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“Early release” program gets a new name, begins this Friday

Case Western Reserve’s second summer of giving employees two hours of paid leave on Fridays begins this Friday, June 3—just in time for the program to get its new name, “CWRU Take Two.”

The suggestion, from University Events’ Laura Klingler, emerged as the favorite among 376 entries in an online contest. Last year’s pilot version of the program was dubbed “early release,” a moniker several people said too closely resembled language involving freed prison inmates. When the pilot became permanent in 2016, Case Western Reserve asked its community to offer ideas.

A broad team of staff from Human Resources and University Marketing and Communications narrowed the list to roughly a dozen finalists, then winnowed still further after heated debate and commentary from senior administrators. In return for her win, Klingler will receive a $100 Amazon gift card.

President Barbara R. Snyder initially launched the program after online surveys of faculty and staff included multiple comments urging the administration to find additional ways to demonstrate appreciation for employee efforts in light of constrained raise pools. In an online questionnaire about the pilot last fall, 95 percent of staff and 78 percent of supervisors said they wanted the program to continue.

The 2016 calendar provides staff two extra bonuses this year: nine Fridays instead of 2015’s eight, and one of the Fridays preceding the July 4th holiday weekend. Specifically, the dates affected are: June 3, 10, 17 and 24, and July 1, 8, 15, 22 and 29.

CWRU Take Two, as it’s now called, commits the university to providing two hours of paid time off each week, for a total of 18 compensated hours where the staff person is not working. In the majority of instances, employees will be able to depart their offices at 3 p.m. on Fridays; that said, the initiative does not supersede the university’s obligations with regard to areas such as safety and maintenance. In addition, all offices or units that engage with constituents outside their office or unit—either within the university or beyond it—must continue staffing until 5 p.m. Fridays.

When it is not feasible for a staff member to leave at 3 p.m. on Fridays, the supervisor is expected to work with the employee to arrange for equivalent paid time off in other ways. In some instances, staff in an office may rotate who among them gets the early Friday while others get a shortened day somewhere else in the week. In other cases, employees might group their hours into a half- or full-day. Those with questions should contact the Office of Human Resources’ Service Center at 216.368.6964.

“The purpose of this program is to demonstrate the university’s appreciation of employees’ many contributions,” Vice President for Human Resources Carolyn Gregory said. “Our office stands ready to help staff and supervisors identify creative ways to take their paid time off and ensure the university’s work continues effectively.”