How long have you worked at the UO?
I have worked at the UO for over 32 years. I started in a permanent position here on July 1998 but prior to that I was a student employee with the payroll office. I was with the payroll office in Oregon Hall at that time, and left the university for a year before coming back in 2016. I started working for HR there in my current position.
Tell us about your work:
My job is to assist and guide employees and supervisors on family and medical leave issues. This includes federal programs like the Family Medical Leave Act and state programs like the Oregon Family Leave Act. They both provide unpaid, protected time for employees to take care of themselves or their family members who are experiencing medical needs. Also, there are other purposes like if a birthing parent needs to take time off to care for their baby.
These policies exist in conjunction with others that defend family medical leave, such as the United Academic Collective Bargaining Agreement and the SEIU Bargaining Agreement. So you need to understand all relevant policies to be able to apply these benefits related to medical leave. I walk employees through that process and help them with other bereavement leaves as well.
What does your typical day look like?
Normal day-to-day operations for me looks like checking emails to see if there are any new requests to review. From those requests, I determine eligibility and get the case set up before sending a timely notice to employees and departments so they know that it's been approved.
In the past, I met with people in person, but since the pandemic, it's been mostly Zoom. Other changes to my job include the new federal and state leave laws related to COVID-19 reasons.
What do you like about working at the UO?
You can tell that I’ve worked here 30-plus years because the campus environment has changed a lot since I started in 1980. The campus environment has changed in a good way, and I enjoy seeing students and other people around campus. It keeps your heart young, and gives me more energy.
I have worked with people for years before they retire or move on, and now work with new people and am able to establish new relationships with them. It is quite interesting, and it’s why I like the university setting. I left for a year and then came back because I missed the work environment and the people that I worked with.
What keeps you motivated?
I want to help our employees who need to take medical or family leave during difficult times. These leaves can be taken for a serious health condition, or more happy times when a baby is born to new parents. I am here to guide them through the leave process and make it less stressful, while still maximizing their benefits. When you’re dealing with difficult or stressful moments, you need to keep an open mind so you can guide the employees through this process with empathy. It’s a great reward to see employees who were on medical leave recover and come back to work. That’s great news, and we always welcome them back to work.
What is something people may not know about you?
I love pastries and coffee. There aren’t a lot of options for coffee shops in Eugene, so I always look forward to getting good pastries and coffee when I go to Portland. I do like Noisette Pastry Kitchen over on Broadway though, and enjoy their almond croissants.
Kenny Ly is part of Human Resources.
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