The Voluntary Reduction in Work Schedule (VRWS) program allows
employees to voluntarily trade income for time off. The VRWS Program is
available to eligible annual-salaried employees in the State University
Professional Services Negotiating Unit (PSNU) and Management Confidential. Individual VRWS agreements may be
entered into for any number of payroll periods up to a maximum of 26 bi-weekly
pay periods in duration and must expire no later than the end of the last
payroll period in the University fiscal year.
If an employee wishes to establish a VRWS agreement,
please contact Human Resource Management Office (Cleveland Hall 403), ext. 4822, to
obtain an application. The
application will elicit the employees plan for a reduced work schedule, which will
be approved or disapproved by the supervisor and the vice president/provost/CIO, in consultation with Human Resources, based
on operating needs. Questions regarding the program may be directed to
Jamie Warnes at 878-4822.
- VRWS provides campuses a flexible mechanism for allocating staff
- VRWS permits employees to reduce their work schedules to reflect
personal needs and interests.
Limitations: Eligibility, Work Schedule Reduction
- Eligibility: This program is available to certain full-time calendar
year, college year and academic year employees in the PSNU. Eligibility
shall be as described under the terms of the VRWS Program Guidelines. All of
the following eligibility criteria shall apply:
- Full-time employees are required to have a continuing, permanent, or
term appointment and be employed to work on a full-time annual salary
basis for a minimum of one bi-weekly payroll period immediately prior to
the time of entry into the VRWS Program. Time on paid or unpaid leave
from a full-time annual salaried position satisfies this requirement.
- Employees must remain in a full-time continuing, permanent, or term
appointment position during the term of the VRWS agreement.
- Employees must have one continuous year of State University of New
York (SUNY) service at a campus at which they are employed on a
qualifying schedule (any schedule which entitled the employee to earn
leave credits). Periods of leave without pay of any duration are not
counted toward the one-year service requirement but do not constitute a
break in service. Employees who separate from SUNY service (through
resignation, termination, retrenchment, etc.) for more than one year
cannot count service preceding that break in service toward the one-year
requirement. Authorized leave with pay under the SUNY Policies of the
Board of Trustees will count toward the one-year service requirement,
except leaves of absence for Title F leave or sabbatical leave
immediately preceding a request for VRWS are not counted toward the
one-year service requirement since accruals are not earned during the
- Work Schedule Reduction: Participating employees may reduce their work
schedules (and salaries) a minimum of 5 percent, in 5 percent increments, up
to a maximum of 30 percent.
Description of an Employee VRWS Agreement
- The employee and management can establish a VRWS agreement on a
University fiscal year basis of any number of payroll periods in duration
from one to twenty-six. The VRWS agreement must expire no later than the
last day of the last payroll period in the University fiscal year. The VRWS
agreement must begin on the first day of a payroll period and end on the
last day of a payroll period. VRWS ending balances must be segregated for
each University fiscal year.
- The employee develops and submits a plan for a reduced work schedule.
Management reviews and approves the plan as long as it is consistent with
- A jointly agreed plan specifies:
- Duration of VRWS agreement which may be up to a maximum of 26
bi-weekly payroll periods with the VRWS agreement expiring no later than
the last day of the last payroll period in the University fiscal year.
- Percentage reduction of professional obligation and salary.
- Amount of VR credits to be earned in exchange for reduced salary.
- Schedule for use of VR credit to be earned. This may be either a
fixed schedule, e.g., every Friday, every Wednesday afternoon, an entire
month off, etc., or intermittent time off. An employee’s fixed schedule
of use of VR credits, once management has agreed upon the VR schedule,
cannot be changed without the employee’s consent except by mutual
agreement in an emergency. VR credits used as intermittent time off will
be subject to scheduling during the term of the VRWS agreement, and will
require advance approval by the employee’s supervisor.
- While the VRWS agreement is in effect, the employee will earn and
accumulate VR credits in accordance with the percentage reduction of
professional obligation in a workweek, e.g., a 10 percent reduction will
result in eight hours of VR credit earned each payroll period that the
employee will charge in the future on his/her scheduled VR absences. If the
employee’s VR schedule calls for one-half day off every Friday afternoon,
four hours of VR credits will be charged for each Friday. An employee whose
VRWS agreement calls for a 10 percent reduction and taking an entire month
off will work his/her full 40 hours each week, accrue eight hours of VR
credit each payroll period, and have the accumulated VR credits to use
during the approved VR absence. Solely as a matter of computational
convenience for purposes of creating a schedule for accruing and using leave
hereunder, a “day” is defined as eight hours. This definition is not
intended to have any wider application and does not otherwise reflect any
agreement or acknowledgment as to the length of a workday.
- The employee never goes off the payroll. The employee remains in active
pay status for the duration of the agreement and receives paychecks each
payroll period at the agreed-upon, temporarily reduced level.
- The employee will work a prorated share of his/her normal professional
obligation over the duration of the VRWS agreement period.
- Participation in the VRWS Program will not be a detriment to later
career moves within the campus.
Attendance Records Maintenance
- All VR schedules will be based on the crediting and debiting of VR
credits on the employee’s attendance record against a regular professional
- VR credits earned during a VRWS agreement may be carried on the
employee’s attendance record past the end of the individual VRWS agreement
and past the end of the University fiscal year but must be liquidated by the
December 30th following the end of the University fiscal year in which the
individual VRWS agreement expires. VR ending balances must be segregated for
each University fiscal year.
- There is no requirement that existing paid leave credits (including
previously earned and banked VR credits) be exhausted prior to the beginning
of the new VRWS agreement. Employees are encouraged to use carried-over VR
credits on a priority basis.
Advancing of VR Credits – To accommodate an employee whose VRWS
agreement calls for an extended absence during the VRWS agreement period, a
campus may advance VR credits in an amount not to exceed the number of hours for
which the employee is paid in one payroll period.
Recovering a VR Credit Debit – If an employee terminates his/her
employment and has a VR debit, the campus shall recover the debit from the
employee’s lagged salary payment for his/her last payroll period at work.
Effect on Benefits and Status – The effect of participation in the VRWS
Program on benefits and status is outlined in Effects on Benefits and Status
Effect on Overtime Payment for Overtime Eligible Employees – Scheduled
absences charged to VR credits are not the equivalent of time worked for
purposes of determining eligibility for overtime payments at overtime rates
within a workweek. For example, an employee who, under an 80 percent VRWS
schedule, works four days, charges the fifth day to VR credits, and is called in
to work a sixth day, will not be considered to have worked the fifth day and
thus will not be entitled to overtime payments on the sixth day. Similarly, VR
credits earned, banked, and charged after the payroll period in which they are
earned are not counted in determining eligibility for overtime in the workweek
in which they are charged. Sections 135.2(h) and (i) of Part 135 of the Budget
Director’s Overtime Rules are waived to the extent necessary to permit payment
of overtime compensation to overtime-eligible employees who are participating in
Discontinuation or Suspension of VRWS Agreements – Although VRWS
agreements are for stated periods of time, they can be discontinued by mutual
agreement at the end of any payroll period. VRWS agreements may be discontinued,
at management’s discretion, when an employee is promoted, transferred or
reassigned within a campus, although VR credits must be carried forward on the
employee’s attendance record. VRWS agreements may also be discontinued when an
employee moves between campuses.
Provisions for Payment of Banked (Unused) VR Credit in Exceptional Cases
– The VRWS Program is intended to be a program that allows employees to
voluntarily trade income for time off. The agreement for VRWS Program
participation between the employee and management includes a plan for the use of
VR credit earned. Management must make every effort to ensure that VR credit
earned by an employee is used: (1) under the terms of the individual VRWS
agreement, (2) before the December 30th liquidation date (see section c.), (3)
before the employee separates from SUNY service, and (4) while the employee is
on the job he/she was in when the VRWS agreement was made. If this is not
possible, payment for banked (unused) VR credit may be made in exceptional cases
that fall under the following criteria:
- Upon retrenchment, resignation, termination, or retirement from SUNY, or
death, unused VR credit will be paid at the then current rate of
- Upon movement of an employee to another state agency or from one campus
to another or between campuses or departments within a campus, unused VR
credit will be paid at the then current rate of compensation by the
campus/department in which the VR credit was earned, unless the employee
requests and the new campus/department accepts the transfer of the VR credit
on the employee’s attendance record. The lump sum payment for VR balances
upon movement to another campus will be made irrespective of whether or not
the employee is granted a leave of absence from the campus/department where
the VR credit was earned. Payment will be made within two payroll periods
following the move to the new campus.
- VRWS ending balances must be segregated for each University fiscal year.
Employees who accumulate VR credit in a University fiscal year and who are
unable to use the VR credit due to management requirements predicated on
workload by the December 30th following the end of the University fiscal
year in which the employee’s individual agreement expires will be paid at
the then current r ate of compensation. Payment will be made within two
payroll periods following the applicable December 30th liquidation date.
Requests for payment in the exceptional cases specified in this
subparagraph, as distinct from those specified in subparagraphs (a) and (b)
above, should be directed to SUNY System Administration Employee Relations –
VRWS Program and will be decided on a case-by-case basis.
In all cases where payment for unused VR credit is made, notification of
payment must be sent to SUNY System Administration Employee Relations - VRWS
Program. Such notification must include date of payment, circumstances of
payment, employee’s name, title, number of days of unused VR credit, and
gross dollar amount of payment. In addition, campuses must certify that they
have not already used these savings for replacement staff in other programs
or, if they have, identify another funding source for the payment.
Review of VRWS Denials
- Individual Requests - An employee whose request to participate in the
VRWS Program has been denied shall have the right to request a written
statement of the reason for the denial. Such written statement shall be
provided within five working days of the request. Upon receipt of the
written statement of the reason for the denial, the employee may request a
review of the denial. Such requests for
review must be made, and will be reviewed, in accordance with the following
- Requests must be submitted by the employee or the employee’s
representative within 10 working days of receipt of the written
statement or of the date when the written statement was due.
- Requests must be submitted to: Susan Earshen, Associate Vice
President for Human Resource Management and President’s Designee at Step
One of the UUP Grievance Procedure, Cleveland Hall 403.
- Such requests shall specify why the employee believes the written
reasons for the denial are improper. The request must explain how the
employee believes his/her work can be reorganized or reassigned so that
his/her participation in the VRWS Program will not unduly interfere with
the campus’s operations.
- The president's designee shall review the appeal and make a
determination within 10 working days of receipt. The determination shall
be sent to the employee and a copy shall be sent to the President of
UUP. The determination shall be based on the record, except that the
college president or designee may hold a meeting with the employee
and/or the employee’s supervisors if the designee believes additional
information or discussion is required to make a determination. If the
employee believes that there are special circumstances that make a
meeting appropriate, the employee may describe these circumstances in
addition to providing the information specified in paragraph 3 above,
and request that a review meeting be held. The college president or
designee shall consider such request in determining whether or not to
hold a review meeting.
- The determination of the college president or designee shall not be
subject to further appeal.
- When UUP alleges that a campus has established a practice of routinely
denying employee applications to participate, this matter shall be an
appropriate subject for discussion in a labor-management meeting at the
appropriate level. Such labor-management discussions shall be held in
accordance with the provisions of Article 8 of the State/UUP Agreement.
Effect on Benefits and Status
Annual Leave – Prorate accruals for calendar year and college year employees
based on the employee’s VRWS percentage.
Banked (Unused) VR Leave Credits Upon Movement From One Campus to
Another or Between Departments Within a Campus – Unused VR credits will be paid
at the rate of compensation by the campus/department in which the VR credit was
earned, unless the employee requests and the new campus/department accepts the
transfer of VR credit on the employee’s attendance record.
Banked (Unused) VR Leave Credits Upon Promotion, Transfer or Reassignment Within
a Campus or Within a Department – Unused VR credits are carried forward on the
employee’s attendance record when movement is within an appointing authority.
Continuation of the VRWS agreement is at the discretion of management.
Banked (Unused) VR Leave Credits Upon Return to Normal Work Schedule – VR
credits may be carried forward on the employee’s attendance record after
completion of the individual VRWS agreement period, but must be liquidated by
the December 30th after the end of the University fiscal year in which the
employee’s individual VRWS agreement expires. VR ending balances must be
segregated for each University fiscal year.
Banked (Unused) VR Leave Credits Upon Separation – Unused VR credits will be
paid at the rate of compensation upon resignation, termination, or retirement
from SUNY service, or death.
Employee Benefit Fund – no effect
Health Insurance – no effect;
full coverage retained
Holidays – no change
Inconvenience Pay – Prorate based on the VRWS percentage.
Leave Donation – Employees who are absent using donated leave credits for 28
consecutive calendar days will have their VRWS agreement suspended.
Location Pay – Prorate based on the VRWS percentage.
Military Leave – There is no impact on eligibility or entitlement.
Overtime Work – VR credit used shall not be counted as time worked in
determining eligibility for overtime payments within a workweek. For non-exempt
employees, VR credit shall not be counted as time worked for determining
eligibility for comp time.
Paid Leave Balances on Attendance Record – There is no requirement that leave
credits be exhausted prior to the beginning of the VRWS agreement. Vacation,
sick leave, and holiday balances are carried forward without adjustment.
Payroll – The employee never leaves the payroll. An employee remains in full
payroll status with partial pay for the duration of the VRWS agreement period
and receives pay checks each pay period at the agreed upon temporarily reduced
Probationary Appointment – There is no effect. Scheduled non-work time under a
VRWS agreement is not an absence for the purpose of extension of probationary
Retirement Benefit Earnings – Earnings are reduced based on the VRWS percentage.
Retirement Service Credit – Prorate based on the VRWS percentage for TRS and ERS
Retrenchment – There is no impact.
Return to Normal Work Schedule – An employee will return to his/her normal
full-time work schedule and pay basis upon completion of the VRWS agreement
Sabbatical Leave – There is no impact if sabbatical leave is requested after
participation in the VRWS agreement. If sabbatical leave coincides with the VRWS
agreement, the VRWS agreement will be suspended.
Salary – Normal gross salary earned is reduced by the VRWS percentage. There is
no effect on the basic annual salary.
Service Credit – There is no impact. An employee on VRWS is considered to be in
full-time status for service credit purposes.
Sick Leave – Prorate accruals based on the employee’s VRWS percentage. Employees
on sick leave for 28 consecutive calendar days will have their VRWS agreement
suspended and will be returned to their professional obligation and pay base.
Social Security – There is no change. The contribution rate is set by Federal
Law and is applied to the salary that the employee is paid.
Title F Leave – There is no impact if Title F leave is requested after
participation in the VRWS agreement. If Title F leave coincides with the VRWS
agreement, the VRWS agreement will be suspended.
Unemployment Insurance – There is no change. The formula is set by statute.
Workers’ Compensation Benefits – There is no impact on eligibility for
entitlement to workers’ compensation benefits. Following 28 consecutive calendar
days of absence due to a work related injury or illness, the VRWS agreement is
suspended and the employee is returned to his/her normal full-time work schedule
and pay base. At that point the employee receives workers’ compensation benefits
based on the normal full-time salary and no longer earns VR credits. Suspension
of a VRWS agreement does not extend the agreement beyond its scheduled
termination date. If an employee returns to work prior to the scheduled
termination date of the VRWS agreement, the employee’s participation in the VRWS
agreement resumes and continues until the scheduled termination date, unless
both parties agree to terminate the VRWS agreement.