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Sick-leave policy changes detailed

Spectrum Volume 20 Issue 25 - March 26, 1998

Senate Bill 126 establishes a program for sick leave, family and personal leave, and short term and long term disability for classified employees (staff) and faculty who are members of the Virginia Retirement System. Several important points: this program is optional for all current employees hired before Jan. 1, 1999; it is available for part-time salaried employees working at least 20 hours per week as well as full-time employees; it is mandatory for staff members hired after that date; the program is optional for faculty members enrolled in the Virginia Retirement System or for new faculty members hired on or after Jan. 1, 1999 if they elect to participate in the Virginia Retirement System retirement plan; individuals enrolled in retirement plans other than the Virginia Retirement System are not eligible for this program.
Current staff employees will have several options: keep the current program, bank existing sick leave and use to enhance the new sick-leave program, convert existing sick leave to VRS service credit.

Impact on Faculty Members

The initial legislation was amended to include the following language pertaining to university faculty members: Any eligible employee who is employed by an institution of higher education in a faculty position performing teaching, research or administrative duties may elect to participate in the program established under this chapter or under an existing program provided by the institution.
Virginia Tech faculty members currently enrolled in the Virginia Retirement System (VRS) could opt to participate in this new plan. Current faculty members who participate in one the optional retirement plans (ORP) and new faculty members who choose one of the optional retirement plans would not be eligible for the state plan; however, in many ways the sick-leave/disability plan currently provided to university faculty members is superior to the proposed state plan. Faculty members will have an opportunity to evaluate the advantages and disadvantages of the two plans.
Plan Design

Eight to 10 days of sick leave each year depending on length of service; four to five days of family and personal leave depending on length of service; short-term disability of 100 percent, 80 percent, or 60 percent depending on length of service. Short-term disability is available for illness or injury lasting more than five days but not more than six months, maternity leave and periodic absences due to major chronic conditions. Long-term disability provides income replacement of 60 percent of salary for illness of injury beyond six months. Members may remain on long-term disability to age 65. During that time they remain in the Virginia Retirement System

The information presented above is of a general nature. More specific information will be provided to university faculty and staff members as the logistics of this legislation is finalized. Workshops with detailed information and individual sessions will be available to all members of the university community to address those issues relating to the interface of this plan with existing benefits programs.