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Merit pay plan may be in jeopardy

By Clara B. Cox

Spectrum Volume 17 Issue 25 - March 23, 1995

In a brief discussion of pay-for-performance, the Commission on Classified Staff Affairs (CCSA) learned at its March 8 meeting that a tight budget has placed the merit plan in jeopardy this year.

"We're not sure if the option is still there for the agency to fund (the plan)," said Ann Spencer, associate vice president for personnel and administrative services. Spencer said the governor's proposals differ from those of the General Assembly.

"The university wouldn't have money to fund it. Considering budget constraints, it would be hard to argue for a merit plan," Spencer said. However, she said, "the evaluation process will be out there again."

The Work Force Transition Act (see March 9 Spectrum), which could become law only three days before the March 31 deadline for applying for the voluntary severance program, dominated discussion at the meeting.

When asked by Marge Dellers if the positions vacated by those leaving under the act would "go away," Spencer said the answer was not clear for higher education.

In response to a question from commission chair Fred Phillips about what would happen to "the 20 or so employees who signed under the governor's program," Spencer said they would have the option to switch to the General Assembly's version if it becomes law. She said that grant-funded employees are not included under either of the programs.

For voluntary severance, Spencer said, "the application window closes March 31, but the separation date can be as late as June 30, 1996." However, involuntary severance is ongoing, she reported. (Please see accompanying information on page 2 and adjoining on this page.)

In other business, the commission learned that sessions on open enrollment for health-care benefits will be held later this month. The sessions "provide an opportunity for people to learn about the health-care options. This is the first time in a long time employees have had options," Spencer said. Among the options will be a New River Valley HMO, she said.

John Ashby reported on a review of the guidelines for classified employees teaching university courses. After Ashby pointed to several changes suggested by an ad-hoc committee looking at the policy and at Spencer's request, Phillips asked committee members to schedule a meeting to discuss proposed changes.

The commission also heard a report from Mary Rhodes that the Employee Benefits Committee has held an organizational meeting, with Jim Bohland the newly appointed chair. The inactivity of the committee, which reports to CCSA, caused committee members concern on several occasions last year.

The commission is scheduled to meet again on April 12.