University of Kentucky's donated-leave program expands

University of Kentucky staff members needing to care for sick family members can for the first time apply to use donated leave time.

Most of UK's 10,000 employees have until June 30 to donate their unused time off work. Employees of UK Healthcare have until Sept. 30.

Donated leave previously was available only for an employee who suffered a catastrophic illness and had used up all of his or her own personal leave, said Mary Ferlan, director of operations in UK's human resources department. Those with family members who need care can begin applying to the pool July 1, she said. Any staff member who accrues leave time can donate. Faculty members can't participate.

She said that since the donated-leave program began in 2007, 48 employees have been approved for it. Most were recovering from cancer, cardiac problems, car wrecks or back problems.

The program, which was suggested by the university staff senate, has slowly expanded. First, the maximum number of days was increased from 30 to 45. Ferlan said donations have been down slightly in recent years, but employees have always donated enough time to cover those approved to take the leave.

"We have never gone to zero," she said.

It's unclear how many more employees will apply under the new guidelines.

"It's an unknown to us," she said, but the goal of the program is to make the best use of leave time.