I find it disappointing that the University, in revising its benefit, did not provide prorata benefits for permanent part time employees. The explanation that the University benefits match those of "peer institutions" is inadequate. The "peer institutions" appear to be private employers who predominately provide few if any benefits to parttime employees.
University pay policies should not be narrowly conceived to simply mirror the private labor market, but should shaped by important considerations of fairness. At the present time, the prevailing practices in the private labor market are grossly unfair to parttime employees.
It is important to recognize the unfair characteristics of the labor market which University policies would use as a guide. Parttime employees are generally paid fifteen percent less than full time workers doing the same work, and they are commonly denied benefits given to full time employees, such holiday pay, sick leave, medical insurance and pensions. Many employers use parttime employees rather than fulltime employees simply because they are cheaper. In some cases, employers have dismissed their fulltime employees and replaced them with parttime employees, sometimes hiring back previous full time employees at lower rates and without benefits. Twothirds of parttime workers are women--housewives, and mothers with small children. The disparity in wages and benefits of parttime employees thus has a disparate impact on women. I suspect, though I do not know, that this is also true in the University. This is the market which the University would use as a guide
The University pay policies, I believe, should not mirror such an unfair market, but should seek to treat its employees fairly and equally. Parttime employees should be paid on the same basis for the hours they work as fulltime employees, and they should share all of the benefits on a pro-rata basis. If the University is to budget for employee benefits, the money budgeted should be fairly distributed among all its employees.
Some employers in the private sector provide benefits to parttime employees on a pro-rata basis. We should look to these as our "peer institutions".
-- Clyde Summers, Professor of Law, Emeritus
Ed. Note: In response to an offer of space to reply to Professor Summers, Almanac has been advised that all comments are being considered seriously as final decisions are made.
Speaking Out welcomes reader contributions. Short timely letters on University issues can be accepted Thursday noon for the following Tuesday's issue, subject to right-of-reply guidelines. Advance notice of intention to submit is appreciated.--Ed.
Volume 43 Number 23
February 25, 1997
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