Employment

Frequently Asked Questions - Voluntary Leave Without Pay Program

For Classified Employees and Exempt Staff

Who is eligible to participate in the Voluntary Leave Without Pay Program?
The Voluntary Leave Without Pay Program is being offered to all classified and exempt employees of The Evergreen State College.

Do I have to participate in the Voluntary Leave Without Pay Program?
No.  Participation in the Voluntary Leave Without Pay Program is entirely voluntary.  Each employee needs to assess their personal situation to determine their interest in participating in the program.

What is considered a “work day” under the Voluntary Leave Without Pay Program?
Because there are many different shifts that full-time employees work (5-8's; 4-10's, etc.) and because we have several part-time employees who work less than 8 hours/day, we used the term "work day" so as to accommodate for the different work schedules and work shifts.  However, the expectation is that a full-time employee would have the option of using up to eight (8) hours of of leave without pay and a part-time employee’s leave without pay would be pro-rated base on their appointment.

When can I take the leave without pay days under this program?
All leave without pay taken under the Voluntary Leave Without Pay Program must be scheduled with and approved, in advance, by the employee’s supervisor, by using the on-line Leave System and entering in leave type “Voluntary LWOP”.  The voluntary leave without pay time must be taken on or before June 30, 2012.  The College reserves the right to negotiate with employees for scheduling leave without pay under this program.

Is it possible to take leave without pay under the Voluntary Leave Without Pay Program in short periods, for instance two (2) hours a day or for less than a full work shift?  If so, what is the best way to track the hours that I have used?
Yes, with prior supervisor approval, employees may spread their voluntary leave without pay out in smaller leave periods throughout the fiscal year, which ends on June 30, 2012.  The time and leave system has been programmed to give each employee a maximum voluntary leave without pay balance of eight (8) hours (leave type – Voluntary LWOP).  As you request to use all or a portion of the voluntary leave without pay, the balance will decline in the same manner that it does for vacation leave and/or sick leave.   Once your voluntary leave without pay balance reaches zero (0) hours, you will no longer be able to request voluntary leave without pay.  In addition, any unused hours that remain in the voluntary leave without pay balance at the expiration of the program on June 30, 2012 will be eliminated and no longer available for use.

If I have used the maximum number of hours allowed under the voluntary leave without pay program, but wish to contribute more hours, may I request to use additional leave without pay?  If so, how does it impact me?
Yes, with prior supervisor approval, employees may request to use ‘regular’ leave without pay (leave type – Regular LWOP).  As with voluntary leave without pay, we recommend that employees carefully schedule their ‘regular’ leave without pay day(s) so that it does not impact holiday pay.  In addition, depending on the total ‘regular’ leave without pay hours taken, it may impact an employee’s probationary period end date, seniority date, and service credit under their retirement plan.

As an over-time exempt employee, will taking voluntary leave without pay affect my over-time exempt status under federal law?
No. Under the public accountability provisions of the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), over-time exempt employees may be placed on voluntary leave without pay without it impacting their over-time exempt status.

I work Monday through Friday and would like to take a voluntary leave without pay day on January 13, 2012 (the Friday prior to Martin Luther King, Jr. holiday) so that I have a long, holiday weekend.  Can I do that and how will it affect my holiday pay?
Yes, you have the option of taking a voluntary leave without pay day prior to a holiday.  However, because you would be in leave without pay status on the workday preceding the holiday, you would not receive holiday pay for the Martin Luther King, Jr. holiday. Therefore, it is recommended that employees not take a voluntary leave without pay day on the workday prior to a holiday.
 
Will the leave that I take under the Voluntary Leave Without Pay Program affect my seniority date as a classified employee?
No. The Voluntary Leave Without Pay Program was developed as one of the plans in helping the College address some or our budget challenges and to reduce the effects of layoff, therefore, voluntary leave without pay taken under this program will not be deducted for an employee’s calculation of seniority.
 
Can I participate in the Voluntary Leave Without Pay Program if I am still in my probationary period? 
Yes.  Classified employees who are serving in their probationary period are eligible to participate in the program.  However, the College must extend the employee’s probationary period for any day(s) that the employee is on leave without pay under this program.

Will the leave without pay that I take under the Voluntary Leave Without Pay Program impact my retirement?
It depends on the retirement plan and the employee’s appointment status.  Employees are encouraged to contact the Payroll Office to confirm the impact that voluntary leave without pay may have to their service credit.  Generally:

  • For full-time employees who are members of the Department of Retirement Systems (DRS) plans -  PERS, TRS and LEOFF – service credit earned with probably be unaffected if the employee has had no other leave without pay during the month and as long as the employee is in pay status for ninety (90) hours in a calendar month. 
  • Less than full-time employees who are members of the Department of Retirement Systems (DRS) plans -  PERS, TRS and LEOFF – may need to carefully choose in which month(s) to take voluntary leave without pay to avoid losing service credit.
  • For TIAA-CREF participants, the retirement deduction and matched employer contribution will be reduced by the employee’s contribution percentage multiplied by the dollar value of the voluntary leave without pay. 


If the voluntary leave without pay impacts my retirement, how much of an impact will there be?
For members of PERS and LEOFF, the employee’s average compensation that is used to compute their pension benefit may be reduced.  If an employee expects to separate or retire in the next five (5) years from PERS Plan 1 or in the next two (2) years for PERS Plan 2, PERS Plan 3 and LEOFF 2, the employee’s monthly pension would be reduced in accordance with the following formulas:

  • PERS Plan 1:  $$ value of LWOP * years of service at separation * .034%
    (Example:  $1,000 * 15 Years * .034% = $5.10 reduction
  • PERS Plan 2 and LEOFF Plan 2:  $$ value of LWOP * years of service at separation * .084%
    (Example:  $1,000 * 15 Years * .084% = $12.60 reduction)
  • PERS Plan 3:  $$ value of LWOP * years of service at separation * .42%
    (Example:  $1,000 * 15 years of service at separation *.042% = $6.30 reduction)


If I am not vested in the DRS retirement system, will taking up to one (1) day of leave without pay affect the date on which I become vested?
Generally no.  An employee receives full service credit for every month that they work 90 hours in that month.   While isn't very likely the voluntary leave without pay will impact when an employee becomes vested, it isn't impossible if the employee is also taking ‘regular’ leave without pay.