Workforce Transition Act
Spectrum Volume 17 Issue 23 - March 9, 1995
(Editor's note: The following information is provided by Ann Spencer, associate vice president for personnel and administrative services.)
Given the level of interest we have seen in the Workforce Transition Act, as recently passed by the General Assembly, I thought it might be helpful to pass along what information we DO know about this bill and the process by which it can become law.
Both the House and Senate passed identical versions of this bill. The House bill passed the assembly and was sent to the governor on February 17. On February 24, the governor sent the bill back to the House of Delegates with seven amendments, of which three were adopted by the House. On February 25, the bill was returned to the governor.
There are now several possible ways in which the act may become law, as the governor has 30 days within which he must act. The options are: 1) The governor may sign the bill (it will become law on the date it is signed); 2) the governor may veto the bill (which would be subject to a legislative override with two-thirds affirmative vote at the reconvened [or veto] session on April 5); 3) the governor may take no action (which would result in the act becoming law on March 27, or 30 days beyond the date it was sent to him); or 4) return the Senate version of the bill to the Senate with amendments which would be considered at the April 5 session (note there can be no further amendments to the House version since this has already been amended once).
As the bill is currently written, classified staff and administrative and professional faculty members are eligible to receive severance or retirement benefits under the voluntary and involuntary separation programs. The boards of visitors of institutions of higher education have the option to include the instructional and research faculty in the programs. Each component is briefly outlined below:
VOLUNTARY SEPARATION PROGRAM OPTIONS: Participation is subject to approval by the employer, and applications are currently required to be received by March 31 for classified staff members (later date may be determined for faculty members). We have sought flexibility in the guidelines administering the act, if passed, to allow a later date of application for ALL employees. Separation date is May 1, 1995 or alternative date determined by employer, but no later than June 30, 1996.
Benefits: The payout provides four weeks salary for employees with less than two years of service or two weeks salary/year of service up to a maximum of 36 weeks. Employees also receive a cash payment in lieu of unemployment, up to maximum of $5,000; and one year of health insurance and life-insurance coverage. The retirement option allows for the purchase of additional retirement credit computed on the total of the above payments divided by 15 percent of total annual salary. The additional years of credit may be added to the employee's age or service or both. Reemployment with the commonwealth is prohibited for two years following separation date under either the payout or retirement option.
INVOLUNTARY SEPARATION PROGRAM: The benefits are essentially the same as with the voluntary program, except phased in to give the greatest benefit to the long-term employees. The retirement option is the same as above.
50/10 EARLY RETIREMENT: An added provision of the bill allows VRS members to retire at age 50 with 10 or more years of service, at reduced monthly benefits.