Update on Furlough Days and VSRP, June 14, 2021
Q: Are employees required to participate in the Voluntary Schedule Reduction Program (VSRP)?
A: Participation in the VSRP is purely voluntary. The VSRP has existed since 1991.
Q: Will my creditable service for the purpose of seniority, longevity and retirement be negatively impacted if I choose to take unpaid leave time under the VSRP?
A: Section 5-248c-3 of the Personnel Regulations specifically addresses this topic. An employee who participates in the VSRP receives full credit towards seniority, longevity and retirement. Additionally, earnings for unpaid leave taken under the VSRP are not impacted for retirement purposes. In other words, salary that would have been earned will be added to your actual earnings for retirement calculations if the voluntary leave occurs during your three highest earnings years. (Note: this language is effective June 9, 1994.)
Q: I currently receive health insurance benefits through my employment with the State of Connecticut. If I participate in the VSRP, am I still eligible for health and life insurance?
A: Section 5-248c-2(c) of the Personnel Regulations specifically addresses this topic: “A schedule reduction shall not be granted if it would result in an employee falling below the threshold for eligibility for health insurance benefits.” The program can be utilized at any time by permanent employees working an FTE of at least 50%. Please note, employees may not reduce to below 50% while utilizing this program, as they must ensure the hours worked in a pay cycle exceeds the minimum number of hours required for eligibility for health insurance benefits.
Q: I would like to take unpaid leave under the VSRP but I am still in my initial working test period. Is there an exception that may be made for me to participate in this program?
A: No. Section 5-248c-1(b) requires an employee to be permanent in order to participate in the VSRP.
Q: I am in a promotional working test period. If I participate in the VSRP, will the time I take as unpaid leave be counted toward completion of my working test period?
A: No. Section 5-248c-2(d) specifies, “…Days off which are taken as a result of this program shall not be counted toward completion of a Promotional Working Test Period.”
Q: How do I make my request to take unpaid leave day?
A: All employees requesting unpaid leave under the VSRP must complete Form CT-HR-7c. The form must be submitted to the employees manager for approval and then forwarded to the agency designee for final review and approval. The agency designee for UConn Health is the HR Records Manager. Requests can only be made for a period of 3 months at a time. A new request form must be submitted to extend beyond the initial 3 months.
Employees interested in utilizing the program should complete section one of the form and then submit to their manager or department head. The manager or department head reviews the request and completes section two with their approval or disapproval based on the operational needs of their unit. The request is then forwarded to the agency designee (HR Records Manager) for review and completion of section three. Once the HR Records Manager has reviewed the request, a memo detailing the status of the request will be sent to the employee and manager. Instructions for completing time cards will be provided in that memo.
Q: What are my options under the VSRP?
A: You may take leave under the VSRP as (A) sporadic full or partial days, or as (B) a reduction in your weekly schedule. See Form CT-HR-7c “Option A” and “Option B.”
Q: I would like to take more than one day off in a row. May I do this?
A: Yes. The limitation on taking consecutive full scheduled workdays is being waived for unpaid leave taken under the VSRP. However, the regulations provide for leave under the VSRP provided your hours do not fall beneath the threshold for health and life insurance benefits. For most bargaining units, this is the equivalent of working at least halftime (weekly). Check with Human Resources for the minimum number of weekly hours you are required to work. Note: this provision applies to all employees, whether receiving these benefits with the State of Connecticut or not.
Q: May I take consecutive partial days under the VSRP? For example, would it be permissible to reduce my hours each day from 8 to 7?
Q: If I take a partial day of unpaid leave under the VSRP, is there a minimum amount of time I must take?
A: Yes. You must take at least one hour in a day.
Q: I work a Monday through Friday work schedule and I want to take every Monday as unpaid leave under the VSRP. Will I get paid for a holiday if it falls on a Monday such as Memorial Day?
A: Yes. You will be paid for the holiday as if you were not taking unpaid leave under the VSRP. You will revert back to your normal schedule for the workweek containing Memorial Day.
Q: I work a Monday through Friday work schedule and I want to take every Monday as unpaid leave under the VSRP. What happens when a holiday falls on another day in the week such as Good Friday?
A: You will take your voluntary leave day on the Monday and you will be paid for the holiday on Friday.
Q: If I take an unpaid leave day under the VSRP before and/or after a holiday, will this affect my holiday pay?
A: No. Benefits are not to be diminished under the VSRP so holidays are to be paid in both of these situations.
Q: If I request unpaid leave under the VSRP, will my request be automatically approved?
A: No. A request cannot be approved if it would result in overtime costs or have a significant impact on critical services.
Q: If I take part in the VSRP, will my position change from full-time to part-time?
Q: I took unpaid leave, vacation or PL prior to participating in VSRP. Can I change this time to a day under the VSRP?
A: No. Time under the VSRP must be preapproved.
Q: How will Alternate Retirement Plan (ARP) contributions be affected by the VSRP?
A: You will receive full retirement service credit for the time that has been approved under a voluntary schedule reduction, however ARP contributions (employee and employer) will not be made for earnings that are lost under this plan.
Q: If I am sick and I have sick leave accruals available, can I take unpaid time under the VSRP instead of using my sick time?
A: No. Time under the VSRP must be preapproved and typically sick leave is not preapproved although a medical certificate may be required. In addition, when an employee is absent from work for medical reasons the employee must use their sick leave accruals: the employee cannot use personal leave or vacation leave or take unpaid leave when the employee is incapacitated for duty and has not exhausted his/her sick leave. The same logic would hold for unpaid time taken under the VSRP.
Q: If I am sick and I have exhausted my sick leave accruals, can I take this time as unpaid under the VSRP?
A: No. If the employee has exhausted his/her sick leave, unpaid time under the VSRP cannot be approved as the purpose of the VSRP is to save the state money: this would not result in a savings to the state.
Q: If I request and receive approval to take leave under the VSRP and later change my mind, may I rescind the request?
A: Yes and no. You may rescind your request to take leave under the VSRP provided the date(s) requested have not yet passed. You may not, however, take the pre-scheduled leave off and then rescind your request after-the-fact.
Q: If I take unpaid leave under the VSRP now and later am required to take a furlough day, can the leave under the VSRP satisfy the furlough day requirement?
A: No. At this time, leave taken under the VSRP may not substitute for any furlough day(s) that may be required in the future.
Q: My full-time schedule was 40 hours per week but I have been approved to work a reduced schedule under the VSRP. My schedule is to work Monday to Friday, 6.50 hours each day. When a holiday is observed, will I be paid 8 hours or 6.50 hours for that holiday?
A: You will be paid the same number of hours that you would have otherwise received had you not been participating in the VSRP (eight hours).
Q: I am in a Leadership Associate program. Am I eligible to participate in the VSRP?
A: Yes and no. As with all employees, if you are in your initial working test period you may not participate in the VSRP. If you are not in your initial working test period you are eligible to take full or partial days under the VSRP (Option A) but ineligible to reduce your schedule from full- to part-time (Option B), as employees in the Leadership Associate job class must work full-time, in accordance with the class specification. Keep in mind if you take more than three leave days (or the equivalent number of hours) under the VSRP, your training period will be extended by the same number of days, consistent with extensions of the working test period (see General Letter No. 31). Additionally, three year training programs cannot be extended (see CGS §5-234).
Q: I am in a training program (other than Leadership Associate). Am I eligible to participate in the VSRP?
A: Yes and no. As with all employees, if you are in your initial working test period you may not participate in the VSRP. If you are not in your initial working test period, then you may participate in the VSRP provided you meet the experience and training of the target position at the end of your training program. Keep in mind if you take more than three leave days under the VSRP (or the equivalent number of hours), your training period will be extended by the same number of days, consistent with extensions of the working test period (see General Letter No. 31). Additionally, three year training programs cannot be extended (see CGS §5-234).
Q: I have requested and have received approval to reduce my (Monday – Friday) work schedule from full-time to part-time (five 8-hour days to five 5-hours per week). If I am absent and must charge my leave accruals, how many hours will be charged per day?
A: Five. The benefit is that you are accruing leave time based on your schedule prior to initiating your reduced work schedule under the VSRP. However, the deduction from your leave codes is to be based on the hours of work you are missing due to your absence based on the approved (VSRP) work schedule. The same is true for any absence that is not caused by the observance of a holiday.