New Leave Plan Allows Faster Accrual, End-of-Year Payouts

September 8, 2009 — The University of Virginia's new leave plan for University staff, finalized this summer, will take effect Dec. 21.

The University Staff Leave Plan will combine annual, sick and family/personal leave into one category, with the year's worth of leave available for use at the beginning of each leave year. The plan is one of the key components of the University staff program.

Classified staff and administrative and professional faculty will have the option of switching to University staff status during the election period, Oct. 1 through 30.

The new leave plan features a quicker accrual rate than the state's, plus yearly cash-out payments for unused leave.

"This plan gives employees more flexibility in how they use their time off," Susan Carkeek, vice president and chief human resources officer, said. "Many employees use very little sick time from year to year. With this plan, we put the choice about how and when to use leave in the hands of employees."

The new plan's accrual rate means that leave earnings increase after three years instead of five years, as in the classified system.

Accrual Rate of Leave
• Up to three years of service: 22 days of leave
• three to six years: 24 days
• seven to nine years: 26 days
• 10-19 years: 28 days
• 20+ years: 30 days

University staff, like other employees, still receive paid holidays, which range from 11 to 15 per year, in addition to their annual leave.

The plan includes a yearly cash-out benefit for a portion of University staff personnel's unused time. Under the plan, unused days of leave are carried forward and added to the next year's leave. The maximum amount of days that can be carried forward equals the number of accrual days per year. When the carry-forward number of days exceeds the yearly accrual rate, that time is cashed out at 50 percent.

Such payments are considered taxable income, but can also be deposited into a tax-deferred savings plan. University staff must use at least 10 days of leave each year in order to receive the cash-out.

"U.Va. employees lose thousands of hours of leave every year. This new leave plan eliminates that use-or-lose situation," Carkeek said. "The minimum usage requirement is intended to encourage employees to take some time off to relax and rejuvenate."

Currently, administrative and professional faculty lose unused days at the beginning of each year. Those who switch to University staff status will carry forward unused time. The number of annual leave days could be higher than their current allotment, depending on their years of employment.

No one will lose time already accrued, Carkeek stressed. Classified staff who switch to University staff status keep their accrued leave in a separate bank. They can use it for more vacation days or save it for payout at 100 percent when they leave the University.

Information on the University Staff election period will be sent to eligible employees' home addresses in late September.

For more information about the leave plan, visit www.hrs.virginia.edu/news/postings/090518univleave.html.