Vacation, Illness, Emergency Leave, and Sabbatical Policy
Purpose and Definitions
This agreement is designed to address membersí needs and desires to travel away from the community and/or forego community work requirements for periods of time due to illness, family or other obligations, vacations, holidays, and so forth. To determine how to treat each instance, we classify it within one of the following categories:
For the purposes of this document, weíll refer to the above as "Vacation," "Illness," "Emergency Leave," and "Sabbatical," respectively, with the understanding that these short terms donít fully describe the categories they refer to.
When this policy and associated arrangement mention a number of Responsibility Points "per adult member," this means per full adult work requirement budgeted. For example, if an adult member is not currently working due to a long-term disability, that member wouldnít be counted in these kinds of calculations.
By arrangement, we can designate new situations that are treated as equivalent to categories in this policy. For example, jury duty could be treated as equivalent to sick time.
As the Work Requirements Policy specifies, members of the community may accrue Responsibility Points as credit, with no upper limit on the number of Responsibility Points accrued, nor on the length of time the Responsibility Points may be kept. These Responsibility Points may then be used in lieu of work to enable the member to go on vacation, temporarily reduce her or his work requirement, etc.
In addition, the community may, by consensus, authorize a specific number of Responsibility Points or specific percentage of the weekly work requirement to be credited to each member periodically or on a one-time basis, with the understanding that these Responsibility Points are intended for vacation, but may be transferred over into the memberís regular Responsibility Point credit per the above. They can then be used in the same way any credit Responsibility Points can be used, such as to take vacation time, temporarily reduce the weekly work requirement, or if authorized by the community at that time, to be redeemed for cash or for community investment.
Individuals are also welcome to donate credit Responsibility Points (including any allotted as vacation) to the community in any amount at any time.
Vacations and holidays require the use of credit Responsibility Points. This of course excludes a situation where a member goes on a brief vacation or celebrates a holiday, but is still able to complete his or her regular work requirement -- no special status is required for this kind of situation.
When a member is gone on vacation or to celebrate a holiday, she or he is still entitled to whatever stipend or allowance community members currently receive, in addition to insurance and other membership benefits.
Some members may prefer not to take vacations. For these members, this agreement is intended to be flexible enough to allow them to use their allotted vacation instead as cash or investment (when the community is offering these options), as a reduced work requirement, or even potentially as part of the RP basis for a sabbatical (see the section on sabbaticals, below).
Vacations can be taken within or away from the community. If a vacation is taken in the community, the memberís work obligation while in the community is reduced to rotated chores only. However, if a member wishes to take a vacation at the community for a special purpose (for instance, intensive work on an artistic project, week-long meditation and silence, etc.) and feels it is appropriate to do so, she or he may request in advance that the community release her or him from the chore requirement during that time period, by consensus agreement.
Since the community may make additional income in weeks when members are doing extra work to build up an RP credit, and less income in weeks when members are taking vacations, the finances group is charged with maintaining some means of keeping the community on an even financial keel through these vicissitudes, for instance by setting aside money earned by doing income producing work for RP credit.
When preparing the work budget, the community should agree on a total amount (in Responsibility Points) of vacation time allotted, which will be added into the work budget to ensure that there is adequate provision for people to go on vacation while ensuring the work in the budget gets done. This should take into account any Responsibility Points that are periodically given to members by the community for use as vacation Responsibility Points.
We ask members to be a little flexible in the planning of their vacations, in case the community may request (but not require) slightly different arrangements from time to time to meet community needs.
For our purposes, a member is considered to be ill or injured if s/he either cannot reasonably perform community work or if it is painful or inadvisable in terms of health to perform work. This might mean that the member does not do any work at all for a period of time, or that the member does a reduced amount of work for a period of time. If a member is unable to do certain kinds of work but able to do others, wherever possible compatible work should be found for the member rather than having that member use the Get Well Pool that is described below. This category also includes taking time to take care of a sick community resident.
The Get Well Pool is a number of Responsibility Points set aside for members to use to fill out their work requirements when they are not able to complete a full work requirement for a period of time due to illness or injury, as described above. This includes periods when the member is unable to do any work at all. The Get Well Pool is allotted as part of the work budgeting process each budget period. The amount of Responsibility Points in the Pool will be determined anew when making each periodís work budget.
A member may claim Get Well Pool Responsibility Points at any time that they have an illness or injury, or when needing to take time off from Meadowdance work to prevent illness. When logging those Responsibility Points with or in lieu of their work for the week, the member should log a note stating why the Get Well Pool was used. (Examples: "I was sick with the flu for three days," "I had a reaction to my pain medication")
The Get Well Pool should not be used to make up for a shortfall of work that a member could and should have done, but which s/he did not do due to poor organization, recreational pursuits, etc.
If the Get Well Pool runs out of Responsibility Points in a budget period, or if it is running low, the Work Requirements caretaker(s) should find a way to acquire additional Responsibility Points for the pool in case of further illness, such as taking them from a job that was planned for the period and not done (with the appropriate caretakerís agreement), getting an authorization of additional Responsibility Points from the community as a whole by increasing the work requirement, using Responsibility Points generated by members who are accruing a credit, etc.
There is no limit on the amount of Get Well Pool Responsibility Points any individual may use. If any community member has a concern about a particular use of the Get Well Pool, s/he can discuss this concern with the member who has used the Responsibility Points, with the Work Requirements Caretaker(s), or with the group as a whole in consensus, as with any other concern. The community as a whole, using consensus, can make final decisions on usage of Get Well Pool Responsibility Points.
Emergency Leave is a special category of situation that includes family emergencies outside the community, death of a family member or close friend, or another situation that requires that a member leave the community for emergency purposes for a short time and prevents her or him from completing his/her work requirement for that time. When it is taken to help or go to someone outside the community, emergency leave applies to close relationships, which can be more clearly defined by arrangement. The leave may last for up to two weeks unless a longer limit is agreed to by consensus for a particular situation. In any case, emergency leave should not be used for longer than is necessary.
Emergency Leave does not normally include voluntary trips, such as helping a friend move, attending a wedding, volunteering to help someone with whom the member does not have a close relationship, etc. Such trips can be taken by using credit Responsibility Points and are treated as Vacation time.
Each member is responsible for making appropriate emergency leave decisions within this framework and with consideration for both the community as a whole and her or his personal needs. The communityís needs do not take precedence over a death or a crisis, and members should feel supported and encouraged to use the Emergency Leave provision when necessary.
As with anything else, use of Emergency Leave can be brought up for discussion with the member in question, the Work Requirements Caretaker(s), or the community as a whole if necessary.
When a member goes on Emergency Leave, Responsibility Points for the leave are normally drawn from the Get Well Pool; however, the Work Requirements Caretaker(s) or the community as a whole may designate that they come from another source. The member using Emergency Leave should take the Responsibility Points from the source designated and include a note as to why Emergency Leave was taken.
The category of Sabbatical or Leave of Absence covers extended times away from the community. A member may take a sabbatical only if the community agrees to it. Since the amount of work a person would have to do to make up for the costs of their membership in Meadowdance is prohibitively high (about 135 per week, or 78% of a weekly work requirement at this writing, for example), agreeing to let a person go on sabbatical is in essence a community subsidy of their being away, and has an ongoing work and financial cost to the community as long as the sabbatical lasts.
Sabbaticals are generally intended to cover absence for family obligations, educational opportunities, and similar personal needs and pursuits.
Sabbaticals by definition include leaving the community. Insurance is maintained during sabbaticals unless otherwise arranged, but the community may arrange to have another use for the memberís housing space (subject to prior agreement with the member going on sabbatical), and no cash allowance, food allowance or similar perks are provided.
While away on Sabbatical, a member still has a work requirement, but that work requirement is reduced. The amount of the reduced work requirement is determined during the consensus discussion of the sabbatical. Before the sabbatical begins, the community should have consensus agreement on the sabbatical being taken in the first place, on the amount of the reduced work requirement, and on the sabbatical length.
While on sabbatical, the member may meet her or his reduced work requirement in any appropriate way, including the following, alone or in combination:
Using accrued credit Responsibility Points or doing work while on sabbatical is preferable to going into RP debt, when one or both of these options is available. A member may not simultaneously go into RP debt and preserve an RP credit.
Any work done by a member while on sabbatical must be logged accurately as the work is completed and the log delivered to the Work Requirements Caretaker(s) on a regular basis for entry into the community-wide work accounting system (or otherwise entered into that system).
Covering Essential Jobs While Away
Community members may have essential jobs that they do on a regular basis or projects that require their input. If a member goes on vacation or sabbatical, it is her or his responsibility to make arrangements to ensure that these essential jobs and projects are effectively covered by other community members, or that other satisfactory arrangements are made.
Members are encouraged to do the same if they go on Emergency Leave or are ill, but if it is not reasonably feasible for a member to do so, it is the responsibility of the caretakers of the appropriate areas to make do in some way while the member is away. If the member on Emergency Leave is the sole caretaker of an area so affected, the work requirements group is responsible for finding a temporary caretaker to manage the situation while the member is away.
The Work Requirements Caretaker(s) are charged with maintaining a list of which current jobs are considered "essential," including amounts or circumstances if appropriate. Of course this list should be maintained based on the advice of the other various caretakers in regard to their areas.
Accounting for RP Credits
Certain work accounting management is necessary to ensure that the community work is adequately covered regardless of absences:
If during a given budget period some members are accruing a work credit, or if during a given budget period vacation Responsibility Points are given out and not used, then by the end of the period the work budget should begin to run out -- that is, work areas will begin to run out of Responsibility Points. If this happens for the mentioned reasons, the Work Requirements Caretaker(s) can work with the caretakers of the other areas to designate types of work that should continue, with or without specific restrictions, beyond their allotted amounts. The idea behind this is to do work in advance for the next budget period: specifically, the kinds of work that can be done beforehand. Some examples of this might include building, income-producing work, marketing, and jobs that were originally scheduled for the next work budget period (e.g. painting a structure or organizing storage).
The work caretakers should not permit extra work to be created to fill this need, meaning work that would not normally be budgeted for the next work budget period. The reason for this is that when the next work budget is made up, it must include a fund of vacation Responsibility Points sufficient to cover vacations taken (see the Vacation section, above). By borrowing work from the future budget period in this way, the same amount of work gets done and the absence should not, in theory, adversely affect the community.
Other Kinds of Abatements
While the categories covered in this Agreement are intended to be as comprehensive as we can make them, the community is of course still empowered to agree on other kinds of abatements or means for individuals to be freed from all or part of their work for a given period. In other words, the community may, by consensus, grant any number of Responsibility Points it chooses in any manner it chooses, providing this is in keeping with other community Agreements.