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College, offices to implement voluntary separation plan

One of Ohio State’s colleges and two offices have decided to implement an incentive plan that could provide monetary compensation to faculty and staff who choose to leave the university.

Ashleigh Hohenbrink, a fifth-year in human resources and psychology and president of the Human Resources Association, said incentive plans can boost morale and increase productivity.

“It should be offered from an organization looking to let (employees) go, but not for poor performance,” Hohenbrink said. “Incentive plans should motivate employees to perform well.”

In February, The Lantern reported that the Board of Trustees backed a Voluntary Separation Incentive Program that had two parts to it: a lump-sum separation incentive, which pays an employee a portion of their salary in one payment for leaving the university, and a phased retirement. The number of colleges and departments that would decide to use the plan was unknown.

Since then, the College of Food, Agriculture and Environmental Sciences is using the separation incentive plan, officials from the Office of Human Resources said in an email.

If a member of the college’s faculty and staff is approved for the plan, he will receive one cash payment for the separation, said Suzanne Steel, The College of Food, Agriculture and Environmental Sciences spokeswoman. The lump-sum is equivalent to nine months of the worker’s base salary, up to $75,000.

No other colleges are using VSIP right now, said Julie Snyder, senior director of the Office of Human Resources.

“There was no expectation that a VP or dean needed to use it at this time,” Snyder said. “The rest of the colleges are proceeding business as usual.”

The College of Food, Agriculture and Environmental Sciences requested to move forward with VSIP as soon as the university announced it was available, Steel said.

Faculty and staff in the college can voluntarily choose to apply for the separation incentive plan, Steel said.

“If somebody was getting overtime, it would not be included in the computation, it would only be their base salary,” Steel said.

The lump-sum payment is subject to tax withholdings, but is not subject to retirement contributions, Steel said.

The window for faculty and staff in the college to apply for the separation incentive program started on May 9 and will go until June 27, Steel said.

“Then (the employee) will have 45 days from when they submit it to decide whether or not they’re going to actually sign it,” Steel said.

After signing, employees will have another seven days to change their mind, Steel said.

An employee who does participate in the incentive plan will have his last day at OSU on Aug. 31, which is when the college’s use of VSIP ends, Steel said.

In the college’s OSU Extension, a university outreach program, about five employees have submitted forms requesting to participate in the separation incentive plan, Steel said.

The number of employees in the college that are approved for the program is not yet known, Steel said.

To be eligible, faculty and staff must have been a permanent employee for 30 or more years at OSU or the state of Ohio by Aug. 31, Steel said. College and departmental leaders are not eligible.

“Those would have been the decision makers on bringing the incentive program forward,” Steel said. “So it would have been a conflict of interest for them to vote for this for themselves.”

Additionally, two university offices have the ability to implement a separation incentive plan.

The Office of Enrollment Services and Office of Research were approved to use VSIP, officials from the Office of Human Resources said in an email.

The College of Arts and Sciences decided not to use the university’s incentive plan because it doesn’t find an advantage in providing incentives to employees in their current budget, said the Office of the Executive Dean in an email to the college’s faculty and staff.

In the email, the administrators said they will consider the use of the incentive plan after June 30, 2012.

Snyder said OSU is not offering any other incentive plans at this time.

Steel said she thinks other colleges and departments will decide to use the incentive plan and the College of Food, Agriculture and Environmental Sciences is likely to use the plan again after it ends for them in August.

“(The incentive program) will give (participants) some resources, some dollars for if they do want to go into something else,” Steel said. “It’ll give them a little added cushion to move into a new venture.”

 

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