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Welcome, Baby Vol: The New Parent Experience

By Julie Roe, Management Specialist

Fresh out of high school, I stepped onto UT’s campus eager to continue my education and earn a college degree, but what I really got was a whole lot more. I quickly adjusted to my new academic life, found a student assistant position with the university, and was welcomed by a diverse campus community. Fourteen years and two degrees later, I can proudly say I’ve received a valuable education, made some lifelong friends, and even met my husband, Brian.

So now, after all that, I face a new chapter in my life—being a first-time parent. My husband and I are both UT alumni so we were thrilled to welcome a new baby Vol in May 2016. Having met while we were both working for UT Human Resources in the Conference Center Building on Henley Street, we chose to name our daughter Henley. That street and this campus hold a special place in our hearts, so Henley was the natural choice for us. Plus we just adore the name.

As an employee, I used several benefits in my new parent experience. The State of Tennessee provides up to four months of leave for pregnancy, childbirth, and adoption for full-time employees who have been employed at least 12 consecutive months. (In the case of an adoption, leave begins at the time the parents receive custody of the child.) This leave runs concurrently with the 12 weeks provided by the federal Family and Medical Leave Act.

The leave begins with paid leave—using up, in order, any unused compensatory time, sick leave, annual leave, and personal leave. (However, an employee may opt to retain up to five days or 40 hours of sick leave, whichever is less.) If these forms of paid leave do not cover the entire four months, the rest can be taken as an unpaid leave of absence. The university will continue to pay the employer portion of the employee’s health insurance throughout the leave, and the employee remains responsible for the monthly employee portion.

Using these benefits, I was able to take several weeks of protected paid leave. And with the permission of my department and HR approval, I was able to transition back to the workplace part-time, making my parental leave experience as seamless as possible.

UT Policy HR0338 Family and Medical Leave provides more information about parental leave at UT. To learn more about leave accruals, read Policy HR0305 Annual Leave and Policy HR0380 Sick Leave on the Human Resources Policy website.

Other helpful resources include the Social Work Office of Research and Public Service’s East Child Care Resource and Referral Center. This is a great resource for families who are not sure where to begin in the search for local day care services. One quick phone call and I had access to an abundance of information about local day cares and general child care.

Lastly, I was thrilled to learn about lactation rooms available across campus. These come in handy when I travel for meetings, and yes, even take classes. To see a full list of current lactation rooms across campus, visit the Facilties Services website’s Family Restrooms and Wellness/Lactation Rooms listings and select the Wellness/Lactation Rooms tab.

946-CARE for Distressed Faculty and Staff

We are all members of the Vol family, so let’s help take CARE of each other. Launched in 2010, the 946-CARE program provides support for faculty and staff who are in distress or concerned about a colleague.

The 946-CARE line is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Calls are handled with sensitivity and concern, by trained professionals who assess each situation and take appropriate action.

 What types of behaviors might be cause for concern?

While no list can be exhaustive, the following are signs of troubling behavior you may notice in yourself or others that could warrant a call:

  • Depression
  • Fixation on weapons
  • Anger or paranoia
  • Chemical dependency
  • Social isolation
  • Zealotry—racial, religious, political, etc.
  • Pushing the limits of acceptable behavior
  • Contempt for authority
  • Newly acquired negative behavior
  • Diminished personal hygiene
  • Verbal threats, bullying
  • Stalking and harassing others or discussion of doing so

What happens when I call?

On weekdays between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. calls are answered by trained human resources professionals. The UT Police Department answers calls after 5 p.m., on weekends, and during closures. Each call is assessed with appropriate next steps and resources to follow.

The 946-CARE line is not designed to replace 911—you should always call 911 for emergencies. The 946-CARE line is a great place to turn, if you or someone you know, is struggling. To learn more, visit

If you are concerned for your welfare or for that of another UT citizen, call 946-CARE (865-946-2273) today.

Human Resources Exit Interviews Will Be Web-Based Beginning January 6

An exit interview is an invaluable source of information that the university can use to assess the quality of work life and identify opportunities for improving employee retention and engagement.

The Knoxville Human Resources team is revamping the exit interview process to better collect and analyze this vital information. Beginning January 6, Human Resources will begin using an automated, web-based exit interview process. Employees who are leaving the university will be sent a link to an exit interview questionnaire. The questionnaire will take less than 10 minutes to complete and all responses will be kept confidential. The survey will be accessible from a desktop or laptop computer, a tablet, or a mobile phone.

The new electronic process will help Human Resources and campus administrators better understand the causes of attrition so they can assist with developing and retaining high-performing employees. If you have questions about exit interviews or other employee retention strategies, contact Nate Taylor in Employee Relations at 865-974-6686.

New Employee Orientation

HRConnection v0.1In November 2016, Human Resources will be introducing a newly modeled New Employee Orientation (NEO) program. We are very excited to be able to provide a more welcoming experience on our employees’ first day. Major changes to the NEO include:

  • Changing the venue from the UT Conference Center to the UT Visitor’s Center on Neyland Drive (beginning November 14)
  • Adding a greeting and welcome from senior leadership.
  • Providing new employees with a UT ID card before the end of the session.
  • Asking employees to complete the necessary documents needed by Payroll and HR ahead of time, with the exception of the I-9.
  • Providing new employees with information about the university and its traditions.
  • Creating a less transactional, more dynamic orientation experience.
  • Including an optional campus tour.

The information to be shared with the new employees on their first day will include a video and slide show highlighting the traditions and beauty of the campus. The NEO will include short presentations by the UT Police Department, the Office of Equity and Diversity, Employee Organization and Development, Payroll (about insurance), and Benefit and Retirement Services. Both Payroll and Benefit and Retirement Services will have representatives available to address specific individual questions about insurance and/or retirement.

Because most paperwork will have been completed ahead of time and the formal presentations will be abbreviated, orientation sessions will end by 11 a.m., or 11:30 a.m. with the campus tour.

HR anticipates that this new model of NEO will provide UT’s new faculty and staff with an exciting and interactive first step in their UT careers.

Do You Have a Temporary Staffing Need?

HRConnection v0.1If so, please consider the Temporary Help Pool, managed by UT Knoxville Human Resources. This is a fantastic resource in the case of a short-term or seasonal staffing need due to retirement, illness, or other circumstance. HR identifies candidates, handles background checks, and helps to match a candidate with each department’s specific needs.

To thank our regular employees who refer successful Temporary Help Pool candidates, we have developed a new rewards program. Any regular employee who refers a successful Temporary Help Pool employee will be entered into a quarterly drawing for a $50 VolShop gift card.

If you have any questions about the temporary help pool or wish to make a referral, contact Natalie Johnson at or 865-974-1912.

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