PANDEMIC VOLUNTARY TIME OFF PROGRAM (PVTO)

The County Administrative Officer has authorized the option for unpaid time off through the Voluntary Time Off Program.  The purpose of the program is to reduce exposure to the COVID-19 pandemic and reduce salary costs by allowing eligible employees to take up to 120 hours off from work without pay and without affecting certain benefits.  We will refer to it as Pandemic Voluntary Time Off Program (PVTO).

If you choose to take advantage of the unpaid Pandemic Voluntary Time Off Program (PVTO) your department head’s approval will be required. Non-exempt employees may schedule any number of hours off (from 1 to 120) and exempt employees schedule time off in eight hour increments.    You may choose to work shorter days, a shorter work week, take intermittent days off, or take a number of consecutive days off (similar to a leave of absence without pay) while retaining “in pay” status for certain benefit purposes.  Naturally, in exchange for fewer work hours or days, you would receive proportionately less pay.  But, unlike an unpaid leave of absence, PVTO would allow many employee benefits to remain in affect.  You would retain seniority, continue eligibility for promotional opportunities and would see no change in your anniversary date.  If you have elected to receive County health benefits, you would continue to do so while on PVTO.

Below are the guidelines and disclosures for the program:

  1. The employee must be in a pay status for at least one full day in each pay period for benefit calculations and to provide earnings from which normal employee deductions can be made.  Additional paid time in each pay period may be required in order to generate sufficient earnings to cover salary deductions (health premiums, association/union dues, credit union, deferred compensations and court ordered garnishments.)
  1. PVTO Leave may be taken in increments of one hour for non-exempt employees and in increments of one full workday for exempt employees.  The maximum number of hours an employee may take off under this program is 120 per fiscal year unless a prior request has been approved and granted by Human Resources.
  1. The department head may exercise reasonable discretion and approve or deny a request for PVTO based upon his/her determination of feasibility, including but not limited to, workload, fiscal impact and operational concerns.  The decision of the department head is final and as such shall not be appealable.
  1. Credits toward sick leave and vacation shall accrue as though the employee were in a paid status.
  1. The employee shall be paid for regular holidays occurring during an approved voluntary time off as if he/she were in a paid status.
  1. For CalPERS CLASSIC employees, credit towards retirement benefits shall accrue as though the employee were in a paid status.  for CalPERS PEPRA employees, retirement benefits/service credits shall be reduced by the number of PVTO hours taken.
  1. Credit toward County contribution for any prorated benefit shall accrue as though the employee were in a paid status.
  1. Credit shall apply toward time in service for step advancement.  PVTO shall not count as a break in service and shall not affect seniority.  Your probationary period shall not be affected unless the PVTO exceeds 80 hours.
  1. Regardless of how many PVTO hours are requested and approved, the employee shall make his/her same contribution to all employee benefits such as retirement and health premiums, as if he/she were in a paid status.  It is important that the employee consider how much paid time in each pay period is required to generate sufficient earnings to cover benefit contributions and voluntary deduction (association/union dues, credit union, deferred compensation, etc.).  Earnings during each two-week pay period must cover mandatory deductions and negative earnings.  If the employees earnings are insufficient, PVTO will be charged to vacation or other paid leaves (excluding sick leave).
  1. Employees in other leaves without pay during a pay period shall not be eligible for the PVTO program.
  1. PVTO is available only to employees who are in paid status the scheduled workday before and the scheduled workday after the Pandemic Voluntary Time Off.
  1. This program cannot be used to extend your date of retirement or your date of resignation.
  1. Please complete the PVTO form and submit to your department head for approval.

 

Please review the Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) below.

PVTO FAQ

1   Is this a mandatory program?

This program is strictly voluntary.  You are not required or obligated to participate in the PVTO program.  This program was originally established to lessen the budget deficit through voluntary means.  However, we have adapted it for use during the pandemic.

2   Who is eligible to participate?

All permanent full-time and part-time employees are eligible.  Extra-hire employees are not eligible for this program.

3   Can my department head refuse my request?

Yes, a request may be denied if your position must be filled by overtime or premium pay, essential operational needs or the requirements of a court decree or order.

4   How many hours of PVTO can I request?

Non-exempt employees may request from one (1) to one hundred twenty (120) hours which are subject to your department heads approval.  Exempt employees must request time off in eight hour increments.

5   Can I take more than 120 hours PVTO?

The PVTO hours max was set as a marker to ensure that CalPERS CLASSIC employees never fall below the 1,720 PERS reportable hours requirement.  CLASSIC employees who fall below the 1,720 requirement will affect their PERS retirement. 

Employees requesting more than the 120 hours will need prior approval from Human Resources before the extension can be granted.

6   Is PVTO a day off with no kind of pay? Can I use vacation, sick leave or comp. time?

PVTO is time off without pay.  You may NOT use your vacation, paid sick leave or compensatory time off.

7   Will PVTO affect my retirement benefits?

FOR CLASSIC MEMBERS:  Yes and no.  Unfortunately, unpaid time off cannot be credited toward retirement when it comes to reportable earnings.  However, as long as you don’t drop below the 1,720 hour requirement, your service credits will not be affected.

FOR PEPRA MEMBERS:  Yes.  Unfortunately, unpaid time off cannot be credited toward retirement when it comes to reportable earnings.  Your service credit will be reduced by the number of PVTO that you take.

8   Will PVTO have an affect on my vacation and sick leave accrual?

No.  You will continue to accrue both vacation and sick leave as if you were in a paid status.

9   Can I take the full 120 hours even though I’m on probation?

As long as your department head approves your request you are welcome to PVTO the full 120 hours.  However, any PVTO over 80 hours will require an extension of your probationary period.

10   Do I have to request all my days up front or can I request them as I want them?

You may turn in your request either way.  If you know what days or hours you would like to be off in the fiscal year you may submit them to your department head.  You may also submit requests to your department head on an as-needed basis as long as the appropriate amount of time is given for approval and submittal to Human Resources.

11   Will I be paid for a legal holiday if it occurs during my PVTO?

You will be paid for regular holidays that occur during an approved PVTO as if you were in a paid status.

12   Can I use other types of paid or unpaid time-off during the same pay period as I use my PVTO?

Yes.  You can use a combination of approved paid or unpaid hours in a pay period.  For example:  If you would like to take one week off, you may use two PVTO days, one comp. time day and two vacation days, or any combination you have available.

13   Do I have to take a full day off work?

Non-exempt employees (units 5, 7, 9) can take time off in one hour increments.  Exempt employees (units 1, 2, 3, 4, 6, 8) must take time in full day increments.

14   I have a court-ordered deduction taken from my paycheck. How will the PVTO affect this process?

Your benefits contribution and any court ordered garnishment will be deducted from your paycheck as if you were in a paid status.  For example, if your normal bi-weekly deductions are $400 you would need to calculate how much unpaid time you can afford to take off so that you would have sufficient earnings to cover the deductions.  If you miscalculate we have no choice but to transfer your vacation or other paid leave time to cover the deficiency. 

15   What can I do if my department head denies my request?

Your department head will make a decision based on operational needs and therefore the decision is final and not appealable.  We do not expect a department head to grant a request if another employee would have to assume your duties on overtime.  After all, our goal is to reduce salary costs.

16   When do I need to submit a request to my department head?

Your department head will need to submit the signed request to the Human Resources department prior to the pay period in which you will be in a PVTO status.  For example:  If your PVTO falls in the pay period September 13th to September 26th, the signed request would need to be in HR by Friday September 5th.  You will need to give your department head plenty of time to review and approve/deny your request before sending to Human Resources.

17   What code should my timekeeper use when submitting my PVTO to payroll?

Please use code 3945-VTO.