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Welcome to the Knowledge Center!

Take a few minutes to explore one of the featured topics below, or check out one of our many HR toolkits, designed with the higher ed workplace in mind. We will continue to add and expand toolkits, so stop by often to see what’s new. And if you have an idea for a toolkit or a resource to recommend, send us an e-mail at

The Knowledge Center is for CUPA-HR members only. If you’re not a member, stop by the Membership section of our website to learn more about the many benefits of membership.


Paid Time Off

Paid time off (PTO) programs have been evolving over the past few years to better accommodate the flexibilities needed by today’s workforce. While some state institutions’ paid time off programs are mandated by state legislation or guidelines, other state and private institutions are free to establish their own programs.

Examples of PTO Programs
Increasingly, consideration is being given to paid time off programs that consolidate different types of paid leaves (vacation, sick, personal) into one benefit. Under these programs, time off can be taken without the hassle of providing documentation as to the reason for the leave, and leave administration is simplified.

Another leave program that is gaining in popularity is the sick leave pool, wherein employees are permitted to donate a certain number of their earned sick leave hours to an organization-wide pool. The sick leave pool is intended to assist employees who have exhausted their earned sick leave but continue to be off from work.

An extreme case first arose in the Silicon Valley community wherein employees are allowed to take as much time off as they want. The concept is beginning to spread to other venues as well. Unlimited PTO is exactly as it sounds — employees are allowed to take as much time off as they want. The underlying philosophy is that employees are so committed to their work that they will not abuse the system.

Paid time off programs are not without their challenges. The Financial Accounting Standards Board (FASB) has ruled that earned but unused employee leaves must be carried as funded (or unfunded) liabilities on the financial statement of the company/institution. Some institutions limit the amount of sick leave that can be carried forward into a new fiscal year, so that fluctuating balance must be tracked and accounted for. Then there are policies that need to be established for the circumstance when an employee wants to take all of his or her paid time off at one time, causing a hardship on the department. Or, the instance when an employee uses up all his or her leave time and then comes back in six months and wants/needs more leave. Also, some institutions pay departing employees for vacation leaves accumulated and not taken — or even a certain amount of sick leave not taken. If leaves are consolidated, determining payouts can be dicey.


Five Things to Consider When Creating a Paid Time Off (PTO) Policy

How to Create a Paid Time Off Program

Paid Time Off Policy Pros and Cons

Time Off Policies: Leave Well Enough Alone or Go PTO

Sample Paid Time Off Policies:
Carnegie Mellon University
University of Pennsylvania
Wake Forest University

Non-Insurance Benefits Toolkit

New Rules for Unpaid Interns

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit recently issued a couple of employer-friendly rulings relating to unpaid interns In Glatt, et al. v. Fox Searchlight Pictures, Inc., et al. and Wang, et al. v. The Hearst Corp.), the court established a new standard for the “primary beneficiary” test and offered up seven factors to be considered in the classification of unpaid interns’ eligibility for overtime and minimum wage as employees (essentially rejected the DOL’s existing six-factor test.) The seven factors articulated by the court are:

  1. The extent to which the intern and the employer clearly understand that there is no expectation of compensation. Any promise of compensation, express or implied, suggests that the intern is an employee — and vice versa. 
  2. The extent to which the internship provides training that would be similar to that which would be given in an educational environment, including the clinical and other hands-on training provided by educational institutions. 
  3. The extent to which the internship is tied to the intern’s formal education program by integrated coursework or the receipt of academic credit. 
  4. The extent to which the internship accommodates the intern’s academic commitments by corresponding to the academic year. 
  5. The extent to which the internship’s duration is limited to the period in which the internship provides the intern with beneficial learning. 
  6. The extent to which the intern’s work complements, rather than displaces, the work of paid employees while providing significant educational benefits to the intern. 
  7. The extent to which the intern and the employer understand that the internship is conducted without entitlement to a paid job at the conclusion of the internship.”
    The court made it clear that the above factors are not exclusive and that other factors unique to the situation may be taken into consideration


Volunteers/Interns Toolkit

Morgan Lewis Summary of Court’s Ruling  

Changes May Be Coming to FLSA's White Collar Exemption

On July 6, the Department of Labor (DOL) published in the Federal Register the administration’s proposal for updating the white collar exemptions to the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA)’s overtime pay requirements. Under the FLSA, employees are entitled to pay at the rate of one and a half times the individual’s regular hourly wage for all hours worked more than 40 in a given workweek, unless that employee falls within one or more of the exemptions.

To qualify for the white collar exemption, (1) the employee must be paid a salary, (2) that salary must meet a minimum dollar amount set by DOL (currently $455 per week/$23,660 annually) and (3) the employee must have primary duties that DOL deems are consistent with executive, administrative and professional work (certain outside sales and computer employees may qualify for the white collar exemption by meeting different duties and salary requirements).


CUPA-HR Submits Comments on DOL's Overtime Proposal  (9/4/15)

House Holds Hearing on DOL’s Overtime Proposal

 DOL Proposes Changes to FLSA’s White Collar Exemptions

 FLSA Toolkit

Diversity, Equity and Incluson - Essential "Skills in a Box"

CUPA-HR’s Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) Committee recently conducted a member survey of needs to guide future DEI efforts and initiatives. Survey respondents represented a broad cross-section of HR and AA/EEO functional areas and institution types. When asked to identify which DEI competencies they would like to build to further support DEI efforts and lead conversations on campus, at the top of the list were Building Group Rapport and Trust and Collaboration Skills.

To facilitate this, the committee has developed some exercises designed to build skills in each of these areas. These exercises are meant to be used with your work group, unit or team, but they can also be helpful if used individually. To utilize the resource, follow these three steps:

  1. Review the “In-a-Box” topical study together as a group. 
  2. Follow the “study” and discuss the questions in your unit. 
  3. Identify key strengths for yourself and for your group. 
    Identify what you would like to develop or work on (individually and as a group).

The first of the exercises, “Building Group Rapport and Trust,” is featured this quarter; the second exercise, “Collaboration Skills,” will be featured here in November.


DEI Toolkit