School division updates regulations regarding employee leave

Following the Department of Human Resources’ review of the school division’s current policies and regulations relating to leave and leave options for employees, several revisions took effect Jan. 1.

In an email to all Virginia Beach City Public Schools staff members Dec. 11 to provide summaries of the upcoming changes, Human Resources shared the following explanation for its review and revisions: “One of the primary reasons for conducting this review was the implementation of the Virginia Retirement System’s (VRS) Hybrid Retirement Plan in 2014. Because the Hybrid Retirement Plan requires VRS-covered employers to provide disability benefits under the Virginia Local Disability Program (VLDP), the division developed a new regulation that outlines the disability benefits under the VLDP. Additionally, revisions were made to existing division policies and regulations to ensure alignment of this new regulation with VBCPS leave options as well as to allow a more fair and equitable administration of leave benefits among all benefit-eligible employees.”

In addition, Human Resources administrators prepared and posted answers to frequently asked questions about the updated policies and regulations as well as leave options, such as: Why were all the sick leave banks combined? How do I know if I am a Plan 1, Plan 2 or Hybrid employees? What is the VDLP? Visit vbcps.com to view the Frequently Asked Questions document prepared by Human Resources.

Summaries of the impacted regulations are available below and the school division’s Employee Handbook has been updated accordingly.  Employees with individual questions regarding leave and leave options may call the Office of Employee Relations at 757-263-1133.

Regulation 4-45.4, Disability Programs for Employees in the VRS Hybrid Plan  (NEW)

This new regulation outlines the VLDP program for employees assigned to the Hybrid Retirement Plan and their responsibilities as VBCPS employees. The program’s short-term and long-term disability benefits provide a percentage of income replacement and work in conjunction with a third-party administrator (TPA). Employees who become ill or injured and expect to be out of work for more than seven (7) calendar days are responsible for notifying the Office of Employee Relations and filing a claim with the TPA. Upon approval from the TPA, employees are typically assigned a seven (7) day waiting period and short-term disability income replacement normally begins on the eighth calendar day of absence.  Sick leave, personal reasons leave, and annual leave will be used to supplement waiting periods and income replacement levels of less than 100%. More specific information concerning disability leave under the VLDP is provided in the VLDP Handbook.

Regulation 4-45.1, Sick Leave

All benefit-eligible employees will continue to receive the hourly equivalent of one (1) day of sick leave for each month in their contract, (e.g., 10-month employees earn the hourly equivalent of 10 days, 11-month employees earn the hourly equivalent of 11 days, and 12-month employees earn the hourly equivalent of 12 days). Sick leave will continue to be front-loaded at the time employment begins, and at the beginning of each fiscal year thereafter.

Sick leave can be taken for the following reasons:

  • Medical necessity during the employee’s temporary incapacity due to illness or injury, including pregnancy or childbirth;
  • Infection with a contagious disease;
  • Medical appointments;
  • Illness or injury of an employee’s covered family member;
  • Death in the employee’s family; or
  • Leave covered under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA).

VRS Plan 1 or Plan 2 employees do not have a limit to the number of sick leave hours they may accumulate. However, because VRS Hybrid Plan employees have a disability program to provide income protection for many situations requiring leave, these employees will have a sick leave accrual cap equivalent of ninety (90) days of sick leave.

Employees on a leave of absence will not be front-loaded sick leave after twelve (12) consecutive calendar weeks of leave, paid or unpaid, regardless of the type of leave to which the absence is charged.

Regulation 4-45.2, Sick Leave Bank (formerly titled, Sick Leave Banks)

As of Jan. 1, 2018, VBCPS is combining the six (6) existing sick leave banks into one (1) bank for all eligible employees. During the first week of January, current sick leave bank members will be contacted individually regarding the requirements of continued membership. 

The sick leave bank can be used when a member is incapacitated due to personal illness or injury. The bank will remain in effect as long as at least one-third of benefit-eligible employees agree to participate.

Membership into the sick leave bank will remain voluntary. All interested benefit-eligible employees may elect to join the sick leave bank; however, because VRS Hybrid Plan employees have a disability program available to them after one (1) year, membership in the sick leave bank is limited to their first year of employment.

Employees may enroll within the first thirty (30) days of employment. Eligible employees who do not enroll when first eligible may do so between any subsequent August 1 and October 15 open enrollment period.  VRS Plan 1 or Plan 2 employees may enroll in the sick leave bank by donating the hourly equivalent of two (2) days of sick leave. Because they are only eligible to participate during their first year of employment, VRS Hybrid Plan employees may enroll by donating the hourly equivalent of one (1) day of sick leave.

To be eligible to access the sick leave bank, members must provide the required medical certification to the Office of Employee Relations, cover the minimum hourly equivalent of thirty (30) days of related illness/injury with their accumulated leave or leave without pay, and have depleted all accumulated sick leave, personal reasons leave, and annual leave.

A maximum of the hourly equivalent of forty-five (45) workdays within a 12-month period may be used. The 12-month period begins on the date the bank is initially accessed.

Members will be assessed an additional hourly equivalent of two (2) days any time the bank is depleted to 500 days, unless the member chooses not to participate further in the bank.

Regulation 4-45.3, Pay for Unused Sick Leave Upon Retirement (formerly titled, Terminal Pay for Unused Sick Leave)

Employees who retire with VBCPS remain eligible to have their accumulated sick leave purchased by VBCPS. Beginning Jan. 1, 2018, unused sick leave will be compensated at the rate of 25% of the employee’s per diem (daily rate), but no less than $30.00 per diem. This is an increase from the previous rate of $28.00 per diem.

Regulation 4-46.1, Bereavement Leave (formerly titled, Funeral Leave)

Employees, who have a death in the family, will continue to receive up to the hourly equivalent of three (3) days of paid bereavement leave as approved by the employee’s principal, director, or department head.

In addition to the three (3) days of bereavement leave, the employee’s principal, director, or department head may also approve up to the hourly equivalent of two (2) days of paid bereavement leave for the death of an employee’s parent, spouse, or child.

If additional days are needed for a death in the family, the employee’s principal, director, or department head may approve the use of sick leave.

Regulation 4-47.1, Personal Reasons Leave

All benefit-eligible 10-month and 11-month employees will continue to receive the hourly equivalent of two (2) days of personal reasons leave. Personal reasons leave will continue to be front-loaded at the time employment begins, and at the beginning of each fiscal year thereafter. Employees who are hired after the beginning of the current fiscal year will receive a prorated amount of personal reasons leave.

Beginning Jan.1, 2018, employees who terminate employment with VBCPS will be paid out at the employee’s hourly equivalent rate, per diem for any remaining personal reasons leave.

Employees on a leave of absence will not be front-loaded personal reasons leave after twelve (12) consecutive calendar weeks of leave, paid or unpaid, regardless of the type of leave to which the absence is charged.

Regulation 4-50.1, Annual Leave

All benefit-eligible 12-month employees will continue to receive annual leave on a semi-monthly basis. Employees who are newly hired, rehired, or transferred into a 12-month position from a position that does not earn annual leave will be front-loaded six (6) months of annual leave against future accruals. After the initial six (6) months of employment in such position, leave will be accrued on a semi-monthly basis.  In the event an employee uses the front-loaded leave and terminates employment before annual leave hours would have been accrued, the employee will make proper monetary refund to VBCPS.

Employees on a leave of absence will not accrue annual leave after twelve (12) consecutive calendar weeks of leave, paid or unpaid, regardless of the type of leave to which the absence is charged.

Regulation 4-51.1, Subpoenaed Witness, Jury Duty, and Court Appearance Leave (formerly titled, Subpoenaed Witness and Jury Duty)

Employees may be granted paid leave time if compelled to serve on jury duty, appear in court due to a subpoena or summons, or appear at a criminal proceeding as a crime victim. Paid leave is not provided for an employee to appear as a defendant in a criminal matter, when the employee has received a summons to appear in traffic court, if the employee is a party to a civil case, either as a plaintiff or defendant, or for an employee who has any personal or familial interest in the court proceedings.

Regulation 4-53.2, Family Health Care Leave 

This leave option is being combined with Regulation 4-53.4, Leave for Long-term Illness or Injury. Therefore, this regulation is being discontinued effective Jan. 1, 2018. Employees on approved Family Health Care Leave as of Jan. 1, 2018 will be converted to Leave for Long-term Illness or Injury of an Employee or Family Member.

Regulation 4-53.4, Leave for Long-term Illness or Injury of an Employee or Family Member (combines former Leave for Long-term Illness or Injury and Regulation 4-53.2, Family Health Care Leave)

Beginning Jan. 1, 2018, certain benefit-eligible employees who cannot work due to a personal illness or injury or because of a family member’s serious health condition will be granted an extended leave of absence not to exceed a full twelve (12) calendar months. The first twelve (12) weeks of this leave option will be credited to FMLA, see Regulation 4-55.1, Family and Medical Leave.

Employees must use any accrued sick leave, annual leave, or personal reasons leave available while on this leave. Once applicable leave balances are exhausted, leave will be without pay.

Employees, who have leave accruals that exceed the twelve (12) calendar month limit for this leave of absence, may use their paid leave until it is exhausted.

Employees requesting leave under this regulation must submit appropriate medical certification. Prior to the conclusion of the long-term leave of absence, employees shall notify the Office of Employee Relations of their intent to return to work as soon as possible.

Employees who fail to notify the Office of Employee Relations of their intent to return to work prior to the conclusion of the long-term leave will be separated from employment. Employees, who are unable or who choose not to return to work at the conclusion of twelve (12) months, will also be separated from employment.

Employees who are able to return to work will be assigned to the first available position for which they are qualified. If no placement opportunities are available within sixty (60) calendar days of a notice to return to work, VBCPS will no longer be obligated to the employee, and the employee will be separated from employment. Employees who do not accept the first available position offered will not be given further consideration and will be separated from employment.

Employees on long-term leave may not engage in employment for any other employer or be self-employed while on leave.

Employees, who have exhausted their twelve (12) months of long-term leave, will not be entitled to request another term of long-term leave until they have worked for at least one (1) calendar year and have worked at least 1,250 hours during such year.

Once VRS Hybrid Plan employees are eligible to utilize the VLDP, they will no longer be eligible to receive long-term illness or injury leave for the purpose of personal illness or injury.

Regulation 4-54.1, Donation of Leave

Beginning Jan. 1, 2018, employees may now elect to donate up to the hourly equivalent of five (5) days of earned personal reasons leave, annual leave, or sick leave to another employee for the employee’s personal serious illness or for the employee to care for a family member with a serious health condition. The principal, director, or department head must submit a written request to the Director of Employee Relations to initiate the request for donations.

Employees may not directly solicit leave donations from other employees.

Employees may receive up to the hourly equivalent of twenty (20) days to care for a family member.

Employees may receive up to the hourly equivalent of sixty (60) days for their own serious health condition. VRS Hybrid Plan employees eligible to utilize the VLDP are limited to twenty-four (24) days of donations for their own illness.  VRS Hybrid Plan employees may no longer receive donations for their own illness once they reach the 5th year (60 months) of employment.

Employees may donate up to the hourly equivalent of sixty (60) days of leave annually to family members also employed with VBCPS. Family members are defined in Regulation 4-45.1, Sick Leave.

Employees receiving donations must have verifying medical documentation on file with the Office of Employee Relations. Employees may not save unused donated leave for follow-up appointments or subsequent absences once they return to work.

 

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