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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.


Drug Use in the Workplace

Drug use in the U.S. workplace is not abating, according to the latest reports. In fact, for the second consecutive year the use of cocaine, methamphetamines, marijuana and other illicit drugs by workers in the U.S. has increased. The latest Quest Diagnostics Drug Testing Index shows an upsurge in the positivity rate of drug tests — from 4.3 percent in 2013 to 4.7 percent in 2014.

An April 2015 report by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration indicates that one in 10 full-time workers (ages 18 to 64) experienced a substance use disorder in the past year. Additionally, the study found that 8.7 percent of full-time workers used alcohol heavily in the prior month (five or more drinks on one occasion on five or more days in a 30-day period) and that 8.6 percent of full-time workers used illicit drugs in the prior month. And according to the National Clearinghouse for Alcohol and Drug Information (NCADI), drug and alcohol users are less productive than their sober counterparts, take three times as many sick days, are more likely to injure themselves or someone else, and are five times more likely to file workers’ compensation claims.

Many organizations are updating the language in their drug-free workplace policies related to potential impairment from a prescription drug, making it even more critical that managers understand the law for prescription drug use at work. Managers may need to be trained on how to engage and offer reasonable accommodations, up to or including modifying job responsibilities, should an employee notify the manager that his or her medication may impair job performance.

Do you need to re-evaluate your substance abuse policies to ensure they contain the provisions necessary to protect your employees and workplace?


Substance Abuse Toolkit

HR and Cyberattacks

In April, the U.S. Office of Personnel Management (OPM) discovered that a cyberattack resulted in the compromise of personal data for over 4 million current and former employees. In June, it was discovered that over 21 million current, former and prospective federal employees’ and contractors’ records had also been breached. In both cases, hackers were able to infiltrate records and exfiltrate identifying information, including social security numbers, residency and educational information, employment history, immediate family and business acquaintances, health, criminal and financial history, fingerprint records and login credentials.

Several colleges and universities have also recently fallen victim to cyberattacks — on personnel records, research findings and intellectual property. Costs associated with a data breach can escalate quickly to include forensic tracking, notification, legal guidance and in some cases, public relations efforts after the fact. Consulting with IT partners will help HR practitioners understand the risks and vulnerabilities of their data and the safeguards currently in place or imminently necessary to impede a cyberattack. Before a cyberattack occurs, HR practitioners and other key stakeholders should collaborate and work toward greater levels of preparation, training, response capabilities and protocols


UConn Responds to Data Breach at School of Engineering

Letter to the Community — UMD Data Breach   

Millions Affected by Maricopa Security Breach

Developing an Effective Information Security Strategy

HR Should Take the Lead on Cybersecurity

Strategic Leadership for Managing Evolving Cybersecruity Risks — HR's Pivotal Role

Cyber Security Survival: Are You Ready?


Executive Order on Paid Sick Leave for Federal Contractors

On September 7, President Barack Obama signed an Executive Order (EO) requiring federal contractors to offer their employees up to seven days of paid sick leave per year. The EO will apply to new federal contracts beginning in 2017 and will allow employees working on federal contracts to earn a minimum of one hour of paid sick leave for every 30 hours worked. Workers can use their accrued leave for a variety of personal health-related reasons, to care for family members, and for necessary absences due to domestic violence, sexual assault or stalking.

Employees will be allowed to carry over any accrued leave from one year to the next and will have their sick leave reinstated if they are rehired by a covered contractor within 12 months after a job separation. Other stipulations of the EO state that, if possible, employees should ask for sick leave at least seven calendar days in advance or as soon as it is practicable and that a medical certification would be required if more than three consecutive days are taken off. Any contractors that already have in place paid-time-off policies that allow employees to take such leave for illness and other circumstances as outlined in the president’s EO will not need to modify their policies or permit additional paid time off.

CUPA-HR participated in a listening session with DOL on October 23 to highlight the many concerns found within the EO and to ask for greater clarification when the proposed rule is unveiled on how the EO will interact with other state and federal laws that already address the issue of paid leave. We will update members as more information becomes available.


Executive Order  

President Signs Executive Order on Paid Sick Leave for Federal Contractors

 Chamber of Commerce Article on Federal Contractors

 Paid Sick Leave Executive Order in Depth (pg. 11)

 Healthy Families Act



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 DEI 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 together 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 exercise featured this quarter is Collaboration Skills.


DEI Toolkit