1. What is the Staff Voluntary FTE Reduction program and how do I indicate my interest in the program?
    As the university continues to align its staffing needs to a changing student population and seeks to reach financial equilibrium by implementing strategies of A Sound Future, we are providing an opportunity for staff to apply to voluntarily and permanently reduce their full-time equivalency (FTE) and move to a reduced schedule with a corresponding reduction in job responsibilities and pay. During spring term 2023, regular staff members can indicate their interest in moving to a reduced schedule.

    To express interest, please complete the online interest form or submit a completed hardcopy form to Human Resources in Howarth 016 (office hours 8 a.m. to noon and 1 to 4 p.m., or other hours by appointment]. Interest forms should be submitted no later than Friday, April 7, 2023.

  2. What does a voluntary FTE reduction look like?
    A reduction in FTE could be an adjustment to your weekly schedule (“schedule-based”) or it could be an adjustment to the number of months you work (“annual basis”).
  3. Who is eligible for voluntary FTE reductions?
    Any regular (non-temporary) staff member who currently works 0.5 FTE or more can submit an interest form. Reductions will not be approved for schedules below 0.5 FTE. 
  4. Who approves the voluntary FTE reduction?
    Approval will come from your division’s Vice President/Interim Provost, following consultation with the department head and Human Resources.
  5. Does my supervisor have to approve my interest form before I submit it?
    No. Human Resources will review incoming requests with department heads and the division Vice President/Interim Provost after completing an evaluation of the request.
  6. Is my proposal automatically approved? If not, how will the university decide whether to approve it?
    Proposals will need to be reviewed in order to ensure university business needs are aligned with staff members’ interests. Proposals will be reviewed to determine how ongoing university operations can be addressed with the schedule or annual basis change. We also want to make sure staff members are making informed decisions about FTE changes, that is, understanding what changes in pay and benefits would result from their decision.
  7. When will I know if my proposal has been approved?
    Approval times may vary depending on the nature of the proposal and the amount of review or analysis required to evaluate the proposal. However, for proposals submitted by April 7, we anticipate notifying staff members of the status of their proposal no later than May 1, 2023.
  8. Is this voluntary FTE reduction permanent?
    Yes, once the voluntary FTE reduction has been approved, it is permanent. Any increase in FTE after that approval must go through the university’s standard processes for adding FTE, typically through the annual Budget Task Force or the repurposing of existing divisional FTE/budget.
  9. What happens to my workload if I am approved for a voluntary FTE reduction?
    As part of your request to be considered for a voluntary FTE reduction, you will need to provide information on how the FTE reduction and resulting schedule change would impact your work responsibilities. For example, if you are requesting an annual basis change during a time where you normally take the lead on a project or job responsibility, please provide suggestions you may have for how that responsibility would be addressed. This could be developing a more efficient way of completing that responsibility, utilizing external vendors or technology to complete the responsibility, assigning it to student workers or other staff, or eliminating that job responsibility. Please note that proposals that significantly impact the workload of other staff are not likely to be approved.
  10. Will there be any adjustments to my rate of pay if my schedule and FTE are reduced?
    Your annualized base pay will be reduced in alignment with the new FTE. In addition, fundamental changes in schedule and job responsibilities may require a compensation review to determine the correct pay rate (for example, if you currently supervise employees but would no longer be supervising employees, your current base pay may need to be adjusted to a rate appropriate for the scope of job responsibilities that remain).
  11. Can I receive unemployment benefits to make up for the reduction in my pay due to the schedule reduction?
    This program is being offered on a voluntary basis. While the University does not determine eligibility for unemployment benefits, changes in pay due to voluntary decisions are not typically eligible for unemployment compensation. If you have a question about your specific circumstances, we encourage you to contact the Washington State Employment Security Department at 833.572.8400.
  12. Can I use this program to phase into retirement?
    Yes, although you don’t need to disclose your intention to retire or make any commitment to retire in order to propose an FTE reduction.
  13. Can I continue my current telework agreement if I reduce my FTE?
    Possibly. Telework agreements will be reviewed and updated as needed based on any approved FTE reductions/schedule changes. In some cases, depending on the schedule and changes to job responsibilities, telework may be discontinued if no longer suitable for the job.
  14. My position is currently salaried and exempt. Will it remain exempt if I reduce my FTE?
    All staff who reduce their FTE below 1.0 FTE will move to an hourly, non-exempt arrangement and will record hours for payroll purposes. This is primarily due to the current salary threshold in Washington State for exempt staff positions, which is $65,478 (not prorated) annually. However, even staff whose annual base pay would remain above the exempt salary threshold will be transitioned to hourly pay. This is to ensure that staff members’ pay remains in alignment with the actual hours worked.

    Staff who are currently exempt, and whose FTE is voluntarily reduced, will continue to receive the exempt-level vacation accrual rate, prorated based on their actual hours worked.


  15. Will I remain eligible for annual salary increases?
    Staff will remain eligible for any approved annual salary increases.
  16. Will there be any changes to my benefits eligibility if I reduce my FTE?
    Eligibility for education benefits and long-term disability require an FTE of 0.75. Any reductions below 0.75 FTE will result in a loss of these benefits.

    Also, changes in your annual basis (that is, moving from a 12-month schedule to a less-than-12-month schedule) will impact how and when you pay for any out-of-pocket costs for your benefits.

  17. Will there be any changes to my holiday/bonus day pay as a result of FTE reductions?
    Depending on your schedule changes, eligibility for holiday/bonus day pay may be impacted. Reductions in hours per week will reduce the number of hours paid for each holiday/bonus day, as that is based on FTE. Elimination of work months (for example, changing to an 11-month annual basis and no longer working in July), will reduce the number of overall holiday/bonus days for which you are eligible.
  18. When will these changes be effective?
    These changes are anticipated to be effective July 1, 2023, or in the event that arrangements cannot be finalized by that date, as soon as administratively possible after the arrangements have been finalized.
  19. Are there any changes to the payroll schedule?
    Staff members who are transitioning from exempt status to non-exempt hourly paid status will have a change in time reporting periods. This will result in a first paycheck that is based on a reduced number of days. The University can provide a one-time pay advance of $1200 to assist in smoothing this impact; the pay advance will be repaid through payroll deduction in the same quarter (expected to be during July, August, and September for July 1 transitions).

    After the transition to non-exempt hourly paid status, payroll pay periods are the 7th - 21st, paid out on the last business day of the month, and 22nd - 6th, paid out on the 15th (or the Friday before if it falls on a weekend).


  20. Will I be eligible to take on additional employment at the University if I reduce my FTE?
    Staff members may be eligible for additional assignments on a temporary or ongoing basis as long as the secondary assignment does not conflict with the primary job. Staff members can be approved to work a maximum of 1.0 FTE in any combination of jobs on campus.
  21. If I retire from this position with a reduced FTE, will I still be eligible for education benefits?
    According to policy, you must be retiring from an eligible position of at least 0.75 FTE to remain eligible for education benefits. See the Education Benefits Policy for more information.
  22. How can I learn more or ask questions about this option?
    Human Resources will offer an in-person informational session on Monday, March 6, from 1-2 p.m. in the Wheelock Student Center Murray Board Room—no pre-registration is required. We will offer a repeat information session via Zoom on Wednesday, March 15, 10-11 a.m. Please email hr@pugetsound.edu to pre-register and receive the Zoom link. You can also address questions by email to hr@pugetsound.edu or make an appointment for a consultation with an HR representative by calling extension 3369 [253.879.3369 from off-campus].