The University of Akron Guidelines: Voluntary Reduction in Work Schedule (VRWS) For Contract Professionals & Staff

What is the Voluntary Reduction in Work Schedule program?

The Voluntary Reduction in Work Schedule program will permit current full-time contract professionals and staff members to request a documented, permanent reduction in working hours and corresponding pay. The minimum number of hours required per week is 32.

Such reduction may occur either during a specific period of time (summer sessions or between fall and spring semesters, for example) or as part of a work week (reducing one work day or hours during a work day).

Who is Eligible?

All current full-time contract professionals and exempt and non-exempt staff members.

How do I Apply?

By completing the voluntary reduction in work schedule (VRWS) application.   This must be signed by the employee and approved by the appropriate department chair or administrative unit head, as well as, the dean or appropriate vice president. Approval of participation in the program will be based on each area’s workload and schedule throughout the year. Not all areas will be able to participate as some offices maintain full operations year round. The decision regarding the availability of a reduced work schedule in a given area rests with the management of that area.

How will I be affected by a voluntary reduction in work schedule program?

• Retirement System Contributions

Contributions to the appropriate retirement system or alternative retirement plan will be made based on actual earnings. Such contributions will be reduced in proportion to time worked and actual reduced earnings.  Service credit for the fiscal year may be affected.

• Sick Leave/Vacation

Sick leave and vacation accruals will accrue at the rate for full-time employees in the same employee category as the employee seeking a voluntary reduction in work schedule. 

• Benefits privileges

Full-time individuals who are eligible for and participating in the group health plans will remain eligible for benefits selected for that year. Annual payroll deductions for benefit-related costs will remain the same based on contract salary/basic earnings as of the September 1 prior to the election of a voluntary reduced work schedule.  However, deductions may increase on a per pay basis if numbers of pays received in the year are reduced. 

• Holidays

Individuals on a partially reduced work schedule when a holiday occurs must be normally scheduled to work the day the holiday occurs and be in active pay status the day before and after the day in which the holiday falls in order to be paid for the day.

• University Emergency Closings

Any emergency closing affects only those individuals who are actively at work.  An individual on VWRS the day an emergency closing occurs will not be compensated for any part of that day.

Supervisor Considerations

This is not a flex-time policy where work hours are shifted.  These permanent reductions will create permanent salary savings that will support a balanced budget for the University.

Consideration needs to be given to all individuals requesting to use this program. 
Individuals should not be permitted to reduce time to the point where other individuals are not permitted to participate, or where the use of vacation for others in the department is difficult to approve. 

No stipends or reclassifications will be approved because of work reductions.  Departments should not approve overtime pay for nonexempt staff to compensate for voluntary reduced work hours.

Approval Process

The employee completes the voluntary reduction in work schedule (VRWS) agreement and submits it to his/her supervisor, copy to Human Resources.

The supervisor reviews the plan, makes a recommendation for approval or disapproval and forwards the agreement to the appropriate dean or vice president.

Human Resources reviews the agreement for eligibility and accuracy and prepares a Personnel Action Form if applicable.  Hourly employees will note Voluntary Reduced Work Schedule on the time when submitted.

Review of Denials

If the request to participate in the Voluntary Reduction Program is denied, an employee has the right to request a written statement of the reason for denial.  Such written statement must be provided within five working days of the request by the supervisor or vice president/dean who disapproved the agreement application.

Application Forms

Initial Announcement April 2013

As one of our Effectiveness, Efficiency, and Productivity Initiatives, the University will be reviewing requests for alternative employment options for our current staff and contract professionals.   For example, there are some positions that lend themselves to less than 40-hour work weeks or 9-month positions and there are some employees who would prefer to spend summers with their families or work less than 40 hours each week during the full year for personal reasons.  For those individuals, we will work with supervisors to provide opportunities for flexible and reduced work schedules.  We will incentivize these reduced work hours, and still attain significant savings, by maintaining for these employees all privileges and benefits available to eligible full-time employees.

If you are interested in exploring these options, please notify your supervisor in writing with a copy to Sarah Kelly, Associate VP,  Human Resources –