HR Announcements

Data Breach Message from HR

Unfortunately, Western was notified on 2/1/21 of a data breach that MAY impact Western employees. If you would like to learn more, please see the full message, which was sent by HR to all staff on 2/1/2021.

Open Enrollment Information for 2021

In an effort to keep employee's health and safety a number one priority during the COVID-19 pandemic, and follow state guidelines for large gatherings, the Health Care Authority will not offer an in-person benefits fair in November. However, they have created a Virtual Benefits Fair, where you will find webinars, plan details, 2021 changes and more!

Learn more about the upcoming open enrollment (November 1-30, 2020) and how to make changes which go into effect January 1, 2021.

 

Human Resources has a new website

All of the information you are used to finding on the HR website is here, but organized slightly differently. To help you navigate, here are some highlights:

  • You will find everything organized by topic under HR Services. Within this page, we have organized content by service line: Payroll, Benefits and Leaves, Labor Relations, Data and Analytics, Hiring, and Organizational and Talent Development.
  • Supervisor resources can be found within the HR services pages by topic, or in the Employee Resources menu for Supervisors.
  • For quick access to an item, check the A-Z index and locate it alphabetically.

Our hope is the new site will be easy to use and will enable everyone to readily locate the information they need. As this is a big change, we are very open to feedback and ready to assist anyone who would like help navigating the new site. Please feel free to reach out to Cara Bryant with your thoughts and questions.

Anti-Racism Message and Resources

(this message was sent to all staff on June 8, 2020)

What can we do?  A question I have been asking myself following the recent tragic murders of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, and others in the Black Community.  First, let me express my personal outrage and that I stand in solidarity against injustice, racism, and discrimination.  While I can never put myself in the shoes of the Black community, nor truly understand your anguish, I acknowledge the pain, anxiety, and stress you are feeling, and I stand and support you.

HR is furthering our commitment to learning and action regarding anti-racism, diversity, equity, and inclusion, and providing opportunities for university employees.   While there will be several items listed below in support of diversity, equity, and inclusion, we need to ensure we build opportunities for listening.  My hope is that these resources/activities will provide you with some measurable support.  If you have thoughts/reactions I encourage you to reach out to your Human Resources Consultant as we strive to genuinely and actively offer our support to move the arch of social justice.

 

Video Message from President Randhawa

We would also like to highlight President Randhawa’s Message of Solidarity and Action in which he identifies some of the specific actions the University plans to take to address racism and inequities on campus.

 

Employee Personal, Professional and Community Development

In response to the requests for resources we have created the following collections in the Employee Learning Library for exploring how racism impacts our community and what we can do about it. If you have anything you would like to add to these collections or feedback on the content, please let us know at hr.training@wwu.edu.

 

WWU Employee Community Service Day

Human Resources wants to remind employees that if you still have your community service day available, those 8 hours of leave can be used for Social Justice Community Work.  This 8 hours of leave for community service renews every July 1st.

 

WA State Employee Assistance Program

For our colleagues who are personally impacted by these events and might need additional support, our Washington Employee Assistance Program offers the following resources:

Coping with the Psychological Impact of Racism

People of color experience significant trauma as a result of past and present realities—from surviving a history of slavery, genocide, and interment to the present day realities of disparate health outcomes, facing daily microaggressions, and watching the ongoing horror of the murder of black people caught on video. Racial and ethnic minorities are often more likely to experience psychological distress, but have less access to mental health services than do white people, are less likely to receive needed care, and are more likely to receive poor quality care when they do seek treatment. Added to this, cultural messages often include stigma about getting mental health support with cautions to save face and be tough.

How Can I Support my Mental Health?

The only thing that will end the pain of racism is the end of white supremacy and dismantling systems of oppression. But in the midst of this trauma, your wellbeing and mental health matter. Here are a few things to consider:

  • Recognize how traumatic it is to hear about or watch the killing of Black people, and give yourself permission not to be okay. Take time and space to feel horror, fear, sadness, grief, rage.
  • Intentionally seek community. Loneliness can cause physical harm to our bodies. Connect to a statewide Business Resource Group like BUILD (Blacks United in Leadership and Diversity), the Washington Immigrant Network, or the Latino Leadership Network.
  • Make a wellness plan that includes movement, a nourishing diet, and 7-9 hours of sleep. As Black poet and activist Audre Lorde wrote, “I have come to believe that caring for myself is not self-indulgent. Caring for myself is an act of survival.”
  • Separate what is in your control from what is not. Set boundaries around when and how often you consume media. Choose which friends and coworkers are helpful to engage with right now.
  • Decolonize healing—learn about the history of resilience in your family and community. Explore what culturally-based practices have worked to sustain people for centuries.
When Do I Need Professional Help?

EAP is here to support you with free, confidential counseling. Consider seeking professional help when:

  • a traumatic event or vicarious trauma leads to prolonged symptoms of re-experiencing (flashbacks, nightmares), avoidance (of thoughts, people, situations), negative thoughts and mood (shame, fear), and arousal & reactivity (irritable, reckless, concentration, sleep issues).
  • anxiety causes you to worry excessively in intensity, frequency, or amount of distress it causes, or when you find it difficult to control the worry (or stop worrying) once it starts.
  • you are feeling little interest or pleasure in doing things you once enjoyed, or you are feeling down, depressed, hopeless, or are having thoughts of suicide.
Resources

Therapy for Black Girls Podcast with Dr. Joy Harden Bradford, a licensed Psychologist in Atlanta Free Online Healing & Grieving Group Sessions for Black People by Black healers (in June 2020) Minority Mental Health information from Mental Health America

Encouraging Meaningful Conversations about Race and Trauma from Mindful Post Traumatic Slave Syndrome with Dr. Joy Degruy

Strength Over Silence: Stories of Courage, Culture, and Community Black and Latinx mental health

 

BUILD (Blacks United in Leadership and Diversity)

The Washington State Blacks United in Leadership and Diversity business resource group exists to improve the experiences of current and future Black state employees, increase the representation of Black people in leadership positions, give voice to the Black perspective in policy discussions about Washington communities, and build each other up as we move forward. B.U.I.L.D. is a formal, enterprise-wide resource group conducting official state business. Participants are not required to take leave to participate. The next general membership meeting is June 18th (calendar appointment with details linked here—download to add to your Outlook calendar).

In closing, even when we are not sure how to proceed, taking action in some form is better than staying quiet and doing nothing. We have plenty of work to do to address the issues behind racism, but working together we can create a stronger inclusive and equitable community.

 

Chyerl Wolfe-Lee 

Assistant Vice President for Human Resources  

Unemployment Fraud Claims Update from HR

(this message was sent to all staff on May 15, 2020)

This is an update to the message sent 5/7/20

Western continues to receive notification of fraudulent unemployment claims being submitted using Western employees’ personal information. After speaking with Employment Security this morning, due to the high volume of calls and emails they are receiving, they have made changes to their process and updates to their website.

ESD advises the best way to report a claim as fraudulent is to do so via their secure online form. These forms and any emails submitted to the Fraud Department go directly into a queue for their team of investigators to work on. Investigators will then contact victims regarding their claim.

If you are notified that your information was used to file a fraudulent claim, please visit ESD’s website as soon as possible and follow the steps to submit the form.

https://esd.wa.gov/unemployment/unemployment-benefits-fraud

If you have already been notified and have contacted ESD via phone or email there is no need to submit the form. Submitting in multiple ways will just delay the process.

Some employees are experiencing issues submitting this form. Please try again if the form does not go through the first time.

Another question is what to enter in the “Claimant” box. Please enter an “NA” or your name if you did not receive a letter from ESD with a letter ID number. Once submitted you will receive a confirmation number. An investigator will follow up with you regarding your claim.

Please visit the links below for more information on how to protect your identity.

https://www.identitytheft.gov/

https://www.atg.wa.gov/recovering-identity-theft-or-fraud

 

Thank you,

Human Resources

Fraudulent Unemployment Claims

(This message was sent to all Western employees on May 7, 2020)

Western Colleagues,

Western is seeing an increasing number of fraudulent unemployment claims being submitted to the state.  Western’s Human Resources (HR) is responsible for responding to the Employment Security Department (ESD) when employees file for unemployment.  HR carefully reviews each claim as they prepare a response to ESD.  Over the last few weeks, HR has received a number of fraudulent claims using employees’ names, social security numbers, and other sensitive information.  Fortunately, our process is able to identify these fraudulent claims and has allowed us to take prompt action.

If HR identifies a fraudulent claim, HR ceases any further processing and notifies ESD, the affected employee and Western’s Information Technology Services Department (ITS).  ITS verifies there has not been any unusual account activities indicating the employee’s password has been stolen.  At this time, we are pleased to report no evidence has been discovered indicating passwords have been compromised.  This leads ITS to believe the personally identifiable information used to file the claims was obtained via some non-WWU sources such as the 2017 Equifax credit bureau breach where 147 million consumers had information stolen.

Because employees’ personal information is being used for these fraudulent purposes, ITS recommends affected employees review their credit reports and place a free credit freeze on their credit files at the big three credit bureaus. While a credit freeze will not stop the creation of fraudulent unemployment claims, it could help protect a person’s credit if their data is being used in other damaging ways.

Western is not alone in this unfortunate circumstance. Many other state agencies and higher education institutions have been impacted.  ESD continues to review and monitor the situation.

Additional resources are below:

Employment Security Department

Federal Trade Commission (FTC) Consumer Information

Washington State Office of the Attorney General – security freeze procedures

Worksource WA

Thank you,

Chyerl Wolfe-Lee & Chuck Lanham

Support for Remote Work

The Remote Work Guide for Employees and Supervisors provides information about Managing and Leading Remotely, Teamwork and Communication, Productivity Strategies, Self-care and Wellness, Tools and Technologies, and Learning and Professional Development.

Coronavirus Information

Campus resources, FAQ’s, and announcements regarding COVID-19 can be found at https://www.wwu.edu/coronavirus.

I-9 Completion by Appointment

In an effort to practice social distancing, our HR Front Desk will be working remotely but will come in to complete I-9s for new hires by appointment only. To make an appointment, please contact hr@wwu.edu or call 360-650-3774.

Location: Old Main Theater Box Office (near Student Business Office Visitor Parking)

Interim Policy Cancellations

As a result of the change to the Suspended Operations Policy, and the potential need for overtime-eligible employees to work remotely and flexibly, Western’s Telework Policy POL-U5415.01 and Permitting Flexible Work Schedule POL-U5410.02 have been cancelled on an interim basis.

W-2’s

Employee W-2s are now available online in Web4U under the Tax Forms link in the Employee tab. If you elected to receive your W-2 electronically, you will not receive a paper copy. If you have not elected to receive it electronically, it was mailed to your W-2 address no later than January 31st. If you have not yet signed up to receive it electronically, you must provide your consent before you can view it on Web4U. Not sure how to read your W-2? You can review Payroll’s W-2 Information Sheet.

Professional Development

In the absence of our in-person workshops, we are moving a number of trainings to be held live via Zoom, and are creating self-paced online options for many activities. Check out the Spring Professional Development workshops to see what is available. If you are interested in customized workshops or consults for your department, email the Professional Development team at hr.training@wwu.edu.

Important Update about your one-on-one with Fidelity

Western takes your health, safety and well being very seriously. As a cautionary measure to protect you from any potential exposure to COVID-19 (coronavirus), Western has decided it’s best that in-person meetings with a Fidelity Retirement Planner be conducted virtually until further notice.

If you have a one-on-one appointment scheduled with a Retirement Planner, they will contact you with instructions for meeting by telephone.

Fidelity is also taking steps to ensure that their services continue with minimal disruption.

Thank you for your patience and understanding.

New HRIS Team Email

If you have questions about PA’s, EPAF’s or other related issues, a new HRIS team new email account will send your question to the team, replacing the need to contact an individual team member via email and allowing the team to assist you even if a specific team member is unavailable. The new email is hris@wwu.edu

New 3-Part Leadership Academy Replaces STAR Training

 WWU’s current mandatory STAR training will be transitioning to the Leadership Academy:

  1. New Supervisor Quickstart (Canvas course during the first week on the job with on-demand access as needed thereafter)
  2. Leadership Academy Cohort (4 weeks, two 1-2 hr sessions/week during supervisor’s first quarter–this portion is currently on hold)
  3. New Supervisor Risk & Compliance Training (Canvas course)

Questions about what to do if you are in the middle of STAR training and more information about the new Leadership Academy can be found here.

New Payroll Administrator

The Payroll Team is excited to announce the addition of Megan Summers as the new Payroll Administrator. You may remember previously working with Megan when she was the Payroll Coordinator here at Western. You can contact Megan at x3544 or summerm2@wwu.edu.

W-4’s

The new 2020 W-4 Form is now available for employees via Web4U. Only new hires and those making withholding changes in 2020 need to fill out the new form. Current employees without withholding changes do not need to fill out the new form, but should perform a “paycheck checkup” using the IRS’ Tax Withholding Estimator to determine if you need to adjust their current withholdings.

PFML

Washington State’s new Paid Family Medical Leave Benefit program took effect on January 1st. Under the plan, the Employment Security Department will replace up to 90% of an eligible employee’s typical weekly wage (up to $1000/week) during an eligible leave period. Visit the ESD’s PFML website for more information, including eligibility requirements. You can now apply online for the program.

Long Term Disability

Beginning January 1, 2020, employees can no longer continue enrollment in the 30- or 60-day long-term disability waiting period due to the State’s PFML benefit. Employees who did not change their waiting period in 2019 defaulted into the 90-day waiting period on January 10, 2020.

Minimum Wage

Washington State’s Minimum Wage increases to $13.50 per hour effective January 1, 2020. Any current hourly rates below $13.50 will be increased to $13.50 by Human Resources effective January 1, 2020.

Labor & Industries/Workers’ Comp Rates

The new Labor & Industries/Workers’ Comp Rates have been set for 2020, effective January 1, 2020.

Deferred Compensation

In 2020, the IRS has increased the amount you can contribute into the tax-deferred Deferred Compensation Program to $19,500 annually (under age 50 in 2020) or $26,000 annually (50 or older in 2020). Change your contributions online or call 888-327-5596 for more information.