded. Under the new procedures, there are two different methods by which employees can access paid EOL, one of which, for the first time, does not require advance charge to leave credits. These new procedures will take effect for paid EOL absences starting July 1, 2001.
Option A. No Charge to Leave Credits.
Under this option, employees can be released from their job for paid EOL without having to charge their own time in advance. (Under the old procedure, many employees charged their time in advance and had it restored once GOER approved the PEF Voucher and Payment for the EOL). This option will work in the same way that release time for the PEF convention has been handled. Employees will be designated in advance to attend a particular meeting, and if the various timeframes have been met, the employee released for paid EOL will make a charge to "tentative EOL" on their time sheet instead of deducting time from their personal or annual leave balances. Once the appropriate paperwork has been submitted, the "tentative" charge will be made permanent. Again, this is how EOL for the PEF Convention has worked for several years.
To take advantage of this option, the following time frames MUST be met:
The employee's name must appear as a member or a designee of a particular committee or Board. This notice, along with the specific meeting date must be provided to GOER by PEF at least three (3) weeks prior to the scheduled meeting date.
The employee must request approval (however that is done in their worksite or agency) to attend the meeting at least two (2) weeks prior to the scheduled meeting date.
If the agency determines that the absence will not unreasonably interfere with operations, the employee will be able to attend without charge to their leave credits.
The Secretary-Treasurer's office will be responsible for notifying GOER of the scheduled meetings or for designating non-members of committees to attend particular meetings. A separate memo will be sent to the chairs of the internal PEF committees and to PEF Department Heads detailing how they need to coordinate their meeting planning with the Secretary-Treasurer's office so we can give our members the option of using paid EOL without charge to their leave credits. Any questions about whether paid EOL will be offered for a particular meeting or if PEF has met the criteria for people to attend without advance charge to leave credits should be directed to the Secretary-Treasurer's office.
Option B. Advance Charge to Leave Credits
In those circumstances where the employee cannot meet any of the timeframes required for Option A, but the employee complies with whatever process the agency might have for requesting leave, they will be released for paid EOL provided they charge appropriate leave accruals for the absence. (Again, this assumes that the agency has determined that the absence will not unreasonably interfere with agency operations). Once the appropriate paperwork has been filed, the time will be restored to the employee. This is essentially the same system that has existed for many years.
How to Request Paid EOL from Your Agency
The new guidelines did not change the manner in which employees request leave for paid EOL from their agency. That will continue to be done pursuant to whatever the local agency or facility practice requires. The guidelines do require, however, that certain information be included in the request for paid EOL. Each request must identify the meeting, and whether it the request is for a full or half-day (and indicating a.m. or p.m. if half-day). If requested, the employee will also provide a telephone number where they can be reached during the time they are on paid EOL. In virtually all circumstances, the phone number will be for PEF Headquarters, the Legislative Office or one of the PEF Field Offices.
A copy of the Paid EOL form is attached. The most significant change is that instead of listing a reason for a particular meeting, you will simply insert the appropriate numeric code found on the reverse side of the sheet. When a particular meeting spans several days, you can use a single form (up to five days per code). However, you must use a separate form for each separate code that you submit (the only exception to this are the codes used to indicate travel that is required in conjunction with a particular meeting).
As a practical matter, the completed EOL forms should be submitted to the Secretary-Treasurer's office as soon after the meeting as possible. When we can, we will provide employees with the appropriate forms and collect them for submission at the end of the meeting. Under the guidelines, a request for reimbursement is only timely if it is submitted to PEF within 60 days of the scheduled meeting date. Late requests can be submitted, but they are accepted at the discretion of GOER. To avoid problems, the completed forms should be submitted promptly so we can transmit them to GOER within the required timeframes.
Once the forms have been submitted and reviewed by GOER, they will notify PEF of their approval or denial. Where paid EOL is approved, a tentative charge to EOL will be made permanent, and any charge to leave credits will be restored. If the paid EOL is denied by GOER, the employee will have to make the appropriate deduction from their leave accruals, or in the event they do not have accruals, an adjustment to their pay will be required.
Special Note for Institution Teachers
10 Month employees, unlike others in the PS&T Unit, do not earn annual leave. As such, they have little, if any, time they can charge in advance to cover absences for paid EOL. Under the new procedures, teachers will be allowed to make a tentative charge to EOL for all absences for paid EOL, notwithstanding their compliance with the requirements of Option A. Over the years we have worked this situation out with the Agencies, but the new procedures memorialize the practice.
Special Note for Shift Employees
Paid EOL is granted only to cover those hours of an employee's work schedule that conflicts with the scheduled meeting. Since virtually all paid EOL occurs during the traditional day shift, paid EOL often has little meaning to shift workers who sometimes were made to work their normal tour of duty immediately before or after participation in a meeting for which paid EOL was approved. Under the new guidelines, agencies are encouraged to approve requests from shift employees to change their work schedule so that when they use paid EOL, their schedule will be changed to release them from their work obligations either before or after the scheduled meeting.