Purdue Today

January 31, 2008

APSAC discusses possible changes to employment policy

Changes to Purdue's policy on the terms and conditions of employment for administrative and professional staff came before APSAC on Jan. 19.

The creation of a provisional period of employment for new a/p employees also was discussed.

John Beelke, director of Human Resource Services, and Tom Ganz, assistant director of employee relations and HR policy,  presented information on both topics before listening  to the group's comments and concerns. 

Human Resource Services is looking at revisions to Executive Memorandum No. B-55 that would simplify  wording regarding termination-at-will. B-55 defines terms and conditions of employment for a/p staff.

"The revisions do not change the intent of the current B-55 policy," said Ganz. "Instead, we want to bring clarity to it."

The current policy dates back to 1979. Proposed  revisions would eliminate references to a/p contracts and to a 30-day working notice of termination, both of which are now obsolete.

Offer letters replaced contracts for new hires last spring. Ganz said the contracts were misleading, were not legally meaningful and created unnecessary paperwork.

The adoption of a Separation Pay policy in 2002 eliminated the 30-day working notice. Instead, an employee terminated by the University must leave on the day of notification and receives separation pay of one-half of one month's regular pay.

APSAC members asked questions about the frequency of at-will terminations , offer letters, and how the policy applies to employees with set contracts.

Ganz said termination-at-will is seldom exercised, typically used for terminating senior management, and applied only when necessary and through senior leadership of the University.

No one expressed opposition to the revisions clarifying at-will terminations.

Ganz and Beelke also asked APSAC for feedback on the creation of a provisional period for a/p staff. A provisional period of 90 days now applies to clerical and service staff.
During this trial period, a new hire could be terminated without access to the grievance procedure.

Beelke said the period is used to make sure new hires demonstrate the characteristics to have long-term successful employment.

Several APSAC members voiced their concerns about a provisional period.

Steve Santy, IT security project manager, said the addition would provide equity between a/p and c/s staff, but that it could hinder Purdue's ability to attract a strong, diverse candidate pool.

"Will it be a roadblock to recruiting globally?" Santy asked.

Mike Budzik, APSAC chair, said a provisional period is unnecessary as a protection against employees who misrepresented themselves.

"If a new employee falsifies his resume or exaggerates his skill set,  the inability to perform job duties would easily be justifiable as  cause for the termination or in any grievance or wrongful termination suit," he said.

Alternatives to the provisional period were offered. Suggestions included training for supervisors on hiring and terminations, and using an outside service to confirm prospective hires' education and work experience.

Changes to Executive Memorandum No. B-55 are still under review, Ganz said. The policy is at www.purdue.edu/policies/pages/human_resources/b_55.html.

In other business

* APSAC will begin accepting applications for its individual professional development grants  on Feb. 1.

Grants generally fund professional education; attendance at lectures, conferences and seminars; or tuition assistance for academic classes.

The deadline is March 3. Notice of awards will be given by mid-April.

More details are available at www.purdue.edu/hr/apsac/grantgeneral.htm

* APSAC will vote in February  on a new vice chair to replace Sam Axley,  who left the University in mid-January to become director of recreational sports at Armstrong Atlantic State University. Axley, formerly Purdue's assistant director of recreational sports, served as the representative for a/p staff working for the vice president for student services.

The new vice chair will serve in the role through May and become the chair of APSAC in June.