Congratulations Sara Chaloupka!

Sara Chaloupka recently began her new role of Financial Specialist Senior for the University Union on May 15, 2017.  She had previously worked as a Financial Specialist in the Bursar’s office.

Congratulations Sara!

Sick Leave Fact Sheet

Sick leave is an important fringe benefit available to employees. Most employees earn and, depending on usage, will accumulate hours of unused sick leave while they are employed.  If eligible, upon retirement, layoff, death or with more than 20 years of adjusted continuous service, you can use your unused sick leave credits to pay post-termination state group health insurance premiums for you, your spouse or domestic partner and/or dependents.

Sick leave can be used for the following reasons:

  • A medical, dental, vision appointment for you or an immediate family member
  • Employee’s own illness or injury
  • For temporary care of an immediate family member with an illness or injury
  • After the death of a family member (restricted to three days after death and an additional four days for travel)

To review the complete sick leave policy, please see: https://www.wisconsin.edu/ohrwd/download/policies/ops/bn3.pdf

Employees have the right to use other accrued leave (personal holiday, floating legal holiday or vacation) in lieu of sick leave in order to preserve sick leave balances.

Sick Leave Credits Program

ETF Fact Sheet: http://etf.wi.gov/publications/et8929.pdf

ETF Sick Leave Conversion Credit Program Brochure: http://etf.wi.gov/publications/et4132.pdf

There are two sick leave credit programs for State of Wisconsin employees:

  • Accumulated Sick Leave Conversion Credit (ASLCC) Program: allows employees to convert sick leave balances to pay for state health insurance at retirement, as well as in other situations such as death, layoff or termination with 20 years of service. Under this program, accumulated sick leave is multiplied by the employee’s highest basic pay rate in a qualifying position and converted to credits to pay for State Group Health Insurance in retirement (or in the other instances listed above).
  • Supplemental Health Insurance Conversion Credit (SHICC) Program: allows employees who have at least 15 years of continuous state service to earn sick leave credits in addition to those provided by the ASLCC program. Eligible employees earn up to 52 supplemental credits/year for years 1-24 of service and up to 104 supplemental credits/year for years 25 and beyond. The number of supplemental credits provided may not exceed the actual number of sick leave credit hours an employee has accumulated.

Sick Leave Credits Example

A state employee retires with 28 full years of adjusted continuous service, with a sick leave balance of 2,150 hours and had a highest base rate of pay of $22.50/hour.

                  ASLCC (2,150 x $22.50) = $48,375

                  SHICC (24 years x 52 hours) = 1,248 hours

                              (4 years x 104 hours) = 416 hours

                                                                   1,664 SHICC hours

                  SHICC (1,664 x $22.50) = $37,440

                  Total ($48,375 + $37,440) = $85,815

 

Please contact Human Resources at (920) 465-2390 or payrollandbenefits@uwgb.edu with any questions regarding sick leave benefits.  The Sick Leave Fact Sheet may also be found here.

State Group Life Insurance Definition of ‘Dependent’ Changed Effective May 1, 2017

The Department of Employee Trust Funds (ETF) announced changes to the definition of ‘dependent’ for the State Group Life Insurance program. The changes were effective May 1, 2017 and broaden the definition of ‘dependent’ to expand coverage. Changes include:

  • Removal of the requirement that the dependent be unmarried.
  • Removal of the requirement that the dependent be more than 14 days old.
  • Changed the upper age limit for being considered a dependent from the end of the calendar year in which the dependent attains age 25 to attainment of age 26.
  • Removal of the requirement that the employee be responsible for at least 50% of support and maintenance for the dependent.

In summary, a dependent can be covered until they attain age 26 regardless of their marital, educational or financial status.  The definition of ‘dependent’ can be found in Wis. Admin. Code § ETF 10.01(2)(a).

Bicycle Benefits

Bicycle Benefits teams up with area businesses to offer discounts for biking around the United States.  Purchase a $5 sticker and take advantage of great discounts, including 20% off at The Phoenix Bookstore (see store for details).  During June, participates may also play Bike Bingo. Get your card at the store, ride around collecting stamps at area businesses and win great prizes!

What is Mindfulness and What Does it Mean?

Stones

Mindfulness is defined as being present in the moment in a nonjudgmental way. Becoming mindful in our lives expresses itself in multiple ways:

  • Being aware and accepting of present experience
  • Bringing focus, awareness and attention to the present moment
  • “Single-tasking” rather than multi-tasking
  • Being wholeheartedly present here and now
  • Appreciating the present moment rather than wishing it away
  • Being attentive to what you are doing rather than operating automatically
  • Nurturing attitudes of acceptance and non-judgment, which adds warmth, friendliness and compassion

You can practice mindfulness in almost everything you do.

Informal Practice – involves reminding ourselves throughout the day to focus our attention on whatever is happening in the moment, which increases our ability to respond effectively. A simple example is becoming more mindful of our movement, which may lead to taking the stairs instead of the elevator or bicycling instead of driving.  Practicing mindfulness in this way involves experiences like:

  • noticing the sensations of walking when we walk
  • noticing the taste of our food when we eat
  • noticing the clouds and the trees as we pass them
  • noticing the feel of soapy water on our hands when washing dishes
  • focusing our attention on our friends and family when we’re with them

Opportunities for informal mindfulness practice are infinite.  At every moment, when it’s not necessary to be planning or thinking, we can simply bring our attention to what is happening in our sensory awareness.

Formal Practice – involves setting aside time to go to the mental “gym.”  Unlike informal practice, in which we’re accomplishing another task while practicing mindfulness, formal practice means dedicating a period of time entirely to cultivating mindfulness per se.  Mindfulness meditation is a formal practice that has been studied scientifically.  This practice involves choosing an object of attention such as the breath or another sensation and returning our attention to that object each time the mind wanders. Through this formal practice we develop a degree of concentration that allows us to focus closer attention to any physical or emotional sensation, such as an itch, ache, sound or feeling. Regardless of the object of attention, we practice being aware of the present experience with acceptance.

Why Practice Mindfulness?

Do you ever find yourself worrying about the future, feeling angry or sad, feeling guilty or ashamed, getting upset about physical pain, or just feeling bored or stressed?  Sometimes the feeling is more subtle and you may just feel “out of sorts.”  There may be times when you get taken over by anxiety, depression, addictions, pain or other stress-related symptoms that make it difficult to function.  Emotional suffering comes in all forms.  Mindfulness is a way of relating to life that holds the promise of both alleviating our suffering and making our lives richer and more meaningful.

The point of being mindful is to develop a close relationship with your own mind. You become more familiar with what you are thinking and feeling, and less reactive to the thoughts, emotions and cravings you have.  Mindfulness is a practical way to develop our ability to see the world around us more clearly and understand ourselves and others better, so that we might live a more joyful and fulfilling life.

Mindfulness practices have been around for thousands of years.  Research in the past twenty-five years has proven that mindfulness can help people with a vast range of emotional and physical disorders, which has led many people from all walks of life to be more open to the practice including hospitals, businesses, governments, athletes, schools and the military.

Stress has been cited as a cause of more than 70% of all family doctor visits for illness and 66% of Americans report having trouble focusing at work because of stress.  Job stress costs U.S. industries more than $300 billion per year.  These costs include missed work, employee turnover, decreased productivity, and medical, legal and insurance costs. Mindfulness programs have been shown to help reduce many stress-related symptoms and improve overall health, including outcomes such as the following:

  • 80% fewer hospitalizations for heart disease
  • 83% improvement in decision making skills
  • 60-70% fewer symptoms of anxiety and depression

Benefits of Mindfulness

Meditation practice can yield all of the following benefits:

  • Strengthened immune system
  • Improved cardiovascular health
  • Reduced blood pressure
  • Balanced hormones
  • Improved digestion
  • Help maintain weight
  • Increased ability to relax
  • Reduced fatigue and anxiety
  • Increased energy
  • New coping skills
  • Better brain function
  • Sense of calm
  • Decreased depression
  • Help with relationships
  • Enhanced listening skills
  • Focus on goals and meaning
  • Resiliency

Just how can the simple practice of mindfulness provide all of these positive benefits?  Paying attention to the present moment can improve the functioning of the body and brain in two specific ways. Mindfulness:

  1. Helps You Be Less Reactive – When you slow the mind, you think more clearly.  You respond thoughtfully instead of simply reacting.  Many people use the same coping mechanism over and over, repeatedly reacting the same way without thinking.  Although this coping mechanism may be a healthy one, such as choosing walking or jogging rather than food or alcohol when frustrated, being mindful allows you to be intentional about healthy choices.  Being mindful also helps you be more aware of how you unconsciously and consciously react to stress so you can find new ways to deal with the situation.
  2. Helps Relax Your Body – Short-term effects of mindfulness on the body are similar to the benefits of relaxation. When you are in a mindful state, you experience a decrease in perspiration, a slower heart rate, and changes in alpha waves in your brain.  These physiological changes are evidence that your body is going into relaxation mode. Your body can’t be relaxed and stressed at the same time so, when you are relaxed, you think more clearly and tend to make wiser decisions.

Article from The StayWell Company, LLC

Congratulations Anna Powers!

Anna Powers recently began her new role of Dean Assistant in the College of Health, Education, and Social Welfare on May 15, 2017.  She had previously worked as an Academic Department Associate for the College.

Congratulations Anna!

 

 

 

 

 

Congratulations Drew Ryan!

Drew Ryan recently began his new role of IS Specialist in the Web Services Department on June 5, 2017.  He had previously worked as an IS Resource Support Technician at the Phoenix Bookstore.

 

Congratulations Ryan!

 

 

Welcome Wojciech Krakowiak!

Wojciech Krakowiak was welcomed by Athletics on April 1, 2017, as an Assistant Women’s Soccer Coach.

Welcome, Wojciech!

Welcome Danielle Bunker!

Danielle Bunker was welcomed by Facilities Planning & Management on January 3, 2017, as a Custodian.

Welcome, Danielle!