Voluntary Buyout Program – what we know

TSEA June 1, 2015 Comments Off on Voluntary Buyout Program – what we know
Voluntary Buyout Program – what we know

As you may know, approximately 2000 Voluntary Buyout offers were sent to eligible employees on May 21.

To those employees eligible for the Voluntary Buyout Program, employees who have applied, or intend to apply and have questions, please plan on attending one of the Department of Human Resources’ help sessions throughout the state over the next month.

IMPORTANT: If you are approved for the buyout, the VBP group waiver form should be turned in on your last day of employment (July 31st). Employees from DOHR and agency HR departments will be deployed across the state on that day to collect waivers (along with ID badges, keys, etc). You will be notified of drop-off locations in your area.

If you apply and are approved for the buyout, but do not sign and return the Waiver and Release Agreement, then you will not be entitled to VBP severance pay and severance benefits and your employment will be terminated as of your voluntary Separation Date!


VBP Help Session schedule:

Friday, June 5
Nashville- Tennessee Department of Labor & Workforce Development
220 French Landing-Tennessee Room 1st Floor
Nashville, Tennessee 37243
Hours: 8:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. CDT

Monday, June 8
Jackson- Lowell Thomas State Office Building
225 Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Blvd, Conference Room 1
Jackson, Tennessee 38301
Hours: 1:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m. CDT

Tuesday, June 9
Memphis- Tennessee Career Center at Walnut Grove
3040 Walnut Grove Road
Memphis, Tennessee 38111
Hours: 8:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. CDT

Friday, June 19
Nashville- Tennessee Department of Labor & Workforce Development
220 French Landing-Tennessee Room 1st Floor
Nashville, Tennessee 37243
Hours: 8:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. CDT

Tuesday, July 7
Chattanooga- Tennessee Career Center at Chattanooga
5600 Brainerd Road, Suite A-5
Chattanooga, Tennessee 37411
Hours: 1:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m. EDT

Wednesday, July 8
Knoxville- Tennessee Career Center at Knoxville
2700 Middlebrook Pike 1st Floor
Knoxville, Tennessee 37921
Hours: 8:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. EDT

TSEA will have representatives at each session.

In addition, each Help Session will have representatives from the Department of Human Resources, Tennessee Consolidated Retirement System, and Benefits & Administration to help answer your questions during your decision making process.

If you are eligible for the buyout, please sign up for a help session by emailing VBP.helpsession@tn.gov. You will need to provide your name, department, and the date of the session you want to attend.

Employees should obtain approval from their supervisor to attend a help session if it is during scheduled work hours. Administrative leave will be granted for employees who attend help sessions, but employees do not need to submit an annual leave request


ABOUT THE BUYOUT PROGRAM
Here is what we know about the program:

  • To be eligible for the VBP you must be in the Executive Branch of state government and meet the service requirement (at least 5 years of service), and identified by their appointing authority as eligible, and be actively employed.  Actively employed means being actively at work, on vacation, on sick leave, on military leave, on paid leave of absence or on an unpaid leave of absence that has not exceeded one (1) year as of July 17, 2015.
  • Employees with less than 5 years of service were not offered the VBP.
  • Each agency presented a justification plan for the VBP to DOHR Commissioner Hunter and Finance and Administration Commissioner Martin for approval.
  • If more employees in a specific agency and specific classification accept the VBP offer than is needed by the agency, employees will be accepted within such designated units according to their seniority in state government.
  • The VBP is voluntary; employees are not required to accept the offer.  However, if not enough employees accept the VBP offer, it is stated in the FAQs that involuntary layoffs may occur in some agencies.  In addition, some job titles may be reclassified or reallocated.
  • Employees cannot volunteer to participate in the VBP.
  • In some agencies, if employees who are offered the VBP do not accept it, the agency does not intend to involuntarily lay off these employees.   Other agencies likely will.  We are attempting to identify these agencies and job titles.
  • Employees who accept the VBP will not qualify for state unemployment insurance benefits.

IMPORTANT DEADLINES

June and July 2015
Participate in one of the help sessions

July 17, 2015
Last day for application form to be submitted

July 17, 2015
Last day to submit revocation of application form (if desired; optional)

July 24, 2015
Applicants notified of acceptance of VBP application (on or around July 24, 2015)

July 31, 2015
VBP separation date

July 31, 2015
Signed Waiver and Release due on voluntary separation

August 7, 2015
Submit revocation of Wavier and Release (if desired; optional)

August 31, 2015
Payment of cash incentives to all participants with signed, unrevoked waiver and release agreements


BUYOUT SEVERANCE DETAILS

  • Lump sum payment equal to four (4) months of base salary
  • $500 for every year of state service (partial years will be rounded up)
  • Advanced longevity payment based on years of state service, calculated according to normal state practice, and accrued through June 30, 2016.
  • Normal payment of unused compensatory and annual leave accrued as of the voluntary separation date.
  • Medical care coverage will be extended for the first six months through COBRA.  Employees will pay the same rate as an active employee for their coverage tier ( employee, employee + spouse, employee + child(ren), employee + spouse + child(ren).
  • If employee who accepts the VBP is 65 years of age or older by their voluntary separation date, they will receive a one-time $3,000 cash payment to assist with transition to Medicare.
  • Tuition assistance up to $15,600 at the schools, institutions and entities governed by Tennessee Board of Regents and the University of Tennessee Board of Regents, as well as state certified apprenticeship programs.  GED classes will also be available.  Time frame for using the tuition assistance is after September 1, 2015 and prior to June 30, 2018.
  • Employees who participate in the VBP will not receive any payment for unused sick leave.  But state policy allows remaining sick leave to count toward service credit for retirement.  Every 20 days of sick leave equals a month of service credit.
  • The cash portion of the VBP benefits will be taxed by the federal government like ordinary income and will be subject to all applicable federal withholdings.
  • Tuition benefits will not be taxed for the first $5,250 per year; the remaining $2,550 per year will be subject to federal tax withholdings.

Other resources:

VBP Web Site – Go to www.tn.gov/dohr and click on the button that says “Voluntary Buyout Program”. Frequently Asked Questions are updated often.

VBP Call Center-Call 615-770-1973 or toll free 844-430-7679 from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Central time, Monday through Friday.

Questions? 

Email Voluntary.Buyout@tn.gov or Contact TSEA’s Compensation and Benefits Division at 615-256-4533 or toll-FREE at 800-251-TSEA (8732).

Above Photo: DCS’ Jim Henry presenting his department’s budget to Gov. Bill Haslam in November 2014. Credit: Bobby Allyn/WPLN