Know Your U
Our faculty and staff are the foundation of the University of Illinois System’s standing as a global leader in education and discovery. Their daily hard work and dedication are the building blocks of our efforts to serve communities, the state of Illinois, and the nation. Yet it is challenging for many staff to fully appreciate just what their talents have helped build – three universities whose academic excellence have attracted a record 86,000 students; a collective research powerhouse that ranks among the world’s most innovative university systems; a system that pumps $17.5 billion into the state’s economy every year, supporting one in every 46 jobs.
So we have developed a unique new program to give staff an opportunity for a first-hand look at the big picture. Know Your U is perhaps the first program of its kind in the country, offering eligible university employee’s time away during their normal workday to experience the remarkable programs and facilities that their hard work supports. It is a chance to learn more about academic units that have helped set enrollment records for six straight years; about research that promises to build on the system’s long, rich legacy of groundbreaking innovation; and about the iconic facilities that define our three, best-in-class universities.
Know Your U is an investment in our most valuable resource, giving staff employees a broader perspective into the scope and impact of our universities, and how their roles contribute to the greater good. We also hope they have some fun along the way, and walk away with an even greater sense of pride in a university system that is truly altogether extraordinary.
Permanent full- or part-time civil service and academic professional (including visiting) staff who have been employed for six months or more are eligible to participate. For employees in positions represented by a union, this program will be adopted through the collective bargaining process.
Engagement activities should be those that foster an understanding of and connection to the University of Illinois System and present an opportunity to learn about some facet of the university, preferably outside the employee’s normal scope of responsibilities. Activities already officially designated as Approved Events are separate from this program.
Activities could include attending a scholarly talk on campus, visiting a lab to learn about cutting-edge research, arranging a tour of a new facility on campus, and/or attending a professor’s investiture.
Examples of such activities/events are:
- Green Campus and Tree Campus Tours
- Gallery 400
- Jane Addams Hull House Museum
- UIC Theatre events
- Public presentations by guest speakers
- UIC Athletics sporting events
- Dorothy Bradley Atkins Medicinal Plant Garden
- Wellness Webinars (State of Illinois Department of Central Management Services)
Participating in the Know Your U program should be arranged at a time that is workable for both the employee and the department. When requesting to participate, the employee must provide his/her supervisor with as much advanced notification as possible. Supervisors may deny the request based on operational needs.
Up to eight (8) hours may be granted each academic year (August 16 – August 15). Activities typically will be in one- to two-hour increments and can be done individually or in groups. Once an employee uses eight (8) hours of time in an academic year, the employee is not eligible again under the Know Your U program until the next academic year.
Employees will be granted this time during their normal work day and should NOT use accumulated vacation leave or floating holidays when participating in an approved event under this program. This program cannot be exchanged for a day off from work; it may be used only to participate in activities related to your university. Additionally, department/unit events (e.g., office retreats; holiday events; team building workshops) should not count towards the employee’s eight (8) hours of activity time. Unused hours will not carry over into the next academic year and have no monetary value if not used.
Time spent participating in an approved activity is considered worktime during the normal scheduled work day and is not subject to overtime and should not extend an employee’s workday or workweek. Civil Service non-exempt (overtime eligible) employees should report the time as regular straight time in the appropriate time reporting increments. There is no reporting requirement for overtime exempt academic and civil service employees as there is no leave usage.
Eligible employees should record your Know You U activities through the AbilityLMS learning management system. Employees can access AbilityLMS by going to https://uillinois.abilitylms.com.
Because activity time is considered work time, employees continue to receive the same State and University benefits. All State-paid contributions continue.
If you have additional questions about this program, please contact Joanna Wolek, email@example.com, 312-355.5524.
1. How many hours am I granted in an academic year to use for Know Your U activities?
Eight (8) hours are granted per Academic year (August 16 through August 15).
2. If I don’t use my entire 8 hours in an academic year, can I roll them over into the next academic year?
No, unused hours may not be rolled over into subsequent years. Unused hours are forfeited and you will start over with a new 8 hours at the beginning of each academic year.
3. Do I have to use the hours in full hour increments?
No, you may report usage in increments of 15 minutes.
4. Does travel time to an activity count as part of my 8 hours?
Yes, all time away from your work location to participate in a Know Your U activity, including travel time, counts toward your 8 hour allotment.
5. May I transfer my hours to another employee?
No, you may not transfer unused hours to another employee. Each employee receives a maximum of 8 hours per academic year.
6. If I am part-time, how many hours do I receive?
Part time employees receive a prorated number of hours based on their FTE. For example, an employee with an FTE of .80 would receive 6.4 hours; an employee with an FTE of .50 would receive 4 hours.
7. May I use my hours in place of a vacation day?
No, hours granted for the Know Your U program may not be used for vacation leave purposes. The program is intended to be used for activities at your university during your normal workday.
8. If I resign or retire from my position before the end of the academic year and I have used all of my 8 hours, do I have to pay them back?
No, the 8 hours are granted at the beginning of each academic year may be used at any time even if you do not work the entire academic year.
9. If I do not use my entire 8 hours by the end of the academic year, can I be paid for any unused hours?
No, unused hours are forfeited at the end of each academic year and do not hold any monetary value.
10. Can I participate in an activity at a different university in which I am located?
At this time, the Know Your U program is to be used on the campus in which you are located.
11. How do I participate in activities if I am second or third shift?
You may participate in an activity being offered during your shift, or, you may make arrangements with your supervisor to participate in an activity during first shift and then an approved paid absence for the same amount of time will be granted during your normal shift that day.
12. Can I participate in an activity with my co-workers?
Yes! Know Your U encourages employees to participate in activities together as a team building activity.
13. Where can I find a list of activities available at my university?
Select the appropriate location for a list of available activities. These are not exhaustive lists and there may be other activities available to enjoy.
14. I am located at a satellite location (e.g. Peoria, Rockford, Extension Office, etc.). How do I participate in the program?
A list of activities are available for most locations. If there are no activities at your particular location, you may make arrangements to travel to the nearest location, with supervisor approval.
15. My office holds an annual team-building retreat for staff. Does this count as a Know Your U activity?
No, Know Your U is not meant to take the place of customary college, department, or unit events, such as staff retreats, holiday parties, business meetings, etc.
16. Can I use my hours to volunteer in the community?
Know Your U is designed for employees to engage in activities happening at the University of Illinois to foster learning and employee engagement. Volunteering for community activities may be available under other leave options. Consult with your supervisor or human resources office.
17. Do I need supervisor approval to participate in an activity?
Yes, you must receive preapproval from your supervisor to participate in a Know Your U activity. Approval at a particular time may be denied based on operational needs.
18. Does my supervisor have to approve of the type of activity I participate in under the program?
Yes, your supervisor should be aware of the activity you plan to participate in to ensure it is appropriate under the program guidelines. If unsure if an activity would qualify, contact your university or system human resources office for guidance.
19. How do I track my time spent on Know Your U activities?
Eligible employees should record your Know You U activities through the AbilityLMS learning management system. Employees can access AbilityLMS by going to https://uillinois.abilitylms.com, clicking on the “Sign In” button, and logging in with your university NetID and password. You should be able to access the system immediately and start recording your hours in the “Know Your U” tile. The system will allow you to record hours for activities dating back to August 16, 2019, through the present, so don’t forget to enter your hours from Know Your U activities you previously attended.
20. Why do I have to track my time spent participating in a Know Your U activity?
Tracking your time spent on an activity serves two purposes – to ensure time spent is within the eight (8) hour allotment; and, for annual review of the program to evaluate its success to make improvements each year.
21. Can I use my entire 8 hours for one activity in a single day?
The intent of the program is to participate in activities that are a maximum of one to two hour duration at a single time. There may be activities that last longer which are approved; however, try to maximize your time by spreading the hours out across multiple events and days.
22. Can employees paid from grant funds participate in the program?
Yes, this professional development activity is a work benefit to employees and therefore, there are no restrictions to participating in the Know Your U activities due to grant funds.
23. If I participate in an activity that lasts longer than my normal shift, do I receive overtime pay for the additional time?
No, time spent on an activity for Know Your U is exclusive of overtime pay and should be scheduled so it does not exceed your normal shift.