Voluntary Buyout Program

The Voluntary Buyout Program (VBP) has been established to assist the University in addressing budgetary constraints due to state appropriation reversions and potential budget reductions in the forthcoming fiscal year.  Savings realized from the VBP will also provide an opportunity to rebalance financial and human resources into highly strategic areas for the University.  The VBP is designed to provide eligible employees who voluntarily elect to separate employment with the University with severance pay and severance benefits.

The Voluntary Buyout Program (VBP) is being offered to regular, actively employed, with at least six (6) months of service to the University as of March 30, 2009, meeting the specified criteria, and who are not in an excluded job function. Interested employees will have through May 15, 2009 to review and submit an application to the VBP Administrator in the Office of Human Resources.

VBP Severance Package:

·  Payment equal to three times the monthly rate of pay in effect on March 30, 2009

· Payment of $500 for each full or partial year of University service as of June 30, 2009 or your Voluntary Separation Date; partial months will be rounded up

· Payment equivalent to next scheduled longevity payment

· Payment equal to six months of the University’s portion of monthly health insurance premium based on plan election as of March 30, 2009

· Tuition assistance for TBR and UT systems entities for the employee only; maximum benefit is $5,400 per year for two years, totaling $10,800

·  Membership in the ETSU Center of Physical Activity (CPA), Faculty/Staff rate for ETSU athletic events, and continuation of ETSU email account through June 30, 2010


Detailed information is available using the following links:

Informational Sessions

Eligibility

Frequently Asked Questions

Timeline of Key Events

Voluntary Buyout Program Presentation

Voluntary Buyout Program Handout

Voluntary Buyout Program Application

Voluntary Buyout Program Waiver & Release Agreement

Senior Staff Amendment


Contact Information for the Voluntary Buyout Program:

Tammy Hamm
E-mail: hammt@etsu.edu
Phone: (423) 439-5394

If there is any difference between an explanation on this Web site and the VBP Program Document, the terms of the VBP Program Document will control.


Informational Sessions

The Office of Human Resources is sponsoring informational sessions for the participants of the university's Voluntary Buyout Plan.  The topics of discussion at both sessions will be:

  • The retirement process and other related information that will be discussed at your individual meeting with Human Resources. Presented by Tammy Hamm, Office of Human Resources
  • How Social Security benefits are calculated, earnings limitations after retirement and the online filing process. Presented by Tony Thompson, Social Security Administration

We have arranged two dates and times for the sessions.  This is not mandatory and no pre-registration is required.  We are holding these sessions for informational purposes only.

  • May 5, 2009, 2:00 p.m. - 3:00 p.m.,
    Meeting Room 6, D.P. Culp Center
  • May 13, 2009, 9:00 a.m. - 10:00 a.m.,
    Forum Room, D.P. Culp Center

VBP Eligibility

Participation in the VBP will be on a strictly voluntary basis for all eligible employees. The table below defines the eligibility by type of employee . Further details are available in t he Voluntary Buyout Program Document .

Eligibility Criteria by Type of Employee

Faculty

Hourly Paid/Non-Exempt

Administrative or Academic Professional or Executive

…Actively employed

…with at least six months of service to the University

…in a regular position (full or part time)

…in an appointment that is associated with the expectation of continuous employment at East Tennessee State University (excluding visiting professors, postdoctoral researchers, and employees on term appointments  (e.g., clinical track, research track, lecturers, and flex-track)

Not:

…in a contingent upon grant-funded position

…employed in an excluded function

…cove red under any of the Conditions of Ineligibility outlined in the Voluntary Buyout Program Document

  …Actively employed

…with at least six months of service to the University

…in a regular position (full or part time)

Not:

…in a contingent upon grant-funded position

…employed in an excluded function

…covered under any of the Conditions of Ineligibility outlined in the Voluntary Buyout Program Document

  …Actively employed

…with at least six months of service to the University

…in a regular position (full or part time)

Not:

…in a contingent upon grant-funded position

…a coach on a Term Contract

…employed in an excluded function

…covered under any of the Conditions of Ineligibility outlined in the Voluntary Buyout Program Document

       

Maximum Number of VBP Participants:  28

ETSU – 21

COM – 6

FM - 1

Maximum Number of VBP Participants:  26

ETSU – 20

COM – 4

FM - 2

Maximum Number of VBP Participants:  23

ETSU – 18

COM – 4

FM - 1

EXCLUDED FUNCTIONS

Employees of the following functions are not eligible to apply for participation in the VBP:

  • University School faculty

  • Holders of the endowed Chairs of Excellence in various disciplines and fields

  • The President’s Senior Staff

  • Gatton College of Pharmacy Faculty and Staff

In addition, the University reserves the right to decline an application from an employee only in situations where the employee: 1)  performs a critical function for the University; 2) is the only employee performing that function such that the person’s job responsibilities cannot be shifted or  replaced; and 3) because of the critical nature of the function that the employee fulfills, there is insufficient time to hire a replacement for the employee without severe damage to the operations of the University.  This right to deny an application may only be exercised at the discretion of the President of East Tennessee State University.

CONDITIONS OF INELIGIBILITY

You shall not be eligible for severance pay or severance benefits under the VBP if the VBP Administrator determines that any of the following apply:

(a) your position is in one of the Excluded Functions as defined by the VBP Administrator and outlined below;

(b) you are not or cease to be an “Eligible Employee” as defined above;

(c) you submitted a resignation notice and/or retirement application before March 30, 2009;

(d) you submitted an effective notice of retirement before March 30, 2009. For purposes of the VBP, employees who have left their position and attained their retirement date or are on their terminal leave have submitted an effective notice of retirement;

(e) you are terminated by reason of unacceptable performance or because of a violation of law, rule, or policy;

(f) you accept a position in one of the Excluded Functions at the University before your Voluntary Separation Date;

(g) you are currently participating in the post-retirement option offered by the Tennessee Board of Regents;

(h) you are a faculty member who elects to participate in the post-retirement option;

(i) you are prohibited from voluntary separation because of VISA restrictions;

(j) you leave employment with the University before your Voluntary Separation Date (for reasons other than retirement pursuant to a notice of retirement received on or after March 30, 2009); or

(k) the VBP is terminated prior to its payout.

If there is any difference between an explanation on this web site and the VBP Program Document, the terms of the VBP Program Document will control.


VBO FAQs

Questions by Category
A. Eligibility | B. Severance Payment | C. Tuition Assistance | D. Re-Employment | E. Application Process and Revocation | F. Clearance Process | G. Waiver and Release Agreement | H. Retirement | I. Insurance Continuation


A. Eligibility
How do I know if I am eligible for the Voluntary Buyout Program (VBP)?
Review the eligibility criteria.  If you are still unsure, contact Tammy Hamm in the Office of Human Resources at .


B. Severance Payment
Can I defer the severance payment to my 401(k), Roth 401, 457, and/or 403(b)?
No.  IRS regulations do not allow the severance payment to be deferred into these programs.

What do you mean by severance payment equivalent to 6 months of the University's portion of health insurance?
This payment does not pay for insurance continuation or guarantee continuation of heath insurance.  This severance payment is designed to help offset health insurance cost after the Voluntary Separation Date.  This part of the severance payment is paid directly to the participant. 

When will I receive payment for my accrued annual leave and severance payment?
The payments for any (a) accrued but unused annual leave, compensatory time, or worked holidays or (b) accrued salary will be made in a lump sum payment on the Participants’ last regular payroll.  Severance Payment will be made within 31 days from the receipt by the University of the Waiver and Release Agreement. 

Will the severance payment be taxed?
Yes, as required by federal law.  The severance payment is subject to federal taxes withheld at current withholding, as well as Social Security of 7.65%.

Will the annual leave payout be taxed?
Yes, as required by federal law.  The annual leave payout is subject to federal taxes withheld at current withholding, as well as Social Security of 7.65%.

Is the $500 service credit payment of the VBP based on my University years of service or State service?
The service credit payment will be based on years of service at the University.

I am a nine-month faculty member.  When will I receive payment for accrued salary?
Accrued salary for a 9-month faculty will be paid as a lump sum in the final payroll if not paid as regular summer salary.

How is the three-month salary payment calculated?
For hourly paid employees: ((Hourly rate x 1950 hours) / 12) x 3.
For administrative employees: Monthly base salary x 3.
For nine-month faculty: (Annual base salary / 9) x 3.


C. Tuition Assistance
Where can I use the tuition assistance benefit?
For the VBP Participate only, the tuition assistance benefit can be used at the schools, institutions and entities governed by the Tennessee Board of Regents and the University of Tennessee Board of Trustees, including but not limited to technology centers, community colleges, and state universities in Tennessee.

Can I use the tuition assistance benefit for classes that begin anytime between July 1, 2009 and June 30, 2011 as long as I don't exceed the $10,800?
The tuition assistance benefit is available for eligible classes that begin between July 1, 2009 and June 30, 2011 inclusive.  The tuition assistance may not exceed $5,400 in a fiscal year.

Can I use the tuition assistance benefit to take online courses?
Yes.  Tuition assistance can be used for on-line courses taken through an eligible institution, including RODP.

Can I get the tuition assistance benefit as a cash payout?
No.  There is no cash payout option for tuition.

Can I use the tuition benefit to pay for spouse or children to go to school?
No.  The tuition assistance benefit is non-transferable and therefore can be used only by the VBP Participant.

Can I use the tuition benefit to pay for books?
No.  The tuition assistance benefit will provide funds to be used toward payment of tuition and mandatory fees only.  Books and other fees are not covered.

How do I apply for tuition assistance?
Educational benefit forms currently used by Human Resources will also be used for the tuition assistance portion of the VBP.   Forms may be found here.  Completed forms will be submitted to the Office of Human Resources, 307 Dossett Hall. 

If I leave University employment under the VBP on June 30, 2009, is my child or spouse still eligible for the Spouse/Dependent fee discount program for Fall 2009?
No.  Since eligibility is determined as of the first day of classes for each term and your Voluntary Separation Date will occur before the fall semester begins, your child or spouse will not be eligible for the fee discount program. 

If I retire through the VBP will this impact other retiree education benefits?
The VBP has no impact on retiree education benefits.  Any benefit for which you are eligible as a retiree will not be affected by the VBP.


D. Re-Employment
If I am accepted in the VBP, terminate my employment, and then return after 5 years to the University, will I lose my TCRS service and salary credit, sick leave, and longevity credit?
No.  If you return to regular employment at the University, your retirement credit, sick leave, and longevity credit will be reinstated.

If I am accepted in the VBP, can I be re-hired by the University?
You may not be rehired in a benefits eligible position, including work as a regular employee, independent contractor, or consultant, with any State of Tennessee public postsecondary institution for a period of five years from the Voluntary Separation Date or participate in the Post Retirement Service Program.

What if I retire and accept the Post Retirement Service Program Incentive? 
You can not participate in this VBP.

 

E. Application Process and Revocation

When are applications due, and how do I submit?
Applications must be submitted to the VBP Administrator no later than 4:30 pm on or before May 15, 2009.  You may use either method below to submit the application. 

Personal Hand Delivery to:  Tammy S. Hamm, Associate Director of the Office of Human Resources, and VBP Administrator, Room 307 Dossett Hall, East Tennessee State University, Johnson City, TN 37614,

or

FedEx or UPS addressed to: East Tennessee State University, Attn: Tammy S. Hamm, Office of Human Resources, 100 C.R. Drive, Johnson City, TN  37614.

How can I confirm that my application was received?
If you hand deliver your application, you will receive a date/time stamped copy.  If you mail your application, you may confirm receipt by calling 439-4457.

If there are larger numbers of applications than the plan document outlines, how will they be selected for acceptance?
If more Eligible Employees in an employee type elect to participate in the VBP than the maximum available, applications for Eligible Employees in that classification will be considered by earliest date/time of application received by the VBP Administrator.  The University, however, reserves the right, in its sole discretion, to accept and approve more applications than the maximum available under the VBP.

When will applicants be notified of acceptance for the VBP?
Applicants approved for participation in the program will be postmarked no later than June 1, 2009. 

What is the process for revoking my VBP application?
You may revoke your application form on or before 4:30 pm, May 22, 2009.  Revocation must be in writing and received by one of the methods set forth previously to the VBP Administrator.

F. Clearance Process

When will employees who are accepted for the VBP leave University employment?
Unless approved otherwise in writing by June 1, 2009, a Participant’s employment with the University shall terminate on June 30, 2009, or at the conclusion of summer school contract for academic year faculty appointments, or at a time specific as determined by the employee and the employee’s supervisor, but no later than September 1, 2009.  Approved participants who are also eligible for retirement may choose an earlier voluntary separation date. 

What other requirements do I need to attend to for clearing the University? 
All University property (i.e., keys, documents and records, uniforms, identification cards, etc.) shall be returned by a Participant to the University on or before his or her Voluntary Separation Date, along with a check-out form completed by the department and the final completed timecard signed by the employee and supervisor, in order for such Participant to commence receiving severance pay and severance benefits under the VBP.


G. Waiver and Release Agreement

What is a Waiver & Release Agreement?
By signing the Waiver & Release Agreement, the participant agrees that this separation is voluntary, and he/she will not make claims against the University nor apply for unemployment.

Can I sign and send in my Waiver and Release Agreement early?
No. The Waiver and Release Agreement must be signed and turned in to the VBP Administrator on your voluntary separation date.

What is the process for revoking a signed Waiver & Release Agreement?
A participant may revoke the signed Waiver & Release within 7 days of the date he/she submits the signed Waiver & Release to the VBP Administrator.  It must be submitted in writing and received by one of the methods set forth previously. 
A Participant who timely revokes his or her Waiver and Release Agreement shall be deemed to have voluntarily resigned from employment as of the Voluntary Separation Date and will not be eligible to receive any severance pay or benefits under the VBP.


H. Retirement

Can I be accepted into the VBP and also retire?
Yes.  If you are eligible for retirement, you may also file for retirement. 

If am accepted for the VBP and retire on June 30, 2009, may I remain on the payroll to exhaust my annual leave?
No.  Participants, including retirees, will receive the payments for any (a) accrued but unused annual leave, compensatory time, or worked holidays or (b) accrued salary will be made in a lump sum payment on the Participants’ last regular payroll.
 

I am eligible for retirement, but I don't want to retire unless I am certain I am accepted into the VBP.  Can I wait to file retirement papers until I know for sure if I am accepted into the VBP?
Yes.  You can wait to file for retirement after acceptance into the VBP.  Keep in mind this may delay your retirement benefit from the vendor. 

If I retire and accept the VBP, may I participate in the Post-Retirement Service Program Incentive?
No.  Eligible retiring faculty members may apply to participate in the Post-Retirement Service Program Incentive OR the VBP, but not both.  

Will my sick leave still count toward retirement if I participate in the VBP?
Yes and no, depending upon your retirement vendor.  If you are a TCRS retiree, you will receive service credit for your sick leave.  If you are an ORP retiree, you do not receive service credit for sick leave; however, your sick leave will count towards your service for the purposes of calculating your health insurance continuation premiums.

What if I am not eligible to file for retirement now but will be at a future date?
You may file for retirement at the time once you become eligibility.  TCRS full retirement is 30 years of service or age 60, after a vestment period of 5 years.  ORP retirement is age 59½.  Speak with your retirement vendor for further details.

Will the severance payment and other payouts count towards my TCRS retirement salary credit?
No.  

Will ORP retirement contributions be paid on the severance payment or other payouts?
No.  

How can I estimate the value of my retirement benefit?
For TCRS:   TCRS has an online benefits estimate calculator for your use.  Additionally, you may request an estimate from the Employee Benefits office by completing the TCRS Retirement Estimate Request Form found online.
For ORP participants: You must contact your ORP vendor (TIAA-CREF, ING, and/or AIG-VALIC) to request a benefit estimate.                                                                          
For Social Security:   Social Security has an online benefits estimate calculator for your use.


 

I. Insurance Continuation

If I participate in the VBP, how do I continue medical insurance?
Non-retirees: You will have the option to continue insurance through COBRA.  The State of TN Benefits Administration will mail your COBRA enrollment information to your home address.
Retirees under age 65: You will have the opportunity to continue your same coverage at a premium based on your years of service.
For retirees age 65 and over: Your University coverage will end with your employment.  Medicare will become primary coverage.  The State of TN will offer you a Medicare Supplement called the TN Plan.  

If I participate in the VBP, how do I continue dental insurance?
You will have the option to continue insurance through COBRA.  The State of TN Benefits Administration will mail your COBRA enrollment information to your home address.  

If I participant in the VBP, how do I continue life insurance?
For the basic life that is included with the health insurance program, you will be offered a conversion option from the underwriter, Ft. Dearborn.  For optional term and universal life coverage’s, UNUM Provident will offer either conversion options or direct billing options.  You will receive letters from the appropriate companies after your coverage ends with the University.  

If I participate in the VBP, how do I continue long-term care insurance or AFLAC?
You will have the option to continue coverage by direct bill through that company.

If I participate in the VBP, what happens to my Roth, 401(k), 457 or 403(b) account(s)?
After your Voluntary Separation Date, you will have the option to maintain the account(s) with the vendor, roll it over to another qualified account, or take a withdrawal.  Tax penalties may apply.  Please contact the vendor with further questions. 

When will my insurance (health, life, dental) coverage end if I am accepted into the VBP?
Insurance is paid one month in advance and thus extends your coverage until the month after your last payroll from the University.

If there is any difference between an explanation on this web site and the VBP Program Document, the terms of the VBP Program Document will control.


Timeline of Key Events

Application period

March 30, 2009 – May 15, 2009

Information sessions begin

March 2009

Application deadline

May 15, 2009

Revocation period

Prior to May 22, 2009

VBP Participants notified of acceptance

No later than June 1, 2009

Voluntary Separation Date for VBP Participants

June 30, 2009*

VBP Payment to Participants

Within 31 days from receipt of

Waiver and Release Agreement

*Please note: Unless approved otherwise in writing by June 1, 2009, a Participant’s employment with the University shall terminate on June 30, 2009, or at the conclusion of summer school contract for academic year faculty appointments, or at a time specific as determined by the employee and the employee’s supervisor, but no later than September 1, 2009.  Notwithstanding the above, a Participant who is also eligible for retirement benefits under the University’s retirement plan may voluntarily elect to terminate employment with the University before June 30, 2009. 

If there is any difference between an explanation on this web site and the VBP Program Document, the terms of the VBP Program Document will control.