NEWSLETTER, Q & A

[Donated Sick Leave Bank] How have we helped people?

May 02, 2017 / Phil Lesch

Here is a collection of stories… and thank yous… from grateful donated sick leave bank members…

The sick leave bank was a tremendous help to me while I was struggling with the hospice care and death of a parent, and had not been full time long enough for the leave hours I needed. During such an uncertain and emotional time, it was a great comfort that I didn’t need to also worry about paying bills and the expense of traveling out of state. I would not have been able to spend that priceless time with my family without it. I am eternally grateful for the assistance and will happily contribute for as long as it is available. I encourage all my colleagues to do the same. Thank you all so much.

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It is very difficult to explain with words how important this shared sick leave bank was for me and my family. We had a recent addition to our family, and as I had only four weeks of sick leave accumulated from my time at PSU, the FMLA/OFLA time period was going to be difficult to manage financially. Fortunately, I had short-term disability that allowed me to receive 60% pay for an additional 5 weeks. However, the cumulative time period for FMLA/OFLA is 18-20 weeks, and I wanted to spend as much time with my new infant as possible. The shared sick leave bank allowed me to do that - it relieved the financial pressure. It was an incredible gift to be able to receive two full months pay during my parental leave. 

I want to be able to give this to other people in need. I want to give to the bank so that others can feel the relief that I felt. There is also an additional feeling of being part of a generous community that comes from taking part and receiving benefit from a shared bank like this.

I know that the roll out has been problematic, but I ask that you consider the benefits, have patience, and continue to work with the ups and downs of this process. If you have 3 hours to give, please do. You don't know how much it can help your colleagues in need. Thank you to those of you who have contributed. It means so much to me.

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I was very fortunate to be among the first recipients of the sick leave bank and I don't know what I would have done without it. Our daughter was born in September, just over a year after I started my position at PSU and so I had not yet earned very much sick leave. I had originally planned on using donated sick leave to transition back to work part-time after the 8 weeks covered by short term disability insurance expired. But just as I was about to return to work, my daughter started having breathing difficulties and spent the next month in and out of the hospital. Donated sick leave made it possible for me to never leave her side for all those weeks in the hospital and then to take her to many doctors appointments afterwards. Ada is now seven months old and doing much better. I will be forever thankful for the sick leave bank!

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I had a baby this past October. Because this is the second child I have had since starting at PSU, I had very little sick leave remaining to pay  myself while on leave.  When initially planning my leave, it seemed that it would not be possible to take more than about six weeks of leave since taking extended unpaid leave was not possible for my family.  I knew six weeks would not be long enough to recover from birth, bond with our newborn baby, and generally support and adjust to a big family change.  Fortunately, the sick leave bank became an option in fall of 2016 and I was able to use the leave bank to supplement my own sick leave and take the full 4 months of family leave allowed under FMLA/OFLA.  I am very appreciative of those who donated to the sick leave bank and made it possible for me to take family leave.  It meant the world to me and to my family.

 

I truly am so grateful that AAUP negotiated this program for us.  From my perspective, access to paid family leave is an issue of equity for women and a program like this will go a long ways towards supporting women in academia.  It's not easy to have kids while on the tenure track!

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