UC to Again Offer START Work-Time Reduction Program
By Vic Cox
A new Staff and Academic Reduction in Time (START) program has been proposed for eligible UC employees that is very similar to the three-year START plan that ended in mid-2006 with an estimated total savings to participating UC locations of just under $42 million.
The new cost-reduction plan, unofficially known as START-2 to differentiate it from its predecessor, would begin July 1 and end on June 30, 2010. In a May 8 memo, Cynthia Cronk, Human Resources director, and Pat Sheppard, director of the Academic Personnel Office, wrote that all “regular status” staff members and some academic appointees “would be eligible to volunteer to reduce their time” and still earn benefits.
The voluntary, temporary reductions, which must be approved by department heads, could range from 10 percent to 50 percent of the employee’s time. However, “an employee’s work schedule cannot be reduced below 50 percent time” in any given month during the contracted period, Cronk and Sheppard wrote.
Under START-2’s provisions, participants would accrue vacation, sick leave, and retirement credits at the same rate they were accruing them before they reduced their work time. The primary restrictions are that an employee’s pay status cannot drop below 50 percent time and that the department head must approve the arrangement.
In recommending the time-reduction plan to the Regents, the Office of the President reported that between June 2003 and July 2006 more than 3,000 employees participated in the prior START program. Around 60 percent of the participants reduced their work time 20 percent or less, and UC locations reported $41.9 million in salary savings.
In consulting with the UC Retirement Plan’s actuaries, OP reported that “there would be no additional liability to UCRP to implement START.” OP noted that “so long as no employee or employer contributions are being made to UCRP, the START program would not affect UCRP funding.”
Should UCRP contributions resume during the period covered by START-2, OP said that “member contributions would be based on the member’s actual pay” and not on the employee’s unreduced salary. In that case, the “employing location would be required to pay” the difference to UCRP.