Letter to the Office of Human Resources Concerning Benefits
February 26, 2008
26 February, 2008
Ms. Charlene Hayes
Mr. James McGill
Dear Ms. Hayes and Mr. McGill,
We constitute a committee of the Faculty Assembly that has been created to follow up the discussion about benefits that took place at the Homewood Faculty Assembly meeting of February 13th. This letter conveys our sense of that meeting. In our view, the following points were established:
1. The faculty consider the use of benefit dollars as an incentive to participate in the HRA survey inappropriate and unnecessary. By the standards of the Institutional Review Boards that oversee research on human subjects — including the gathering of personal health information — the $100 incentive is so large as to be coercive. Further, it became clear during the course of the meeting that the data from the HRA — which were to be used in supporting health and wellness programs — were in any case available from other sources.
2. The faculty remain concerned about the security and confidentiality of the data obtained from the HRA survey. Although data security can never be absolutely guaranteed, in view of the availability of similar data from other sources, there seems no reason to accept any additional risk from this source.
3. The faculty view the reduction in benefits as an unwarranted unilateral alteration of contractual commitments.
4. Although there was faculty and staff representation on the committee that recommended changes to the benefits program, and although the Human Resources office communicated the nature of these changes in various ways, changes of this magnitude and import require more extensive consultation with faculty and staff before decisions are made.
In light of these points, we urge the following actions:
1. Discontinue the use of benefit dollars as an incentive to participate in the HRA survey and restore that amount to the benefits package.
2. Retain the HRA survey as a voluntary wellness measure but do not collect or retain data from it.
3. Develop and implement procedures for substantive and broad consultations with faculty and staff about significant issues concerning, e.g., terms of employment as part of the decision-making process.
The faculty is wholly in support of the goal of improving employee health and wellness. We recognize the growing financial burden of health care provision and the need to restrain these costs. We hope to find productive and collaborative ways of achieving these goals.
With thanks again for your willingness to discuss these issues,
Thanks to you and your colleagues for providing us with your recommendations. We appreciate your willingness to give your time and attention to this important matter, and we take your recommendations seriously. Faculty engagement is important to our success, and we will continue the dialogue to ensure that it happens on a regular basis. You will hear more from us as we make decisions about the strategy we will use across the University. Our goal is to be collaborative, consultative and responsive to the issues you have raised.
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